10 Steps to More Inbound Links to Your B2B Blog

If you’re a B2B blogger, you know that links are the currency of SEO. Building credible, authoritative and relevant links back to your blog is an excellent way in which to tell the search engines that your blog is valuable to their many customers (i.e. searchers) and needs to be ranked accordingly.

But you also know that link building is not an exact science. Despite the fact that they work through algorithms constructed by meticulous geeks, search engines tend to be flaky and subjective when it comes to compiling their rankings, and keeping up with their ever-changing tweaks can be quite a task.

The following tips and ideas will help ensure that your link building strategy doesn’t run aground.

1. Remember, quality trumps quantity
As with any business endeavour, and most things in life, you’re better off focussing on building a few, high value links than trying to pepper the web with as many links as you can create. In the world of search engines, status is everything, so take time targeting a handful of sites that you know to be influential.

2. Find out who’s linking to your competitors
If you’re a serious blogger, you will know who you’re up against – who’s blogging to the same audience as you? Who’s trying to hog your subject spotlight? Then find out who is helping them by identifying links to their blogs (go to yahoo and type ‘links:’ followed by the URL for a list). These sites will likely be easy targets for your own links.

3. Become a guest blogger
By finding complementary sites and offering your expertise as a blogger in exchange for a link, you will be building your own blog’s profile as a leader in the sector. Be sure to provide a reciprocal link to reinforce your blog’s relationships in the eyes of the search engines.

4. Register with blog directories
While the quantity of blog directories has exploded over the past few years, the quality has really floundered. This means that finding directories that are worth registering with requires a bit of digging, but this remains an important element of a link building strategy.

5. Request links where you probably deserve them
If you’ve gone to the trouble of reviewing someone’s product or blogging about their event, take the time to drop them an email asking them to link to your post from their website.

6. Use article marketing
Rewrite some of your blog posts into articles for free article submission sites. Many of these allow links and some can be well optimised.

7. Publish something unique and newsworthy
Create a survey or an index and invite an online news site to run the story with a link to your blog. This might be hard work, but it does tend to pay off as these are links that your competitors will struggle to imitate.

8. Offer awards
Create a badge that links back to your blog, and award it to top achievers in your target field. This is a win-win situation: they get recognised for their hard work, while you get your link.

9. Pick up the phone
So many B2B marketers forget about the old fashioned dog-and-bone. If you’ve identified a website that holds some authority in your sector call the webmaster and ask what it takes to get a link. You’ll probably be surprised at how receptive they are to being approached in this manner.

10. Make your blog worth linking to
If your content is super and your blog meets a need that no other blog even comes close to, you’ll find webmasters, journalists and the Twitterati simply won’t be able to resist linking to it. This is, of course, a best case scenario, but one to aim for.

What are some other strategies you have used to build links to your B2B blog?

12 Social Media Tools for B2B Pre-Event Marketing

Social media has enabled B2B marketers with a wide range of opportunities for promoting their events. Whether it’s a webinar or a multi-day conference, leveraging social media can help event organizers extend an event’s visibility, attendance and pre-event conversations.

Using social media to build event attendance

Most larger events have their own web site and most smaller events have a least a landing page with registration (and hopefully those include social sharing functionality), but very few take advantage of the event capabilities of several social media channels or services. If you are running an event, consider promotion in the following areas:

1. LinkedIn Events
LinkedIn Events

Setting up an event in LinkedIn is a fairly simple process. Once your event is created, invite your connections to attend. LinkedIn users will be shown events that match their specific business needs based on the information they’ve added to their LinkedIn profile (Job Title, Industry, etc.), so your event may show up in their recommendations. In addition, your event will become searchable, and people connected to event attendees will see the event listed in their contact’s profile.

2. Facebook Events
Facebook Events
Facebook doesn’t have the most elegant option for managing events, but it can be effective. If your event or organization does not have a Facebook presence, just set up your event in Facebook Events and invite all your friends. Here’s a good guide from Mashable on How To: Organize an Event on Facebook. It’s a year old but the information is still useful.

If your event or organization does have a Facebook Page, you should create the event through that Page. It is a bit convoluted, but start by going to your Page and click “Edit Page” in the lefthand navigation. Click “Applications” in the left hand navigation. Events shows in your list of applications, and click “Go to Application.” Now you can create the event normally, but it is associated with the Page. This event will appear on the Page Wall, and you can still invite your friends, plus send an update to everyone who has liked the page.

