Do B2B Companies Really Need to Be on Facebook?

b2b-facebookMany B2B companies start their social media efforts by gravitating to the large, common platforms and setting up profiles. Step 1: Twitter. Step 2: Facebook. Step 3: LinkedIn. And once these boxes are checked, they struggle to find the right content to post to each of these platforms. And marketers wonder if they should even be on all these platforms, especially Facebook, as organic reach has deteriorated.

This approach ignores several important marketing questions that B2B marketers should be asking about Facebook.

1. What are you trying to accomplish with social media?

B2B companies need to use these social media platforms to achieve higher level business goals that others in the organization are tracking and supporting. Note that I said business goals, not social media goals. Getting more followers is not a business goal. Increasing sales is a business goal. Increasing the number of leads from online sources, especially social media, is a way to track success against that goal. Make sure you have properly framed social media in a business context to evaluate Facebook as an appropriate platform.

2. Are your customers on Facebook?

This is a critical question in evaluating the platform, but you have to do so in a business context. Even though 71% of online adults are on Facebook, many B2B buyers may not use Facebook during the day or like Business Pages. While there are B2B companies that have large followings on Facebook and have generated traffic and leads, if you are struggling to build an audience there, you may be chasing shadows. And even if you do get people to like your Page, if they don’t engage with your content, Facebook is less likely to display it in their newsfeed.

3. Are you able to provide value to customers and prospects through your content?

If you are creating content to educate, inform and entertain customers and prospects, that is the first step. If you see that your content is being downloaded and shared on any platform, then you know that the content is appropriate for your audience. At any point during this evaluation process, you can ask select customers or prospects about the value of your content. It is easy to make a list of the topics you think would connect with your audience and would drive action, but without direct feedback, it’s possible to miss the mark. And don’t survey them, ask them.

4. How do you reach them without advertising?

Facebook only shows the most interesting posts in the newsfeed, as determined by its algorithm. Interesting is defined as posts that people will interact with (like, comment, share, click). You need to use as many off-Facebook techniques to get people to interact with your content so Facebook will show them more of it. If you get good engagement on Twitter, then post exclusive content on Facebook and use Twitter to drive traffic to it. People need to know what’s there and to like it so they will see future posts. And don’t forget email signatures, newsletters and phone conversations. “We just posted this really fun picture of the sales team on our Facebook Page. You should like it.”

5. Can a B2B company quit Facebook?

And now the biggest question of all. What if your customers really are not on Facebook in a business context, those that are don’t engage with your content, Facebook doesn’t show your updates to many people who like your Page, and you just can’t justify advertising to increase reach, can you really delete your Page and leave Facebook altogether? Do your customers expect you to be on Facebook? Is there a stigma attached to not being on Facebook? If Twitter or LinkedIn are working for you, driving traffic and leads, and otherwise serving your business and its goals, and Facebook is not, it is time to leave. If you have tried everything and it’s only getting worse, you can go. There is more of an expectation for B2B companies to be on Twitter than Facebook. And when you leave Facebook, write a blog post about all your efforts and share the numbers of your lack of success. Nobody will fault you for dedicating your resources to platforms that have business value. One final thing to consider before leaving: It makes some sense to keep the Page alive, but not active, to keep the custom Facebook URL. If you do this, post a note on the Page where people can find you and your current content.

If you have Facebook success stories about your B2B company, please share it in the comments below, especially if you have turned around a low-performing page.

Break Through the Content Clutter with Cool Infographics

Cool-Infographics-BookInfographics are key to many B2B companies’ content marketing efforts. Randy Krum is the president of InfoNewt and the author of the new book, Cool Infographics. Featuring over 100 infographic examples, this guide prepares you to create compelling infographics for online marketing, business reports, posters, presentations, and even design your own infographic resume. Randy answered the following questions about the business of infographics.

Data visualizations and infographics have become interchangeable terms to some. What is the difference and why use one over the other?

I often have to define the difference between Data Visualization and Infographics, because when a client asks for an infographic design it’s not always clear what they are requesting. I define the difference like this. Data visualizations are visual representations of data, usually in the form of a stand-alone chart or diagram. Infographics are larger designs that combine data visualizations, illustrations and text together to tell a story. For example, a data visualization chart could be one element of a larger design, as seen in the Could You Be A Failure? Infographic.

