Archive | June, 2013

8 B2B Social Media Marketing Tips To Avoid Failure

24 Jun

A recent survey found that over 90% of B2B decision makers use social media somewhere in their buying process.

Advertising and marketing associations are seeing marketers catching on to this trend and now social media is part of their marketing mix.

In surveys by GroupM and coMscore it’s become apparent that the impact social media is having on brand search is significant, so it goes without saying that social media is now a serious part of a buyers research and a suppliers marketing activity.

So why is it then that B2B companies are still finding it difficult to demonstrate results ?

Well, a large part of the problem has been the inherent difficulty associated with measuring the return on marketing investments at a suitable level of detail, as well as knowing exactly who is actually responsible for social media activity, whether its customer service, marketing or PR departments. Nobody seems to be quite clear.

After some research the biggest gap however seems to be a lack of experience or knowledge in deploying effective social media strategies, born out in Marketing Sherpa’s social media marketing and PR benchmark survey 2008.

In summary it showed that 60% of staff consider themselves as “knowledgeable” even though they’ve never used or done any form of social media marketing or PR before. Misplaced confidence or even assumed ability is a sure fire way to get your project relegated to the pile of marketing failures.

So, if you want to side step any disasters and replace “hope” as your only guide, then these 8 B2B Social Media Marketing Tips that will help you put your social media activity on the right path.

Avoid Using Social Media As A Direct Response Vehicle

Unlike their consumer counterparts B2B tends to be less impulsive or price-sensitive so “deals” or “specials” just don’t work so well. When it comes to B2B, social media is about interaction and knowledge sharing. Hard selling will get you ignored at best and hated at worst.

Do Your Research And Strategize Before Executing

Social media is about building relationships and that takes time. Think about who you want to engage and where they hang out because you’re going to have to spend some time there before things will start to happen. Spend time understanding the social media landscape surrounding your business before you start making any kinds of waves.

Plan For Long Term Development Just Like Your Business

Don’t expect immediate results or large numbers of readers or followers over-night, unless of course you game the system which means you’ve got a lot of irrelevant people that will be inactive around your content. Those B2B companies that actually generate a return from their activity established a clear strategy and adjusted it as results came in and sustained this activity over a committed period.

Don’t Be Boring And Take A Stand For Your Audience

Business can be pretty boring at times and if all you do is talk about your business, its messages and how great you think you are, then people will switch off, just like the boring person at that party you ran into the other night. Social media is about listening first, understanding second and responding by adding value lastly. Spread references to your own content in amongst other content sources which support your response and most of all deliver relevant and timely information.

Get Your Content Out There And Share It

Somebody once said “build it and they will come”. They won’t though unless somebody tells them about it. Your content is no different. Unless you share and distribute it on-line to make others aware of it and allow them to amplify it by sharing it further, you may as well not have bothered to writ it in the first place. RSS feeds are a great way to distribute content on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn and great place to share and exchange content within the context of meaningful debate.

Be Consistent Across Social Media

Anybody that has a market or customer facing role will probably have a social media profile of some form or other. There is nothing worse than seeing photos that don’t represent an individual in the context of their involvement in a business. Profile photo’s and messages on B2B social media sites should support the companies and allow for a little bit of individualism and creativity without distancing them from their customers and stake holders or the company they work for.

Make Sure You Track And Monitor Activity

Social media is like word of mouth online. People can spread your message or take it to task and challenge it. It’s impossible to try and control every conversation, much better to help shape and direct them or at worst be seen to be listening and taking an interest. Monitoring your social media land scape is an important task, in order to understand what people are saying about your business as well as its products or services and for you to thank your fans and deal with critics.

Build Your Social Media Activity As Part Of A Bigger Marketing Plan

Like your website, PR and online advertising, social media is not a separate or disconnected part of your marketing activity. In fact these different online marketing channels actually impact each other increasing the value of each by leveraging and compounding returns. Email signatures link to website and social media profiles as do press releases, articles and videos.

Building specific microsites can also help to increase cross linking and rank by providing better information management and relevancy. The bottom line is that each will raise the power of the other and in turn maximise the return from your online marketing presence.

So, with a little thought and planning you can put your social media strategy for B2B on safer trajectories.