3. Eventbrite
Eventbrite empowers you with simple but powerful tools to manage, promote and sell out your event. It’s free to sign up and get started. Eventbrite provides everything you need including custom page templates and the ability to sell tickets. If you sell tickets, Eventbrite charges a fee, plus you will need to link to a Paypal or Google Checkout account to accept payment. Eventbrite will also list your public event in its directory. You can even track your registration page in Google Analytics.

4. Plancast

Plancast Screenshot

Plancast is the easiest way to share events with friends. Just create an account, add an event and invite people to announce their attendance. Once your event has multiple attendees, people can leave comments, invite their contacts, add the event to their calendar and more.

5. Twitter
Twitter can offer limitless value in promoting your event. Here’s some Twitter event-marketing recommendations:

  • For larger events only, create a new Twitter account that you can update all year long
  • Establish and publicize a hashtag for your event
  • Create separate Twitter lists of event speakers, sponsors, attendees and local restaurants and attractions
  • Use Twitter search to find potential attendees and follow them
  • Tweet about event-specific information including sessions, speakers, exhibitors, benefits of attending, etc.
  • Promote your event by running a contest. For example, give away a free or discounted registration for those that tweet about your event

6. Facebook Page

Social Fresh Cruise Facebook Group

A Facebook Page can provide a destination for attendees to engage with event organizers. Organizers can share their pre-event processes and event updates which will help generate interest. Sharing photos, videos, press releases, media coverage, speaker updates, etc. and receiving feedback on those posts will benefit both the attendees and the event organizers.

7. Blog
Social Fresh Blog

Create a blog for the conference and source content from speakers and attendees. Write posts about the conference and answer frequently asked questions. The blog can even extend beyond the conference and be used as a year-round source of information. Social Fresh and Social Media Week NY are good examples of event blogs that generate marketing value.

8. YouTube and UStream Videos
Create pre-event videos discussing conference topics or featuring conference speakers. Consider a live video show a few days prior to the event to share event information, agenda, speaker bios, and whatever other event-related topics you’d like to cover. Invite attendees to ask questions via Twitter or live chat.

9. Community
Building a community around your event may only be viable for the larger conferences like SXSW, but the value it can bring to attendees is worth the consideration. Within the SXSW community, attendees can research and vote on panel sessions, engage in event-related discussions and prepare their schedule. If your event has the resources and a large enough base of attendees, consider putting a community in your event planning agenda.

10. Mobile

There’s a variety of mobile marketing options to consider for your event. You can use pre-event text voting to get attendee feedback, use QR codes on marketing materials like posters and print ads, and mobile apps can be created to provide event details, agendas, locations and other pertinent information.

11. Slideshare
Put together a slide presentation of your conference benefits, topics or speakers and posting it to Slideshare. Leverage it for other uses too including the event blog, Facebook page, etc.

12. Foursquare, Gowalla and other check-in apps
Ignite Foursquare BadgeTwitter 140 Conf. BadgeInternet Week Foursquare Badge
It seems people will do anything for a badge or other check-in reward. Use this to your advantage. See if you can offer something special at the event check-in for those using a location based service like Foursquare, Gowalla or Whrrl.

So what other ways have you used social media for your B2B event marketing?

What is Your B2B Company About?

Every day you meet people in real life and on the web and you tell them what your B2B company does. I recently heard a study that Americans are more likely than people from other countries to define themselves by their job, so it is very common to answer the question “What do you do?”. Visitors to your social profiles and web site are also asking that question by reading your company’s social profile descriptions and the about page on your company website. People usually call their description of their company an elevator pitch, but I want to expand the definition of it and show the importance of this in more instances.

Start with Keywords
You already know what your company does, but can you describe it succinctly? And can you describe it using keywords that would others use to describe it. You can call this the Googlization of the elevator pitch, because like any good marketing approach, it is about consistency and repetition. What terms do customers and prospects use in searching for your company? Incorporate those keywords into the description of the company. It is not about jargon or buzzwords, but using real words that real people use. Once you know how others describe you and how they find you, you can create a real statement that describes what your company does.