How do brands use infographics for storytelling, both within a single infographic and as part of a larger content strategy?

Infographics are a perfect medium for brands to tell the many stories behind their company, products and services. They have the potential to break through the information filters of customers that don’t want to take the time to read product descriptions, product reviews or packaging claims on the shelf. Specifically for brands, they can offer a fast-to-read and easy-to-share story, and visual nature of infographics increases customers’ recall when the time comes to make a purchase decision.

You make a point to say that you can’t just publish an infographic, but you need a launch strategy. Can you describe that?

Publishing an infographic without any promotion or strategy is like a tree falling in the forest when no one is watching. People can’t find or share an infographic online without a successful launch strategy, and it’s disappointing to watch companies publish an infographic online, and then just wait for people to find it. That doesn’t work. In the book I outline my three part Infographic Release Strategy that includes designing the landing page on your website, self-promotion through your existing communication channels and finally outreach to other sites and influencers that have audiences that would appreciate the infographic. This extra effort can exponentially increase the success of an infographic online.

Many B2B companies use content to drive leads. In the book you don’t mention putting an infographic behind a gated lead form. Are there any exceptions where it makes sense to gate an infographic?

I’ve seen a few companies put their infographics behind a form requiring your email address before you can view the infographic, but this doesn’t work in practice. It goes back to the data visualization vs. infographic question you asked earlier. An infographic is meant to be easy to share, and as soon as the first person shares the infographic image in social media, it’s freely available to everyone without completing the form. The nature of infographics also implies quick to read, which is perceived as only a small reward for giving up your contact information. On the other hand, including many good data visualizations within a longer content piece, like a white paper or research report, behind an form can increase the value of the overall piece, and make it more valuable for readers.

One of my pet peeves with infographics is the inconsistency of listing data sources. Can you share best practices for identifying where the data comes from?

Absolutely! This is a pet peeve of mine as well. I recommend designers include links to the original, specific data sources in their infographic designs. The original source may take some research, but the readers are expecting that from an infographic designer. Don’t list the news article or wikipedia entry where you found the information. Instead, track the data back to its original source and include that link as the data source. Also, being specific is just as important. If a designer lists just the home page URL as the data source, that doesn’t help anyone track down the original data on their own. Include the link directly to the specific data so readers can easily access the data on their own.

How has the explosion of mobile affected infographics? Is anyone making it easier to read those really long infographics on a smart phone?

Surprisingly no. I have seen a few attempts at mobile responsive designs, but nothing I would consider to be successful. Data visualizations are being used fantastically within mobile apps, but viewing full infographics on a smartphone is still a challenging process.

We’ve seen animated, interactive and video infographics used on a limited basis. What are some of the pushing-the-envelope trends of infographics? Will we see augmented reality or 3D printed infographics?

We will continue to see experiments with interactive, animated and video infographics as well as other new formats like augmented reality and zooming interfaces. I fully expect the art of infographics to continue to evolve along with the most current interfaces, but infographic image files are still the most successful because they are so simple and easy to share online. As people move towards wearable devices like Google Glass and smart watches, I expect new areas of data visualization to be developed to take advantage of the new displays.

Download Chapter One from Cool Infographics here.

Which Companies are Totally Nailing B2B Marketing?

B2B marketing can often be dry, stuffy, and an overall snooze fest when not done correctly. Businesses are slowly but surely learning that business-to-business marketing doesn’t have to be all direct mail and incentive promotions. Some companies are actually producing really creative B2B marketing.

So, which companies have totally got this B2B marketing thing down? Let’s take a look.

Salesforce

Salesforce is one of the most well-known B2B products on the market and since part of their business is actually providing social analytics to customers they’d better be good at social themselves. Fortunately, Salesforce really excels on social, particularly on Facebook where they consistently using their header image to promote upcoming events. They also use Facebook to prominently display links to everything from infographics to blog posts.
b2b-salesforce-facebook

Demandbase

Demandbase does a really great job of providing (and sponsoring) educational content for B2B readers. Typically using a mixture of slides, white papers, blog posts, and even microsites, Demandbase racks up leads and pipeline every time it releases a new informational program. Their oft-downloaded and entertaining series of webinars doesn’t hurt.

