Archive | January, 2012

9 Common B2B Social Media Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

30 Jan

Yes, B2B companies should be using social media. In fact, it is easy to make the argument that B2B companies are better suited for social media marketing than B2C companies. Think about it: with a relationship-based sales cycle, core subject matter expertise and a legacy of content creation, most B2B companies are a great fit to leverage social media as part of an inbound marketing strategy.

In a world in which 60% of the sales cycle is over before a lead ever talks to a salesperson, it has never been more important for marketing to be involved early in the buying process. Social media, when used for B2B lead generation and education, can help attract, educate, and qualify leads. Regardless of your ninja level of experience with using social media for B2B, many mistakes are commonly made during the journey to becoming a superstar marketer. Here are a few common mistakes made in B2B social marketing and how you can avoid making them yourself.

9 Common B2B Social Media Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

1. Ignoring the Social Media Reach of Your Business

Reach is an often overlooked metric by B2B marketers who are focused on generating high-quality leads often at a lower volume due to the high average sale price for many B2B deals. The problem here is that the internet rewards reach. The more social media followers you have, the more your content spreads, and the more impact you have on results in search engines. Not all social media followers can become customers for your B2B company, but many of them might be able to share content or take an action online that could refer a customer.

Fix It: Take active measures to build you social media reach by emailing existing customers and vendors to encourage them to connect with your company in social media.

2. Not Trying To Generate Leads

Social media can have many applications for a business, including customer service, public relations, and recruiting. But when it comes to marketing, B2B social media is about lead generation. Yes, building communities online and educating leads is important, but if you don’t present lead conversion opportunities, you will never generate the revenue needed to fund your social media marketing efforts.

Fix It: Include calls-to-action (CTAs) for lead conversion forms in social media updates as well as on web pages that receive social media traffic.

3. Thinking Social Media Will Replace Offline Marketing

Social media is only one piece of the pie. It works best when it’s part of an integrated inbound marketing strategy that includes a mix of online and offline tactics. Thinking you can shift all of your traditional marketing budget to social media is a mistake. Solve for customers. Measure every marketing channel by its ability to generate quality customers at a reasonable cost.

Fix It: Take a step back, and look for opportunities to integrate social media with traditional marketing strategies. (Example: Include links to your social media profiles as part of the design for your next direct mail creative.)

4. Not Taking the Time to Measure B2B Social Media ROI

Leads aren’t the end goal; customers are. Too many B2B marketers guess about the performance of their social media marketing efforts, or worse, track metrics like followers and likes as the sole metrics of success. Measuring the ROI of your social media efforts isn’t easy. It means taking the time to gather specific financial data and looking at that data across multiple marketing channels.

Fix It: Work with your finance department to get clear and accurate data for the cost of customer acquisition and total lifetime value for your business. Using these two key metrics, you can look at ROI for each social media channel.

5. Blabbering About Boring Products

A huge difference exists between generating leads with social media and publishing boring, product-focused content. Social media doesn’t make your business interesting; that’s your job. While you need to be generating leads with social media, that doesn’t mean you should be talking non-stop about your product. Instead, you have to focus on content that relates to the problems your customers are working to solve.

Fix It: Ask your sales team for the top five issues they hear from leads, and build an editorial calendar for your blog and social media updates that provides solutions to these issues.

6. Hiring the Same Old Marketer

The quality of B2B social media marketing is only as good as the team that executes it. Marketing skills today are different. If you interview and hire the same types of marketers you always have, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Fix It: Look for marketers who understand how to tell interesting stories online and have the data analysis skills to constantly optimize and improve their marketing efforts.

7. Failing to Understand the Nuances Between Social Networks

Each social network is different. A great amount of social media marketing effectiveness is lost when marketers fail to understand the differences between social networks. For example, Facebook and Google+ are more visual networks, and content shared there should include more images. Twitter is more about sharing news and information, so most tweets need to include links. Taking the same approach across all social networks will greatly decrease your effectiveness and, worst of all, waste your time.

