YouTube Insights for B2B from the Frozen Food Master

b2b-youtube-freezerburnsGregory Ng is the CMO of Brooks Bell, an optimization firm focused on enterprise-level A/B split testing, targeting and optimization services. But at night he opens the freezer, cranks up the microwave and transforms into the Frozen Food Master. Greg has been reviewing frozen food on Freezerburns since 2008. In that time he has learned quite a bit about YouTube. Combining that with his understanding of B2B marketing and optimization, he shared his insights for B2B companies in the interview below.

Most of the biggest YouTube channels are run by individuals, not corporate brands. It seems that the promise of “anyone can be a publisher” really has taken hold on this platform. Does this make YouTube different from other social platforms?

I believe that most of the big YouTube channels are run by individuals because they don’t have the politics or red tape to publish like corporations have. YouTubers like honest messaging. They like genuine interaction and raw emotion. They tend to dislike brand marketing messages and paid endorsement material. If you want to create a beautiful brand anthem spot, definitely publish it on YouTube. But don’t expect the same type of engagement you would get by publishing on video sites like Vimeo that celebrate the art of video and have a community that appreciates video as an art form. The promise of “anyone can be a publisher” really took off when Blogger made a free blog platform. But while this allowed people to publish thoughts, the written word did not have the cache and sexiness of making you feel like a TV or movie star. YouTube provided a free way for people to publish a movie or a music video or a video diary for all to see. It is the promise of celebrity that inspires people to push out content on this platform.

Corporate brands could totally leverage the audience of this platform but typically they approach it in one of two ways, which are both ineffectual to this audience:

1. The Brand Advertising Method: They post every one of their commercials on YouTube and hope they go viral. While consumers expect to find those ad campaigns online, they do not engage with the channel, but they engage with the specific video. That’s why you will see well-known brands have videos with millions of views but only thousands of subscribers. This is not leveraging the platform correctly.

2. The “No Value to Anyone But the Sales Team” Method: They post product demos and video brochures. Again, this does not welcome community engagement and it is nether entertaining nor is it useful content.

So the reason why the biggest YouTube channels are run by individuals is because those individuals interact with their audience and their content is engaging.

You have built an audience on YouTube by focusing on one niche and consistently publishing videos. Would the same strategy work for a B2B company? Is there a business audience there?

No question YouTube has an audience large enough for whatever business you are in! In fact, YouTube has a big enough audience to support every single niche you can think of! If you are passionate about something (no matter how specific) there is bound to be a couple hundred thousand people in this world that are equally passionate. Consistently publishing videos in that niche is how those hundred thousand people find you. But growing audiences and creating awareness does not come from owning a niche and publishing consistently. Staying true to your niche simply helps you own the category so competitors can’t jump in. Consistently publishing simply keeps your content relevant and current.

The real key to building an audience is to provide value to your viewer. For me, this means reviewing food so customers are informed before buying something. This works for me because I do not own or work for any of the products that I review. For B2B it is a bit trickier. YouTubers do not like to be sold to. So the way to reach an audience is to provide value. For example, if you sell marketing automation software you won’t have much of an audience for tons of videos talking about the features of your product. But there is a huge audience for a web series highlighting success stories from your customers using your software. Jay Baer’s book, YOUtility covers this idea at great length and it is worth a read when creating your YouTube presence.

How can B2B marketers use video to support their overall content marketing efforts?

Uploading video content on YouTube can have multiple benefits towards your content marketing efforts. Video can capture a moment like no other medium can. You can use video to capture customer testimonials that mean a whole lot more than just a quote written in text. You can document an event or interview a team member. You can produce video demos or explain an FAQ using video. In all of these examples you can give a prospect, a customer, and investor a better idea of what your company is all about and instill more trust and confidence in the messages you are producing.

From a tactical standpoint uploading a video to YouTube means you can cultivate a new audience on the YouTube platform as well as embed the content on your website, blog and other social networks.

Does a YouTube channel let B2B companies tell their stories in a different way, or does it let them reach a whole new audience segment?