Microsoft

Microsoft has gotten a lot of flack lately for its aggressive marketing in the wake of the disastrous Windows 8 platform, but what they’re really, really good at is bridging the gap between B2B marketing and customer-facing campaigns. For example, the “Children of the 90s” campaign spoke to every millennial who saw it, from consumers to in-house developers at big firms. Reaching the target audience is half the battle and Microsoft’s doing it right.

Sungard

Sungard provides software and IT solutions for a wide variety of situations…kind of boring, yes. But Sungard hit on one of the biggest trends of the year with their “Zombie Apocalypse” campaign that linked their services with the risk of an impending zombie surge. Using an infographic, social campaign, and even an e-book, Sungard made a totally boring concept totally viral. Genius.
b2b-sungard-zombie

Atlas Copco

Atlas Copco is a producer of industrial equipment and they’re revolutionizing the way B2B companies use apps. Utilizing smart phone apps, Atlas offers at-a-touch technical specs, hazardous workplace information, and informational videos for customers to access anytime. The company didn’t just create the content and leave it there – they’re already on the 5th version of the iTunes app because they like to reevaluate and add new content often.

Clippard

You’ve probably never heard of Clippard and that’s because they’re a medical device company specializing in pneumatic actuators. They mixed up the boring trade show booth by creating an actual guitar made out of actuator valves that’s played by air. Get it? An air guitar! Their booth is now the must-see stop of any medical device tradeshow and they get to show off their product while engaging potential customers. That’s what good B2B marketing is all about.
b2b-clippard-air-guitar

In 2014, B2B marketing will evolve to be more strategy-focused, much like traditional marketing. Companies will have to work harder to cut through the clutter and they’ll increasingly find ways to utilize social media marketing for business-to-business interaction.

Why I’m Not Making Any B2B Social Media Predictions for 2014

b2b-social-media-predictionsFor the past four years we have shared our predictions about where B2B social media would go in the coming year, but this year I am not going to do it. You can stomp your feet, hold your breath and even throw things in my general direction, but I am just not doing it. When I look back over the predictions for 2010, 2011, 2012 and even 2013 they all pretty much say the same thing: more B2B companies are going to adopt social media practices for their businesses.

Sure, there is more nuance to them than that, but that’s the basic idea. There have been specific predictions over the years that focus on the importance of mobile, social websites, blogging, better metrics, visual content and marketing automation, but at its core, all of the predictions are about greater adoption of social media.

Has this been happening? Yes. Will it continue to happen? Yes.

There are lots of statistics that point to growth in social media spending and commitment towards both content marketing and social media, but there’s nothing surprising or shocking about those statistics. No marketing manager is going to get fired for wanting to spend more of their budget on social media. And it does nobody any good for me to predict that this will happen. We all know it will happen.

The real problem with B2B companies adopting social media is the quality of their results. Many are still in such early stages of activity that signing up for a Twitter account and tweeting press releases allows them to convince someone that they are using social media. This makes it really easy to check a box on a survey to skew the results of adoption. But you, your boss and the executive team at your company will be disappointed in the results from this effort. That’s because there won’t be any results. You might pick up a few followers, but they will be of limited value.

So rather than regurgitate the same feel-good predictions about growing social media adoption, whether based on inaccurate survey data or anecdotal reviews of social media activity of real B2B companies, I would rather provide you, the B2B marketer, with helpful advice. If you need statistics or predictions to make your case, click the links, but if you would rather have some advice on how to be truly successful with social media lead generation for your B2B company, here are a few questions to get you thinking:

  • Who are your prospects?
  • What are their biggest pain points in their business?
  • Can you provide advice to help them solve their business issues?
  • Where do they spend their time online?
  • What are they talking about on line?
  • Who do they respect, follow and retweet?
  • What are the goals and objectives of your company?
  • How does the rest of marketing measure success?
  • Can you align your metrics with other marketing and company activities?

