Exploring B2B Social Media with Jason Falls

Jason Falls, of Social Media Explorer, has started a new online learning community, Exploring Social Media, to bridge the gap between those who understand digital marketing and those who don’t. This subscription-based site is for small business owners, mid-level managers and people running home-based businesses who need help with their marketing technology.

The entry into the site is the question and answer model, where visitors ask specific questions and Jason and his team of experts answer them. There is also robust content where users can explore on their own, and learn at their own pace. Marketers from B2B companies can benefit from the site as a way to understand the background of social media, and how it can connect people in their company both internally and externally with other people.

Users of the site can also request specific content to meet their needs. If the answer to their question is not deep enough, they can request that more information be prepared around that specific topic.

Here’s the link to an interview with Jason Falls from two years ago (at SXSW!). Watch that after you finish watching this video to see that not a lot has changed in the past two years of social media for B2B. Jason is looking for new case studies that can apply for companies besides large technology companies. How do professional services companies, like accountants and lawyers, use social media to reach out to new customers? How does a standard B2B company approach social media? He suggests that some of this starts with internal communications. And he also challenges B2B companies to do something cool.

Let us know in the comments if you are doing something cool.

4 Things to Know When Pitching B2B Bloggers

While hundreds of blog posts have been written on the topic of pitching bloggers by both bloggers and communication professionals such as Chris Brogan, Jason Falls and Arik Hanson, not much has been written about the unique requirements when approaching B2B bloggers.

Pitching a blogger is very similar to pitching a mainstream media journalist. Relevance and timeliness remain the two most importance factors in a pitch; in fact, these factors are even more important in the blogging world. Do it wrong and you could be made an example of and outed on the Bad Pitch Blog.

Bloggers tend to be much more specialized than their mainstream counterparts, who, as newsrooms around the world shrink, may cover crime, food and finance beats all in the same day. Bloggers, on the other hand, craft their content more carefully around their passions. This makes relevance even more key, as a blogger can’t e-mail your pitch to his or her co-worker who covers that beat. Similarly, the issue of timeliness in the 24/7, around-the-clock, insta-publish social space brings a new meaning to the news release term “For Immediate Release.”

Some points to consider:

  • Actually read the blog. Whether you subscribe to it in a news reader or do a quick scan once a month, get a handle for the blogger’s tone, writing and opinions.
  • Search for the term “pitch” and “pitching” among the blog posts. This may yield a post that details exactly how that blogger would like to be approached with ideas for content. Check the about page or other pages on the blog.
  • Establish a baseline relationship by following the blogger on Twitter and commenting on his or her blog.
  • Make sure the blogger has access to images, screenshots, link, etc. that will help him or her directly drop those into a post.
  • Personalize, personalize, personalize. Put yourself in the blogger’s shoes – if you received this e-mail, would you immediately drag, drop and delete?
  • Don’t attach a news release. If you can’t relate how your information is important to a blog’s readers in a paragraph or two, reconsider your angle.

What are some things that are different when you pitch a B2B blogger? When you have a story, product, person or example you think could provide great content for a B2B blog, here are some things to think about:

1. Ideas > Products

In the Mom Blogger space, many companies have garnered mentions on influential blogs by sending out products such as toys, food and clothing for review. It’s much harder to send a blogger the latest copy machine or tractor.

Instead, pitch guest posts about your experience in the B2B space. Many bloggers would be hesitant to publish a guest post from a company on one of its products. However, a guest post from a company on its experience with a specific marketing campaign, its social media strategy or its approach to direct mail will be valuable across the board.

“Products” B2B bloggers are interested in: books, upcoming events, software and mobile applications that will make life easier for B2B industry professionals.

2. Logistics

Like B2C bloggers, B2B bloggers probably aren’t blogging full-time. They have a day job, multiple part-time jobs, consultancies and a fast-paced travel schedule. In the B2B space, this is multiplied even further when you consider B2B relationships revolve around much longer sales cycles and much more expensive buying considerations.

Also, make sure you know if the blogger you’re targeting can actually write about your pitch. Is he or she writing for a company blog legally bound not to accept products for review? Does the blogger write a personal B2B blog, but works at a competing company? Investigate this by adhering to the bullets laid out above, or by e-mailing the blogger asking about his or her parameters and preferences.

3. It’s a small word, after all

There aren’t as many B2B bloggers as there are B2C bloggers, especially when you begin breaking things down by industry. While that limits the sheer number of bloggers out there who can create content, use this to your advantage.

Curate a manageable list of B2B bloggers that speak to you and your industry and develop relationships with them on a level beyond comments and retweets. Know the players, and know what topics spark their interests. By putting your name out there and delivering valuable information, you can get on the short(er) list of B2B bloggers’ short list of go-to individuals when they need content.

4. You’re probably talking to a marketer. Remember that.

Jason Falls wrote this post on things bloggers should know about PR and advertising, after noticing some bloggers confusing pitches with paid content. B2B bloggers don’t fall under that category.

While they may not have a strict PR, advertising or even journalism background, the simple fact that they’re talking about B2B on a blog shows that they’re in-the-know on the communication mix. Vista Consulting says the B2B buyer “is sophisticated, understands your product or service better than you do, and wants or needs to buy products or services to help their company stay profitable, competitive, and successful,” and the B2B blogger is no different.

Use this to your advantage: Skip the formalities and don’t be afraid to delve into details. He or she will appreciate that you recognize their expertise and experience, and you’ll get to the heart of your message faster.

If you’re a PR pro – do you have any success stories for what worked when pitching B2B bloggers?

Upcoming Social Media Business Forum with B2B Track

There is lots of talk of social media being the next big thing in business, but many people do not know how to incorporate it into their businesses effectively. The Social Media Business Forum, to be held on October 23, 2009 at the School of Education at North Carolina Central University in Durham NC, will feature national and regional speakers from marketing companies, technology companies, and social networks discussing ways in which business communications have changed due to social media.

The Business Forum, presented by OurHashtag, will include three different tracks of related sessions. The first track is “Getting Started” and it for those just starting out in social media. The next track is “Advanced Social Media Communications” and it is for communicators who have started social media strategies and campaigns, but need insight into how to achieve measurable results from their plans. And the third track is “Business to Business (B2B) Social Media.”

The B2B Social Media Track includes the following sessions:

  • Business Blogging Best Practices
  • Who Should Own Social Media?
  • Why Email Is The Currency Of The Social Web
  • Generating B2B Leads With Social Media
  • Social CRM: Connecting Your Sales Force To The Social Web
  • Identifying Prospects and Leveraging Niche Social Networks

Each of the sessions will focus on providing actionable takeaway items for attendees to immediately begin to implement in their businesses. People who should consider attending the Business Forum are business owners, executives from all business functions, business communicators, as well as key organizational stake holders, interested in gaining practical knowledge about social media.

Some of the speakers include:

Go to SocialMediaBusinessForum.com today to learn more about this conference and to register at the early bird price of $125 (before September 18).

Speakers will be added to the schedule shortly. The above schedule is subject to change.

Exploring Social Media’s B2B Relevance With Jason Falls

While at SXSW Interactive in Austin, TX, I had the opportunity to pick the brain of some extremely smart folks.  One of them being Jason Falls, extremely respected in the social media marketing space because of his blog Social Media Explorer. He is doing some exciting work with the clients at his agency Doe Anderson.

At SXSW much of the conversation was about the future of communications as well as the B2C market, but I was able to pull Jason aside and take a few minutes to talk about the B2B implications of social media. Please watch the video below for Jason’s insights and suggestions for B2B marketers.