YouTube definitely allows B2B marketers to communicate a message in a more personal way. Instead of a message coming from a press release, it could be the same message delivered by the CMO. Have an endorsement from a partner vendor? Instead of dropping in a text testimonial, how about having their CEO put it on camera? There is potential for a whole new audience segment in YouTube, but it requires focus and commitment to realize that potential. There are 24 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute! The only way to stand out is to put in as much as you expect to receive from the platform. Like Twitter, it requires engagement and community management in addition to quality focused content.

What are the analytics you focus on for your YouTube channel, and would B2B marketers focus on the same ones?

Fortunately YouTube has been making great strides in the analytics they provide (for free) for YouTube channels. My primary metric is engagement per video. This means out of the total number of people that see the video, how long into the video do they watch until they bounce. Also, do they Like, Comment, add to playlist, or subscribe as a result of that video. My secondary metric is the time of day that my video is watched. This is important to me because I have an international audience and it helps me strategize when in the day to publish my videos. This also helps when I schedule live video events and decide on the start and end times of contests and promotions.

My advice to B2B marketers is to think about what your primary goal is for your YouTube channel and then report on the metrics that influence that goal. Like Google Analytics you can gain insight into different metrics through your YouTube Analytics dashboard. But just because you can measure it, doesn’t mean it matters to you. And just because it is important to one channel doesn’t mean it matters to others.

It can be overwhelming to sit down in front of a camera and start talking. What are some tips you can provide for getting started with video content?

For some people, putting yourself on camera is easy. For others it is the most terrifying thing imaginable. But video content doesn’t have to just be someone talking into a camera! You can be very successful using voiceover over a product demo. Or you can get even more creative (and still be professional if used correctly) using animation, whiteboard drawings, and even puppets. The key is to find a method that is on brand, cost-effective to execute and something you believe in enough to commit to!

And can you really shoot good quality video with a smartphone, provided you turn it horizontally and you stabilize it by setting it down on a table?

Five years ago I wouldn’t have been able to say this, but yes, you can shoot perfectly fine, professional quality video with your phone. In fact, full movies have been shot using just an iPhone camera! The key is to use a tripod or a steady cam rig, and make sure your sound is great. People would much rather tolerate a low definition video if the sound is clear and the video isn’t shaky.

If you want some frozen food advice from Greg to go along with his YouTube advice, here is his list of the 50 Best Frozen Foods in 60 seconds:

Top 10 B2B Comedy Videos

This list of funny B2B videos includes two of my own projects, one each from Cisco and IBM, which seems both reasonable and in compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley. To keep the comparisons somewhat fair, I’m going to exclude videos for smaller ticket products (e.g. FedEx, Nextel, Staples) since their addressable markets are much closer in size to B2C, affording much larger production budgets. The opinions below are my own, as my company officially does not comment on rumor or comedies.

1. The Cart Whisperer takes an idea we recognize from a Redford film and applies an absurd context that’s only remotely relevant to its sponsor VeriSign.  If during the approval process someone in marketing gripes, “What in the heck does this have to do with our product?,” you’re off to a great start.   This enjoyable experience continues on the microsite, where we’re invited to participate by uploading our own photos of abandoned carts.

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2. While august Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs don’t need to lean on comedy to build a global reputation, that’s not the case for some smaller businesses in the banking ecosystem, like the regional repo-man.

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3. I’m pretty sure Art of the Sale was the first B2B comedy on YouTube.  My partner Scott Teems and I created it in the summer of 2006, featuring  sales vp Bob Hoey as himself.  Hoey began his acting career in 2004 starring in a comedy short “Z On Demand”  which was released direct-to-DVD (we copied discs for each regional sales meeting) and on the company intranet.   Since I couldn’t get a comedy video approved initially, I kept the financial risk small by offering Scott $400 to direct/edit/film the spot.  I think his fees have gone up a bit since his feature film won SXSW.

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4. I don’t like potty humor, but David Meerman Scott showed me a completely new angle in this brilliant CWS ad.  I’m sure the production benefited from a TV broadcast budget, but I’m still including it in this list because its for a narrow industrial market.  For more background, see this previous Social Media B2B post.