If you are not even to the place where you can ask these questions to begin your social media efforts, here are some B2B social media myths and objections that can get you closer to your own adoption of social media.

Photo credit: Flickr

B2B Mobile Tactics If You Still Have a Blackberry Audience

b2b-blackberry-demiseWith the latest news that Blackberry will be taken private and give up the consumer business to focus on the enterprise are signs that Blackberry will never recover their mobile market share, which ComScore reported at 4.3% of the US market as of July 2013. What do these events mean for B2B companies who still have a mobile strategy that is reliant on a Blackberry-using audience?

Many regulated industries like finance, health care and government have stuck with the devices due to compliance issues requiring employers access employees’ communications records. The first question you need to ask is how many of your customers and prospects still use Blackberries. Do your own research of your website with your web analytics program. Google Analytics breaks traffic down by specific devices. Under the audience tab, go to Mobile and choose Devices.
b2b-devices-Google-Analytics
When reviewing this for SocialMediaB2B.com, there was only one Blackberry model (BlackBerry 9900 Dakota) listed among the top 25 devices. Since most of the traffic comes from Apple devices and a small percentage from Samsung devices, we can choose to ignore the Blackberry. But that is our audience. If you find a large number of Blackberries accessing your web site, here are three things to do to make sure your mobile efforts reach your audience.

1. Test Your Mobile Site on a Blackberry Simulator

As more and more people access your website, blog and landing pages on mobile devices, you need to know how they look on those devices. It is never hard to come up with an iPhone, iPad or even the latest Android phones from your co-workers to view your site. Blackberries are harder to come by. But if you have determined that you need to test your site on a Blackberry and you don’t have access to a real device, install a Blackberry simulator to make sure you see what your visitors see. If you have never paid attention to these devices and your site uses incompatible technology, your response depends on how big the audience is and how broken the site is. Also see #3 below before expending significant resources in fixing these problems.

2. Avoid Building Native Blackberry Apps

If you were planning on developing a Blackberry app, no matter how large your Blackberry audience, you need to stop. This audience is shrinking, and for many reasons these people will be switching to other devices. The best option now is to focus on building a mobile web-based app that takes advantage of the latest technology that is compatible with multiple devices. Blackberry provides tools to make sure HTML5 apps are compatible with their devices too.

3. Start Planning for a Move to iOS

As Blackberry stops selling devices to consumers, fewer people will have Blackberries. As more IT departments let people bring in their own devices (iPhones) or provide iPhones to them, there will be fewer Blackberries. Unless you work in an industry where the Blackberry provides something that no other device can provide, which only seems to be a physical keyboard and a blinking red notification light, the majority of your customers and prospects will no longer be using Blackberries. That means it is time to begin optimizing your mobile experience for the iOS. This doesn’t mean create an iPhone app, but test your website, blog and landing pages on an iPhone and iPad. Make sure visitors can do what you expect them to do.

Are you still paying attention to Blackberries in your B2B mobile marketing or has your audience moved on to other devices?

The Four Pillars of B2B Content Strategy

Click to enlargeI was approached the other day by one of our clients, the CMO of a technology firm who asked me my thoughts on his company’s content strategy. The CMO said, “We have a lot of smart people who develop a lot of good content, but something tells me we’re not really getting value out of our content efforts – what are your thoughts?”

After taking a look at what they were doing, I agreed that they had a lot of good content. I also agreed there was much more they could do. When thinking about B2B content strategy, you should consider four main pillars.

1. Space

What space do you want to own?

The first pillar of content strategy is Space. In other words, you must determine what space you want to own as it relates to content. This is different from defining your positioning strategy, and it is also different from determining your value proposition. Positioning and value proposition refer to the solution you offer. However, the space you want to own is about the problems your target market faces. You want to be known as a company that is highly knowledgeable about both the problem and its related solutions. You want to provide thought leadership, insights, ideas and education.

The beauty of gaining clarity on this pillar is that it informs both your positioning strategy and your overall marketing plan. It also defines your SEO strategy.

Think about the problem your potential customer has, and brainstorm how you can provide value through your content; then serve it up to them, thereby owning that space.

2. Production

How do you make it easy to produce?

