Setting Relationship Goals for B2B Social Media

While much of B2B marketing and sales is about developing relationships, many of the social media metrics tracked are number of followers, connections, comments, clicks and retweets. It may be possible to assume that you or your company are providing some value to those who start engaging, but these are not significant metrics to track. What if you raised your metrics to a higher level and focused on real conversations and relationships as a measure of success?

Twitter Relationships
It is too easy for Twitter to become a numbers game where any user can “buy” or otherwise game the Twitter system to increase followers. If those followers are targeted, no matter how they were gained, the increased reach of a company’s message is a positive, but tracking the number of followers is meaningless. Finding customers and prospects on Twitter through detailed search queries or monitoring solutions and engaging with them is a better thing to measure. These can be tied more directly to business outcomes. Set a goal that each day you will find and interact with a new person from your industry or someone seeking your product or service on Twitter. It is up to you to determine if this is possible based on your industry involvement on Twitter and the time available to seek out and engage with prospects and customers.

LinkedIn Relationships
LinkedIn is built on relationships, but many of them are weak or non-existent. There are two ways to approach relationship goals on LinkedIn. The first, and easier one, is to strengthen a relationship of one of your connections. This is someone who you can easily contact and see what value you can provide. This would need to be someone who could be a potential customer or is already a customer. The second way is to find someone new through a discussion group or a common event and connect with them. Do not send them a generic connection request. Customize it with some information about why you are connecting. Begin a conversation through the request and continue after approval. This not about accumulating connections, but about starting meaningful relationships on LinkedIn. This is a harder goal to put a number around, but start with one per week and see how that goes. Adjust it as necessary.

Blogger Outreach
So many communications pros miss the point of blogger outreach. Blasting out emails with press releases attached is not blogger outreach. Having an intern log into your email and sending the same email individually is no better. While some of this is a numbers game, and the chance to get picked up increases with the number sent, it is more likely that you will get better coverage, things like a follow-up interview, by starting a relationship. Start by making a list of bloggers that cover your industry, including those connected to trade publications. Pick a few bloggers and send an introductory email letting them know about your company or clients and how you think it relates to their coverage of the industry. This will show them that you actually read their blog. So many top bloggers get so tired of mass emails, they will appreciate a simple, email addressed only to them. Think of each one of these as building a relationship to get more than just a placed release. You want to become a source for stories where they contact you. This is no different than traditional PR, except many of these bloggers probably have day jobs. Again, depending on the amount of industry coverage, a goal for building these relationships might be one per week or one per month.

Have you thought about building relationships for your B2B company as a social media metric to track?

All B2B Customers Are Equal, But Some Are More Equal

It’s another Friday and I’m thinking about B2B customer service and social media again. If social media facilitates two-way communication between B2B companies and their customers, then it makes sense to use social tools and the opportunities they present to serve customers. The following articles all relate to customer service and new ways to think about serving customers in the age of influence. Have you considered a quicker response to someone with a larger online following, or gasp, a higher Klout score? Those types of decisions should be strategically based, not as a reactionary response.

If you have thoughts on customer service for your B2B company, or other recent articles about it, please let us know in the comments below.

Gartner Predicts that Social Media will be a Support Tool Among 40% of Top 1,000 Companies
from Zen Desk Blog
By now, most companies have gotten the memo about brand management via social media. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, you know the drill. As corporate social media strategy matures, what’s on the horizon? It’s customer service.
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The Social Customer Service Elite: All Customers Are Equal But Some Are More Equal than Others
from Conversionation
Last week George Orwell’s famous “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others” line from “Animal Farm”, his anti-totalitarianism novella, came to mind in an unusual context: customer service in a “social media world”.
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Doing Business as Unusual: Customer Service
from Social Marketing Forum
I’ve just been reading an excellent whitepaper authored by Dr. Nicola J. Millard, Customer Experience Futurologist with BT, titled “Clouds, Crowds and Customers: Doing Business as Unusual.” While many of the points the doctor makes in the whitepaper resonate with me, one or two stand out. She states that it’s not important what technology does, but what people do with it. And she also says that companies can’t simply use new technology to prop up the status quo – they have to change the way they think and operate – it’s no longer business as usual.
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6 Ways to Screw Up Your Social Media Strategy
from Hubspot
We all make mistakes when we’re learning something new. That philosophy stands true for business people and school children alike. So what separates those who learn and succeed from those who learn and fail? Why, it’s the correction of one’s mistakes and seeking improvement, of course!
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Ten marketing lessons from DemandCon
from Matt on Marketing
Two packed days of great content, sharing, networking and learning just wrapped up in San Francisco at the first DemandCon. Impressive quality of people and thinking here focused on B2B demand generation, marketing automation and sales funnel improvement. You know a good conference when the word “firehose” is used often.
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5 Recent Posts about Social Media and Influence

Today’s topic is influence. We have collected some recent posts on the topic including a tools roundup that goes way beyond Klout, another post in the great ongoing series of posts about influence from Valeria Maltoni (who is speaking on the topic at SXSW), data about how quality content relates to influence, steps to build influential relationships on LinkedIn and the first time I have ever posted something online about Justin Bieber (maybe tapping into Bieber fans will drive traffic to this post). If you have come across any other influential posts about this topic, share them in the comments below.

