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.

83 B2B Social Media Blog Post Ideas

Everyone is busy with other things in their work lives and personal lives, but the core of any social media program for B2B companies has to be creating great content on a blog. While this really needs to be a prime focus of you or your team, sometimes it just gets hard to publish that next blog post. Remember that you are creating this content to help your customers and prospects learn something or think about something in a different way. You also need to make sure you are converting this traffic with a call to action.

Whether it’s a shortage of time or ideas, here is a list of curated posts to jumpstart that next post (see what I did there?).

The Only Blog Post Idea List You’ll Ever Need
Examples:
Choose subjects for each day of the week This has probably been my single most helpful way of deciding what to write. Each day from Monday to Saturday has its own category. This means our focus can be more defined each day, rather than having to come up with a random topic every time we write. You can do this even if you only blog once a week—the first week of the month could always be based on one subject, the second week on another, and so on.
Use Google Analytics Take a look at the keyword searches that are bringing people to your site, as this will give you a great idea of what information people are looking for. You may think that the fact that they’ve arrived at your site means you’ve already written about what they’re searching for, but that’s not always the case.
Consider opposites By looking at an issue from opposite directions, you can get two new blog post ideas.

10 Blog Post Tips You Can Use Right Now
Examples:
The Beginner’s Guide to… Even if you’ve not been blogging in your niche for very long, you can write a beginner’s guide. In fact, you’re in a great position to do so: you’ll be able to remember all the questions you had when you were just starting out.
The A-Z Guide To… It takes some work to put together an A-Z guide … but this sort of post can make a fantastic resource for readers. You could write an A-Z guide for your whole niche (e.g. “The A-Z Guide to Blogging”) or for an aspect of your niche (e.g. “The A-Z Guide to Writing Great Content”).
What 5 Experts Say About… Perhaps you know your readers want a post about a particular topic — but you don’t feel you know enough to write that post. Instead of trying to come up with the content yourself, look at blogs, books, or articles to see what experts in your field have said. (Make sure you attribute each quote.)

31 Easy Ideas To Create Content Your Customers Want
Examples:
Take all the slideshare decks you already have and copy the notes into article format and embed it into a blog post
Create a list of the top blog sites for each keyword group
Interview internal employees and ask them to answer simple questions (by email even) such as who they are, what they do and how it serves your customers

22 Ways to Create Compelling Content When You Don’t Have a Clue featuring an infographic below
Examples:
Curate content Find your ten favorite websites, and then find your favorite post on each of them. Publish a post listing these top ten posts, and explain why you like them. You don’t even have to think about being creative, and everyone you feature there will appreciate it.
Create a worst-case study Same thing, but focus on a blog, company or product that you hate. This can be even more interesting, particularly if it’s a popular offering. Explain your frustrations with it, explain why it is successful anyway, and explain what you would do differently.
Go for a walk This is the generic advice that you’ve probably heard a hundred times before. If you just can’t do it anymore, then take a break, go for a walk, and get some fresh air. It’s not quite that simple, but it’s close: we all have routines and practices that are good at triggering high performance mental states. It’s just a matter of finding the right triggers for you.

And if you are still stuck, here is a blog post idea generator. It may not give a perfect blog post, but it is good for a laugh.

22 Ways to Create Compelling Content - Infographic

6 Ways to Create and Share B2B Social Media Content Without a Blog

One of the best ways to use social media to drive traffic to your B2B website is to create a blog on your website and publish relevant articles to your prospects and customers. Rather than posting this content only on your social media channels, it is hosted on a site that you control. And you can use your social channels to share your content and bring visitors to your site.

For some organizations it is not currently possible to create a blog, but B2B marketers are still interested in creating and sharing content. In addition to the awareness benefit that sharing new content brings, marketers need to understand how to create remarkable content on a regular basis. Here are six ways to create and share content without a blog.

1. Email
This is the easiest one because you can do this now with no learning. The next time you attend a conference or industry event, make notes about the 5 most amazing things you saw. Whether you have an email program and customer distribution list or not, you can still write up your thoughts from the event. If you send regular emails, use this information in your next email. If you don’t communicate this way, provide your write-up to your salespeople, and they can use it as a reason to connect with prospects and customers.

2. YouTube
Shoot a short video on your phone with one of your product managers describing how one feature of your product solves a specific problem. Interview a customer telling a similar story and you have two different ways to showcase what your products do. Make sure you shoot the video in a quiet place so the audio is clear. Post these on YouTube and provide the links to your employees. They can share them on their social networks or include the links in an email as mentioned above.

3. LinkedIn
Companies can now post status updates on LinkedIn. While these often contain links to other content, it is also a good way to provide general company updates to those following you. You can also use it to curate news coverage about your company. Post links to stories and add a comment in the status update. Even though you may have a newsfeed on your LinkedIn company page, posting the most important ones as status updates will show them to your company’s network.

4. Twitter
Twitter has changed from a place where people post their thoughts to a site where many people and companies also share links. When building your B2B company Twitter account, you definitely want to share other industry content that is relevant, but you can also post thoughts from your employees. Interview your subject matter experts and post their responses over a series of tweets. This can be a fun way to get more employees involved in Twitter. Encourage employees to retweet these interview tweets.