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5. Microsoft chose the classic comedy approach of juxtaposition to sell to advertisers.  In this metaphor, the man and the woman characters in the relationship represent advertisers and consumers, and to be sure we’re not confused, the symbolism is spelled out — on their t-shirts.

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6. Kinaxis used the same dating/relationship storyline to poke fun at a supply chain management rival, but thankfully  Sally Ann Perkins is not wearing a monogrammed t-shirt.  This kind of humor is perfect for its target  – inside jokes are flattering to your audience, and can build rapport by making fun of a shared pain.   Clare McDermott told me when prospective customers meet Kinaxis’ representatives at trade shows, they say that watching the video has made them feel like they already know the company.   There’s your ROI.

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7. Also early to YouTube in October 2006, Dell jumps in on the JibJab genre.  It’s very well executed with sharp graphics/animation and music, and a script full if inside geek jokes.  I’m guessing they didn’t get script approval from Larry.

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8. My hard-and-fast rule of never including a rap video on a top 10 list was softened to more of a guideline thanks to intern Greg Justice. When  original music, clever lyrics and Chuck E. Cheese’s references blend into an artful production, the genre is timeless.  I love Woot’s rhyme, jokes and the honesty.

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9. Keeping product specifics out of a video is always a good idea, particularly when the video goes live a few weeks before the launch.  And those aren’t my words — that’s what my manager told me after reviewing an early draft of my script.  So, instead of mentioning details of Cisco’s Videoscape announcement at CES, we empathized with the lonely TV set.

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10. “People just didn’t seem to like me”  is one of the touching admissions in this beautiful example of personification.  This clever story resonates with us, because we’ve all experienced this feeling.  It creates curiosity and delivers surprise.  Hats off to Mr. W.

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Let me know in the comments if there are other B2B videos that have made you laugh your way to a call to action.

12 Social Media Tools for B2B Pre-Event Marketing

Social media has enabled B2B marketers with a wide range of opportunities for promoting their events. Whether it’s a webinar or a multi-day conference, leveraging social media can help event organizers extend an event’s visibility, attendance and pre-event conversations.

Using social media to build event attendance

Most larger events have their own web site and most smaller events have a least a landing page with registration (and hopefully those include social sharing functionality), but very few take advantage of the event capabilities of several social media channels or services. If you are running an event, consider promotion in the following areas:

1. LinkedIn Events
LinkedIn Events

Setting up an event in LinkedIn is a fairly simple process. Once your event is created, invite your connections to attend. LinkedIn users will be shown events that match their specific business needs based on the information they’ve added to their LinkedIn profile (Job Title, Industry, etc.), so your event may show up in their recommendations. In addition, your event will become searchable, and people connected to event attendees will see the event listed in their contact’s profile.

2. Facebook Events
Facebook Events
Facebook doesn’t have the most elegant option for managing events, but it can be effective. If your event or organization does not have a Facebook presence, just set up your event in Facebook Events and invite all your friends. Here’s a good guide from Mashable on How To: Organize an Event on Facebook. It’s a year old but the information is still useful.

If your event or organization does have a Facebook Page, you should create the event through that Page. It is a bit convoluted, but start by going to your Page and click “Edit Page” in the lefthand navigation. Click “Applications” in the left hand navigation. Events shows in your list of applications, and click “Go to Application.” Now you can create the event normally, but it is associated with the Page. This event will appear on the Page Wall, and you can still invite your friends, plus send an update to everyone who has liked the page.

3. Eventbrite
Eventbrite empowers you with simple but powerful tools to manage, promote and sell out your event. It’s free to sign up and get started. Eventbrite provides everything you need including custom page templates and the ability to sell tickets. If you sell tickets, Eventbrite charges a fee, plus you will need to link to a Paypal or Google Checkout account to accept payment. Eventbrite will also list your public event in its directory. You can even track your registration page in Google Analytics.

4. Plancast

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Plancast is the easiest way to share events with friends. Just create an account, add an event and invite people to announce their attendance. Once your event has multiple attendees, people can leave comments, invite their contacts, add the event to their calendar and more.

