How to Create a B2B Content Culture

b2b-content-sales-lionB2B marketers know that content creation – and blogs in particular – is a critical part of the marketing arsenal. Yet many balk at the thought of creating new content on a consistent basis. How do you get enough ideas? How do you create content that keeps readers coming back? And how do you do it all when content isn’t the only thing you’re responsible for?

At MarketingProf’s B2B Marketing Forum, Marcus Sheridan (otherwise known as The Sales Lion provided some answers to those questions.

As a person who runs a blog or two and is a contributor to several others, I’m always on the lookout for new ideas on how to keep the content machine going. Here are some of the points that really resonated with me.

Learn to Teach

When I have a business decision to make, I start by doing my research online. I would guess that you do too. With that thought in mind, Sheridan advises that you begin to think of yourself as a teacher, with your blog posts being the classroom material.

Consider the questions your customers ask when they’re researching your products or solutions. Do they want to know about something that’s related to your industry but doesn’t directly have to do with your products? Write about that. Do they want to know about how you stack up vs the competition? Write a fair and honest comparison – without shying away about the pros and cons of everyone, including you. Do they want to know about pricing? Write about how much your offering costs. (Sheridan says it’s also OK to answer “it depends” on that one – as long as you explain why.)

Be the best and most honest teacher around and you’ll gain customer trust. Gain customer trust and you’re on your way to making a sale.

Be Honest and Transparent

I mentioned this in the section above, but it was something Sheridan stressed repeatedly and I heartily agree with him. You MUST be as honest and transparent as possible. The moment a customer feels like a business is hiding something, the trust is lost. And it’s not something you’re going to get back.

Don’t shy away from hard topics just because you’re worried about what the customer will think. Not talking about a subject as nearly as bad as being dishonest about it. For example, say on your website who might not be interested in being your customer and why that’s so. Sheridan even went so far as to say, “It’s more important to say on your website who you’re not a good match for than who you are a good match for.”

Keep It Simple, Stupid

The goal of great content is to keep it accessible. Don’t get caught up in technical speak. I find this often happens when I’m working with bloggers. They are super smart people, but they are so caught up in being experts in their space that they forget that the rest of us don’t know every acronym in the book.

This is not to say that you can never go into technical detail. However, be aware that many of your readers won’t understand you unless you explain what you’re saying in clear and straightforward language.

Don’t Go It Alone

Eliminate the barriers between sales, marketing, customer support, and any other group that talks to customers. These are the best people to get blog topics from, because they hear the questions your clients and prospects ask every day.

Get a group of customer-facing employees together in a room and take an hour to brainstorm a list of questions they hear on a consistent basis. Write them all down and you’ll likely have enough blog post topics to take you through the next few months, if not the next year.

There is power in using multiple employees to produce content and build the company brand. Develop a corporate culture of listening and teaching – these are powerful tools.

Moreover, understand that there are different personality types in your company. Some people are better for taking on certain jobs than others. For instance, there are writers who can produce text-based blog posts. But there are also actors who would do better with video, talkers who could create great podcasts, and questioners who are great for brainstorming about new topics. Each person is valuable. Use their strengths to your advantage.

A final, bonus tip: recognize that developing a content culture isn’t a one-time thing. Keep the content culture going through newsletters and trainings throughout the year. No doubt it adds to the workload, but persevere – it’s worth it!

5 Smart Tips for B2B Content Marketing

b2b-content-marketing-hand-5-tipsAccording to a recent study, buyers contact a sales representative after 70% of the buying decision is made. What does this mean? People do their research online before they even begin to talk with you. So if you don’t have content that interests them, you’ve lost the sale before you’ve begun.

Shelly Kramer and Amy Vernon discussed this subject at the MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum. As Vernon says, organizations need a content strategy, a social media presence, and an understanding of how to connect them both to business objectives. After all, Kramer adds, today’s marketing process, known as “inbound marketing,” is all about attracting people with good content, converting them to prospects, closing the deal, and then continuing to delight them so they return for more.

According to Vernon and Kramer, here are the five steps you need to take to make that process a reality.

1. Develop and Implement a Strategy

Know what your end-game is, because if you don’t know what your goals are, you’ll never reach them. And in order to accomplish your goals, you need to have a strategy.