You almost certainly have a lot of content available to you. That content is currently locked inside the heads of the smartest people in your company. The trick is to get that content out of their heads; that is called Production. Production is the second pillar of your content strategy.

Sometimes your thought leaders can write clearly, effectively, and engagingly. But most of the time, thought leaders need help with that production. Not only do they need an easy way to get the information out of their heads, but they need someone who can take that information and put it into a compelling and coherent message.

The companies that are most successful at producing excellent content use a marketing services bureau approach to pulling that information out of the heads of thought leaders. In your case, the marketing team should play this role.

The key to this production model is to make it extremely easy to get the raw material out, whether that’s through an interview, by drafting documents or by creating an outline.

It is then up to the marketing team to take that raw material and use it to create the best first deliverable. After that, it’s time to think about follow-up deliverables; and that is the third pillar.

3. Repurposing

How do you repurpose it to get the most out of it?

If you are engaged in a content strategy, it is very likely that you are so focused on content development that you’ve missed one of the greatest content strategy opportunities – content repurposing. Content repurposing is where you take the raw material discussed earlier and present it in a different way.

For example, when you interview a thought leader, your objective is to create raw material. Frequently, someone already has a specific deliverable in mind for that raw content. It could be a blog post, a presentation or an article, but it’s usually only one of those things, rather than all of them. Here is where content repurposing comes into play.

Once you’ve mined that raw material, you should start with the highest value output and go from there. For example, you might be producing the content for a blog post related to a product launch. Marketing can help the thought leader develop the blog post. But the next step is to repurpose that blog post. And that step is imperative.

If it’s a long blog post, it could be repurposed into several smaller blog posts. Create visuals to help tell the story. Why? Because visuals are what create readership and increase sharing. Those visuals, along with the text of the blog post, can be turned into a presentation. That presentation can be turned into a video with voiceover. That video with a voiceover can be turned into a podcast. The possibilities are endless. The point here is that you should put just as much energy into repurposing as you put into creating the original content.

4. Promotion

How do you promote it to maximize its value once it exists?

You may feel that producing content is good enough and that once it’s been published, the content will be found. This is a mistake. You need to promote that content and get it seen. Promotion isn’t difficult; it’s the discipline around promotion that is difficult. Using the example of the raw material that turned into a blog post and was then repurposed, here are some ways to think about promoting that content.

Use Social Media
Create a posting cadence across all of your social channels to alert people to the availability of your content. In other words, tweet about it, and post it on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn more than once. Post at different times of the day, and spread your effort out over days, weeks and months. Too many people are worried about posting material more than once. Social channels need to be looked at like a waterfall. Once that water has passed, no one is going to see it again, so when your readers revisit the waterfall, you want to present them with material they may have missed before.

Publish on Other Social Properties
Try to get your material published on other (non-owned) social properties. Not only can the deliverable be published, but that thought leadership content could be an enticement to get your thought leader interviewed for a podcast, a webinar or even for a speaking opportunity.

Engage with those who Curate Content
Be sure to develop a relationship with the people who curate your content. Don’t just promote the content in front of you. Rather, think of promoting a stream of content that comes from that thought leader and your company. This means that people who curate your content today will pay attention to content you produce in the future. It’s important to acknowledge their curation and create engagement with them.

Approaching your B2B content strategy by leveraging these four pillars will increase the impact of your thought leadership, and help you achieve your marketing goals.

10 Ideas to Make Boring B2B Social Media Posts Captivating

Many B2B marketers are still trying to figure out social media for their companies. Years of product marketing driven writing, or content as we now call it, has honed their skills on features-based marketing. No matter how exciting your products and services are, this kind of marketing is boring. And it is not going to work in a social media context.

Prospects and customer want solutions to their problems. They don’t want to hear about your products in a blog post. Once you identify your target audience and their pain points, you can begin creating top-of-the-funnel content to connect with them by solving their problems. With the right content in mind, on paper and on screen, how do you make sure that your content is found, read and shared by your audience?

Start by making it remarkable!

