6 Ways B2B Companies Can Use Social Media Gamification

A recent article on Marketing Sherpa discussed the idea of bringing gaming mechanics, or gamification, to the internal and external operations of B2B companies. One of several definitions in the article is using game-style systems of “goal setting, real-time feedback, transparency, competition, teams, etcetera — to motivate and engage customers and employees.” While not expressly tied to social media efforts, game-like rewards can be more successful when users have the ability to share them using social media, thereby amplifying the effect of the rewards.

Below are six tactics B2B marketers can use to drive internal and external engagement.

1. Drive online community engagement

When customers, prospects and readers come to your site, you want them to engage with your content. One of the best ways to get them to engage is to reward them publicly for leaving comments, sharing and interacting on your site. Some comment systems have built-in point systems or even badges to make this easy.

2. Determine the reward

It’s important to understand what rewards will motivate your employees or prospects to take action. Online rewards could be simple recognition of the action taken, but traditional off-line rewards work too, like trips to Hawaii.

3. Motivate employees

Most employees want to do a good job, but if you introduce a little competition into the environment you can further motivate your employees. If you want to make sure a department completes a training program, offer up recognition for the employees who complete it first. You can also tie your reward efforts to company objectives and KPIs.

4. Create website engagement

When prospects come to your website, you need to get them to follow a path of action that moves them closer to a sale. It is one thing to have the path clearly defined, but it is another to make a game out of it. You can connect with them on a level beyond providing solutions to their business problems.

5. Get Sales to interact with the CRM

Sales organizations are used to meeting goals and comparing their results to others on the team. If one of the goals is to improve the participation in keeping the sales CRM up-to-date, look at ways to make this part of regular process. Gamification changes how you manage that and what behaviors you incent for your teams. In many instances, team goals, in addition to individuals ones, can drive greater results and more collaboration.

6. Avoid over-gaming

Making everything a game can get tiresome. Give people a break where some things just happen and don’t require a competition.

Have you used any of the principles of gamification in your B2B company?

Photo credit: Flickr

Understand How B2B Social Media Connects to Your Audience

B2B social media is about connecting with prospects and customers, providing value to their business and tracking those interactions to leads and sales. Today’s round-up of posts address all of these issues.

I start with a post about click attribution, which makes the case for tracking all actions, not just first or last action. Not only does this give proper weight to your social activities, but it gives you a much better picture of all of your marketing activities. Next we look at a couple of articles that address the changing demographics of your target audience. Have you updated your personas to include millennial decision-makers? Their buying motivations and actions may be different from your traditional customers, and you might want to think about the gamification of your processes. The next post is just a reminder that prospects want to know what’s in it for them, and they don’t care about your products. I had to include this one since it is based on a presentation I gave last week, and even includes my slide as the graphic.

And finally, as reminder that Facebook Brand Pages are switching to the Timeline format the end of next week, here’s a pretty thorough review of B2B software product AutoCAD’s Facebook Page (pre-timeline), which now has one million fans. This should give you some ideas of ways to connect with your fans on this platform that is challenging for many B2B marketers.

B2B Marketers Need Every-Click Attribution
from Marketing Interactions
One of the beautiful things about digital B2B marketing is the ability to attribute behavior and engagement for prospects across a variety of channels that may be included in our marketing mix. Where things get a bit sticky is determining how attribution figures into revenue generation. For a simple transactional sale, this may be easier as sales cycles are shorter and less clicks are usually required. But, for a complex sale, attribution becomes a bigger challenge.
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Millennials are making B2B buying decisions. Are you engaged with them?
from B2B Insights Blog
In a previous post I shared that Millenials are moving into management positions and are shaping business decisions. I suggested three attributes – tech-savvy, highly educated, and a passion for meaning in their work – that B2B marketers need to pay attention to if they want to communicate effectively with them. With this post, I’d like to give you a few more behavioral aspects that will likely influence how they make buying decisions and what you need to know so that you can engage with them.
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4 Tips for Adding Gamification to Your Social Engagement Strategy
from Think Customers
While social media alone creates buzz around your brand, it’s gamification that drives engagement across your online community. That’s why many enterprise marketers are turning to gamification to measure and influence consumer behavior on their brand-owned Web and mobile sites.
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Prospects Don’t Care About Your Products. They Want Solutions.
from Social Media Today
Jeffrey L. Cohen, of Radian6, spoke about this at the CloudForce Conference in San Francisco last week. It comes down to offering valuable content and building a trusted relationship as key elements to your sales and marketing strategy. People have very short attention spans, and businesses that understand this are producing a frictionless way for their customers to get the solutions they seek.
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How AutoCAD Retooled Its Marketing With Facebook
from Social Media Examiner
Chris Hession has been a product and marketing manager for nearly 15 years. But recently, his job completely changed. “Just in the last year and a half, social media has become not just a component of our product marketing plan, but really the core component,” said Hession, currently senior manager of Autodesk’s AutoCAD product marketing.
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3 Unique Ideas from SXSW B2B Social Media Panel

At this year’s SXSW, one of the strongest B2B social media sessions was the panel “Social Media in the Underground World of B2B.” The panel provided eye-opening insight and touched on some unexpected topics, making it an invaluable learning session for B2B marketers.