 

Facebook Debuts #Hashtags

17 Jun

This week Facebook officially unveiled hashtags to its platform after three months of industry speculation that it would make such a move. Hashtags, which are hugely popular on Twitter (and, to lesser extents, Instagram and Google+), should theoretically make the social media giant more conversational and could have significant search engine optimization implications.

When it comes to the latter, let’s say a brand puts a hashtag in its television or out-of-home advertising. Up until now, a Google search for that term would at least nine out of 10 times produce a Twitter link at the top of the results. Now, the consumer might instead be led to Facebook’s property. Hashtags should also affect Facebook.com search results.

And CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s company wants brands to start putting hashtags in their Facebook ads.

A statement from Facebook emailed to members of their development platform (it’s free to join!!!  Ask me for more details!) about the development said: “If you are already using hashtags in an advertising campaign through other channels, you can amplify these campaigns by including your  hashtags in Facebook advertising … Any hashtags that you use on other platforms that are connected to your Facebook page will be automatically clickable and searchable on Facebook.”

Facebook said hashtags are now available to a small percentage of consumers and businesses, while it intends to roll them out more widely in the coming weeks.

Additionally, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based firm explained parts of its larger goals—in terms of the marketing community—with the following:

“We recommend you search for and view real-time public conversations and test strategies to drive those conversations using hashtags. Hashtags do not impact your distribution or engagement in News Feed on either desktop or mobile. We recommend you continue to focus on your existing campaigns to drive your most important business objectives. Hashtags are a first step in surfacing relevant and important public conversations. Over time, our goal is to build out additional functionality for marketers including trending hashtags and new insights so that you can better understand how hashtags fit into your overall Facebook advertising strategies and drive your business objectives.”

How to Execute a Successful Social Media Marketing Initiative

10 Jun

As social media continues to evolve rapidly and influence the way we communicate, small businesses simply have to get into the game or risk being left behind.

It’s hard to ignore the power of social media marketing when it’s done correctly. The sheer number of social media users is just the beginning; imagine the possibilities when you can reach all of those people and get your business in front of them. Just consider:

  • Facebook has a billion people using it each and every month
  • Around 5 million photos are added to and shared on Instagram every HOUR
  • Half a million people use Twitter each month
  • More than 3,000 hours’ worth of video are added to YouTube each hour
  • The Plus One button for Google+ is clicked more than 2 billion times every day

Smart business owners are already taking advantage of this. Nearly 90% of the Fortune 500 companies are using social media. Don’t assume you have to be some enormous company to grow your business with an innovative social media strategy. It can be just as useful for the butcher around the corner as it is for a Fortune 500 company.

Social media isn’t a magic button you can push and instantly fill the seats in your restaurant or the shopping cart on your site. Many small business owners have dabbled with social media, only to decide it isn’t worth it or it doesn’t work. I’m sure there have been plenty of cases where it failed. All that means is that you have to be smart about it. You must take it as seriously as any other advertising or marketing plan.

Common reasons why social media marketing fails

  • Not being active and interacting with users on the site (because social media is a two-way street)
  • Not connecting with users on the right level or responding to their “what’s in it for me” stance
  • Failing to understand that selling and pushing your products is NOT the same thing as interacting with and engaging your followers

If you haven’t made any of the above mistakes, but you still aren’t seeing positive results from social media, you could simply be using the wrong sites. Every social media platform is different. The demographics and mindset of their users are different. The way they work, what can be shared, and what is shared the most will be different from one site to another. Let’s look at what I mean.

Roundup of popular social sites to consider

Twitter

Twitter is informal. Here, your messages are limited to 140 characters (though images and video have been making their way into the stream more recently). Users here are pretty comfortable. They don’t usually have a problem connecting with a wide variety of users — from individuals to brands and companies, even those they don’t know or use. Twitterers love to connect, follow, and retweet for contests, offers, and interesting content. The site is also commonly used for customer support.

Facebook

While Facebook users also tend to be fairly informal, they’re more concerned about privacy and aren’t as willing to connect openly with folks are on Twitter. In order for your updates to be seen by FB users, they have to “Like” your page. Your updates can be much longer, but it’s wise to keep the promotions to a minimum. Users like to see personal interaction and engagement.