Share it Internally
If you ask 10 employees to describe the company, you are likely to get 10 different answers. This doesn’t help your company build its consistent awareness in your industry and local community. Your employees are the ones marketing for you every day when they attend conferences and networking events. “What do you do?” is the first question every one asks when they meet someone new. I do it too. It is the easiest way to start a conversation because everyone has an answer. And that answer matters. Would you describe yourself as an account manager for Kansas City’s leading innovative provider of customer-focused printing solutions? Or would you use words that make sense in conversation? Once you develop your company description, make sure to share it with employees so they can be clear in describing what they do.

Home and About
A company website still provides the definitive description of what a company does. The consistent message, using the keywords so prospects can find you find in search, but that still makes sense when people read it and say it, needs to be on the home page and the about page. Too many times, long-winded copy describes processes, solutions and other details on these key pages without ever providing a concise description of what a company does. If your company does something remarkable, or even blog-worthy, someone is going to come to your website for a short phrase that describes what you do. Bloggers and speakers are always looking for examples and they rarely contact a pr person or look at a press release. If they can’t find a description easily, they may change their opinion of the company or not bother writing about it at all.

Don’t Get Cute with Twitter
The Twitter bio field can hold 160 characters. Make sure you use them wisely. Already have a description of your company that describes what you do concisely? Put it here. If you are big brand and everyone knows what you do, this is less important. But no matter how many people know what your company does, there is no reason to have a bio like, “Keeping it real from inside the walls of our place.” Sure, there’s a link to your company website or blog (or at least there should be), but don’t make someone click that link to find out what you do. You want them to click the link because they want to find out more, not to find out the basics, because they probably won’t.

Google Searches Facebook?
B2B companies are still finding their way on Facebook, but there are definitely examples of successful pages on the world’s largest social network. Since these pages have always been public and searchable, there has never been any question about privacy and the sharing of personal data. Businesses are on the web to be found. In addition to the title of your page, the most searchable spot on a Facebook page is that box in the upper left below your logo. Put your company description in that box so everyone understands what your company does, including search engines.

Represent Your Company on LinkedIn
And since all B2B social media approaches need to include LinkedIn, make sure you use this consistent description on all employee profiles and on the company profile. If you have read this far, I don’t think I need to tell you why. You already get it. Consistent message, search benefits, multiple outlets.

Have you worked to update your company description and make it consistent across all web channels? What have your biggest challenges been?

Social Media B2B Now On The Kindle!

One of the things I love most about Social Media B2B is all of the feedback and comments we get from readers. These comments help us make the blog better everyday. While it is easy and free to subscribe to Social Media B2B via RSS and E-mail (see right sidebar) we are always looking for other ways for people to read about B2B social media, that best fits their busy schedule.

Today we are excited to announce that you can now subscribe to Social Media B2B on your Kindle. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t offer Kindle subscriptions for blogs for free, so it is $1.99 a month. However for executives and other team members on the go who may not like subscribing in RSS or e-mail and want an offline way to read Social Media B2B we think $1.99 is a fair price for that solution.

I do have a Kindle and really enjoy having an e-reader. It is a great solution for some people, especially travelers. Feel free to subscribe on the Kindle here. Even if you don’t subscribe, Jeff and I would appreciate it if you reviewed the blog on the Kindle page.

Please let us know if there are other methods of distribution you would like to see in the future.

Does Your B2B Website Meet Your Business Objectives?

Now that the calendar has rolled over, many people are reviewing their approved budgets, evaluating their project lists and setting their B2B marketing and communications priorities based on last year’s results. Management has handed down its business goals and objectives for the year and it is now the job of marketing to support those objectives. If social media is part of supporting those objectives, remember that all online engagement drives customers and prospects back to your website. This is the perfect time to review your website and make sure that it is in line with those business objective as well.

As many websites have been around a while, they may not reflect your marketing initiatives and business strategies for this year. We offer the following suggestions to help guide your review of your site. Some of these may be small fixes to your site that can be easily accomplished. Others, however, may require you to shift your priorities and make a site redesign part of this year’s tasks.

1. Home Page Clarity and Functionality
When prospects arrive at your home page, it is clear what products or services your company offers? Objectively review your home page and view it as a first time visitor, whether your primary offerings have changed or not this year. You may have optimized your search results to drive great traffic, but if people can’t tell what you do at a glance, they are not sticking around. And by the way, if you have an animated flash landing page or autoplaying music or video, remove it today. These outdated and slow-loading bits of media only slow down your site visitors and make it more likely that they will leave your site without taking action. Check your analytics to see what sites people came from or what keywords they searched to understand who stays on your site and who leaves.