5. Twitter
Twitter can offer limitless value in promoting your event. Here’s some Twitter event-marketing recommendations:

  • For larger events only, create a new Twitter account that you can update all year long
  • Establish and publicize a hashtag for your event
  • Create separate Twitter lists of event speakers, sponsors, attendees and local restaurants and attractions
  • Use Twitter search to find potential attendees and follow them
  • Tweet about event-specific information including sessions, speakers, exhibitors, benefits of attending, etc.
  • Promote your event by running a contest. For example, give away a free or discounted registration for those that tweet about your event

6. Facebook Page

Social Fresh Cruise Facebook Group

A Facebook Page can provide a destination for attendees to engage with event organizers. Organizers can share their pre-event processes and event updates which will help generate interest. Sharing photos, videos, press releases, media coverage, speaker updates, etc. and receiving feedback on those posts will benefit both the attendees and the event organizers.

7. Blog
Social Fresh Blog

Create a blog for the conference and source content from speakers and attendees. Write posts about the conference and answer frequently asked questions. The blog can even extend beyond the conference and be used as a year-round source of information. Social Fresh and Social Media Week NY are good examples of event blogs that generate marketing value.

8. YouTube and UStream Videos
Create pre-event videos discussing conference topics or featuring conference speakers. Consider a live video show a few days prior to the event to share event information, agenda, speaker bios, and whatever other event-related topics you’d like to cover. Invite attendees to ask questions via Twitter or live chat.

9. Community
Building a community around your event may only be viable for the larger conferences like SXSW, but the value it can bring to attendees is worth the consideration. Within the SXSW community, attendees can research and vote on panel sessions, engage in event-related discussions and prepare their schedule. If your event has the resources and a large enough base of attendees, consider putting a community in your event planning agenda.

10. Mobile

There’s a variety of mobile marketing options to consider for your event. You can use pre-event text voting to get attendee feedback, use QR codes on marketing materials like posters and print ads, and mobile apps can be created to provide event details, agendas, locations and other pertinent information.

11. Slideshare
Put together a slide presentation of your conference benefits, topics or speakers and posting it to Slideshare. Leverage it for other uses too including the event blog, Facebook page, etc.

12. Foursquare, Gowalla and other check-in apps
Ignite Foursquare BadgeTwitter 140 Conf. BadgeInternet Week Foursquare Badge
It seems people will do anything for a badge or other check-in reward. Use this to your advantage. See if you can offer something special at the event check-in for those using a location based service like Foursquare, Gowalla or Whrrl.

So what other ways have you used social media for your B2B event marketing?

Why your B2B CEO should be using YouTube

Google “CEOs and YouTube” and almost every result will center around some type of crisis. From Domino’s and KFC to Mattel and Motrin, most companies take a reactive approach to incorporating their CEOs onto their YouTube channels. Accordingly, most receive flak for the unnatural, delayed and – in some cases – unapologetic approaches to each situation.

While every organization must be ready to successfully react to crisis situations, any B2B PR pro worth his or her well-worn AP Style Book will agree on the importance of proactive messaging opportunities for the C-level suite. Traditionally, this has been achieved by drafting talking points, pitching CEO bios to trade reporters and securing keynote speaking opportunities in hopes of spreading the word about the B2B company, its products and its key messages.

Increasingly, social media has opened up new outlets for management to monitor and participate in consumer and media relations. CEOs using Twitter have received the most attention when it comes to social media for the C-level set, but what about YouTube?

If your B2B company is utilizing YouTube (and it should be), here are some reasons your CEO should be a regular contributor:

1. Addtional Media Training

While a B2B CEO’s main job isn’t media relations, he or she will come into contact with journalists (and bloggers) as a primary company spokesperson. The key to interacting under pressure with media is practice. However, mock interviews at a biannual media relations refresher held by the PR staff aren’t enough.