It’s important to note that developing a content strategy should never be done by marketing alone. You need to talk with sales, customer service, and product management as well. Everyone needs to work together to develop the strategy and everyone needs to contribute knowledge to your ever growing content repository, even if marketing eventually does the writing and/or editing.

2. Produce Good Content

Producing good content involves a number of factors: smart people, good writers, editors who can make the pieces more search-friendly, and more. The most important thing to remember when producing content is not to stop. As someone once told me, the biggest reason corporate blogs die is because people stop writing in them.

Having trouble figuring out what to write each week? Vernon and Kramer suggest putting together an editorial calendar, so you can more easily map content to strategy. For instance, you can easily write several posts about a single event your organization is attending: one pre-event post, one during event post, and one after-event post.

It’s also important to remember that posts can be simple as long as they’re useful. For example, you can put together a “blog posts greatest hits,” where you highlight a group of related posts that got a lot of views in the past. Posts don’t have to be complex; they just have to be consistent.

One other point – you have to be viewed as authoritative. One way to do that is to make your blog into a resource by linking to additional content outside of your material (such as a relevant blog or news article).

3. Be Where Your Customers Are

Social media alone is not enough – use it as one of your tools, not the only tool. As Amy Vernon says, ”Figure out where your audience is and go there.”

A multi-channel approach allows you to include everything from email to Twitter to advertising to guest posting and more. Wherever your audience does its research is where you want to be seen.

At the same time, don’t worry about the number of followers you have on each channel. In the wise words of Vernon, having the right 500 connections is better than having thousands of followers who aren’t engaged.

Furthermore, B2B companies must have a strong presence on LinkedIn. According to Vernon, it’s the most important platform for B2B. Kramer added that Google views LinkedIn as very credible – don’t disregard its power.

4. Use the Tools Available

There is an ever-growing list of tools available for monitoring and utilizing social media. Kramer and Vernon listed quite a few in their talk. Here’s a sample for you to explore:

Free tools to evaluate your website: HubSpot’s Grader, WebsiteOptimization.com, HubShout

Paid tools inbound marketing tools: HubSpot and Moz

A globally-recognized avatar for use when commenting on blogs: Gravatar

Alerts regarding news that is good for enhancing content: Newsle, Social Mention, TalkWalker

Tools to build your social networks: FollowerWonk, WeFollow, Twibes

Tools for building an editorial calendar: DivvyHQ, Kapost

5. Track Your Success

Although it’s listed last, this is one of the most important steps. If you don’t track your accomplishments, you’ll never know if you hit the goals you set for yourself when developing your strategy. Use the tools listed above to make decisions based on your audience’s actions. Become data-driven, and let that drive tweaks in your content strategy.

Photo: Flickr

What is Harder about B2B Blogging? Starting or Continuing?

b2b-blogging-getting-startedThere is no doubt that blogging for a B2B company is hard. Every day, or every week if you are getting started, you need to publish well-written, thoughtful posts that speak to your audience about their own business issues, while at the same time avoiding product-focused sales pitches and repurposed press releases. Seasoned content marketers don’t see this as a problem. They create content all day long. Night and day. With eyes opened and closed.

But for traditional marketers it is not that easy. And team-of-one marketers. And small business owners. It can be hard to find the time. Or the existing content. Or the creative ideas. But if you start dedicating a bit of time each day or week to focus on creating great blog content, it will become easier and more natural.

Trying to figure out how to get started? The links below provide different perspectives on blogging that are relevant for B2B marketers, and will get you thinking. But don’t just sit around reading blog posts on the internet. Talk to your salespeople. Talk to customer service. Learn what issues keep customers and prospects awake at night. Can you provide resources that can help? Not product pitches, but education. Use your blog to become a trusted resource.

Remember that B2B blogging is a long game. Whether you are looking at the ongoing search traffic or supporting a long sales cycle, both ideas should inspire you to keep blogging. Several of the posts below should provide some new inspiration to keep you going. And if you are the kind of person inspired by stats, according to Hubspot, 92% of companies who blogged multiple times a day acquired a customer through their blog.

Are there other recent resources that have inspired your B2B blogging? Share them below.