2. Clear Path to Information
Prospects and customers arrive at your home page and they know they are in the right place, but can they find what they are looking for? As web sites have gotten fancier and technology more advanced, gadgets, widgets and sliding navigation have made it harder to find what your site visitors are looking for. Make sure your site has a clear path to get people to the information they need, whether it is product specs, customer service or finding a distributor. Again, your analytics tell you what pages people go to after your home page.

3. Call to Action
Is your site generating leads for your sales force? Are you trying to get new subscribers to content via RSS or to an email newsletter? Are you selling products directly from the web or passing all these prospects to a distributor? Whatever your call to action on your site is, make sure it is on every relevant page and customers and prospects know what to do. And make sure this is all trackable so you can match this up to your objectives. Review these numbers on a regular basis so you are not surprised by either success or failure. Your website is a living entity that should be easy to change to make it more effective. If you are constantly fighting with your IT department or a web vendor to make changes, you need to reevaluate that relationship. Your company’s success cannot be held back by technical limitations or the whims of your internal or external partners.

4. Social Media Profiles
Last year you started a blog, joined Twitter and created a Facebook fan page. Now is the time to get those social presences to the home page of your site. You want to grow these social communities and burying their existence on your about page, contact page or some random page that no one can find is not the way to do it.

What else are you doing to check the usability of your website and make sure you can match site visitor actions to your business objectives?

6 Keys to B2B Blogging Success

An important part of most B2B social media strategies is a corporate blog, consisting of one or more authors from within the company. Whether you currently manage a corporate blog, write for one, or are planning to launch one in 2010, here are six things that are required for you to be a successful blogger for your company. I hesitate to use such an nondescript word like things, but they are a combination of skills, knowledge and personality traits, so a general term is better than a specific one.

1. Idea Generator
While not as ominous as it sounds, you are the idea generator. I describe this trait as thinking like a blogger. Every article you read, every conversation you have, and everything you encounter in your daily life can become a blog post. If you have a clear editorial policy about the kinds of posts you write and the topics you cover, you will begin to see these post opportunities everywhere. See my post from yesterday for an example of this. This doesn’t mean re-posting articles you find and paraphrasing your conversations. It is about being creative and getting ideas for posts throughout the day. There is nothing worse than having to write a blog post and having no ideas as a place to start.

2. Idea Storage Device
You must have an easy, non-disruptive way to record these ideas when they occur to you. There are lots of technology solutions on mobile devices like electronic notepads, Evernote (syncs between mobile, web and desktop) and Dragon Dictation (transcribes voice to text). Physical notebooks are fine too, if you always have one with you. Keeping these ideas in one place is the most important thing to recording them. For that reason, I use the WordPress iphone app and create draft posts for my ideas. There are many ideas that never get written, but all my prospective ideas are in already in the place where I write posts.

3. Well-Connected in Your Company
There is nothing worse than a corporate blogger sitting in the communications department creating blog posts from press releases or marketing materials. That is not blogging. You need to develop contacts across the company so you can call a product manager and ask questions about a particularly interesting product feature. You need to meet with the development lead and talk about customer needs and how your company is providing real world solutions. If you don’t have these connections, or easy access to these people, you need to develop them. Blogging shows the human side of a company by digging deeper into the company’s offerings and telling human stories about them. People relate and connect to people.

4. Strong Writing Abilities
Coming up with good ideas is the first part of successful B2B blogging, but conveying those ideas in a clear and succinct manner is more important. This is key to the execution of your blog as part of your social media plans. While a headline (the idea) can attract readers to your blog, poorly written content will cause them not to return. Not everyone can write in a style appropriate for a blog, but your ability does improve the more you do it. And if you are not able to proof for typos and grammatical errors, have one of your colleagues do it.

5. Basic Understanding of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Every blog post needs to be written with an understanding of your company’s primarily keywords and what information your customers are searching for. This doesn’t mean to stuff your posts with so many keywords that it becomes unreadable. It means to use a variety of terms that describe the same thing, like blog, blogger and blogging, throughout the post. Don’t just use company jargon to describe products and situations, but use terms that your customers use. Understand the difference between page title, post title and post URL, which are three different places to mix up keywords. We use a WordPress plugin to create a different page title when needed, along with managing other optimization tasks within WordPress.

