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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B2B Case Study: Supply Chain Firm Drives Traffic with Online Community

Kirsten Watson, Director, Corporate Marketing of Kinaxis presented a case study of their online community at the Marketing Profs B2B Forum. This video is a summary of the presentation, which was part of a session featuring four case studies moderated by CK.

Goals

  • Double web traffic
  • Double conversions (leads)
  • Foster a greater awareness of the company’s supply-chain management solutions

Strategy

  • Find out where the audience hangs out
  • Get involved in key online locations
  • Drive interest from there to the Kinaxis Web properties by adding value (not selling )through the creation of a highly engaging, content-rich “home” for supply chain experts to LEARN, LAUGH, SHARE and CONNECT.

Results
Traffic:

  • 2.7X increase in traffic to Kinaxis.com
  • 3.2X increase in conversions (leads)
  • 5.3X increase in traffic to the blog/community

Community:

  • 6X increase in registered community members
  • Over 2,300 registered members (35% increase since Jan. 2010)

Revenues:

  • Double-digit subscription growth (paid users of SaaSproduct RapidResponse), topping 30,000 users and counting

Here is a recent article from Fast Company that goes into more detail about this social media program.

B2B Social Media in the Construction Industry

Patrick Prothe (@pprothe) is the Marketing Communications Manager of Viewpoint Construction Software, which produces project management tools for construction professionals. I caught up with him at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum and spoke about getting started in social media in a niche B2B industry. He is looking at where people are talking online, and discovering that not many in the construction industry are using social media yet. The company is positioning itself for the coming growth in online conversations by trying to become human and building relationships with the industry people who are online. He recently created a blog to share things of interest to the company (and presumably their customers and prospects), as well technical aspects of their products. He stresses the importance of defining a company voice online and understanding what your company stands for. And he reminds newcomers to social media that even though many tools are low cost or free, companies need to understand the time commitment required for social media.

Better Business Blogging with Galen DeYoung [Video]

Galen DeYoung, Managing Director of Proteus B2B Marketing, led the Better Business Blogging session at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum. The session looked at three b2b blogs that were submitted for critique, and both Galen and the session attendees discussed what they saw.

While the blogs did a good job from a content perspective, with regard to writing in a proper voice and providing valuable content for their audiences, all three blogs had some search issues and some usability issues. Here are the details of the session and comments made about each business blog.

Galen also offered some tips for new business bloggers:

  • Understand business objectives
  • Identify target audience
  • Utilize a keyword strategy
  • Develop a content strategy
  • Establish metrics and measure them
  • Post consistently

B2B Social Media Case Study: Equation Research

Mike Travis, founder and CEO of Equation Research, presented a case study of how he used social media to crowdsource a marketing trends survey. This video is a recap of his presentation at the Marketing Profs B2B Forum, which was part of a session featuring four case studies moderated by CK.

Goal of the Campaign:

  • Increase brand presence in the B2B space.
  • Position the business as a truly different kind of market research company with a unique approach.
  • Grow a permission-based network of sales prospects.

Strategies for the Campaign:

  • Engage the audience through an innovative approach of crowdsourcing.
  • Focus on one program that was first-of-its-kind in its industry and among its target audiences.
  • Designing and developing a research study that was 100% by marketers and for marketers.

Results:

  • Earned media exposures across popular marketing publications and blogs.
  • 200% increase in website traffic.
  • Five-fold increase in amount of leads generatedover all other marketing programs to date, with 400 new prospects that opted-in to be contacted by Equation in the future.

B2B Case Study: Business Week Social Media Site

Ron Casalotti, Social Media Lead of Bloomberg L.P. presented a case study of the Business Week Business Exchange site at the Marketing Profs B2B Forum. This video is a recap of his presentation, which was part of a session featuring four case studies moderated by CK.

The goals of the site, which was launched in September 2008 were:

  • Increase user engagement on our sites.
  • Participate in the conversations that are important to our users (and target users) outside of our domain.
  • Extend the useful life of our business orientedcontent beyond the typical magazine or online news-site lifecycle.

The strategies used were:

  • The concept of the wisdom of the crowds
  • Long-tail marketing and the social media hook of people like me.
  • Basic human motivation for participating in social networks for the benefit of others.
  • The desire to be recognized as a thought leader and subject matter expert.
  • The need for a professional online persona.