By becoming a regular part of the company YouTube channel, B2B CEOs will gain additional exposure to what works and what doesn’t work on camera, and how things like eye contact, nervous ticks and natural speech patterns can distract viewers from key messages. While a company YouTube video will probably be scripted and provide room for retakes and edits, additional face time in front of a camera will help prepare top management for “real” interviews with reporters and ease the canned and stilted feeling that often comes across in executive interviews.

2. Thought Leader

By joining the small ranks of B2B CEOs proactively using YouTube, your CEO will automatically become a thought leader in the social space. Beyond that, a regular YouTube feature can also help to showcase the expertise that carried your CEO to his or her top spot in the first place. Film shorts spots that allow him or her to talk about why your company is using social media; hit on two or three industry news items and have your CEO offer his or her opinions; or touch on new products or services and the value they will bring to customers.

3. Thinking Outside the Suit

For customers, potential customers, media and even internal employees, top management of B2B organizations can often seem elusive, elite and out of touch. A regular video post can go a long way to develop these relationships, especially when you consider that many of these people may never actually lay eyes on these busy men and women.

Consider a monthly Q&A with questions submitted from company stakeholders; a location-specific feature that discusses the different cities and events he or she has traveled to on business; or, depending on the manager’s comfort level, a simple “Catching up with…” spot that lets him or her give a quick update on the company, his or her job and even personal interests.

4. Crisis Credibility

Last week, Jeff wrote a post on the importance of a B2B social media crisis plan, and included a point about executive video responses to the situation. When a crisis does hit, a B2B CEO who has been participating on his or her company’s YouTube channel all along with have more credibility with online stakeholders, as well as more experience in talking with – instead of to – his or her company’s online followers.

How is your B2B company utilizing your top management on your organization’s YouTube channel?

7 Online Video Tips Every B2B Marketer Should Know

Making and distributing good B2B video content takes time. It isn’t a quick process to arrange a video shoot, edit video and then upload it to the social web. This work though can come with a substantial pay-off if as a B2B company you understand how to do the little things to maximize the effectiveness of online video.

When it comes to online video several issues exist. Search engines don’t index the content of video well. People can’t always watch video at work because of firewall issues and out of date software. Today’s tips are to help fix some of these issues and to make sure that ROI of online video is maximized.

7 Online Video Tips Every B2B Marketer Should Know

1. Always Include URL In A Video Description – This first tip is so simple but so many businesses don’t do it. Most video sharing sites including YouTube, allow the first 30 characters of a video description to be an active URL. Not only does it make it easy to generate leads back to your site from videos, but this links also count in Google’s PageRank system. Meaning if you publish a lot of video and put links in each of them your organic search ranking in Google will be improved.

2. When Blogging A Video Include A Text Summary – This is a tactic that may add a little more time to getting your video published, but is completely worth it. A good example of this is what the folks at HubSpot TV are doing. Under each of the video is a series a bullet points that summarize what the video covers. While this is great for people who can’t watch the video it also provides text for search engines to better index your video blog posts. Adding text with video is a valuable inbound marketing opportunity.

3. Three Short Videos Are Better Than one Long Video – People have short attention spans when it comes to the web. As marketers providing content it is important that we understand this. Online videos should be short, ideally around 3 minutes, or even shorter. If you have a 10 minute interview, then break it up into smaller interviews. Besides improving the chances that more people will watch it, it also provides the opportunity to focus headlines that fit with different messages within the video.

4. YouTube Can’t Be Ignored – More than 90 percent of the videos watched online are watched on YouTube. While Youtube may not have the best looking video player, it holds the audience. Many B2B corporations use proprietary video players for their web sites, while this isn’t a bad thing, video must still be distributed to other services including YouTube.

5. Use A Multi-Uploader Service To Ease Distribution – Uploading online video, especially if it is high quality or HD, takes a significant amount of time. Because of this, the thought of uploading a video to 10 or 15 sharing sites might seem daunting. This is where services that upload to multiple services at once come in handy. A service like Tubmogul will allow you to upload a video once to multiple sites and can additionally provide good analytic information. Like any other type of online content, distribution is critical.

