Preview of Twitter Advertising Platform for B2B Companies

Earlier this year Twitter announced a partnership with American Express to make their self-serve advertising platform available to a limited number of small businesses. We signed up for SocialMediaB2B.com because access to Twitter’s advertising platform previously has been limited to those with big budgets. This leaves out many B2B companies. We offer this preview of what Twitter’s advertising platform looks like, so you can explore the option of promoted accounts and promoted tweets with the knowledge of how the platform works. Choose a target and a budget, and Twitter does the rest. Click on each image to enlarge it and view in new tab.

Welcome Screen

Geographic Targeting


Select where your target audience is located. You can break this down by country or metropolitan area. I looked at Google Analytics and Facebook Insights to determine top countries for the SocialMediaB2B audience.

Promoted Account


Select a daily amount to spend on promoting your account to relevant people. Twitter will charge you a variable amount for each new follower. Many B2B companies have successfully used promoted accounts to grow their followers to increase the reach of their content.The amount entered is not a recommendation, but is just for example purposes.

Promoted Tweets


Select a daily amount to spend on promoting your most engaging tweets to relevant people. Twitter will charge you a variable amount for each click. Twitter will only promote existing tweets, and their algorithm chooses the more popular ones, based on retweets and clicks. The amount entered is not a recommendation, but is just for example purposes.

Payment Information


And finally, you have to pay for all of this. In the case of this example, I am required to use my American Express card since they sponsored the promotion. Once this is fully rolled out, there will be other payment options.

Have you considered Twitter advertising for your B2B company?

5 Ways B2B Companies Can Use New Twitter Ads

Twitter just launched their long-awaited ad program, not to be confused with their @ (“at”) program, and it is called Promoted Tweets. In its initial implementation, the Promoted Tweets will appear only in search results on Twitter.com when users search from that page. Only one Promoted Tweet will appear in the search results at a time and it will remain at the top of the results. It is identified as a Promoted Tweet in small highlighted text, plus the whole tweet turns yellow when you mouse over it.

B2B companies now have the ability to purchase Twitter search terms to gain more visibility for their tweets. It appears that only existing tweets can be promoted, and Twitter states that if those Promoted Tweets do not resonate with users, that is if people don’t click or retweet, the tweets will be removed. So this is like Google Ad Words for Twitter Search, but with the company trying to encourage the community aspect of the site and ensure their advertisers are providing value. This first roll-out features tweets from a handful of companies like Starbucks and Best Buy, so we can see the Promoted Tweets in action, but we do not have access to the back end to learn more about the process of placing them.

Here are some suggestions for things that marketers can now on Twitter once Promoted Tweets are opened up to any business.

1. Gain More Impressions
Most tweets have a short lifespan. They are seen by your followers who happen to be checking Twitter when your tweet comes through. And that is a smaller percentage than you may realize. Using hashtags and @mentions to specific followers will raise the number of people who are exposed to your tweet. By purchasing certain keywords, your tweet is exposed to more people than would otherwise see it, including people who don’t even follow you or your conversations.

2. Expand the Reach of Your Keywords
One of the keys to marketing on the web, and one of the big benefits of social media, is the use of keywords to drive traffic back to your targeted sites. By purchasing those keywords and associating them with Promoted Tweets that include links back to your site, you expand the reach of your keywords through Twitter search.

3. Test Your Tweets
Since Twitter has said that Promoted Tweets must resonate with users, this will allow marketers to test tweets to determine that resonance. This is similar to testing different ads in Google Ad Words. The only difference is that Twitter has said they will remove non-resonating ads, while Google will continue to take your money if people click on them.

4. Sponsor Hashtags
Hashtags are used on Twitter to connect conversations across topics and events. While you can add the relevant hashtags to your tweets to become part of the conversation, if you buy the hashtags for your Promoted Tweets, that puts your tweets in front of more people searching for those terms. Until Twitter reveals the back end of this system or releases some rules, I don’t know if this is possible. There may be certain terms that are blocked from use, like Twitter or tweet. These sorts of things will determine whether Twitter remains an open system, or moves more towards a closed system.