5. Facebook
Posting photos and sharing non-work-related activities are great uses for a Facebook Business Page before you have ramped up your social media content machine. Once a week, share an employee photo. Make sure you are capturing photos of an community events. Include a brief story about the event and provide a link to the organization. These kinds of things show the human side of a company, especially on a platform that many people use personally.

6. Google Plus
Besides it’s benefit to search results, Google Plus is really good for having conversations. Ask leading questions. Provide insightful information. Reach out to people in your industry to engage them in conversations. Since these conversations are threaded, someone can join in and catch up just by scrolling.

If you start using these other ways to create and share content before you have a B2B blog, you will also start growing your networks on these platforms. This means that you will have an active community, and know where people are more likely to engage and share company content, when you do launch your blog.

If you have other favorite ways to share B2B company content without blog, please share in the comments below.

Awesome Content is Key to B2B Social Media

Whether you believe that content is king, queen or the court jester in your B2B social media activities, there is no disputing that creating and distributing remarkable, valuable content is key to success. No matter if your goals are to drive awareness, traffic or leads, content is a big part of that. Below are several articles that help frame the discussion around content, as well as tips to create better content. I have also included the latest in string of awesome infographics (read “content”) from the partnership between Eloqua and JESS3.

If you have one great tip about creating or distributing content, share it in the comments, and you might see it in future post.

B2B Content Marketing as Trojan Horse
from Marketing Interactions
I sat in on the Content Marketing for Real Marketers webinar and there were many great points made, but two of them stood out and prompted this blog post:
Content draws 10X more media attention than product launches.
Diminishing the brand representation in favor of the story enables it to spread.
Read more

Feed Me Seymour – Why Your 2012 Marketing Approach is Hungry for Content
from Marketing Trenches
As I sat down yesterday with a couple members of the Right Source team for our check-in on our 2012 tactical plan, I was reminded how our marketing, like that of many of our clients, is heavily dependent on content. We use the term content marketing all the time in our industry, yet to many folks outside of the industry – and to many of our potential clients – it means very little.
Read more

Five Tips For Better B2B Marketing Content
from B2B Ideas @ Work
There are more ways than ever to match your marketing messages to the needs of your customers with more personalized, relevant and actionable information. The more you can customize your content to relate to your best buyers, the more buyers you will attract, and the more conversions you will drive. Here are five ideas that will improve your B2B marketing content.
Read more

Eight keys to successful content curation
from Heinz Marketing
There are plenty of good, tactical guidelines out there for content curation (as well as rationales for why it’s so important). But in addition to the day-to-day tactics and objectives, here are eight keys to making your content curation efforts more efficient, effective and productive.
Read more

Infographic: A History of Disruptions in B2B Marketing
from It’s All About the Revenue
“We’re gonna change the world” has become the battle cry for many tech startups. When you’re bootstrapping a company against all mathematical odds, the only thing better than ambition is wild ambition.

But let’s face it: very few companies actually change the world. After all, it’s a tall order.

This infographic, A History of Disruptive Innovations in B2B Marketing, looks at breakthrough technologies and processes that forever changed one segment of the world: the lives of B2B marketing professionals.
Read more

There’s Content in Your B2B Social Media Data

As you advance your social media activities for your B2B company, you should be capturing great piles of data. Many marketers are so inundated with data, they don’t know where to begin making sense of it. If you are in this category, this post is not for you. This post is for smart marketers that understand how to use their social media data to make better business decisions. But data can also be used to generate great content for your social media channels.

Getting Started
Start by looking at the most popular keywords that drive traffic to your site. Now add in the most popular tweets and the most engaged Facebook updates. This is now a collection topics, ideas and types of content that resonate with your audience. The obvious step, which should be taken cautiously, is that your readers are most interested in these topics and you should publish more about those topics. But if you think about this in a different way, can you break this down by platform and gain a deeper understanding?

Understanding the Content Trends
With the data telling you what works, you can share the same content in different ways on different platforms. Audiences are looking for different things. Top 10 lists do well on Twitter because it is a grazing platform. There is so much content shared that when someone sees a link to a relevant post in list form, they click to read it knowing that it is easily skimmable. The same blog post that explains 10 ways to be a more efficient manager may drive more traffic from Twitter when it is positioned a customer solution, but may do better on LinkedIn when it is framed as career advice.

Testing Other Ideas
Sharing content online is not something that can only be done one way. While there are best practices that work for all, individual target audiences respond to different things on different platforms. Writing a blog post and auto-posting the headline to every social profile is not the only way to share content. It can be the first way, but follow that up with posting other takes on the article. Share a quote from the post or a particular stat that is more compelling as a way to generate some more interest. Some of this may require manual tracking of your data, but testing is the way to understand what works on which platform. Have you thought about making a short video (60 seconds or less) sharing the key idea of a blog post and publishing that as a way to drive traffic back to the blog post?

