A B2B Social Media Turning Point

Today’s posts for B2B marketers seem to have a negative tone. I didn’t pick them with that in mind, but these are some of the posts that resonated with me this week. This indicates to me that we are at a turning point with B2B social media. According to many statistics, there is a high adoption rate, but marketers are unsure how to proceed to get results, how to measure those results and how to share their successes. Too many companies have “dipped their toe in the water” of social media, and answered yes to survey questions that they are using social media. Many executives are convinced there is no additional cost to social media, because the platforms are free. If you are a B2B marketer struggling with any of these issues, it is time to go outside your organization for additional resources.

The articles below may help inspire you to move forward in a way to achieve measurable results, but on this rainy Friday (where I am), it should at least get you thinking that there is more to social media than pushing out corporate messages.

And thanks to Alan Belniak for his shout-out in the article below about adding Twitter buttons to specific items in a post or ebook. It’s a great way to get your community to share your content.

Survey: 71% of CMOs Feel Unprepared For Today’s Market
from B2B Marketing Insider
As CMOs go full-force into planning mode for their 2012 marketing strategy, a recent report suggests that they are ill-prepared for the changes taking place in the larger business world. This is according to the Global Chief Marketing Officer survey from IBM.
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Does Good Content Matter Anymore?
from Direct Marketing Observations
We’re content starved. The emergence of tablets and mobile devices has only enhanced our desire to consume digital content. There’s a problem though. When content producers cannot meet the demands of a ravenous public, things can get ugly and the public walks-digitally speaking.
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12 Reasons Your Business Blog is Failing
from Hubspot
Let’s say that a couple of months ago, you decided to really start drinking the inbound marketing Kool-Aid, and you took the plunge: you started a business blog. You put in the time to get it going, published a few posts, and waited for the leads to start rolling in.
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Still Pitching to Use Social Media? Here are Three Steps to Take
from B2B Voices
Social media in B2B continues to rise in use. In fact, research from BtoB magazine shows that more than 90 percent of B2B companies are now using some form of social media to communicate with stakeholders. Before you present that B2B social media plan to executives or a client, the best thing to do is prepare. Here are three ways to ensure your pitch is a success.
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How to Pre-Populate A Twitter Status On The Web
from Subjectively Speaking
You may have come across a site like this before: you see a nice bit of text (a quote, a joke, something with a hashtag in it) that is shareable. Next to that text is a Twitter icon. You click it, and it bounces you to your browser, opens a new window, and pre-populates a tweet for you. All you need to do is click ‘Tweet’ or make an edit or two, and then click ‘Tweet’.
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Smart B2B Content, Awesome B2B Content and the Grid

Every B2B social media approach needs to start with remarkable content. This idea was originally based on showing up in prospects’ search results as your B2B company provided solutions to their business issues. As social cues become more important to search results, compelling content has become even more critical to successful inbound marketing. Content is not shared if doesn’t provide any value. If it is not shared, it is not discovered. We have gathered some recent posts that focus on content, including a new infographic from Eloqua and Jess3 that shows content along the funnel, a way to think creating smart content and tips to make your content awesome. By the way, these are three posts from B2B companies who understand how to drive business by creating content. We round this out with some thoughts on challenges and fears of social media. Let us know if you have found any great examples of content that would compel you to act.

Content Marketing in a Blink: The Content Grid v2 [Infographic]
from Eloqua Blog
Last June, Eloqua published the first infographic on the then-nascent content marketing industry. We called it The Content Grid. The public seemed to like the visual. It earned six awards, sparked dozens of speaking engagements, and triggered a number of “how do you ____” calls from Fortune 500 companies. What a difference a year makes.
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You Don’t Have to Be an Einstein to Create Great Content
from Marketo blog
Albert Einstein, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist best known for his theories of general and special relativity, isn’t an obvious choice for a content marketing role model. Yet without using computers or the Internet, Einstein managed to be a prolific content creator who published more than 300 scientific papers and 150 non-scientific ones. Using a combination of plain language and mathematics, Einstein’s ideas broke through conventional thinking and changed how we think about physics today.
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9 Ways to Instantly Improve Your Content
from Hubspot blog
Content is the linchpin of inbound marketing. It fuels your business blog, website, email marketing, search engine optimization, and well pretty much everything else. The problem is, this critical component often get delegated to the lower rungs of the priority ladder. As a marketer, it is easy to get caught up in flashy design or the mechanics of a new social media application and ultimately lose sight of content’s value.
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Top B2B marketing challenges – an update
from The B2B research blog
I recently posted an analysis of a question to the B2B Marketing LinkedIn group. “Can you use ONE WORD to describe the biggest challenge facing B2B marketing today?”
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What Does Corporate America Fear the Most with Social Media?
from Direct Marketing Observations
Every one likes to be in control. Including corporate America, and yet that is their greatest fear with social media. Loss of control. They fear the digitally enabled employee-The digital native. They fear the new found empowerment of an existing employee and the new hires that have expectations around the company being truly social and digital. What we are slowly starting to see, is an underlying assumption that access to social networks is a right and not a privilege; and as we hurl into a new decade-this expectation will only continue to grow.
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Video: Hubspot and the Content Marketing Funnel