5. Increase Speed of Message
Depending on the responsiveness of the Promoted Tweets system, you can broadcast a message quickly to both your followers and to those searching for the purchased keywords. Expanding reach is one thing, but being able to make an impact quickly is even better.

Like so many things in social media, this is rolling out in phases. Depending on what the response to Promoted Tweets is, Twitter has suggested that this system will push sponsored tweets to users’ tweet streams, as well as third party applications. It will be interesting to see how that system gets implemented and continues to leverage keyword search.

Have you thought about how you will use Promoted Tweets for your B2B company?

4 Uses of B2B Marketing with Twitter @Anywhere Ad Program

Today at SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas, Evan Williams, CEO of Twitter, announced a new ad program for Twitter. These new ads are called @Anywhere. When you find a reference of a Twitter account, you can roll over the link and bring up a Twitter card. It shows if you are following the account or not, recent tweets and other details about the account. You can also follow the account directly from the card. This tool lets you interact with Twitter from the site, without ever going to Twitter.com. You can also sign in to the site using Twitter more easily than ever before. The platform is launching on a limited number of sites like ebay, Yahoo and Digg.

B2B companies are using Twitter to build networks of followers and ultimately generate leads for new business, and this new @Anywhere approach is a way to build those networks and make sure the followers are relevant.

1. Gain New Followers
If a B2B company implements @Anywhere on their blog, they can more easily gain new Twitter followers, especially for more specific campaigns and product Twitter accounts beyond the main corporate account. It is easy to assume that regular readers of a corporate blog also follow the main Twitter account. This new platform now lets you write about specific ideas, and add Twitter links that lets readers follow these distinct accounts without leaving the page.

2. More Tightly Integrate Twitter with B2B Websites and Blogs
B2B companies frequently tweet links to content published on a blog, but a good tweet stream contains much more content than just a series of blog posts. @Anywhere can show your blog readers recent tweets from the blog and allows them to interact with Twitter on the site. Twitter drives traffic to the site or blog, and @Anywhere helps that flow go back the other way without leaving the site.

3. Develop Relationships from B2B Industry Sites
As the @Anywhere platform grows and become more integrated into many more sites, including top sites in a variety of B2B industries, references to your B2B company and products will now include links to Twitter accounts that readers can follow without leaving that site. While it may take a bit of time for sites to understand how to get these types of connections set up, these @Anywhere links may be the first time some potential customers will find your company on Twitter.

4. Generate Leads
One of the most important uses of B2B social media is to ultimately generate business leads or other new business. Once your B2B company has joined Twitter and developed a good program of content and engagement through Twitter, this will create relationships with customers and prospects. This form of engagement drives traffic back to a corporate website or blog with a clear call to action. The more places where these customers and prospects can connect with company Twitter, the more chances you have to add these prospects to your funnel.

What do you think are some uses for the new @Anywhere platform and helping your B2B marketing plans?

B2B Social Media Lessons from the Super Bowl

Like many Americans I watched the Super Bowl yesterday. This American football game not only crowns the championship team of the NFL, but it is still the biggest advertising day of the year. According to a recent survey by Nielsen, 51% of those questioned said they were more interested in the commercials than the game. There are some lessons for B2B marketers in their social media planning that came from the game, the commercials and the overall event.

Act with Confidence
I am not big on sports analogies, so I will keep the football lessons to a minimum (2). The Saints were down 10-0 in the first quarter, but more importantly, they were outplayed by much more than that. When asked after the game how they came back and won, their coach responded they had confidence in their abilities. There are plenty of roadblocks in launching social media for a B2B company, but if you have the confidence in your strategy and planning, you will be more likely to succeed. If you don’t believe in what you are doing, it is too easy to accept all the suggestions and put out a water-down, ineffective social media program.