And then here are 10 ideas for make it captivating:

1. Use Keywords in the Headline

No matter what you writing about, you have to include the words that your prospects and customers use when talking about your solutions, business and industry. These are used in the questions they are asking in search engines and of their social network connections. The most important keyword location is the headline. See the headline above (and most of the ones on this site) for an example. They always include B2B Social Media or B2B and relevant terms. That’s how B2B marketers find what they are looking for on this site. Posts without those obvious keywords are just not found by the audience.

2. Use Adjectives in the Headline

Even keyword-based headlines need to be interesting and compelling. Or captivating. As this one is. No matter where you prospects and customers see your headlines, they are looking for something that will be worth their time. As you are establishing your authority on your subject area, every post is an opportunity to draw in new visitors. Interesting and different descriptive words, like adjectives can do that.

3. Find a Compelling Image

In this post I used a recent Instagram photo I took of the San Francisco Bay Bridge. While not entirely relevant to this post, it is a captivating image, which relates back to the headline. Rather than use the same stock photography images of light bulbs or the diverse team around a conference room table, look for interesting images that set the tone for a post. Search Flickr for Creative Commons images and make sure you give credit back to the photographer. Hone your own skills as an Instagram photographer and use your own images. You want to use images that will draw someone in, make them click and make them keep reading.

4. Don’t Talk about Your Products

Successful blog posts are not about products. Your website already does that. Provide real value to prospects and customers by providing solutions to their business problems. Demonstrate your industry expertise by giving them something they cannot get elsewhere.

5. Solve Prospects’ Business Problems

One of the reasons “How To” posts are so popular in different industries is that they answer people’s questions. Search engines are designed to provide the most relevant results to every search. If B2B prospects are trying to find answers to their problems, your posts have a better chance of showing up if you are answering their questions. And using their terms.

6. Share Customer Stories

Leverage your existing customers to tell your story of how your solved their business problems with your products and solutions. These are not just case studies where your product helped your customer reach business nirvana, but a real, human story that is interesting, remarkable and captivating. Ask yourself if you would read the story before you hit publish.

7. Use Video

Video is a powerful way to tell a story, share an important detail or present a point of view. A post with embedded video can capture someone’s attention in a different way than a written post. This is an easy way to share the thoughts of an industry influencer you met at a trade show, but keep it short. Definitely under five minutes, and under three minutes if possible. Video viewing dropoff is pretty significant at two minutes.

8. Experiment with Different Formats

Every post should not always be 500-800 words on a subject. Try shorter posts if you have a simple comment about an industry news story. A link to the story and three takeaways work. Consider an occasional longer analytical post that really takes a point of view. What about an all image post where you show 20 examples of what others in your industry are doing well, where you only have a line or two of explanation. Mixing up your post format keeps things interesting and keeps you from writing the same post over and over.

9. Use Subheads to Make it Scannable

People on the web scan. Subheads make it easy to glean some information from your post without taking the time to read it. That’s why list posts do so well. They match the way people consume information. Scan this post as an example.

10. Remember Social Networks

And finally, getting found in search is just part of the equation. Getting found on social networks is also key. Keep headline length in mind for social networks. Know how images show up on Facebook and Google+. Make sure your post description is captivating, as that may be what shows up on networks.

Remember, all of these ideas will help remarkable content get found, read, shared and clicked, but if your content is not worth reading, none of this will help. And keep in mind that blog posts just to drive traffic are not enough. Include calls to action (CTAs) at the end of every post to bring your prospects into the sales funnel.

What are other ways that you have made your B2B social media posts more captivating?

B2B Social Media Success Starts with Measurable Objectives

B2B Marketers are always comparing their company social media efforts to other B2B companies. What are other companies trying to achieve? What is working? What are their biggest challenges? In a recent survey Ascend2 asked 687 business leaders, marketing executives and practitioners from around the world just those questions. And good for us they separated out the answers for B2B companies.

Some of these results were featured on eMarketer, but you can download the full Social Media Marketing Strategy Report for free from Ascend2 (registration required). Below are a selection of the results.

B2B Social Media Marketing Objectives

Top objectives for B2B marketers were improving customer engagement, increasing web site traffic and increasing their content reach. While the first could be a high level goal, if other parts of the business are focused on that objective, the other top objectives are more tactical. While they can certainly be measured, they are really a means to an end. And lead generation is not a large priority of B2B marketers using social media. But it probably is a priority objective of other marketing efforts. This is one reason B2B marketers are still failing with social media.