6. Be a Community Manager
Blogs help build a community around your organization, but it does not happen without work and nurturing. Managing a blog community requires that you write engaging content to elicit comments and respond to all those comments. This doesn’t just happen on the blog, but across other social media sites where you distribute your company’s content like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The other side of that community building is to interact with others in the industry on their blogs. Respond to their content where they are posting it. This approach is not about building links back to your blog, but about building relationships back to your blog. Again, you can’t just sit in your office writing compelling content without sharing it with others interested in similar topics. This is why it’s called social media.

What else contributes to your success as a corporate blogger for a B2B organization?

4 Reasons Vlogging Isn’t Better Than Blogging For B2B

Reminder: Take The 2010 B2B Social Media Marketing Survey!

I have talked about the value of video blogging before on Social Media B2B and while I think it is important, heck I even have a video blog, I don’t think they are better than text-based blogging for B2B marketing and communications. I recently read a blog post about Cisco advocating that video blogging is better than blogging. They provide valid reasons like credibility and authenticity, however, they are wrong…for now.

Here is the head blogger for Cisco discussing their take on video blogging:

He has many good points, but the problem is that video blogging still has many issues that stop it from being the best way to blog:

1. Video Doesn’t Work With Most Mobile Devices – It can’t be denied that smart phones are becoming an increasingly growing platform to consume information from the web. The problem is that most web-based video players don’t work on mobile devices. When I click on the Cisco post above and view it on my iPhone half of the content is gone because I can’t see it on my phone. The majority of B2B users have BlackBerry’s and video is the same way on those devices. Because of this issue video blogs reduce possible exposure and reach to target audiences.

2. Video Search Is a Work In Progress – Most search platforms like Google and Bing are still heavily rooted in text and do a poor job integrating video. While uploading video to multiple sharing sites can be used for search engine optimization, a video-only blog would have difficulty ranking well for a diverse set a keywords, unless the content was so compelling that it could drive an abundance of back links. Transcripts of video can also help solve the search problem, but this in not an ideal or quick solution.

3. Video Takes Longer To Consume – The Internet has shortened attention spans and business-to-business users have more information than ever fighting for their attention. To solve this, most people try to get through information faster by skimming or reading only the first few paragraphs of an article. The issue with video is that it takes longer to consume it then to read text, so for many users, it doesn’t fit into their tight schedules. Sure, you can fast forward web video, but it is still a different experience trying to watch a 5 minute video in 30 seconds than quickly skimming an article.

4. Connection/Quality – In addition to taking longer to consume for users who have slow Internet connections, watching video can be an even slower experience. Also, the quality of most online video is still much lower than many people are used to on their TVs and other video devices. The overall experience of online video still needs improvement. If users have to wait for your video to load, they aren’t going to watch it. It doesn’t matter that the speed of their connection is out of your control.

Am I suggesting that you don’t video blog? No. I am suggesting that a video only blog TODAY is not the best idea for a B2B marketing tactic. I believe that the best opportunity when publishing on the web is to have a mix of all forms of media: text, audio, images and video. Different forms of media bring different types of engagement and bring out different emotions.

Do you use video blogging in your B2B blog?

What to Do When Your B2B Company Rejects Social Media

We have written about uses of social media in B2B where passionate people took risks and leveraged their corporate capital to launch creative and innovative social media plans. But that’s not you. You have tried to convince management of the value of social media to no avail. There aren’t the resources. You just can’t get buy in. No matter how many blog posts you share showing large and small companies succeeding with social media, the bosses just won’t bite.

“Our customers aren’t on social media sites”

“Our competitors aren’t on social media sites”

“Only my kids use Facebook”

“I don’t want my employees on LinkedIn”

And you can’t even convince your boss to let you try a small pilot project. If you work at an agency or are a consultant, this is the point where you just walk away. There are some clients that you just can’t help and you move on.

But if you are a company employee, then you are operating under a different set of circumstances. You know, in your heart of hearts, that social media can help with lead generation, reduce costs and improve customer relations. It’s one thing to ask for forgiveness rather than permission, but this is a situation when everyone has said no. Forgiveness will not be forthcoming. What do you do?

You need to embark upon a stealth social media campaign using personal accounts on behalf of your company.

Did you just read what you thought you read? Yes. Sometimes the only way to prove something to management is to actually prove it. Since you are doing this against corporate mandate, the stakes are higher. If it doesn’t work, and no one finds out what you are doing, it’s no big deal. But if your plans are discovered before you can prove success, don’t point to this blog post. You are on your own.