People Do Not Follow Blogs – They Read Articles
What do you do when you enter the URL of a highly established blog into your browser? Do you read every article you see on the front page? Likely, you don’t. Instead, you quickly skim through the headlines to see if there is something that actually interests you. You click on those headlines that seem relevant or intriguing, then you read the first several lines.
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Blogging best practices: 8 ideas for curated blog posts
The blog is a critical centerpiece to your content marketing efforts. And it is also the content platform that is most difficult for organizations to maintain the pacing and quality necessary to compete. One of the best things you can do is curate. My only warning is that curating done poorly and cheaply can turn people off. However, curating done well is a scalable way to create great content.
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Is Blogging Still Relevant in a World of Social Media?
I must hear this question – or a variation of it – at least once a week. So I thought I’d open it up for some discussion to the wider community. My feeling is that blogging is a very relevant option for developing a web presence but as the question states – there are other legitimate options too.
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13 Dumb Mistakes Making Your Business Blog Drab, Smelly, and Sleazy
Let’s be honest. Creating a blog is tough. Blogging requires writing skills; enthusiasm about your company; and industry expertise. It requires energy, creativity, and perseverance. You can’t expect your blog to produce results straightaway. Depending on your industry and online competition, it may take three to six months, or sometimes even longer to generate results.
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The Unremarked Death of Another Business Blog
The biggest issue with content marketing is, clearly, THE CONTENT. There are many great tools to solve the issue of how to promote and manage your content: Hootsuite, TweetDeck, and the social networks themselves. For most organizations though, as we can see, that is the least of their worries … as they have no content to manage and share.
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Photo credit: Flickr

9 B2B Social Media Lessons from Buzzfeed CEO Memo

b2b-content-buzzfeedJonah Peretti, Founder and CEO of Buzzfeed, the content site that is the source of those crazy Facebook posts that your friends share but you never do, posted an internal memo with the year’s upcoming plan on LinkedIn. In it he revealed that Buzzfeed drove 85 million unique visitors in August, that they are 3X bigger than they were last year, and by this time next year they will be one of the biggest sites on the web.

How did they grow to become this content behemoth? By publishing list posts, or listicles as they are now called. There is a list about everything and everywhere. No matter what you are interested in or where you come from there’s a post like The 29 Most Minnesotan Things That Ever Happened. There’s a lot of retro and nostalgia posts like 15 TV Shows From Your Childhood You Didn’t Know Had Book Versions and there are even posts that appeal to the social media set. This post, Who Tweeted About It First? A Peek At Twitter’s Early Archives, uses a new Twitter search archive and discovers the first tweets around certain topics. I would share that post. And the title of the post is not as sensational as others on the site.

In true Buzzfeed fashion, Paretti’s memo was written in list form, and I have adapted his headings to the lessons in this post, so B2B marketers can improve their own social media and content creation efforts.

1. News

Even though Buzzfeed made their name on fun posts, they take their news coverage very seriously. While you are here to watch cat videos, read more about what Congress is up to. And it seems to be working. Company news may not be the best content for your B2B company, but industry news filtered through your subject matter experts or industry leaders is. News is becoming personalized, so anything you can do to show your site or blog visitors how the news is relevant to them will be to your advantage.

2. Formats

Yes, they live by the list, but Buzzfeed creates a variety of content, including some they have invented. Have you seen a “rubbable” GIF that you can control with your mouse? Thanks Buzzfeed. Different members of your audience consume different types of contents at different times. Experiment with different types of blog posts. Explore visual content. Even consider audio or podcasts, especially if your mobile audience is growing.

3. Video

Nobody is expecting B2B Marketers to build a video studio and hire a full team of video producers like Buzzfeed did, but video is an easy way to tell a story, highlight a customer or employee, provide customer service how-tos and even entertain. Choose from 6 seconds, 15 seconds or even 2-3 minutes. Make sure you consider the environment in which your customers and prospects watch video. It is as likely to be on a smartphone or tablet in the middle of a train or bus.

4. Mobile

The Buzzfeed CEO freely admits that all their mobile traffic is due to luck. The same is true for you. Visitors are turning to mobile devices and B2B companies are not following. If a prospect can’t find what he’s looking for due to a poor mobile experience it is unlikely he will return from a desktop. And Google mobile search penalizes sites that are not mobile optimized. Learn what responsive design is and talk to your web team about it.

5. International

If your business serves a global audience, follow the Buzzfeed lead and don’t create separate outlets for every country but maintain one central repository and build dynamic localization processes into the site. Even social media posts, especially LinkedIn company updates, can be targeted by geography and language.