  • 43% of B2B Marketers say improve customer engagement is their most important objective
  • 37% of B2B Marketers say increase web site traffic is their most important objective
  • 34% of B2B Marketers say increase content reach is their most important objective
  • 29% of B2B Marketers say increase lead quality is their most important objective
  • 27% of B2B Marketers say increase lead quantity is their most important objective

B2B Social Media Marketing Tactics

Creating content are the top activities for social media marketing for those surveyed. Content is what drives lead generation and other top of the funnel activities, so these tactics are on track. But if lead generation is not a stated goal (above), it means that B2B marketers are not capitalizing on these tactics and including calls to action with every piece of content.

  • 40% of B2B Marketers say creating articles/blog post content is their most effective tactic
  • 32% of B2B Marketers say creating research/whitepapers is their most effective tactic
  • 29% of B2B Marketers say creating audio/video content is their most effective tactic

B2B Social Media Marketing Execution

While those B2B marketers surveyed indicated that various content types were their top activities in social media marketing, it turns out those same activities are the most challenging for them to complete. It is a different mindset to create content at the top of the funnel, or even to serve customers, that solves prospects’ and customers’ problems, rather than promoting the features and benefits of your products and services. Here are some B2B blogging ideas to help you to execute these activities.

  • 32% of B2B Marketers say creating audio/video content is the most difficult to execute
  • 32% of B2B Marketers say creating research/whitepapers is the most difficult to execute
  • 31% of B2B Marketers say creating articles/blog post content is the most difficult to execute

B2B Social Media Marketing Obstacles

And finally here are the main obstacles to success for B2B social media marketing. These are common problems at B2B companies. Who is going to do it? How do we measure the value and does the rest of the organization understand what you are doing with social media?

  • 37% of B2B Marketers say staff limitations is the biggest obstacle to achieving objectives
  • 36% of B2B Marketers say inability to measure social ROI is the biggest obstacle to achieving objectives
  • 27% of B2B Marketers say lack of organizational committment is the biggest obstacle to achieving objectives

Do these survey results match what you see in your B2B company or those you work with? What are some of the ways you have dealt with some of these challenges and obstacles?

4 Reasons Why Google+ is a Killer B2B Social Media Platform

Most of our B2B clients have staked a claim on Google+, but they don’t invest in it. Why? Because they consider it a ghost town. They say Google+ is irrelevant. They invest in Facebook and Twitter and (more and more) in LinkedIn. But you know what? Recent studies indicate that, while many companies were asleep at the switch, Google+ has emerged as the killer platform for B2B social media marketing.

B2B marketers need to understand these four reasons that Google+ is the next killer platform for marketing, and why it should be an important part of your B2B marketing mix.

1. Number of Active Users

According to GlobalWebIndex, Google+ now has 343 million active users, more than any other social network besides Facebook. Google+ is far ahead of Twitter, and light years ahead of LinkedIn.

Notice that qualifier: “active” users. The 343 million number is not a measure of the number of people who signed up for Google+ accounts, and who may or may not ever log on. Rather, it is a measure of the number of people actively participating on Google+. Over a very short period of time, Google+ has confounded critics and become a platform that cannot be ignored.

2. Circlecentric Marketing

Google+ circles enable you and your B2B company to market in a more intimate way to people who are following your company.

Consider this: because Google+ users can circle your company page, it means they have opted in to receive information from you without having to fill out any forms or communicate via email. That’s true on other social networks, of course, but what’s different is how you can then interact with them.

On Google+, you can do research on the person who has circled you, circle them back, and (most importantly) add that person to unique circles based on how that person fits into your target market. This means you can provide that person with highly useful and specific information, instead of just a general communication blast.

Furthermore, B2B companies can begin to interact with that individual in other, more personal ways. And this means that, in addition to creating a better communication channel, you can make those users feel like you notice and care about them. For example, by sharing that individual’s content and inviting them to private communities, private events, and private hangouts, you don’t just send them a message; you build and strengthen a relationship. And this is a cornerstone of any marketing mix.