6. The Smartest Person Isn’t Always The Best For Video – Being interesting on video is not as much about knowledge as it is tone and personality. When selecting employees or partners for B2B video don’t automatically select the smartest person. Think about who is the best at explaining things clearly and doing so in a compelling manner. These people are your video stars, not company experts.

7. Brand Video For Viewing Across The Web – It is easy to forget that people watch video all across the web, since video is embeddable. Don’t assume that you don’t have to brand your videos because people will be watching it on your web site or blog. Including brief branded intro and outro to B2B videos will make sure that whereever they are watched, they will be connected to to the brand and company.

Do you have other B2B video tips? Do you plan to make video a bigger part of your B2B inbound marketing?

Successfull B2B Companies Will Be About Platforms Not Products

Today, I have an important question for you. A question so important that it could change the future of your business, or better transform the path of your industry. This post isn’t as much about marketing as it is about opportunity, though both are closely related.

What is your platform?

This simple question likely holds the answer you need to position your business effectively in this changing economy. Look at some of the most successful companies today, like Apple, Google and Amazon. They don’t succeed because they sell products. They are successful because they provide an infrastructure that supports the work of others. Apple’s gives developers an easy way to make money off their work by making it easy to sell software in their App Store. Google makes it easy for publishers to make money from their content with Ad Sense.

The Social Web Will Commoditize Industries

Today many B2B companies and industries exist because of vacuums. Think about it, most distributors exist because their pricing, service and organizational structure exist in a vacuum that customers and manufacturers can’t completely see and understand.

The Internet and the social web eliminate vacuums.

Think about what your industry would look like if all of the pricing, practices and product/service quality was all public and every potential customer could know it before they made a purchase decision. This is the future. The social web is becoming a catalyst that will force commoditization.

How To Survive In A Commoditized Marketplace

If I could pick one word to describe how the Internet has changed sales, marketing and business in general, it would be: platform. Think about all of the services you use frequently on the web: YouTube, Facebook, eBay, Amazon. These businesses have one thing in common. They are platforms. They serve to enable and create a sustainable economic infrastructure each community they serve. Looking at B2C companies you can see how many of them have begun adopting platforms for marketing and advertising.

In B2B platforms are less evolved, which means the opportunity for success is now. So many organizations are considering how to sell B2B products online that they are missing the bigger opportunity to create a platform.

The way to thrive in a commoditized marketplace is to own the platform.

Marketing As A Platform

Platforms are for more than selling products. Platforms are the next step in marketing on the web. Most B2B companies in their social media marketing are focusing on using platforms created by other people, which include Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The challenge for B2B companies will be to determine what their online marketing platform should be. When I talk about a marketing platform, I am not talking about a way to publish and push information, as much as I am referring to a way that current and potential customers can engage with the business as well as each other.

Questions That Will Guide The Platform Process

When discussing possible platforms for B2B marketing these questions may help to serve as a guide:

What ways do your customers communicate?

What topics drive customer engagement online?

What would help your customers improve their businesses?

What solutions can you provide customers that could generate interest in your products/service?

Platforms are here and they are not going to go away. Can you be successful without them? Maybe. Can you be great without leveraging platforms? No.

10 B2B Social Media Videos Worth Watching

When it comes to B2B social media, online video has a special role. While many people online like to consume information quickly in the form of blog posts or tweets, video offers depth. In the way that a B2B product can be complex, so can understanding social media’s implications for B2B companies.

This post is for people in your organization who are just starting to learn about B2B social media. These 10 videos offer important perspective on the power of social media as it relates to B2B. While it takes longer to consumer information online via video, it does a better job at communicating emotion. I also find you will get people repeating soundbites from videos in meetings or when they are selling social media to executives.

10 B2B Social Media B2B Videos Worth Watching

1. Social Media Is a Must for B2B Too By Jay Bear
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2. B2B Marketers on Social Media By ReachForce
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3. How B2B Marketers Can Get Started With Social Media By HubSpot
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4. Creators of Will It Blend Talk about Social Media, Branding and B2B By Koroberi
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5. Colleen Cunningham uses Twitter as B2B tool By NatashaRuckel
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6. The 8 Social Media Commandments By CiscoChannels
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7. Steven B. Johnson at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum By MarketingProfs
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8. Money and Time Saving Tips for Creating Benchmarks in Social Media By MarketingProfs
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9. How to Get Started in Business Blogging with Andy Beal By WebMarketingToday
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10. Finding Content for your Business Blog By CompendiumBlogware
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Were these videos helpful? Do you know of others that should be listed?

