10 Ideas to Make Boring B2B Social Media Posts Captivating

Many B2B marketers are still trying to figure out social media for their companies. Years of product marketing driven writing, or content as we now call it, has honed their skills on features-based marketing. No matter how exciting your products and services are, this kind of marketing is boring. And it is not going to work in a social media context.

Prospects and customer want solutions to their problems. They don’t want to hear about your products in a blog post. Once you identify your target audience and their pain points, you can begin creating top-of-the-funnel content to connect with them by solving their problems. With the right content in mind, on paper and on screen, how do you make sure that your content is found, read and shared by your audience?

Start by making it remarkable!

And then here are 10 ideas for make it captivating:

1. Use Keywords in the Headline

No matter what you writing about, you have to include the words that your prospects and customers use when talking about your solutions, business and industry. These are used in the questions they are asking in search engines and of their social network connections. The most important keyword location is the headline. See the headline above (and most of the ones on this site) for an example. They always include B2B Social Media or B2B and relevant terms. That’s how B2B marketers find what they are looking for on this site. Posts without those obvious keywords are just not found by the audience.

2. Use Adjectives in the Headline

Even keyword-based headlines need to be interesting and compelling. Or captivating. As this one is. No matter where you prospects and customers see your headlines, they are looking for something that will be worth their time. As you are establishing your authority on your subject area, every post is an opportunity to draw in new visitors. Interesting and different descriptive words, like adjectives can do that.

3. Find a Compelling Image

In this post I used a recent Instagram photo I took of the San Francisco Bay Bridge. While not entirely relevant to this post, it is a captivating image, which relates back to the headline. Rather than use the same stock photography images of light bulbs or the diverse team around a conference room table, look for interesting images that set the tone for a post. Search Flickr for Creative Commons images and make sure you give credit back to the photographer. Hone your own skills as an Instagram photographer and use your own images. You want to use images that will draw someone in, make them click and make them keep reading.

4. Don’t Talk about Your Products

Successful blog posts are not about products. Your website already does that. Provide real value to prospects and customers by providing solutions to their business problems. Demonstrate your industry expertise by giving them something they cannot get elsewhere.

5. Solve Prospects’ Business Problems

One of the reasons “How To” posts are so popular in different industries is that they answer people’s questions. Search engines are designed to provide the most relevant results to every search. If B2B prospects are trying to find answers to their problems, your posts have a better chance of showing up if you are answering their questions. And using their terms.

6. Share Customer Stories

Leverage your existing customers to tell your story of how your solved their business problems with your products and solutions. These are not just case studies where your product helped your customer reach business nirvana, but a real, human story that is interesting, remarkable and captivating. Ask yourself if you would read the story before you hit publish.

7. Use Video

Video is a powerful way to tell a story, share an important detail or present a point of view. A post with embedded video can capture someone’s attention in a different way than a written post. This is an easy way to share the thoughts of an industry influencer you met at a trade show, but keep it short. Definitely under five minutes, and under three minutes if possible. Video viewing dropoff is pretty significant at two minutes.

8. Experiment with Different Formats

Every post should not always be 500-800 words on a subject. Try shorter posts if you have a simple comment about an industry news story. A link to the story and three takeaways work. Consider an occasional longer analytical post that really takes a point of view. What about an all image post where you show 20 examples of what others in your industry are doing well, where you only have a line or two of explanation. Mixing up your post format keeps things interesting and keeps you from writing the same post over and over.

9. Use Subheads to Make it Scannable

People on the web scan. Subheads make it easy to glean some information from your post without taking the time to read it. That’s why list posts do so well. They match the way people consume information. Scan this post as an example.

10. Remember Social Networks

And finally, getting found in search is just part of the equation. Getting found on social networks is also key. Keep headline length in mind for social networks. Know how images show up on Facebook and Google+. Make sure your post description is captivating, as that may be what shows up on networks.

Remember, all of these ideas will help remarkable content get found, read, shared and clicked, but if your content is not worth reading, none of this will help. And keep in mind that blog posts just to drive traffic are not enough. Include calls to action (CTAs) at the end of every post to bring your prospects into the sales funnel.

What are other ways that you have made your B2B social media posts more captivating?

6 Ways to Improve SEO with B2B Social Media

As search algorithms continue to change, and give more value to social search, it is more important than even for B2B companies to create an integrated approach to social media to improve their SEO, or search engine optimization. SEO is based on two different types of factors, on-page, which you control and off-page, which you don’t control. But using social media can help the social signals that search engines now use as part of how they serve up their search results.

B2B marketers should be looking to expand the reach of their social media efforts to drive more traffic back to their websites (and their calls-to-action). If you are unclear about the importance of social search, look no further than Google Plus. Google created a social network so they could get a better picture of our social connections and tap into them to provide better search results.