Fix It: Look at your marketing analytics software as well as analytics provided by individual social networks themselves to gain a better understanding of how the communities on each network consume your content and information differently.

8. Not Budgeting Enough Time to Be Successful

B2B social media marketing is going to take you at least twice as much time as you think. The fastest way to fail is by not budgeting enough time in your schedule to generate results. As a marketer, your schedule is already packed, so it’s important to start small and work your way toward bigger projects.

Fix It: To gain the time needed to be a B2B social media marketing superstar, you need to stop spending time on some of the other tactics in your current marketing strategy. Look at the results of your current marketing activities and determine what isn’t driving the results you need. Then remove those activities from your overcrowded marketing schedule.

9. Forgetting That Search Is the Glue That Holds B2B Social Media Strategies Together

Search engine optimization and social media are like peanut butter and jelly; they go together. Marketers who fail to align social media marketing efforts with their existing search engine optimization strategies are only getting half the results they should be.

Fix It: Build a unified keyword list that you use across your search engine optimization efforts and your social media content. This list will help ensure that your SEO, blogging, and other social media efforts are all on the same page.

Time is always a scarce resource. Use these tips as a way to maximize the results from the time you’re already investing in your B2B inbound marketing strategy. What would you add to this list?

 

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How to Make Your Facebook Welcome Page More Inviting!

23 Jan

When you shop in the real world, where are you more likely to spend your money; in a store where the staff are rude and uninterested, or where the staff are friendly and attentive?

Obviously the latter. The welcome tab on your Facebook page can have a similar effect on your target audience, and mean the difference between getting or not getting a ‘like’. Here are some essential considerations for creating a great welcome tab.

Define your objectives: First up, you need to consider what your businesses objectives are – as these will guide what actions you want your users to take on your page. For example; do you want your page to build awareness for your brand? Do you want to generate hype for a particular product/service? Do you want to build engagement with your customers? Knowing what you want to achieve with your page overall will help you determine what to include in your welcome tab.

Use prominent branding: It should go without saying, but you’ll want to make your branding prominent on your welcome tab – it helps people identify who they’re dealing with and builds familiarity.

Tell them what to expect: Your welcome tab will be the first point of contact for both people who are familiar with your brand already, along with those who aren’t. So there are three main things you’ll want to convey quickly; who you are and what you do (for those unfamiliar with your brand), and what they can expect from your page i.e. discounts, exclusive product info etc.

CTA’s: Okay so you’ve got your branding up and people can see what you do, and what to expect from the page – now it’s time to give them a bit of a push in your desired direction with a call to action (CTA). For many businesses, their first call to action is a request to ‘like’ the page. This makes sense for most, as it provides you the opportunity to market to the user on an ongoing basis. Other businesses goals may be different though, for instance you may be trying to build your email list – in this case it would pay to have a signup form on your welcome tab, or if you’re pushing sales of a particular product you might include a link to the page they can purchase it from.

Utilize ‘gating’: Gating refers to requiring users to take a specific action before accessing certain elements of your page. For example, you may be offering a free ebook, or running a competition which requires the user to ‘like’ your page before they may obtain the ebook or enter the competition. While there are varying opinions on gating; it is a proven method of gleaning likes.

Share other platforms: Finally, don’t forget to include links to your other social profiles on your welcome tab. Twitter, Google+, your blog – whatever you have profiles on, make sure you share these.

Finally – you’ll need to attend to the actual building of the welcome tab. There are three main options; hire a designer/developer to do it for you, use a Facebook app to create it yourself, or if you’re pretty confident with html you could try building it yourself from scratch using the static html iframe app.

Do you find facebook pages with welcome tabs more appealing than those without?

Facebook Timeline and Small Business Brands

16 Jan

The new Facebook Timeline is drawing all sorts of privacy concerns with users. When the social media network begins to make all users switch over to the new design no one will have as much privacy as they want. People will be able to see photos, status updates, videos, and oddball posts that you might have made as far back as 2004. While privacy concerns might hinder the website’s use for the average user, brands and businesses are salivating at the new possibilities the Timeline will afford them.