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about content marketing and the sales funnel, we have a short interview with Kipp Bodnar, Inbound Marketing Manager of Hubspot. Kipp talks about how Hubspot creates and shares content with customers when they are at different points in the sales funnel. And if you are paying attention, this is the same Kipp that co-founded this site.

Let us know in the comments below how you are using content marketing to move prospects through the sales funnel.

B2B Social Media and Content Marketing in the Sales Funnel

B2B marketers are turning to social media marketing approaches in greater numbers, but they are still looking for ways to better leverage these platforms for stronger results. Content marketing allows them to restructure and repurpose existing content, like white papers, ebooks and product videos, and present them to buyers at the right stage of the buying process for maximum impact.

Content Marketing is Growing for B2B Companies
B2B companies have long relied on content marketing to promote their products, and social media has expanded both the need and the reach of content. B2B marketers allocate approximately 26% of their total marketing budgets to content marketing initiatives. 51% of B2B marketers plan to increase their spend in content marketing over the next 12 months, according to B2B Content Marketing: 2010 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends.

Establish Industry Credibility and Expertise in the Awareness Stage
One of the strengths of social media is to drive awareness of a company, product or service. Many B2B marketers set up Twitter accounts and Facebook Pages to promote product launches, trade show events and other company-centric ideas. Marketers need to share and promote content on social platforms that benefit the buyers to establish credibility and expertise. The most compelling content needs to be created so brand advocates will share it on professional networks like LinkedIn, and within niche communities. Marketing software company Hubspot is a master at publishing content to drive awareness at the top of the funnel. Each content item includes a call to action so the buyers can receive additional content. Content generated leads can be tracked in a company’s CRM system, along with the description of the content that drove the lead. Companies that can build awareness by sharing valuable and helpful content can generate more quality leads. Watch a short video with Kipp Bodnar, Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing Manager about their use of content marketing within the sales funnel.

Provide Customer Solutions in the Consideration Stage
Content created in a social media style and shared on social platforms can help B2B buyers as they progress through the sales process. As buyers move into the consideration phase, they are looking for more than just product information. They are looking for solutions to business problems. Marketers can re-purpose the top 10 frequently asked questions as solutions to common problems and publish them in a shareable ebook. Customers are doing more online research before purchase than ever before, and are further in the buying cycle before they ever have a conversation with a salesperson. This makes it vitally important to have consumable content, easily available and shareable, to keep a company’s products relevant and appearing in search results.

Content Helps to Close the Sale and Drive Revenue
B2B buyers are looking to make safe purchases, as these investments could have significant impact on company performance. By this point in the sales cycle, customer pain points are well known and the product team needs a clear understanding how the product addresses these. One way to demonstrate this understanding is to shoot a short video with members of the product team talking directly about the prospect’s issues, as well as sharing anecdotes from other customers. This private video can be shared online with the prospect team members, or can be sent via DVD if the company does not have access to social platforms. Content in this stage can help to shorten the buying cycle.

A New Way to Think About Content Marketing
Neither marketers nor sales people are thinking about the content support marketing can provide to help prospects in the consideration phase. According to a study by strategy consulting firm AMR International, the first and third priorities for B2B online marketers are lead generation (38%) and awareness (28%). While the second priority in this survey was customer retention, an important online tactic, there is no mention of middle of the funnel marketing. Once marketing and sales people understand the value of this type of content, they will need to talk to product managers, customers and prospects to develop appropriate content to serve this need.