Results

  • A growing list of over 1,700 topics suggested by users
  • Over 40,000 key influencer users contributing over 1 million article links.
  • Over 7,200 Twitter followers grown organically in 18 months (@bwbx).
  • Over 60 current and former business-side and editorial associates sharing links with personal Twitter accounts

Generating and Tracking B2B Leads with Social Media

Kipp Bodnar of Hubspot and Kyle Flaherty of Breaking Point presented their thoughts on the power of social media to drive leads for B2B companies. The main takeaways from this session were that you need to create systems to track your leads all the way through your system, and you need to think of yourself as a publisher. A couple notes about the video: Kipp moved around and I did my best to follow him, but that meant sometimes the frame is empty, or Kyle (who did not move) was talking and the shot still shows Kipp.

Social Media as The Perfect B2B Public Relations Tool

The panelists for the Marketing Profs B2B Forum session, It’s Not Your Mother’s PR, covered both theory (traditional public relations vs. PR 2.0) and practice (case studies from three diverse industries about social media integration with B2B public relations), highlighting what is the perfect marriage of social media and B2B PR.

Theory
Beth Harte, Serengeti Communications

Many people believe media relations is all there is to PR. While it is still an important element, it is just one of seven areas of PR, which also include advertising, publicity, public affairs (government and community), issues management/crisis communications, lobbying and investor relations. Social media affects the way PR is practiced in each of these areas. For example, a crisis can happen overnight on the internet, so companies need to monitor constantly what people are saying about them online. Additionally, while the Securities and Exchange Commission does prohibit companies from talking about certain subjects, companies are not outright banned from participating in online conversations with their investors. This is especially important now, because employees, customers and investors are often the same people.

Public relations is about building two-way mutual relationships between publics and your company. It touches nearly every part of a business: marketing, sales, customer service, etc. Spin no longer works. Shouting no longer works. You must listen to what your publics have to say, because they want and expect to be heard. The louder you yell, the more defensive and the less genuine you sound.

Case Sudy
Deirdre Breakenridge, PFS Marketwyse

Deirdre’s client, International Recovery Group, is a repossession company that deals with ultra-high-end collateral: yachts, jets, helicopters, etc. The company needed to overcome the rough, negative image of the repo man. Its challenge was to raise its brand image while engaging with its prospects.

Deirdre advocates for a hybrid view of social media integration with PR: take the best of traditional PR tools and blend them with social tools. IRG’s strategy:

  • Listen first: Search communities for keywords and conversations related to your brand to discover where to engage.
  • Share and repurpose everything: Take radio/TV interviews to YouTube, interactive newsrooms and video blogs. Share articles on blogs and Twitter.
  • Track: Deirdre used free tools such as Collecta, Technorati, BackType, Social Mention, Techrigy and TweetBeep.
  • Measure: Track the number of times keywords are used, spikes in conversations, topics influencers are talking about. Deirdre recommended Addictomatic.

Other tools Deirdre recommended:

  • TweetDeck, which allows updating to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as filtering influencers’ conversations into columns for easy tracking.
  • Listorious, Twinfluence and Technorati for finding and following influencers.
  • PitchEngine for creating social media releases. Social media releases are highly interactive news releases hosted on a blog platform with sharing tools included. (The social media releases offered by the wire services are not the same, although they do have nice sharing capabilities.)
  • Wordle to analyze influencers’ feeds to make sure they are still the right people to follow.

Case Sudy
Terri D. Andrews, RSM McGladrey

RSM McGladrey is the fifth largest accounting firm in the U.S. (right after Big Four). One of the firm’s biggest challenges is brand awareness. Its social media activities include maintaining separate blogs for each of its four lines of business and engaging with prospects using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Integration will be the firm’s next challenge; for example, as more employees want to get involved in social media, the firm needs to set policies and guidelines so people know what kind of commitment they are making. RSM will develop a network of registered social media users so information can be shared very quickly with different networks associated with their business lines. Another challenge will be to enhance engagement by getting more thought leaders involved and fostering two-way dialogues. Finally, RSM is still figuring out the best ways to measure results and implement appropriate enhancements.