Customized Design

Facebook is the second most visited website on the Internet after Google. With people spending so much time on the social media network, it is almost as important to build an incredibly designed Facebook page as it acts as a secondary home page. If a brand hires an interactive agency for web design, they will want to carry elements of their site over to the new cover photo that sits on top of the new Timeline layout which is 840 x 310 pixels. This photo can contain important information or just be consistent with the overall marketing strategy.

The Big Picture

With photo blog websites like Tumblr and Instagram becoming more popular, people are getting most of their information from photos instead of the written word. The Facebook Timeline design lets photos stand out much better in profiles than the old layout did. Instead of brands relying on having conversations with their customers, they can post pictures and view the comments that are coming in. Instead of writing a detailed status update, brands can create an infographic which will rest beautifully in the Timeline profile.

Brand History

Because it is so much easier to access information previously posted, Facebook Timeline will take the pressure off brands to get featured in the News Feed. According to Zeny Huang of Mashable, the new Facebook design will rely more on content than on immediately grabbing the viewer’s attention. Brands can stick to their story instead of relying on shock tactics in order to get more people to view their profile.

Subscription Features

Users who have had a Facebook account for a long time probably have a bloated friend list filled with college acquaintances, forgettable encounters, and even some old enemies. People are beginning to filter out their profiles and delete people they do not know. With the subscribe feature, brands can get featured in the News Feed without cluttering up any friend counts, groups, or interests users might be worried about.

While the average user might be complaining about the constant changes and privacy abuse Facebook deals to its users, there is no doubt brands are going to be able to adapt to the new layout with ease. Small businesses will also be able to document the history they have with the community with the easily accessible Timeline feature. Whatever opinions users might have of the changes, Facebook has adapted to compete with other social media websites.

The Best Social Media Blogs!

9 Jan

The great thing about the internet is that it is full of really smart people sharing great information, all for free. We appreciate that you have decided to read and subscribe to the Sala Social Marketing Blog! If you can find some extra time in your week to add more blogs to your reading list, we recommend you consider subscribing to some of these 36 blogs.

36 Awesome Social Media Blogs (In No Certain Order)

1. Social Media Explorer — Jason Falls is constantly pumping out great posts on social media’s impact on marketing and public relations.

2. The Future Buzz — Adam Singer takes a clear approach to social media marketing and SEO topics and isn’t afraid to take a stance against ideas and tactics he thinks are bad for marketers.

3. Duct Tape Marketing — If you are a small business owner, then Duct Tape is a must read for strategic and tactical advice about leveraging online marketing and social media to grow your business.

4. Conversation Agent — Conversation is a buzz word on the web today, but this blog connects conversation to business goals and demonstrates how it is an important factor in driving business results.

5. PR Squared — If public relations is your core interest, then be sure to check out Todd Defren’s blog about the intersection of public relations and digital media.

6. Web Ink Now — Author and speaker, David Meerman Scott shares great theories and real-life examples of social media’s impact on marketing as well as easy-to-understand content that is great for non-marketing executives.

7. SEOmoz Blog — If search engine marketing is a top interest for you, then SEOmoz offers a wealth of knowledge with more than 3,000 detailed posts about search engine marketing.

8. Marketing Pilgrim — For a constant blend of online marketing and search news with a side of how-to articles, check out Marketing Pilgrim.

9. Copyblogger — Great blogging is about great writing and story telling. Posts at Copyblogger teach you how to do both of these better.

10. Six Pixels of Separation — Mitch Joel has built a successful marketing agency and shares his knowledge and insight about online marketing as well as industry trends.

11. TopRank Online Marketing Blog — The TopRank blog has a long history of delivering a great blend of search engine and social media marketing information in easily digestible lists and posts.

12. Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik — Looking for information and insight on web analytics? This blog is one of the best resources on the web on this subject.

13. Logic+Emotion — For great visuals of social media’s impact on marketing, check out David Armano’s blog, which is chock full of great visual thinking.