Data as Content
There are stories to tell around your data, but your company management must be comfortable with putting those numbers out there. Do you have any aggregated data that you can share with your industry? Are there product trends that you can tell others in the industry about? Can you corroborate your findings with other industry statistics, so it doesn’t feel like you are releasing sales numbers? For example, if you are smartphone manufacturer, how do your sales compare to national trends? And explain your analysis behind it, in a way that offers something helpful to those considering a purchase. A computer consultant can talk about how many Windows 7 upgrades they have done, or how many Macs they are now servicing in the field. Think about how your trending data can confirm someone’s thoughts about an upcoming purchase decision.

What are some other ways to create content around your B2B company data?

5 Ways to Improve Your B2B Social Media Content

As B2B marketers work to connect with customers and prospects through social media, one of the keys to those connections is to create remarkable, compelling content. That content needs to provide value to your followers and fans, rather than push your products or services. The following tips can help you create better content, more compelling content and content that provides value.

1. Develop a Monthly Theme
B2B marketers hear over and over that they need to act like the best trade publication in their industry. Usually this means things like cover the industry and create an editorial calendar. But what if you add to the list developing a monthly theme as part of the editorial calendar? Many trade publications have themes to their monthly issues. This means that the majority of blog posts for that month are about the theme. It doesn’t mean you can’t write about anything else, but it provides focus to the content you create in a given month. If you create ebooks or webinars in that month, they should also follow the theme.

2. Add the Voice of the Customer
Very often we create content in a vacuum and assume we know what will resonate with our customers and prospects. Sometimes we get that right. But other times we miss by a mile. To make sure you hit that target more times than not, ask you customers what information would be helpful to them. Ask across industries, company size and geography. The size of your customer base determines the level of formality of the questions. Salespeople can ask informally or you can email a link to an online survey. And find out what kind of information would help convince them to become a customer if they were not already.

3. Involve Customers
Customer testimonials have always been a part of B2B marketing, but they have never been very compelling. What if you include your best customers in a series of webinars about best practices. These are not customers saying how great your solutions (read products) are. These are using your customers’ knowledge and expertise to share with your network. Don’t just limit this to video interviews, but consider webinars too, so they can provide more in depth information.

4. Dedicate Resources
Creating content consistently creates connections with customers, if only for the alliteration. It is ideal if you can have staff that is dedicated to content creation, but if you can’t, you can dedicate time to it. Set aside an afternoon each week, preferably the same afternoon, as sacred content creation time. Put it on your calendar, and don’t let anything interfere with it. If you are creating longer form content on a regular basis, block off that on your calendar too.

5. Combine Disparate Ideas
Part of creating compelling content starts with good ideas, but how you convey those ideas is just as important. And one way to improve your content is to bring together two disparate ideas that show a new way of thinking about your industry or area of expertise. Some recent examples of these include a MarketingProfs post using Springsteen song lyrics as a primer on social media marketing and a CDC post about how preparing for a zombie apocalypse helps you prepare for a real emergency. These types of ideas are also more likely to stand out in an endless flow of online content.

If you have other ideas that you have used to improve your B2B content, share them in the comments below.

5 Things to Do at Your Next B2B Conference

Whether you manage social media programs or a corporate blog, next time you attend an industry conference, approach it like a content creator and you will actually get more out of the conference or tradeshow. Many others will be networking, exchanging business cards, and looking for new business, but you will be more engaged in the industry event if you focus on content creation. This will also start to position yourself and your company as industry thought leaders.

Thinking like a content creator is changing your focus to gathering and distilling information. Here are 5 things you can do to think like a content creator. These ideas assume you have a simple video camera like a Flip Cam or Kodak Zi8, but you can always interact with people by taking notes. It just might not capture the flavor of the person’s words.

1. Meet the Keynote Speaker and do a short video interview
The easiest way to conduct a short video interview is to prepare three high level questions which you can ask and showcase the speaker. It is more important to share their words, rather than present your point of view. Remember that conferences are noisy, so try to find a quiet room to conduct this interview.

2. Pick One Competitor and ask them why their product or service is better than yours
Chances are that you already have contacts at your competitor, so it should not be hard to have this conversation. You can frame this question as a blog post that you are working on. It would be great to do this on video, or even on the record, but an informal conversation works as well.

3. Talk to an industry journalist about the top industry trends

Journalists, or even bloggers, who cover the space are frequently able to provide a broad view on your industry and can often easily encapsulate their thoughts in a short list of trends. They are usually willing to do a short interview where you can take notes. This is good content for both your company blog and for internal intelligence.

4. Interview one of the Conference Organizers

Conference organizers, especially if it is a smaller conference, are happy to talk about the process of planning the conference. They are probably completely swamped during the event, so you should make contact and plan to followup with an email interview after the dust clears. And by the way, conference organizers are frequently well-connected contacts that are good to have.

5. Go to the Demo or Presentation and Find a New Product or Service

Anyone with a new product or service is happy to talk to you about their new offerings. Again, great to do a video interview if you have a small camera and can find a quiet spot, but mobile photos and a brief write-up can serve the purpose as well.

Please let us know if you have any more suggestions for techniques to create content at your next conference or tradeshow?