Content Marketing Can Be Leveraged as a Major Component of Change
B2B marketers need to respond to the changing online environment and changing needs of prospects to make more information available on social platforms and in shareable formats to help drive buyer decision-making and close sales. Much of this information and intelligence is already available inside of companies, and raising the influence of the marketing department frees some of this knowledge from its silos. Assembling the right information in the appropriate format in the context of the sales cycle, allows marketers to leverage it in ways that were never possible.

Encourage Sharing
All social content needs to be created with two thoughts in mind. Does this show a prospect how their business need can be solved, and would they be willing to share this with other connections online? As business networks grow, B2B buyers are connected to others in other industries, and can provide benefit and value to their connections by sharing a compelling report or ebook.

Are you using content marketing to drive leads at different parts of the buying process?

Top 10 B2B Companies on Twitter [March 2011]

Earlier this year we established a set of criteria to rank B2B company Twitter accounts. Below you will find this month’s version of the rankings. The biggest change to the list is the inclusion of @MarketingProfs, based on my interview with Ann Handley about her use of the account. When ranked against the other B2B company Twitter accounts, @MarketingProfs comes out on top.

One of the trends that we have seen in the list is that many companies gained significant followers over the past two months. The biggest gain is by Hubspot, which went from 40,000 to 100,000 followers using Twitter’s advertising program of Promoted Accounts. One of the components of the ranking is the ratio of followers to followings, and Hubspot, like the other companies gaining followers, did not increase the people they were following accordingly. This means the ratio component of their ranking went down, as compared to companies whose ratio of follower count did not change significantly.

SocialMediaB2B.com Top B2B Companies on Twitter
(March 2011)

Ranking
1. MarketingProfs (@MarketingProfs)
2. Hubspot (@Hubspot)
3. eMarketer (@eMarketer)
4. Forrester (@Forrester)
5. CME Group (@CMEGroup)
6. comScore (@comScore)
7. Cisco (@CiscoSystems)
8. Gartner (@Gartner_Inc)
9. radian6 (@radian6)
10. Marketo (@Marketo)
Jan 2011

1
3
2
4
5
6
7
9
Change
new
-1
0
-2
-1
-1
-1
-1
0
new

Other B2B company Twitter accounts that were ranked, but did not make the top 10 were @Accenture, @Eloqua, @Intel, @MarketingSherpa, @Oracle, @Salesforce and @SAP. As always, let us know your thoughts about the list, and if there are other companies that should be considered in the next ranking.

25 B2B Social Media Nuggets of Goodness

Today’s post roundup is brought to you by the number 5. Each of the following posts offers 5 tips about some aspect of social media and B2B marketing, therefore giving you 25 nuggets of goodness on this Friday. Have you seen other recent posts offering advice in fives? Let us know in the comments below.

Top 5 B2B Social Media Marketing Mistakes
from Splash Media
Ever heard this one? Social Media Marketing is only for B2C companies. We know that this is another one of those social media myths as we have a long list of B2B successes. However there are a few common mistakes that B2B companies make when approaching social media that helps to add to this myth that social media doesn’t work for them.
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5 Reasons to Leverage LinkedIn To Increase Your B2B Prospects
from Marketo
B2B marketing boils down to one all-important fact: It’s all about creating relationships. Today’s demand generation has created a long cycle in online lead nurturing. From first click to sealing the deal, trust and rapport are critical to the sales process.
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5 Ways to Use Social Data to Grow Your Business
from Social Media Examiner
Are you tapping the social media data stream? Inside that river of data lives great insight that can give your business an edge. Social media allows you to match data generated by social interactions with individual’s preferences and general interests. This creates useful profiles that give marketers insight into how to tailor future offers and products to their customer base.
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5 Common Landing Page Mistakes
from Hubspot
Your landing page should have one simple purpose: Get someone excited enough about your offer so that they’re willing to hand over their information.
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5 Tips for Killer Presentations
from Fearless Competitor
Sorry, dear readers, but I’m on a bit of a rant. If I see one more boring PowerPoint presentation, I’m going to vomit!
Let’s keep this really simple. What should be in a PowerPoint presentation?
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B2B Social Media Benefits from Email Marketing

B2B Marketers are more successful in social media when their campaigns are integrated and all tactics align towards achieving the same goals. Since email marketing is a key tactic for B2B companies, here are some recent articles covering a variety of topics related to email marketing.