14. MarketingProfs Daily Fix — While MarketingProfs reserves some of its content for paid members, its Daily Fix blog offers great daily marketing content for free.

15. Social Business — Jennifer Leggio’s blog is an expansive resource for emerging trends relating to social media’s impact on business.

16. Beth’s Blog — If you’re a part of the nonprofit community, then Beth Kanter’s blog is the resource for you. Kanter has emerged as the authority on leveraging online marketing and social media for nonprofits.

17. Altitude Branding — For thoughtful and honest commentary and advice on social media and conducting business on the web, check out Amber Naslund’s blog.

18. The Social Media Marketing Blog — Want perspective on social media from a big company? Check out Scott Monty’s blog. Monty leads social media at Ford Motor Company and offers insight on social media marketing as it relates to large brands.

19. Dave Fleet — Dave’s blog provides valuable information regarding how social media has an impact on brands and traditional communications functions like public relations and advertising.

20. Chris Brogan — Brogan, a leading social media author and speaker, shares thoughtful and personal content on his blog. He has a huge library of posts, so conduct some searches on topics that you are most interested in.

21. Brian Solis — With a history of long and thoughtful posts on social media, Brian Solis has create a must-read resource for online marketing.

22. Social Media Examiner — With tons of great guest authors and consistent how-to content, Social Media Examiner offers a ton of free advice for marketers across industries.

23. Convince and Convert — Jay Baer provides actionable information about the best ways to use social media to improve reach and convert new customers.

24. Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang — For an analyst’s perspective on high-level social media concepts and emerging trends like social CRM, take a minute to check out Jeremiah’s blog.

25. Techipedia — From real-time search to Facebook, Tamar Weinberg covers a wide range of social media topics on her blog.

26. Seth’s Blog — If you are a marketer, then it is highly likely you have read at least one of Seth Godin’s books. Seth’s often brief blog posts are great free resources from an expert marketer.

27. Search Engine Land — Long-time search engine marketing resource Search Engine Land provides expert advice on search marketing.

28. ProBlogger — For those interested in improving their blog, ProBlogger discusses all of the strategies and tactics needed to become a successful blogger.

29. CenterNetworks — Looking to discover the cool stuff before everyone else? CenterNetworks shares information about social software startups as well and other online news and marketing information.

30. Peter Shankman — Boring is not a word to describe Peter. For social media insight with a shot of personality, Peter’s blog is a must read.

31. Louis Gray — Looking for geeky and early adopter social media information? Louis has all of the information you need.

32. Groundswell — This is the blog that has continued the education that was started in the book Groundswell. It contains important information for marketing departments looking to better understand social media from Groundswell author Josh Bernoff.

33. Presentation Zen — Storytelling is critically important in social media. Garr Reynolds’ blog demonstrates how to tell compelling stories online and offline.

34. Bad Pitch Blog — The Bad Pitch Blog points out mistakes other marketers have made so that you won’t make them, too! You’ll find some important perspective in these posts.

35. The Measurement Standard — Measuring results is important to all marketers. KD Paine is one of the best.

36. Andy Lark — Lark is Dell’s vice president of global marketing and communications and offers commentary on social media and marketing leadership.

37. B2BBloggers — Jeremy Victor maintains an excellent blog here covering a variety of topics in B2B marketing and sales, including how to create a great presence as a business and encourage engagement

New Year’s Resolutions: Five Social Media Marketing Blunders to Avoid in 2012

2 Jan

If there are any marketers out there who don’t have social media marketing on their 2012 marketing plan, they’re a definite minority. Nearly everyone agrees that it’s among the most cost-effective tools available to us.  But there are five common social media mistakes that can be quite costly – so I’ve added them to my list of New Year’s Resolutions.  You might want to do the same!