Warning: Continue to read this post and follow its advice at your own risk. We are not responsible for red-faced, stapler-throwing bosses if you get caught practicing social media on your own time for the benefit of your company.

So if you are still interested in pursuing this course of action, here are some suggestions:

1. Set up a personal Twitter account
Follow others in your industry. Do not include your company name in your profile. Create some searches for industry terms that you can periodically check for relevant tweets. To keep this even more stealthy, only check Twitter on your smartphone, not on your company computer.

2. Create a blog and write about industry topics
Again, do not include your company name in your profile. As you connect with others, or you share posts with industry contacts (at your own risk), people will assume you are acting on behalf of the company. There is no need to tell them otherwise.

3. Leave comments on other blogs
This does not have to be stealthy, unless you link back to your secret blog. You are free to interact with others in the digital world as an employee of your company. It’s not really social media to leave a comment on a blog, right?

4. Answer questions on LinkedIn
Since your LinkedIn profile is current and up-to-date, you are representing your company when you do this. Pass along positive and helpful information to others on LinkedIn. This one is pretty easy to talk your way out of since it won’t appear like a coordinated plan.

5. Pass leads along to Sales
As you interact online, you will encounter prospects that you will want to get into the Sales funnel. This one is harder to disguise because you will be interacting with the Sales department. You can’t really lie and say you found these leads on the sidewalk out in front of the building, but you have to say something. Again, if it is not too many, you can just brush it off as you were doing some online searches and came across people asking questions. But remember, the point of this whole exercise is to demonstrate the value of social media. Too much subterfuge will make it harder to make your case later.

6. Test drive monitoring tools using free trials
Many monitoring tools have free trials so you can find the one that works best for you based on the results. Here’s a list of tools that you can review. These tools will allow you to show some data when you make your case.

Would you be willing to risk the ire of your upper management to prove the value of social media? Have you already done some of these things in a less stealthy manner?

9 Ways to Find Your B2B Industry Influencers

Many B2B industries are small with a handful of influencers and thought leaders. It is relatively easy to discover the influencers in these types of niches, but if you are operating in a larger arena, or you want to connect with others in the larger sector from where you operate, here are some ideas for doing that. Kipp recently wrote a post about commenting on blogs as a way to connect with other bloggers and build community within your industry. These connections help get the word out about your products and services.

Before you can comment, you must find top blogs in your industry. The bloggers are one set of influencers in your industry. Here are nine steps you can take to find the influencers, both online and offline.

1. Google Search
Every search begins with a Google search and this is no exception. This is a good way to get the lay of the land and find the top results. Search for niche industry terms, answers to questions, and even customer complaint topics. Google will return individual posts, articles and sites that are relevant to your searches. Since Google’s search algorithm takes into account traffic, links and relevancy, the top results are the ones that others will see in response their searches. The writers of these top sites are influencers.

2. Google Blog Search
In addition to searching the general web, Google allows you to search just blogs. Follow the same procedure above to limit your search to just blogs. Many of the higher ranked blogs will show up in a general web search, some others will rise to the top of the blog search, that would otherwise get lost in a full web search. Again, search for a variety of industry terms, questions, solutions, and problems. Since many blog post titles are written to answer some of these questions, expect more specific results than were returned above.

3. Other Search Engines
According to comScore, Google provided approximately 65% of search results in the US in October. Without even taking into account the rest of the world, where Google is a bit lower (and might be where you are located), 35% of online search results use other sites to find their results. That is a huge percentage to ignore if you are looking to find results across an industry. And don’t just look at Yahoo and Bing, but consider local sites too. For example, Baidu, China’s leading search engine is responsible for 62% of the country’s search volume.

4. Twitter
If you are reading this blog, there’s not much to say about using Twitter to find influencers. Make sure you use Twitter search to find people tweeting about your industry or niche, find Twitter lists using Listorious, and use tools like Twitter Grader and TweepSearch to find users by location, keywords and bios.

5. LinkedIn
Review your LinkedIn connections for industry leaders. You may already be connected to some, and it is time to build those relationships. Search for known influencers and see if you connections are linked to them. Stay on top of industry groups and look for interaction from thought leaders or references to thought leaders. Connect with people through LinkedIn and take those relationships to other means of communication for nuturing and strengthening.