IBM Embraces Video to Connect With Businesses

This post is a recap of a case study presented at the recent B2B Social Communications event held in New York City. Tim Washer (@timwasher), Social Media Productions – IBM Communications, shared examples of how IBM uses video and social media to achieve their B2B communications objectives.

Video is an effective medium for creating awareness to a message or a brand. As the above video entitled The Art of the Sale shows, video, and especially humor, can be used by B2B companies to share a message.

As with any new corporate marketing program, you must first get agreement on the rules. A team of bloggers, marketing, public relations and legal gathered together to establish guidelines. In the early days of social media, employees were encouraged to experiment within the firewall. This IBM mainframe program was conducted in 2006, so there was a lot more latitude to be creative and there was much less understanding of social media on the part of management. It was also still the early days of YouTube, so much of the sharing was done via email. And as the program got some big hits, they promoted that success.

There are a variety of approaches to video in a business setting, but you must start by finding your most compelling stories. This is coupled with having you most compelling experts tell your story. These stories can be presented in a news format or in the reality show/ documentary style that has been popularized by shows like The Office. The sample video is in this documentary style. In an attempt to “go viral,” or spread widely beyond your company’s network, you can use nonsense, humor or absurdity.

The objectives of the Art of the Sale campaign, and these were business objectives of the mainframe division, were to create awareness for a new mainframe value proposition. IBM had a new, more efficient mainframe available for $100,000. This was significantly less than the $1 million price tag customers were used to. The other objective was to increase awareness of IBM mainframes with college students.

The video was posted on YouTube for easy embedding on IBM blogs. Blog traffic increased 25 times, and the campaign received mainstream press coverage. It showed that story trumps messaging and targeting. Social media is the perfect medium if you have engaging stories to tell about your business. IBM is now using video to tell its stories about a smarter planet.

B2B Social Media Newsroom Example: Scania

Note: I don’t like using the term “social media newsroom.”  All newsrooms should be social, but because it has become an industry term, I will use it in this post.

One of the big complaints I hear when discussing the topic of B2B companies and social media is “All of the examples people use are technology companies, of course they use social media.” Because of this common concern I like to use examples that are as industrial and non Internet technology focused as possible.  I will not be the 1,000th person to write on Cisco’s newsroom, instead I am going to examine the Scania Group’s social media newsroom.


Scania is a leading manufacturer of heavy trucks, buses and industrial engines. They are about as B2B as a company can get. In doing research I have found that they have one of the best B2B newsrooms I have seen.

It Starts With Content:
For B2B companies exploring the idea of a social media newsroom the first thing they have to determine if they have or can produce enough relevant content for the media and customers to justify the development of a newsroom. Content is clearly something that Scania has made a priority. You can tell that instantly, because they have relevant video headlining their newsroom page and 245 “real” product images accessible via a link or a Flickr widget. They have also created a categories and tagging system that help to organize their content. The only true content area that Scania falls short in is that of written content. The only written content on the site is traditional product releases. They have not included any white papers, case studies, or other written documents that could add additional value for a site visitor.

It Has To Look Good:
Whether a company wants to admit it or not, design matters.  Branding, design and user experience matter when you are creating a site that has the goal to provide information quickly to all relevant audiences.  How did Scania do this?

1. Scania aggregated their social content:


2. Scania categorized and tagged its content:


3. Scania makes their information easy to find through search. For example they have a descriptive page title for the newsroom.


4. Scania set a priority by promoting a heavy truck as a main design element of the newsroom.


What is the value of social media newsrooms?
Sure this looks cool, but should your organization do it? Think of a social media newsroom as an intermediate step in content marketing. The value lies in being able to aggregate information in one place that helps build search traffic while serving as a clearing house for information relevant to the media, customers, and employees. For social media newsrooms to have value you have to have more than news releases to post, you need other information such as images, video, and social links that provide an added layer of information and perspective about the organization.