6. Business

You better believe that Buzzfeed is a business and their goals are to create interesting content that people share and to find interesting ways to get companies to sponsor that content. It’s a business model and it’s working. Social media needs to be core to your business activities for anyone to take it seriously. If a small group of B2B marketers are running a blog and posting updates on social channels, but nobody in management understands the business value, the activities could be all in vain. As companies change course this team can fall by the wayside.

7. Advertising

Buzzfeed is building a site that advertisers must include in their plans. The business model dictates that companies pay to participate. But is there something in your social media activities, for example, a leading blog, important video interview series, even an ebook that becomes wildly popular in your industry, that customers or prospects just have to be a part of? Would they pay for that privilege? Companies pay to sponsor corporate events? Is this idea that different?

8. Team

You may be a social media team of one, but always look for additional support from other teams, even on an ad hoc basis. If you are successful, you will need additional people. It seems like Buzzfeed’s structure is flexible and as teams get too big, they break apart into smaller teams. Make sure you have the right balance between strategy and execution as a team grows or changes. In a team of one, it is mostly about execution with a little bit of strategy, but you can control how the team grows by who that next person is.

9. Focus

And finally, hard as it may be to believe, there are lots of things that Buzzfeed doesn’t do. They focus on their core activities and soundly reject ones that don’t help drive them to their goals. Focus on goals that are important to building your social presence, important to other company marketing activities, like lead generation or customer retention, and important to executives. Single-minded focus on what matters is how you can succeed.

And just to honor Buzzfeed, here’s an animated GIF of two corgis playing tetherball. I can watch this for hours.

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.

Make Your B2B Social Media Headlines Compelling and Clickable

Every B2B company wants their social media posts read, clicked and shared. These are not just tweets, Facebook posts and LinkedIn updates, but the blog posts, ebooks and webinar offers they lead to. A couple of the following articles focus on the art, science and data of writing the best headlines to make followers, and casual passersby click. Social media headline writing is part marketing, part journalism, part SEO and part sensationalism. And all of them need to pay off expectations with the article itself. That is how you build credibility, authority and ultimately, trust.

As you are creating content for your B2B company, especially blog posts, you need to know what kinds of posts to create. Move beyond company news and product announcements with the below guide to types of blog posts. And finally, we share a review of the next stage of storytelling called storydoing and how it elevates companies to be more productive and to drive business results.

These Five Astonishing Headline Writing Secrets Will Make You Cry, Or At Least Click
For most of us in the online journalism business, writing headlines basically amounts to guesswork. Will people click on this? Are there enough nouns in here for Google to find it? Does this line break look weird? Should I use a question mark? An exclamation point? For Upworthy, it’s more akin to a science — and not one of those mushy sciences like anthropology or psychology, either. We’re talking straight-up particle physics. For every article they publish, its writers come up with 25 headline options. They then A/B test the four most promising before settling on a winner.
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5 Data Insights into the Headlines Readers Click
With the growth of online marketing, both the channels and volumes of content competing for our readers’ attention has exploded, making it increasingly challenging to stand out. Given how significant a headline can be to click-through rate in both search and social online channels, here at Conductor we decided to test different headline types to determine those that resonate most with readers.
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Which Format Is Right for Your Next Blog Post?
When it comes to choosing the right format for your next blog post, there’s quite the smorgasbord to choose from. Perhaps how-to posts are your forte. Or maybe you just can’t resist the list. But just because you have a signature format, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily right for the topic you’re blogging about.
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Good Companies Are Storytellers. Great Companies Are Storydoers
Discussions about story and storytelling are pretty fashionable in marketing circles. I have ambivalent feelings about this. On the one hand, as a lifelong advocate for the power of story in business, I find this very encouraging. For all companies, having a story and knowing that story are crucial steps to achieving success. On the other hand, I’m worried that too many marketers think that telling their story through advertising is enough. It’s not.
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Photo credit: me

Daily Social Media Usage Includes B2B Customers and Prospects

Many B2B companies complain that their customers and prospects don’t use social media. According to the growing stats, 40% of the world uses a social media site every day. And your B2B customers and prospects are likely among them.

Our friends at Saxum created this infographic for social media day (It was Sunday, June 30 if you missed it). It shows activity on major social platforms every day. While not all B2B social media activity takes place on major platforms, this provides good justification for exploring social media platforms further. The complete infographic is below.