6. Technorati
One of the original blog directories, Technorati, is still a good way to find blogs in your area. You can search for both posts and blogs, and Technorati shows an authority ranking for each blog from 0 to 100, with 100 being the highest.

Authority is calculated based on a site’s linking behavior, categorization and other associated data over a short, finite period of time. A site’s authority may rapidly rise and fall depending on what the blogosphere is discussing at the moment, and how often a site produces content being referenced by other sites.

7. Industry Publications
Even though their publications may be struggling as they try to find the right balance between print and online, the publishers, editors and writers of trade publications are the original B2B influencers. While their influence has waned, they are still probably the most well-connected people in your industry. Develop and cultivate relationships with them. They are very accessible, and willing to connect, but make sure you give in return. Sign up for their webinars and email newsletters. Share their content on your social networks. Place real value on their relationship, because you don’t know where they might wind up next. They could become your next customer or competitor.

8. Trade Shows and Conferences
Are trade shows and conferences a holdover from the old school world, or have they been strengthened and re-invigorated by online connections? Networking has always been an important part of these events, but now you can go with an agenda and a list of influencers to meet in-person. Contact several of the people you found online and arrange to meet for coffee or lunch. Read Chris Brogan’s post about preparing for conference for more suggestions who to get more out of the conference besides real life connections with industry influencers.

9. Talk to Company Executives
And finally, don’t overlook your own company executives. Some may be industry influencers themselves, but they also have connections that they have met over the years. Make sure you mine those connections and ask for introductions, whether by email, phone conference or in person. The more ways you can connect with people, the stronger those relationships.

Once you find these influencers, develop relationships with them, whether through blog comments, twitter messages, answering questions on LinkedIn, or meeting for coffee at a trade show. Think of this process as a bit like the sales process where you develop leads and work them for a result, which in this case is the spreading of your message or content. You can manage this informally, or even consider a basic CRM system to keep you on track.

How are you mining you industry and contacts to find your B2B Industry Influencers?

B2B Social Media Example: Indium Blogs

The next post in our example series is the top notch blogging of the Indium Corporation. This global developer, manufacturer, and supplier of specialty alloys, solders and indium compounds is one of the best examples of business blogging in the B2B space I have seen.

And if you want some background into how researchers and scientists at a chemical company were convinced to blog, read this interview with Director of Marketing, Rick Short from the Hubspot website.

blogsidebar

The first thing Indium does right is provide a prominent link to its series of blogs on the home page. This graphic show all ten blogs in a sidebar. Each blog is listed by name, with an author photo. For the multi-author blogs, the photos rotate among the authors. With this sidebar a reader can choose to view a specific blog, or go to the blog directory. This blog directory is also prominently listed under the Home navigation tab.

Indium Blog Homepage

The blog directory shows all the blogs, author’s photos, an excerpt from the most recent post, as well as a link to the author’s bio and an RSS subscribe button. Since these are specialty area and industry blogs, it is key to provide subscriptions options to each individual blog. There is also a tech support blog, a B2B marketing blog and a blog for the Chinese language audience.

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Each blog has a similar look, which matches the company branding, and has many standard blog features, unique to each blog, like RSS subscription options, social bookmarking and sharing buttons, recent posts, most popular posts, a blog roll, author contact information, and archives listing.

Each blog carries a Creative Commons license, which is certainly contrary to most corporate ideas of copyright, This allows other bloggers to use the information from the Indium blog, so long as they provide attribution. There is also a statement that these are personal opinions, rather than company positions. The statement continues “Content published here is not read or approved by the Indium Corporation and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the company. In addition, they are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date.” While this does sound like it was inspired by the legal department, it actually gives the bloggers more freedom to write what they want.

With the most popular post listing, it is easy to find posts with many comments. While the blog authors definitely respond to all comments, and in one case to follow up a sales lead by saying that a regional sales rep would contact the commenter, there are not many recent comments. It would be great to see more readers leave comments. As some of these bloggers have been writing for a couple of years, they need to challenge themselves to generate more reader comments. While I would not advocate controversy, it does work. But asking for comments is another way to get response. Simple questions about readers’ experiences can also help tease some comments out. Even though they are tracking page view and visitor metrics, comments are important part of engagement metrics.

So if you are looking to start corporate blogging, definitely check out what Rick has done at Indium, but realize that this was not launched overnight. Develop your plans and start with one blog, but make it fantastic. And make sure your site readers can find it.