RSM has been using the following metrics for ROI:

  • Blogs: total visits to date, number of unique visitors, proportion of new vs. returning visitors
  • Twitter: number of tweets, number of followers, overall ranking on Twitter Grader, percentage of website visits resulting from tweets

As a final point, Terri emphasized that ROI is about more than hard numbers and shared this idea she learned from another social media conference (source unknown – please speak up if you are the original author!):

ROI = Relationships + Opportunity + Involvement

Case Study
Donna Tocci, Ingersoll Rand

My key takeaway from this session came from Donna’s presentation.

Public relations is all about relationships – that has not changed. You may not be able to get away with as much spin as you used to, but the fundamentals are still the same: do your research, find appropriate contacts, cultivate relationships and always be relevant. What you currently know will work in the new PR.

This was exciting for me to hear as a marketing communications professional, because these fundamentals apply equally to social media as a business tool as they do to public relations. Donna’s words express for me how perfect the marriage of public relations and social media is.

Ingersoll Rand’s challenge was how to create a community out of a $13 billion diversified industrial company with more than 60,000 employees. Donna focused on two areas: internal sharing and external sharing.

Internal sharing

  • If you don’t have a social media policy, create one now. It will help keep employees and the company out of trouble.
  • Ingersoll Rand converted its internal employee news alerts to a blog format so employees could comment, ask questions and answer one another’s questions. Employees built natural communities around shared interests.
  • The company created a portal for employees to converse and collaborate. Employees share photos of Ingersoll Rand products in the marketplace, interact on discussion boards and contribute to wikis and blogs.
  • For employees who want to get involved in social media, there is a resource site with the company’s social media policy, blogs, links to content to share and more. It helps employees to help the company.

External Sharing

  • Ingersoll Rand’s recruiting site includes sharing tools such as a job widget that people can add to their blogs or Facebook.
  • A challenge with the company’s corporate social media is keeping branding the same across platforms. It is critical to use the same logo/avatar and name whether on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. so people can find your brand easily.
  • Donna suggested showing one video per day on YouTube about what’s happening at your company.
  • If your company is already a trusted source of information, you can direct the media or other publics to your Twitter stream or YouTube channel instead of offering interviews (especially during a crisis or other high profile event). This can also help avoid misquotes.
  • Use social media to increase the number of positive customer service experiences people have with your brand, especially to correct negative experiences. Have trained customer service professionals respond to questions on your Facebook fan site, for example.

Questions

How did you determine what metrics were appropriate?
Terri: RSM worked with an agency that helped them determine whether they are using the right measurements. They will re-evaluate at the one-year mark.

How are you tying impressions to business metrics?
Terri: RSM’s public relations department receives media calls that originated from Twitter and Facebook, so she knows there is ROI; however, the company is still trying to figure out whether increases in traffic are resulting in conversions.
Beth: Write measurable objectives. Think ahead about how to measure each tactic and what tools to use.
Deirdre: IRG ties each social object (video, white paper, etc.) back to a bid sheet on the company website. They measure how many bids are tied to remarketed collateral.

What is Ingersoll Rand doing differently in different countries?
Donna: Most of the world uses mostly the same tools. Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are all blocked in China, and the company is still figuring out how to handle that. The most important videos are embedded in the company intranet so employees can see them. YoQoo, China’s YouTube clone, is updated by Ingersoll Rand’s Chinese communications team. In Europe, the company uses Bebo. In India, an audio form of Twitter is just launching, although it remains to be seen whether it will take off.
Beth: You can’t confine social media to the U.S. It’s important to educate yourself about other cultures to avoid potentially damaging miscommunications.

How do you handle the blurred lines between personal and professional use of Facebook?
Donna: There are thousands of Ingersoll Rand employees on Facebook. For the most part, she leaves personal streams alone (unless there is a serious problem). Every person involved in social media on behalf of the business is trained. For many businesses, following the code of conduct and social media policy is enough.
Beth: Always remember that nothing is secure, professionally or personally, and be very careful about the type of information you reveal about yourself (and especially your whereabouts) on social media platforms (e.g, Foursquare).

How does your PR team use social media to tell your company’s story? Share your experience in the comments.

Cheri Gaudet is a marketing communications professional. Follow her on Twitter @CheriGaudet.