Send Subscribers Your Season’s Greetings with Email Marketing
from Blue Sky Factory
Do you want an easy, cost-effective way to show your clients that you care about them? Are you looking for a way to touch base with prospects before the end of the year? Do you continually aim to build the relationship between you and your email subscribers?
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Why email marketing gets a bum rap – and why you should do it anyway
from BuyerZone
It’s easy to bash on email marketing: sometimes, the basic stats are embarrassing. Open rates below 20%, click through rates in the single digits – it’s discouraging and can make you feel like it’s just not worth it. But don’t give up. As Forrester found, “66% of marketers say that email is their most cost-effective marketing tool,” and if you take a few simple steps, it can be effective for you, as well.
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Want To Increase Your Email Subscribers? Easy Does It
from BaileyWorkPlay
Growing your email newsletter subscriber list or prospect housefile takes patience and planning. In addition to some of the usual good advice about subscription form placement (every webpage), email delivery (send consistently around the same time every day, week, month, etc.), and strategy (have goals for goodness sake), I have a couple of others:
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Creating Successful Nurturing Emails
from Marketer’s B2B Blog
When developing nurturing emails you don’t use the same tactics as you do when you are sending a monthly newsletter to your customer or prospect base. There are certain characteristics that when implemented can help make your nurturing efforts more effective.
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Create a Social Media Optimized Email Signature
from Hubspot
Email isn’t dead. We send literally hundreds of personal emails a week in our day-to-day jobs and are literally missing hundreds of opportunities to engage these people at a deeper level by incorporating social media into the mix!
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Are there any other recent go-to posts about email marketing that have increased your open rate?

Consider SEO Beyond Your B2B Website

Search engine optimization is the process to help your B2B company get found when customers and prospects are searching for terms related to your business. Without getting into the mechanics of SEO (lots of SEO resources here), this process generally starts with keywords. Use the Google Keyword Tool to get started, as well as creating a list based on industry knowledge, along with input from others in your organization. Once these keywords are in place, and you begin using them in website copy, blog posts and social media profiles, look beyond those areas to other non-traditional uses of your keywords.

Company Description
The description of your company should be standard, whether online or off. If it contains appropriate keywords, make sure all employees know what that description is, and use it to describe the company. When employees meet people in person, speak at events and even give short video interviews, by using the same description, it will start to get associated with your company. Customers and prospects will start to search for those specific terms and find your company.

Employee Job Titles
In many organizations, job titles are as much for the external world to describe what you do as they are to establish the internal hierarchy. What if that external facing title was more about what your company does that what you do? If this doesn’t make sense to you, check out Hubspot on LinkedIn, where 132 out of 215 employees have inbound marketing in their titles. Hubspot is an inbound marketing company and they have used this subtle approach to influence the search results of this term. People begin to think of Hubspot as an inbound marketing company when interacting with their employees and search using these terms.

Printed Materials
While is may seem like an odd approach to search engine optimization to make sure you are using keywords in a piece that will be printed and put on someone’s shelf, but this is the best example for why keywords need to be integrated across the whole B2B company, not just marketing and sales, but customer support, human resources and even finance. The online reason is that all documents should have digital versions online, whether reformatted as web pages or posted as PDFs. Either way, these are searchable. The other reason, as in the above examples, is that the more customers and prospects read information about your company, they will start to think of it in those terms. This influences their search behavior when looking for new products or services. If you have optimized your sites and social outposts for these same terms, you will be at the top of their results.

What other ways have you used your SEO keywords outside of your B2B website and social profiles?

9 Indispensable B2B Social Media White Papers

White papers and eBooks can be helpful resources when they’re well-prepared and provide usable information. Below are a list of 9 B2B white papers that have useful information for B2B social media marketers. Only one of the white papers requires registration and all were published within the past year.

Whitepapers1. 15 B2B Marketing Facebook Success Stories
Published by Hubspot, May 2010
This ebook provides 15 mini case-studies of successful B2B Facebook pages. Learn how many B2B businesses are getting significant value out of Facebook.

2. Social Media for the B2B Sphere
Published by Radian 6, September 2010
Radian 6 offers up tips, concepts, anecdotes, and examples to help you connect the dots between your B2B company and social media.