Five Social Media Mistakes to Avoid in 2012

  1. Posting sporadically or inconsistently. Social media, like blogging, is a marathon – not a sprint.  Even if your very first blog post or tweet gets tons of clicks, there’s no guarantee that the next one will do the same.  Measurable results aren’t instant.  So don’t be a drive-by Tweeter or LinkedIn group poster.  You know the type:  they come in and post five or six comments….and then you don’t see them for weeks or months. Plan your day so that you spend a few minutes every single day posting, responding to tweets, thanking new followers (and please don’t bother thanking me if you’re planning on using an auto responder to do it!), and being part of the social media community. No matter how busy you are, on most days you can find 15 minutes to check in on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.  I find that I get an awful lot done while standing in line at the lunch counter, waiting for meetings to start, and while eating lunch at my desk.
  2. Trying to follow every social media guru’s advice. When I was younger, I thought that it wasn’t possible to have too much information.  So I downloaded every white paper, bought shelves full of marketing books, and attended workshops and webinars until I could barely remember the speakers’ names. I honestly think that a new social media book is published every single day.  So now I am a lot more focused.  I pick a handful of blogs and role models, and I take their advice.  And I let the rest just roll right by.  I can’t do it all…so I have to be selective.  You should, too.
  3. Falling into the self-promotion rut. I admit it:  this is the social media pitfall I’m most prone to fall into headfirst.  I use social media primarily to get people to visit my content – content on my website, my blogs, and in publications that have written about my company, my books, or some of the content I’ve published.  But if all I ever do is promote my own content, the people I’m sharing with will soon get tired of reading nothing but marketing hype about me and my products – and they’ll stop paying attention.  Stephen Selby of LIMRA put it this way:  “The concept of generosity – of focusing on the community, and your contacts in the community, and sharing THEIR content, THEIR ideas, and THEIR information – is at the heart of what makes someone a social media success.”  He’s right (as usual):  it really isn’t all about me, and it isn’t all about you, either.  Social media is just that:  social.  So try to share or retweet or reply or comment on other people’s content every day.  It matters.
  4. Failing to plan and track your messages. Don’t mistake social media’s informality for an unplanned, free-form anything-goes environment. Nearly everyone I read about who has gotten in trouble with federal or state regulators, lost a job, or been sued over something they posted online has forgotten that social media isn’t a conversation between friends.  Things you’d say to your friends over a round of drinks down at the local bar after work can wind up being big mistakes if said online.  I plan my social media messages, and track them by category.  I know how many are promoting content, how many are responses to other people’s messages, and how many are my attempt to share ideas and information I’ve learned.  You don’t need to be that formal about it unless you work in a regulated industry (health care, education, insurance, financial services, casino gaming, pharmaceuticals are the most regulated).  But think before you hit send….there’s no delete button on Twitter.
  5. Leaving your manners at home. Social media is about connecting, sharing, communicating, and exchanging ideas and opinions.  Yes, we all have opinions.  And yes, we disagree.  And it’s perfectly OK to disagree with someone in a social media setting – just like it’s OK to disagree with a guest at a cocktail party.  But it’s not OK to be snide, offensive, or dismissive of someone else’s opinions or ideas just because you disagree with them.  Remember three things before you start name-calling in social media.  First, Google never forgets.  The flame war you walk into today may show up in search results linked to your name or your company years from now. Second, most people you meet in online forums are sane.  But some aren’t.  Run into one of the crazy Internet trolls out there, and you can find yourself embroiled in a situation that’s nearly impossible to get out of.  Much as we might want one every now and again, there’s no Internet police force that enforces standards of good judgement and good behavior online.  I know people who have abandoned email addresses, Facebook profiles, Twitter handles, and LinkedIn profiles they’ve spent years building after they ran afoul of someone with more time than good sense when that someone turned a sharp reply or a thoughtless message into cause for a personal vendetta.  It’s just not worth it.  Third, your mother was right: you only get one chance to make the right first impression.  If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.  And, above all, don’t say it unless you’d be comfortable with everyone you know (your boss, your minister or priest, your mother, your fiancé’s parents – everyone) reading it on the front page of the newspaper.

What other social media mistakes should we watch out for in the coming year?  Give us a shout below or via Facebook !  Happy New Year!