SXSW B2B Social Media PanelThe presenters included Duane Schulz from Xerox Corporation (@duaneschulz), Jeanette Gibson from Cisco Systems (@JeanetteG), Shanee Ben-Zur from NVIDIA (@sbenzur), Susan Emerick (@sfemerick) from IBM and Melissa Chanslor from Text 100 (@Chanslor).

The panel opened by covering social strategy and engagement. The panelists agreed that the best place to start B2B social media marketing is where your audience is. Identify areas where key decision makers spend their time. Shape your engagement strategy around where those prospects are. Use listening tools, participate in the conversation, and measure effectiveness.

Unique Idea #1: Use Facebook and OpenID for B2B Website Login
Show the connection from social to sales. Cisco Systems is using Facebook and OpenID for login on their website. It’s led to a 40% reduction in cost and has increased event registration by 20%.

When it comes to participation, find the best social citizens within your organization to enact the social strategy. Enable them to be true representatives of the brand. By recruiting the right subject experts internally, brands can bring value to the conversation. And no one knows your brand better than your employees, so enable them and make sure they reflect your brand properly.

IBM stresses the importance of their people understanding that they represent the brand, and if they do it well, customers will become brand ambassadors too.

Adoption among employees is key. Engaged employees equals engaged customers. So how do you get employees to adopt social media?  Expose them to it.

Unique Idea #2: Conversation Starters
NVIDIA and Cisco System have large LCD screens that display real-time Twitter streams and other social conversations in high traffic areas of their office (meeting areas, near bathrooms, etc.). Employees routinely stop to see what is being mentioned about their brand online. This tactic leads to employee engagement.

When asked about B2B social media challenges, the panelists pointed to ROI and internal resources being the biggest obstacles.

On the topic of ROI, panelists noted that social media ROI can’t always be measured. They recommended creating benchmarks and showing growth over time.  Show that you changed a trend.

Shanee Ben-Zur from NVIDIA provided additional insight: “Your business objectives should guide you to what you should measure. Tie social back to the original objective and use that as the measurement standard.”

Dwayne Schulz said that Xerox is not worrying about ROI for the next 2 years.  Their goal is to create a literate community within their organization first.

Unique Idea #3: Gamification
Many B2B marketers may feel that gamification is only for consumer marketing, but rewarding people for participation and incentivizing behavior are tactics B2B marketers can employ too.  Integrate game mechanics into an interaction to emotionally engage and empower users.

IBM and Cisco are using gamification now. “IBM is using gamification internally to build leaders through rewards and recognition” mentioned Susan Emerick.  And Jeanette Gibson from Cisco Systems mentioned how they were using it on their blog.  “You can get badges for sign up, reading, commenting, sharing, etc.”

Although the panel covered several other notable points, these topics seemed to generate the most interest from the session attendees.  And with good reason- all are unique concepts that help these notable brands achieve success with their B2B social media marketing.

Are you using any of these unique B2B social media ideas?  Share your thoughts, stories and feedback in the comments.

Slip on the Shoes of Your B2B Sales Team

Many B2B companies have a wide chasm between sales and marketing. Sometimes this exists because of company focus and leadership. Other times it is a result of different goals and perception of success. People say you don’t know someone until you walk around in their shoes. Even though we are in the heat of summer (in the Northern Hemisphere) and are trying to shed our shoes for flip flops, let’s take a walk in the shoes of B2B salespeople by looking at some recent sales-oriented posts this week. While these are not new ideas, it is instructive to marketers to understand how salespeople think. Let us know in the comments below if you have found other sales-related blog posts that felt comfortable to walk around in.

The B2B Buyer Journey Is a Social One
from Sell or Else
The buyer journey begins earlier and earlier. Even before a buyer knows they will be a “buyer” they are researching a need via Google, reading what their peers are struggling with, and forming ideas for how to overcome problems or accelerate their business.
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What Would Your Customer Say?
from Partners in Excellence blog
A major part of what I do for a living is to help individuals and organizations improve their performance and sales effectiveness. I participate in a lot of meetings where I’m asked to review the sales effectiveness initiatives of organizations. My first question is usually: “What do your customers say?” or I might ask, “How many customers did you talk to about how you could be more effective in selling to them?”
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Gamification of the Sales Process
from Inside View blog
One of the trending topics in business is gamification. If you are not familiar with the term, in short, gamification is the application of game mechanics to non-game experiences that can drive an audience to a desired behavior.The size of the audience available through gaming is enormous and rivals television as a medium.
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B2B Sales: Are You Playing Buzzword Bingo With Your Prospects?
from Inflexion Point blog
If you’re in any business involving technology, there can be a terrible temptation for your sales people to fall back on technical language, acronyms and buzzwords. Whilst they may be comfortable with these terms, it’s likely that their prospects aren’t – but your sales people may be blissfully unaware.
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The Dog Days of Summer Prospecting
from ifridge kitchentalk blog
Ah Summer… Time for cookouts, family vacations, lazy days on the beach and sales prospecting… {insert needle scratching on record} Yes, summer is great for all those activities including prospecting. Everyone in sales knows things usually slow down in the summer, not get started. It doesn’t have to be that way.
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