Once you begin to identify where your customers and prospects are on social networks, the next step is to determine what kind of useful content you need to create to connect with them.

Here are some of the relavent stats to B2B marketers:

  • 1 out of every 7 minutes spent online is spent on Facebook.
  • 23% of Facebook users check their newsfeed more than 5 times per day.
  • 2.1 billion search queries are conducted on Twitter every day. That’s almost half as many as performed on Google.
  • 1,370 company pages are added to LinkedIn every day.
  • Facebook and Twitter traffic peaks in the afternoon.
  • LinkedIn traffic peaks in the morning.
  • 200 million hours of video are watched on YouTube every day.
  • 10 million presentations have been uploaded to Slideshare.

What have you discovered about your B2B customers’ or prospects’ social media habits that have justified your activities? Let others know in the comments below.


Click the infographic to view a larger image.

How To Find the Best B2B Social Media Linkedin Groups

Most people learn how to use Linkedin by building a network of professional connections. Some even take the time to post updates to their activity feed. But if you haven’t noticed yet, not a lot of people hang out in the activity stream on Linkedin.

The lion’s share of real engagement happens in Linkedin Groups, especially for B2B companies. But not all Linkedin Groups. Most are veritable spam fests where unscrupulous marketers spam links to promotions or try to drive clicks to their blog posts.

So how do you find the really good Linkedin Groups? How can you tell which ones are worthwhile, and which ones are worthless?

You could just join a bunch of groups, follow the activity that occurs in each one and learn that way. But that’s time consuming. And since there are nearly 1.6 million Linkedin Groups and you can only join 50 at a time, finding the genuinely worthwhile groups that way could take a lifetime.

As an example, I used Linkedin Group statistics to analyze the three B2B social media groups I’ve been a member of to see which one is the best.

I’d rather spend more time in one Linkedin Group where I can have real discussions with other professionals who are interested in exploring a common topic, then spread myself thin over a bunch of groups, particularly if some of them are spammy.

Here’s how to use Linkedin Group Statistics to see which ones to join.

1. Review the Group

Go to the Linkedin Group you’re considering joining. But don’t join right away.

Instead, scroll down below the “Top Influencers of the Week” box in the right-hand column and find “Group Statistics.” The “3,759” number you see in the image is not accurate. Every group uses the same generic artwork. So ignore it and click “View Group Statistics.”

2. Review the Activity

Once you’re in the Linkedin Group Statistics page, click the “Activity” tab and check out the graph on the right. “Discussions” are new posts left to the Group and “comments” made underneath new discussions. A better way to think about “discussions” is as “new posts,” because if no one comments, they aren’t actually discussions.

3. Compare Discussions to Comments

The chart will give you a snapshot of whether or not people are having conversations. If the number of discussions is much higher than the number of comments, people are leaving new posts, but they’re not starting conversations. Unfortunately, this is the case most of the time in Linkedin Groups.

Now and again, as in the Linkedin Group used in the example above appears currently to be hosting healthy conversations, but not until recently. In fact, comments surpassed discussions just last month. Could it be a fluke?

4. Look at the Conversations

Let’s check it out and see. Just because there’s a healthy conversation going on, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a worthwhile group. A low ratio of discussions to comments is necessary, but not sufficient. So hop on over to the group’s activity feed and see if the discussions are interesting to you. If they are, join up.

As a rule of thumb, closed groups tend to be less spammy than open groups because they are actively monitored by a community manager. Some Linkedin Groups have rules for what they do and don’t allow. If they have rules, the manger will send them to you if your membership is approved.

So which B2B Linkedin Groups are the healthiest?

I compared the following Linkedin Groups:

Here’s what I found:

With more than 200 discussions posted in recent months, both B2B Online Marketing and BtoB Marketing do have more activity. But that’s not an indication of worthwhile conversation because they both have too few comments. There’s almost no conversation occurring there at all in these group, and since conversation is engagement, these are, you guessed it, spam fests.

B2B Social Media, on the other hand, has around half the volume of new discussions being posted, but those discussions most recently have started drawing a healthy number of comments. As of January, the engagement level has picked up sharply. For readers of this site, if you like what you see in the Group’s activity stream, this is the one to join.

Are there other ways you have evaluated LinkedIn Groups, or are there other B2B social media or marketing groups that provided value? Let other readers know in the comments below.

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?