3. Finding B2B Marketing Success Integrating Social Media and Search
Published by: Business.com, September 2010
Learn how to use social media to enhance search marketing and the impact it has for B2B marketers. This white paper is based on a Business.com and BtoB Online study of over 450 marketers. It does require you to fill out a form before download (link sent via email).

4. The Definitive Guide to B2B Social Media
Published by Marketo, June 2010
This guide offers valuable insight from innovative thought leaders and provides best practices for utilizing B2B social media marketing applications effectively.

5. Social Media White Paper – Learn and Earn
Published by Microsoft, February 2010
Microsoft Advertising’s white paper based on their experiences using social media since 2006 “as a vehicle to listen to, educate, support and market to our customers and potential customers.”

6. Video Case Study for B2B Marketing
Published by B2Bento, February 2010
This white paper shows why you should use video, the different delivery options available, and how you can create your own case study using a step-by-step guide.

7. Content Curation: Taming the Flood in B2B Social Media
Published by HiveFire, March 2010
This eBook defines content curation and presents processes, best practices and case studies to help B2B marketers differentiate their brands and gain competitive advantages through content marketing and curation.

8. 2009 Business Social media Benchmarking Study
Published by Business.com, November 2010
This study includes insights into business social media usage provided by nearly 3,000 North American business professionals.

9. Social Media for B2B Marketing
Published by: B2Bento, January 2010
Find out why social media is gaining influence in B2B marketing, and how you can make it more effective and worth your investment. This is a good white paper for those getting started.

Are there any other B2B social media white papers or ebooks that you find useful? If so, let us know in the comments.

Old Tweets, New Twitter and B2B

Twitter continues to grow and be an integral part of B2B social media plans. Yesterday I tweeted a link to a post about searching for old tweets and it really struck a chord with a lot of people. Now that Twitter does not show all tweets within their own search, marketers are looking for ways to find the older tweets. Combined with some other good reference posts about Twitter I had seen, I could see theme developing. So even though there is no alliteration I can use in a headline because Twitter doesn’t start with the same letter as five and Friday, I chose to go forward with this post. And while these posts are not specifically about B2B, they provide information that is relevant for B2B marketers who are looking for resources to start or improve their use of Twitter.

And just to prove that I am attracted to numbers in the headlines of posts as much as our readers seem to be, 4 out of 5 posts featured include numbers in the headline.

How to search old tweets: 10 tools, 20 features
from Tweetsmarter
Twitter’s default search only goes back a week—if that—and often chokes on multiple keyword searches. Fortunately, there ARE many great alternatives, and I’ve included a chart comparing the nine top tweet search engines below. For example, Topsy lets you search all the way back to May, 2008. Here are links to each of the nine, in order of what I’ve found most useful to least useful for general tweet searches (however, some are powerful in other ways)
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How to Customize Your Background for the New Twitter
from Mashable
Last month, Twitter unveiled a total site redesign. The new Twitter homepage is robust, more like a stand-alone application, and offers support for multimedia, keyboard shortcuts, and easy access to various types of content. The new design also has different dimensions (originally based on the golden ratio) and treats backgrounds in a slightly different way. The result is that a carefully customized Twitter background that looked fantastic on the old Twitter, may not work so well with the new design.
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13 Twitter Tips for Increasing Engagement
from Sazbean
A major frustration for people trying out Twitter for the first time is figuring out how to get anyone to respond. They set up their Twitter account, tweet a few times and wonder why no one responds. While tweets are public unless you protect them, they probably won’t be seen by anyone unless they’re following you, they do a search for something you mention or you’re on a list. Here are some tips for increasing the engagement on your Twitter profile and getting people to listen to you.
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The 9 Worst Ways to Use Twitter for Business
from Hubspot
Twitter is a fantastic network for businesses. You can monitor your brand to garner valuable feedback, keep tabs on the competition, engage your customers in conversation, or even choose to use Twitter as a customer service channel. But there are several common mistakes that companies make on Twitter.
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4 Steps to Launching a Successful Twitter Chat
from Marketing Profs
Lisa Petrilli and I launched the inaugural edition of #LeadershipChat on Tuesday, Oct. 12, at 8 p.m. Eastern standard time. It surpassed our wildest expectations. More than 180 people from around the world joined in the conversation, and more than 1,350 tweets were sent—stunning for any chat’s first night out of the gate. But what was much more impressive to us than the numbers was the stratospheric level of the conversation.
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