Lee Odden and B2B Content SEO Best Practices

Lee Odden of TopRank Online Marketing presented Content SEO Best Practices at the Marketing Profs B2B Forum in Boston. There was a tremendous amount of information presented, and Lee spoke very fast. This makes video a better format to review the information, because you can pause and go back if you need to.

He covered B2B Content Optimization Strategy, Core SEO Tips and B2B SEO Best & Worst Practices. The video of his presentation is below, as well as his slides so you can follow along. The second part of the session featured Jiyan Wei of PRWeb, which you will see in the slides, but not in the video. That will be in a separate post published next week.

Follow Lee on Twitter @leeodden for more information about SEO and content marketing.

Better Blogging for Business with Examples

One of the sessions at the Marketing Profs B2B Forum was the Better Blogging for Business hot seat lab where Galen De Young, Managing Director at Proteus B2B, took us through three examples of company blogs. Each company volunteered to be included in the review by both Galen and the session attendees. Below is a recap of our comments about each blog and how it might be improved to generate more interaction among customers and potential customers.

Package Machinery Company

What we liked:

  • It is very clear where to go and what the blog is going to be about.
  • The blog is also fully integrated into the site, so that the company’s website gets all the SEO benefits of having a blog.
  • Because it is fully integrated into the site it also has the same look and feel as the rest of the site, which is great from a branding standpoint.
  • We loved the recent post links to the left. This means that visitors don’t have to scroll too far to see other topics.

What needs work:

  • Some of the key engagement tools needed to be clearer. By moving the RSS feed to a more visible place they could build their audience more quickly.
  • If you use icons for RSS, people are almost twice as likely to engage because it is visually more appealing.
  • This blog is lacking an author. People buy from people, so by putting a face of a writer there is more opportunity to connect and feel comfortable.
  • Not every post includes a picture. Pictures make posts more visually stimulating as well as allow you to add Alt Text, which is another keyword that Google will index.
  • The blog does have social sharing options, which is great, but there are too many choices for sharing. Think about who your target audience is and what tools they use to share. Email is still the number one most important sharing option for most audiences, so be sure to include a way for your audience to send posts in an email.
  • This blog also looks great in Firefox, but several things got messed up when we looked at it in Internet Explorer. Make sure to check all browsers when you design your blog.

Integration Point, Inc.

What we liked:

  • This blog had a digestible number of social sharing options that included email.
  • The blog was very easy to read. Scanning was easy because of bullet points and bolded key words.
  • The title tags used best practices. You always want to have the title of the blog first and then the company name because this is how it will show up in the search results and your content is what you want people to see.

What needs work:

  • The URL of this blog isn’t keyword rich. ?p=388 isn’t going to mean anything to search engines.
  • The blog doesn’t match the look and feel of the company site, which causes a disconnect in branding.
  • There is a spelling error on the front page of the blog.
  • The left hand column has so many choices that it is over double the length of the post. Consolidating some of the categories can make it easier for people to know where they would like to go.

MLT Creative

What we liked:

  • The blog has several contributors, which makes it easier to produce more content. But even more we liked that at the bottom of each post was a picture of the author and links to their personal Twitter and LinkedIn profiles.
  • This blog links to a lot of things inside of every post. By linking to other blogs it encourages other people to link back to you and share your content with their audiences.
  • At the bottom of each one of these posts are links to related posts. This drives deeper engagement. This blog was using LinkWithin, which is a WordPress plug-in that pulls in related post automatically.

What needs work:

  • The blog posts are a decent size. It would be better if there was an intro to each blog post on the blog’s homepage with a link to read more. You want Google to index each individual page so it benefits you to send traffic to additional pages on your blog.
  • This blog used the title of the post as the URL. This created a very long URL. It would be better to use key words for a shorter URL. This is also an opportunity to use variations of the keywords.

On all three of these sites we kept coming back to 5 things you need to do before you start blogging:

  • define your business objectives
  • define your audience
  • define your keyword targets
  • define your content strategy
  • define your metrics to evaluate success and progress

This is a very quick look at these three blogs. Does you have additional tips or thoughts on how these blogs can be improved?

Jenna Jantsch is the Social Media Marketing Manager at VerticalResponse. Follow Vertical Response on Twitter @VR4SmallBiz.