6 Ways to Improve SEO with B2B Social Media

1. Create a Unified Keyword Strategy
The idea of keywords starts with search. Google built its ad business on the back of its search results. Whether you are doing pay-per-click (PPC) advertising or just trying to optimize your search results, start with Google’s Keyword Tool to develop your list of keywords. If these are the words your customers and prospects use when they are searching for you, make sure you use these same terms in your social media activities. These keywords should included in blog posts, especially their titles, as well as within posts on social networks. The more often your posts are found, the more often they can be shared.
Tweet This SEO Tip

2. Make Your B2B Blog As Social As Possible
Once you blog posts draw traffic, you want to do all you can to encourage sharing of posts. Many B2B companies focus on building a community on their blog through comments, but you are better off building a bigger community off the blog. With this in mind, rather than ask questions to encourage readers to leave comments, ask them to share the post instead. You also want to make sure the blog has sharing buttons in logical places. In the case of this post, not only is the main post shareable, but each of the six ways are shareable with its own Tweet button. Use those buttons to share a couple of these points in additional to the main post.
Tweet This SEO Tip

3. Encourage Employee Sharing of Content
One of the easiest sources of sharing is your own workforce. Encourage employees to share blog posts and other content by making it easy for them to share. Provide a pre-written tweet that you email out to employees, or even share on internal network like Chatter. There are even tools like GaggleAMP to make employee sharing even easier. You can cue up the posts for employees and they can just send them with the push of a button.
Tweet This SEO Tip

4. Leverage Your LinkedIn Network
Just like you want to encourage your employees to share your great blog posts and ebooks, you want to share it with your LinkedIn network. You can post it to your personal status update, your company status update and in any relevant groups. Since you are looking for SEO benefit, consider asking people to share it with their own networks for greater reach and greater sharing. Depending on the type of content, you might want to pick 5-10 of your contacts and ask them to blog about it. This will create some links back to your site.
Tweet This SEO Tip

5. Properly Name Your Social Media Profiles
Sometimes B2B companies try to get too clever and create a Twitter account or a Facebook profile with their descriptive keywords, rather than their company name. This upsets the balance in the universe. Common best practices are to name your profiles with the company name and use keywords in your profile bios and updates. This architecture of social media keeps the balance in place and shows that the profile is from a real company, rather than someone trying to spam search results by keyword stuffing profiles. You can develop trust by following these guidelines so people with share your content.
Tweet This SEO Tip

6. Write Compelling Social Media Posts for Readers, Not Spiders
The most important thing to remember about using social media to improve SEO for your B2B company is that you need to write for your readers. Not the spiders crawling the web for the search engines. If you are trying to network engineers, you will naturally write about things that interest them and may cause them to consider purchasing your products. You need to use keywords so they will find your content, but you need to create great content that can be read by humans so they will value it and share it.
Tweet This SEO Tip

If you have any thoughts, please add them down below, but we would really rather you share this post on all your social networks. Feel free to print it out and put on the fridge in the breakroom, as well as the one at home. (I’m just following #2 above)

Photo credit: Flickr

100+ SEO Resources for B2B Marketers

One of the biggest benefits of social media for B2B companies is how it helps drive search traffic. By better understanding the basics of search engine optimization (SEO), which is the process of making sure search engines can find your website or blog, marketers can increase the value of their social media programs. Following are more than 100 great resources to help you learn more about SEO, or brush up if it has been a while since you have dug into this topic. Even if you are pretty well-versed in SEO, there are probably some good reminders here for things that you know you need to do, but just haven’t gotten to.

And here’s an SEO tip: Notice that the link to each one of these resources below has “Search Engine” or “Search Engine Optimization” in it, not “click here” or “for more information.” These are called anchor links and sites you are linking to, in this case SEO sites, get more search benefit from these keywords than from generic terms.

Beginner’s Guides
Google has recently released a Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide as a pdf. Since they are responsible for approximately 65% of the search traffic in the US, it is wise to understand their approach to optimizing your sites for search.

And to provide additional perspective from outside the Googleplex campus, here’s a Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization from SEOmoz that is available via the web and a pdf download if you prefer.

Resources
Hubspot offers a ton of blog posts, webinars and other resources on their topic hub about Search Engine Optimization. Many of these are geared more towards marketers than hard-core SEO people, so they may be more relevant to you.

Search Engine Land features a list of resources for those interested in learning much more about Search Engine Optimization, including topic areas on their site and a list of other notable SEO blogs.

Glossary
If you just want to brush up on the latest terms, here’s a Search Engine Glossary from SEObook.

What are some your go to sources for SEO? And do have a simple SEO tip to share with other B2B marketers?

Research: Organic Search Traffic Drives More Qualified B2B Leads

The folks over at Marketing Sherpa have released some new research about leads generated from paid and organic search engine marketing. This data provides many valuable insights, but what does it mean to your B2B business?

Balancing Paid and Organic Search Engine Marketing For B2B
A quick look at the graph above and a person may quickly come to the conclusion that if they want quality leads from search then they need to invest in ranking better for organic search results. It makes sense that organic search and its focus on relevance would drive a better quality of leads and that paid search would drive more volume, but less quality. If these are the takeaways, then it is likely that decisions would be made to invest most or all of search marketing funds in search engine optimization, the process of ranking better for keywords in search results.

Focusing On Cost-Per-Lead As It Relates To Search Marketing
Take a step back with me. Let’s think about our initial conclusions from the Marketing Sherpa data. Now add in the idea of cost-per-lead. If the value of a quality lead generated through search is $10 and your business generates 200 leads per month using paid search, then you have generated $2000 of value in leads. If you spent $500 on search engine advertising in that month, your cost-per-quality-lead is $2.50. Meaning the net value minus the cost of advertising of leads generated through paid search is $7.50 per lead. This same process can be done with leads driven by organic search traffic by replacing the cost of advertising with the internal and external costs for search engine optimization.

By determining a cost per lead you can make informed choices about allocating investment between paid and organic search engine marketing. I am a believer in effectiveness of organic search engine marketing, but if you need to make a quick push for a new product or are just getting started in search engine marketing, it is likely you will need to supplement with paid search engine marketing because it drives more leads quickly, even though they are less qualified.

B2B search engine marketing is not just about quality vs. quantity. Instead it is about keeping a lead generation pipeline full and managing the cost-per-lead.