The Landscape: SME’s List Of Influencer Identification Tools
by Jason Falls on Social Media Explorer
After working on some influencer identification product reviews and stories recently, I decided it might be useful to compile a list of influencer discovery tools for your use. If I’m missing any software platforms or services in this list, please drop a comment or send me an email and I will update as needed. Consider this an ever-growing resource and bookmark it or share with your networks. I promise to update it and annotate it as needed. This list is not (yet) comprehensive. Please help me build it.
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5 Influence Traps you Must Avoid
by Valeria Maltoni on Conversation Agent
All this talk about tools is a major distraction from the conversation about influence. Because while tools can track what someone does, they most certainly cannot tell you why — and why is a fundamental piece of information you need to have to understand what moves people to act.
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Content Quality (Not Quantity) Builds Social Media Influence
by MarketingProfs
Though most marketing executives (84%) agree there is a correlation between one’s ability to drive action (influence) and one’s reach, 90% draw a clear distinction between influence and popularity, and cite the quality of content as the most important factor in building influence online, according to a survey from Vocus and Brian Solis.
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5 Ways to Use LinkedIn Groups to Build Influential Connections
by Stephanie Sammons on Social Media Examiner
If you want to build truly influential relationships online, you have to find places where you can consistently add value, spend quality time and have engaging conversations with members of your target demographic.
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When Bieber tops the list, is influence dead?
by Lauren Fisher on Simply Zesty
I’ve written a bit about influence online and it’s an area that really fascinates me. But when social media service Klout currently have Justin Bieber at the top of their top 20 list for influence, you have to wonder if this is pretty spot on, or if it actually means that influence is dead? I’m inclined to think, unfortunately, that influence is dead. That’s not to say that I don’t recognise the huge popularity that Bieber has online, but can you really classify him as more influential than Barack Obama? They shouldn’t really even be in the same list.
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Top 10 B2B Companies on Twitter

As more B2B companies start using Twitter to communicate with their customers, prospects and industries, they look for examples of companies that are already using the platform. Part of Twitter’s success has been based on its simplicity, and that has given people and companies a wide range of options how to use it.

So B2B companies could have a definitive reference point, we wanted to rank B2B companies based on their use of Twitter. We will review this list on a monthly basis to see how it changes. This is not just a ranking based on number of followers or other single criteria, but a series of measures, which also include using outside measure tools. The list of potential companies are ranked by each of the factors listed below, which are then combined to create a total score.

We only included the main account of a B2B company, and the account needed to be identified as the company, not a person. This left out @MarketingProfs from consideration because it is also Ann Handley’s personal account. Sorry, Ann.

Factors Included: The first factor that makes up the ranking is the number of followers, because companies that can attract a large number of followers have a larger reach to spread their message. This certainly skews the list towards larger companies. Over time, as we refine the rankings, reducing the importance of this one factor can allow smaller companies to break into the list.

So that it is not just a numbers game, we include the ratio of following to followers. This gives some credit to companies that are using Twitter to communicate with other users. While you can certainly send an @ message to any user without following them, the perception that a company is fully participating in Twitter increases when they are following a number of users that relates to the number of users following them.

One of the best ways to measure whether companies are providing value to the Twitter ecosystem is to look at how many times a company has been added to a list. If a company appears on lists, this implies that people want to make sure they don’t miss the messages of this company. While people compile lists for other reasons too, we have included number of lists in the ranking as another data point.

And then to measure factors such as reach, engagement and influence, we turned to outside tools that have established algorithms. Not everyone may agree with how any individual tool measures these factors, but by including several sources minimizes the impact of any single factor. We have included company scores on TwitterGrader (rank, not grade), Klout and Twitalyzer. The potential companies were ranked based on the score from each source, which was included in the final rankings.

So that’s what currently goes into the list, and we would like your feedback on these factors, or other factors that can be considered in ranking B2B companies on Twitter. We will continue to tweak the weighting of the different factors as this list moves forward. If there are companies you think should be included in the list of potential ones that get ranked, please let us know in the comments below.

SocialMediaB2B.com Top B2B Companies on Twitter
(January 2011)
1. Hubspot (@Hubspot)
2. Forrester (@Forrester)
3. eMarketer (@eMarketer)
4. CME Group (@CMEGroup)
5. comScore (@comScore)
6. Cisco (@Cisco)
7. Gartner (@Gartner_Inc)
8. Oracle (@Oracle)
9. radian6 (@radian6) Became @MarketingCloud in 2012
10. Intel (@Intel)