Martin Shervington provides a more detailed description of circlecentric marketing.

3. Better Organic Search Results

In Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s upcoming book, The New Digital Age, he is quoted as saying: “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”

This is the clearest statement yet from Google (which tends not to be very clear) highlighting how authorship is becoming extremely relevant in search results on Google.

This essentially means that if you are posting on Google+ correctly, your content will be ranked higher than content posted elsewhere. Furthermore, because of Google+’s tight integration with the Google search engine, your posts are treated much like regular webpages (unlike posts on other social networks), and will therefore rank higher in search results.

4. Google’s Long-term Vision

Google+ is a social destination and a social layer across all Google properties. The integration they have made is breathtaking. It places a social layer upon:

  • Gmail
  • Google Maps and Local
  • Google Now
  • Android
  • Google Wallet
  • Google Offers
  • Google Chrome
  • Google Search
  • Google Adwords
  • Google Calendar and Events
  • Google Play
  • YouTube

What Google is really saying is that “Google+ is Google.” And this integration will only go deeper and become stronger over time.

It’s no secret that Google’s business model is to sell advertising. There’s nothing wrong with that and, in fact, their strategy is a brilliant one. Google wants to provide more and more relevant search results to users, so users will do more searching on Google. This means advertisers get better value from Google, which means Google sells more advertising.

Google has created Google+ to be the killer platform for B2B social media marketing. What is your B2B company doing to take advantage of it?

Improve Your B2B Social Media Planning

Everything in business starts with planning. B2B social media is no different. Even as companies mature and incorporate (or infiltrate, depending on your point of view) social media into other parts of their business besides marketing, the planning stages are key. Below are some posts that resonated with followers this past week that are all related to planning, whether directly or indirectly.

We start with a bold call to action for B2B marketers, followed by a very tactical list of planning questions, and then we go up a notch to planning theory and how to apply it. Next is an article that questions whether a new Facebook tool is right for B2B? Yes, I’m quoted in the article, but it too is about how you plan to test a new function to determine its success. And finally we present a list of top B2B influencers on Twitter by Michael Brenner. Okay, so I’m on this list too, but if you are looking for influencers in your industry, looking for content to share with your followers or just looking for example of B2B companies and people doing a good job on Twitter, they are all here on this list.

What else have you seen recently that has helped you in your B2B social media planning. Your own posts, or even interviews with you, are okay, because clearly it didn’t stop me.

B2B Marketers Need To Get Real About Social Media and Customer Engagement
from Enterprise Irregulars
B2B marketers need to get more focused on how fast their prospects and customers are changing as a result of social media. It’s time to question long-held assumptions and look to social media as a means to connect with prospects and customers more effectively.
Continue reading

25 Questions To Ask When Executing B2B Content Marketing Campaigns
from Search Engine Land
With the new year upon us, search engine marketers are focused on putting the foundation together for campaign execution throughout 2013. Central among the strategies meant to deliver B2B SEO results will be content marketing.
Continue reading

The Planning Fallacy: Why B2B Marketers are prone to exaggeration
from Earnest Agency
As a marketer, you’re now under more pressure than ever to prove your worth – and demonstrate ROI. Your budget is under scrutiny – and no doubt, you need to put forward a strong case to justify your spend. So what do you do? Be bullish about the potential return – ever optimistic about your ability to deliver the goods, but knowing it’s the only way you’ll get go-ahead.
Continue reading

Is Facebook’s new messaging feature good for b2b?
from BtoB Magazine
In recent months Facebook Inc. has been quietly testing a new revenue-raising feature: paid messaging. So far, the service is aimed at individual users, but b2b marketers have been watching the tests and wondering if paid Facebook messaging would work for them.
Continue reading

Top 50 B2B Marketing Influencers On Twitter
from B2B Marketing Insider
Who are the top B2B Marketing influencers on twitter? To answer this question, I looked at a variety of factors including twitter followers, profiles that included “B2B marketing,” the focus of their tweets including the hashtag #B2BMarketing, as well as a variety of social scoring tools using the keyword.
Continue reading

Photo: Flickr