Google+

Google+ is much like Facebook. It has been known to attract more of a digital, tech-savvy crowd, and most of them are male. However, more women and people interested in a variety of things are moving in to Google+. To interact with people here, you need to be added to a user’s “circle.” Google+ is growing rapidly and will likely continue to do so.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn caters to users who have more of a business mindset, which makes it a great place for B2B and folks who want to network and stay up to date in their industry. The attitude here is more formal than on Twitter or Facebook. It’s also more personal in the sense that users typically allow fewer connections than on other social sites.

Pinterest

Pinterest users are pretty laid back. Here, you’re dealing mostly with women. Users follow your boards, and your “pins” will show up on their home page for them to see. Photos are the backbone of Pinterest, so if your business sells anything that can be visually appealing, it could be a great source of targeted traffic to your site. Food, weddings, style, kids, animals, photography, and home décor are all big hits here.

Getting started the right way

As you can see, some businesses would be better off on certain platforms than on others. Before you do anything, you need to figure out exactly what you want to do with social media. What are your goals? You shouldn’t just sign up on every social site you can think of on a whim and expect great results. It takes planning, from the start.

  • Do you want to offer customer support through social media?
  • Do you want to offer services and products directly from the social site?
  • Do you want drive traffic to a store?
  • Do you want to direct traffic to a blog?
  • Do you want to run contests and giveaways to expand your subscriber list?

You also need to look carefully at the sites you’re considering from an audience perspective.

  • Do users on the site often interact with businesses and brands?
  • What type of content is normally shared? Is it what you’ll be offering?
  • How many people use the site?

Which social site should you start with?

Pick one or two sites that seem to be a good fit for your business. It’s better to build up a strong presence and following on just one social site than to jump from one to another in a superficial manner. If you just don’t know where to start, there are a couple of things you can do.

You can study your competitors who are active on social media. Which sites are they using? On which of those sites do they have more followers and interactions? More than likely, those would be the best sites for you to consider.

Second, go straight to the source. Poll or simply ask your customers which sites they use the most often and/or which ones they’d like to see you on, if you offer content and specials there.

Planning your campaigns

Create a schedule. If you aren’t going to be handling your social marketing personally, make sure you designate someone who fully understands their responsibilities. That includes knowing their posting schedule and any rules about what’s not allowed.

Make sure your social media rep understands the mentality of users on the site (formal? informal? chatty? professional?) and how to be personable but businesslike online. It’s important that the person knows how to handle any negative comments, reactions, or complaints from users, because those are all going to happen. Handled correctly, this can show your company cares and actually draw in more business.

You should know what’s going to be posted and when. Be aware of what kind of content or promotions you are going to run ahead of time. Monitor and tweak your social media strategy as needed, but don’t be afraid to jump ship if it’s clearly not working.

Change can be good

If you’re already knee-deep into social marketing and it’s just not working, it may be time to re-evaluate everything. Most of all, you need to assess whether you’re on the right site for your line of business.

Below are a few tools that can help you monitor your social media:

  • Sendible
  • Google Analytics to measure social media conversions
  • Facebook’s Insight
  • SproutSocial
  • Refollow – the Twitter relationships gauge
  • ViralHeat – to monitor specific actions or products/campaigns and determine what’s working
  • MySEOTool – an all-in-one monitoring platform that includes integration with Google Analytics and social media channels.

Facebook Verified Pages Helps Increase Brand Authenticity!

3 Jun

​Social media’s biggest player, Facebook, recently launched a verification system to authenticate Pages for easy search discovery. With the breadth of fake accounts plaguing all social media networks today, these sites must find ways to point members in the right direction so they can connect with celebrities, journalists, government officials and big brands. Facebook members will know the social media content posted to these accounts is endorsed and produced by the companies themselves.

Facebook’s verified Pages feature will implant a small, blue check mark (similar to Twitter’s own service) next to these official accounts’ names on their timelines and search results. The company is reserving its feature for a small group of public figures with large audiences, and will eventually roll it out to a wider audience. Facebook users can learn more about verified Pages and profiles in the Help Center located on the Facebook platform.

It has been suggested that  U.S. social media marketing budgets will increase 31.6 percent this year and total $4.2 billion. The addition of verified Pages may make it easier for corporations to attract online consumers to their official hubs because people will know its monitored by brands directly.