Taking Risk
Armed with confidence in their gameplan, the Saints coaching staff took some risks with their play calls, and were rewarded for it. No matter how much you chart and plan and research and strategize, you still have to take some risk to succeed. A change to the status quo is risk, and many in your organization make their living by minimizing risk. Social tools have now allowed customers to communicate with you in public like never before. Responding publicly and truthfully is seen as a risk to some, but these days it is risky to not respond.

Not Taking Risk
Moving on to the commercials, there was definitely not much risk in the content of these commercials. While there is some sense that spending $3 million on a tv spot, even during the Super Bowl, is already a risk, but there is a need to make that spot stand out among the noise of the telecast. Most of the spots were based on web memes or promoted tired gender stereotypes. Safe campaigns do not stand out and do not achieve your goals. The social web is a noisy place and unless your content is compelling, it will not connect with your customers and prospects.

Stay on Topic
While I am the first one to acknowledge that I spend much of my time in the social media bubble, also known as an echo chamber. As I watched the game, and the commercials, I was much more attuned to the twitter conversations around the commercials. I was watching searches for #brandbowl, which were tweets about the commercials, and consequently did not see many tweets about the game. Brandbowl was a project tracking sentiment around the commercials, so people using this hashtag were more engaged in the marketing side of the Super Bowl anyway. This meant that I could easily participate in this conversation by adding #brandbowl to my tweets, but also keeping my comments relevant to others in this discussion of commercials. If I had something to say about the game, I would not include it as part of the #brandbowl conversation.

The same is true for getting your B2B message out. Find conversations around events or ideas using hashtags or searches and participate by adding to conversation. It’s not about pushing your ideas on people, but adding value to what they are already saying.

Multi-Channel Engagement
And finally, lots of Super Bowl advertisers shared supporting information on Twitter, posted videos on their blogs or YouTube, and even advertised online with web ads that recalled their tv spots. While advertising is more successful with multiple impressions, multiple channels of engagement are even better.

If you watched the Super Bowl, or even just commercials this morning online, what are some things that you learned that you can use to help you in your B2B social media planning?

Yes Offline Still Matters…A Lot

I am a geek. I am an early adopter. I love technology. I love the social web. I hate paper.

All of these things being said, I am here to say that offline marketing is still extremely important. Social Media does not do well on its own, and for that matter, no form of marketing and communications does. Offline communications still matters a lot in B2B, whether it is direct mail, print advertising, or traditional PR, all of these communication methods impact the communications success of a business in 2009. In fact these methods will continue to have impact in the coming years.

Social Media Will Force Integration

Right now we see a lot of stats about social media spending. We have published many of them on this blog. However, what we have not heard a lot about is the push towards integration that social media is forcing. Years ago marketing agencies were segmented into discipline only agencies: interactive agencies, media buying agencies, public relations agencies, etc. Companies have done the same thing by building silos for their different communications and business functions.

Looking specifically at marketing, social media is in the very beginning of forcing agencies and companies to integrate again. Social media is not a stand alone function. For example direct marketing can be a strong complement to social media marketing, but if you can’t do both under one roof it makes execution harder and sometimes less effective.

Dispelling The Myth That Social Media Is Cheap

A big reason that we hear a lot about the shift to social media is that organizations are looking to reduce their marketing costs. Yes, leveraging social media can be far less expensive then a large scale print advertising campaign. However, it is far from cheap. Sometimes the out of pocket costs like design and production are less then a traditional campaign. On the flip side the amount of time and staff needed to develop content, distribute content and interact with stakeholders online is often more than for a traditional campaign. To under-resource social media because you think it should only need 25% of your traditional marketing budget is setting yourself up for failure.

This post should serve as a reminder, that there are many things social media can’t do. Traditional marketing efforts are still critical in B2B. The true power comes when integrating social media efforts and traditional marketing efforts.