B2B Social Media Example: ArcelorMittal

For the next review of social media examples in a business to business environment, we are going to look at the online digital footprint of ArcelorMittal, the world’s number one steel company. This global firm has over 326,000 employees in more than 60 countries and was formed in 2006 with the merger of two leaders in the steel industry. arcelormittal_logo

The centerpiece of their online strategy was the creation of a series of online videos to document the merger and speak to the employees as two very different corporate cultures came together. These professionally produced videos highlight regions, industries, brand creation and steps along the way in the corporate launch. And the corporate website features a prominent link to the web video site, which is a great way to promote online content. According to a company press release, “It proved one of the most successful communications exercise undertaken by the company, both internally and externally spanning 15 episodes, 544,431 unique visitors, 882,054 pages views and near 250,000 views of the video episodes.” I do wonder why less than half the visitors watched the videos.

The above is an embedded playlist of all 15 videos.

Since the goal of this video series was to communicate the message of the merger to an internal audience, they needed to make the content as accessible as possible. The videos were posted to a unique website, and since they are a global company, each video features a subtitle function that allows the viewer to watch subtitles in 14 languages. These videos were available through an RSS feed subscription, as a podcast and as a download. The videos were also posted to Youtube, but the views are not a significant part of the numbers quoted in the press release.

After this initial series, they produced a second season of videos entitled “Inside Transforming Tomorrow,” to go behind the scenes of the company and examine how they are putting their brand promise, transforming tomorrow, into action. These videos are also embedded on the site, but with an easy way to share, as well as including the embed code so viewers can place the YouTube-hosted videos on their own sites. While season one, now moved to its own tab on the site, spoke inward, the new season “takes a personal, more human approach where the viewer is invited to share moments of the lives of the men and women that are the very essence of ArcelorMittal.” This is meant to put a human face on the steel giant. The first video in the series highlights their investment in war-torn Liberia, which includes addressing infrastructure issues of medical facilities and schools. Another video in the second season features the steel beams made for the new Freedom Tower in New York that is being built on the site of the World Trade Center.

And there is no press release announcing a third series, or any mention of numbers resulting from the second season. These videos on YouTube have much lower views than the first series. The last video was posted in August 2008, so it appears that the series is over. There is no mention of a conclusion, and it has been nine months. This is clearly a company affected by the global slowdown in construction and manufacturing, so it is assumed that the video series is over.

The company has had a blog associated with each series of videos. The first version seemed to be more of a standard corporate blog that reported news in a more informal style than was possible for a public company to distribute in a press release. The second season blog is more of an extension of the second season of videos by bringing the human side of the company to the public. While there is very little interaction with the public through the handful of comments, the stories covered include community support, employee profiles, sports champions and the world’s largest shish kebob.

But reading between the lines of the posts finds no mention of the negative impact the global recession has had on this industrial conglomerate which has seen a drastic reduction in steel production, employee cutbacks and plant closings. They created a forum to communicate with internal and external audiences through blog posts and video, and they have abandoned them when times get tough. Honest, low-cost communications are served well by social media, and now could not be a better time to utilize these tools.

arcelormittel_cappucinoThese days even companies like ArcelorMittal have a Facebook presence, albeit small. There are three different groups, one for the company, one for the employees and one for the head of the company. None of them have much activity on them and they range from 300 – 600 members each. The most interesting is the employee group, which in happier times included a photo of cappuccino with the company logo in the foam, but now includes former employees trying to remain connected.

So, in summary, ArcelorMittal created two series of well-produced videos, both supported by blogs with appropriate, humanizing content, but achieved limited success in ongoing engagement with visitors. And in these times where real connections will help companies survive, there is little to no mention of the climate in which the company is operating. We will attempt to follow up with company officials to learn more about their goals and results of the campaigns, and any future plans for social media. Please leave any comments or suggestions about this post or the series below.