4 B2B Insights from Salesforce.com’s Acquisition of Radian6

Today Salesforce.com announced the acquisition of Radian6. Here’s a link to the press release if you want details. From a business perspective, this is a big deal because the leader in one space has acquired the leader in another space. But if you are a B2B marketer who is managing or planning social media for your company, here are some reasons why you should care. Even if you don’t use either product.

1. Create Awareness of Social Media Monitoring Among Salespeople
Even before computer-based tools, salespeople kept track of their prospects and the results of their interactions. Salesforce.com is an evolution from standalone versions to a web-hosted, company-wide platform that can integrate with other company systems. The addition of Radian6 to the suite of Salesforce.com tools (even though the companies will still run separately) creates awareness among salespeople that company or industry mentions found through social media monitoring can be considered trackable events in their CRM tools.

2. Raise the Profile of Marketing in the Organization
A classic struggle in many B2B organizations is the one between sales and marketing. Sales generally has more say in the running of the company, as they are more responsible for bringing in revenue. Anything that can raise the profile of marketing in the eyes of sales is a good thing for marketers. With the awareness of social media monitoring gained above, now marketing can be the ones to help sales understand how to implement social media monitoring into their sales functions.

3. More Engagement Possible at More Levels
With salespeople onboard in their understanding of social media monitoring, this expands the use of social media throughout a company. Many social media approaches start in marketing or customer service, and serve customers and prospects at the top of the lead funnel. While monitoring will also serve the company at the top of the funnel, tracking these mentions in a CRM will show salespeople that it is possible to engage at various stages of the buying process.

4. Monitoring and Engagement is Now Trackable
As social media events are tracked in CRM tools, whether it is a mention, a comment or a direct request, each will have a result. This is no longer the world where marketing generates leads for sales and steps out of the way. The social media leads are available for all to see, and both sales and marketing can look for patterns, so they can understand what types of engagement can lead to sales. Depending on a company’s goals, customer satisfaction through social media can also be tracked.

What are some other benefits that B2B marketers will see now that Salesforce.com has acquired Radian6?

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.

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.

This Week’s Inspiring B2B Social Media Posts

If you work in B2B social media and you have some of the same search terms and feeds set up as I do, you may have already seen these posts flash by your field of vision. Just in case you missed them, here are some recent posts that you might find relevant. It is a diverse mix of posts about general social media B2B, ROI, advertising, sales and hiring. If there are other recent posts that have been particularly inspiring to you this week (including your own), leave them in the comments below.

3 Reasons B2B Social Media Makes So Much Sense
by Amber Naslund (@ambercadabra) on the Radian6 blog
We’re talking about social media for B2B this month. (We wrote a nifty eBook about it just in case you missed it). It’s something that comes up over, and over, and over in conversations in our industry. There’s an impression sometimes that in business-to-business companies, social media just doesn’t have a strong case. But that simply isn’t true.
continue reading

ROI Absent From Yet Another Marketing Meeting
(also titled: Where In The World Is B2B Social Media ROI? when syndicated on another site)
by Jeremy Victor (@JeremyVictor) on B2BBloggers.com
Is this a familiar scene? Are you spending a lot of time talking about B2B social media and content marketing, only not acting because you can’t find ROI?
continue reading and view a B2B marketing comic

B2B Ads: Women click, men act
by Rebecca Lieb (@lieblink) on Econsultancy
How do businesspeople interact with online ads? Women click on them, men act on them, and both genders do so at vastly differing times of the day (and night).
continue reading

IBM’s social media skills initiative for partners
by Walter Adamson (@g2m) on Customer Think
IBM is often ranked in the top 50 of US companies in terms of social media savviness, but like most companies which sell indirect that savviness does not necessarily translate down through the channel. This means that channel partners are actually missing the opportunity to leverage the investment that IBM is making in social media to help grow their business.
continue reading

Six Tips for Recruiting a B2B Social Media Hire
by Elizabeth Sosnow (@ElizabethSosnow) on Spin Sucks
Public relations recruiting can be tough, but B2B social media recruiting activity almost put me into an early grave this year. We spent months searching for someone who understood how to marry the complexities of thought leadership creation and hands-on digital skills.
continue reading

Video: Basics of B2B Social Media Monitoring

Social media starts with listening or monitoring the social web, but before you can begin, you need to know what you are looking for. We caught up with Amber Naslund, Director of Community at Radian6, and asked her about the basics of social media monitoring for B2B companies. Watch the video as she discusses the following topics:

  • Three parts of monitoring: brand centric mentions, competitive intelligence, industry intelligence.
  • Build your own dashboard using iGoogle or Netvibes or other sites where you can aggregate multiple RSS feeds.
  • What is the tipping point to upgrade to higher-level, or paid solutions?
  • How do you begin to understand the sentiment of the data you find?

Amber blogs at AltitudeBranding.com and tweets from @ambercadabra.

Exploiting Social Media Monitoring For B2B Lead Generation

If you have read more than one blog post about social media, it is likely then that you have read one about the importance of listening and monitoring social mentions and conversations. All of the bloggers out there are right. Listening is very important. However, what has largely gone overlooked during this listening craze has been ideas to leverage listening to benefit business objectives. The great thing about social media monitoring is that it gives you a chance to get in front of the right people in a different way.

Bloggers have been doing this for years They mention important bloggers, or influencers, in their posts, in hopes that the important bloggers will read the post and possibly tell their audience about the ideas in it. It is time for B2B companies to adopt this approach and use it not only for influencer marketing, but also for lead generation.

Calling Out Prospects
Most agencies and consultants are selling listening programs to your customers complete with daily briefing reports of direct mentions about their company and industry. They are doing the work, monitoring and sharing it with executives and internal staff members on the client side. Tools like Radian6, Filtrbox, and even Google Alerts, are making listening easier than ever before.

So what happens if you directly call out, or mention, potential customers in blog posts or other social content? That’s right. The potential lead will read the post thanks to their spiffy new monitoring campaign. I would argue that mentioning the company multiple times will likely bring about a note highlighting it in the monitoring report, thereby drawing more attention to the mentions.

You Still Have To Say Something Valuable
It is important to remember that if you decide that this approach is worth trying, that you still have to say something valuable and relevant about their business situations. People gravitate to others that help them solve problems. I would recommend writing about what the prospect needs to solve their current business issues, not how awesome your cool new product is. Demonstrating that you understand their current business situation and their position among competitors is likely enough to generate some type of response.

Right now you are likely say: “aren’t we telling our competitors who we are targeting?” My response would be: don’t they already know? This doesn’t give away your whole sales and marketing strategy. It instead gives you another method to get in the door with potential customers that had previously been unresponsive. If you have a strong relationship with the lead, then you don’t need to take this approach. Look at this as an opportunity to open a dialogue and get your company on their radar.

Can They Call You Easily?
This may sound trivial, but there is this thing called a phone and it lets you talk to people. In the day of e-mail and social networks, I would argue that the phone is now a more valuable tool then ever, because it is being used less. For many e-mail is easier, not faster, but lets a sales person say “I sent them a note about that last week.” It gets us all of the hook. We have all done it.

My point is that if you are going to use this approach, make sure it is effortless for them to call the right person. Leave the name and direct number at the bottom of the blog post and/or include it in the sidebar of your blog. Look over to the right of this post. You see several ways to easily contact Jeff and me. Yes, if you call the phone number on the right, you will reach me and we will talk about whatever you want. A sales situation should be the exact same way.

Is this idea crazy? Would you do it? What is the risk? An hour of your time?

We have talked constantly that social media is changing the way B2B companies get information and interact with external audiences. Our challenge as marketers and industry leaders is to step back and take time to think about how we can develop new ways of connecting and driving transactions.

The CRM + Social Media Problem

“Relationships” is the one word we all hear when talking to B2B sales driven organizations. To the sales team and executives relationships are critical to closing a sale. For this reason most companies use some type of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. CRM software allows organizations to have dynamic records of their customers complete with contact information, business information, notes, etc. CRM data is priceless to many companies, but as the social web develops incorporating user generated content is critical to improving customer relationships.

Social media as moved past a marketing and communications function to become a function important to all aspects of business. I have long thought that integrating data from the social web into CRM systems will be a key opportunity for improving B2B relationships and sales. With the increase in popularity of real-time social applications like Twitter and FriendFeed the issue takes even greater importance. This social data will begin to change the design and features of CRM software and the demand for customized real-time information will become a “need” not a “want” for B2B sales forces.

Though this issue is often under discussed, I want to give create to Chris Brogan and the team at Radian6 for putting together a Rockstars of Social CRM event and then sharing the video on the web for all of us to learn from. The video is below and contains some great information on social CRM, you may want to skip the first minute or two if you already know about Radian6 and their SalesForce.com integration.