I recently saw will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas in a Google + Hangout. It was a one to many format, where he had the main camera, but fans could start talking and video-ing him and he’d answer personally to the group. It was the first time a rock group has ever done something like this. It was like being backstage with him and I’ve got to tell you he’s the ultimate cool guy.
If this is the new BIG thing in social media, it put me to thinking how cool marketing people could use it in a B2B setting. Here’s just a few quick ideas I came up with:
1.Host a “roundtable” expert discussion featuring one of your company subject matter experts, and a high level person from an OEM, inviting prospects to join the circle.
2. Host a weekly or top of month broadcast about the hottest topics in your industry segment. Right off your webcam.
3. Kick up your lead generation activity and demonstrate a new product or solution offering to prospects or customers–for a fraction of what a live event would cost.
4. Connect with remote staff and host team meetings in a lively new, and more importantly, cool format.
5. Market up and down the channel by hosting your own updates back to your OEM/ISV partners and hosting your OEM/ISV partner update sessions to customers.
That’s it for now, gotta go–I’ve got a feeling, that tonight’s gonna be a good night…
Inevitably if you hold a corporate marketing or comms position, you’ll be asked to ramp up or supervise the company blogs. These tips are what I’ve actually used and ended up being pretty effective when I was put in charge of ramping up and maintaining a team of 10+ technology related bloggers and their respective blogs.
1. If they’re apprehensive about the commitment, suggest a blogging buddy to split the duties.
2. Before you decide on a topic and title, research it on Google Adwords and tweak it so it falls into a highly searchable term. Sometimes a slight keyword tweak makes the difference between one hundred and one hundred thousand searches. The best combination is words that are highly searched, and have low competition.
3. Highlight the fact that your blogger has been chosen to blog for their value to the company, as an elite team member and that it elevates their professional status.
4. Ensure them that they don’t always have to come up with original content. They can comment on industry happenings, or reference expert stories and comment on them, interview customers or even invite guest co-bloggers.
5. Start a blog yourself, so that you understand the finer points of blogging and can coach more effectively.
6. Provide feedback to your bloggers on blog success in the form of metrics: how many hits in one week, syndication, comments.
7. Incent with contests and prizes: who gets the most comments, who gets the most reads, etc.
8. Provide best practice training with concrete examples of good blogs.
9. Coach them to give valuable insight that is unique. For example if they write a post about the benefits of desktop virtualization, make sure they talk about a specific instance where they experienced these benefits.
10. Design an editorial calendar to plan not only what’s to come, but also provide timing and cadence, in order to keep the bloggers on task and on time.
And here’s a little bonus for you to send to your bloggers when they are starting out…
Tips on Topic Selection for Bloggers
Select a topic…
1. you know very well and with which you are very comfortable
2. into which you can show insight, experience and have anecdotal references
3. in which you are passionate about learning more
4. that you think your prospects and customers would find valuable
5. framework that will supply multiple blog opportunities
6. that someone else has written about that you can spin a slightly different way or add additional practical insight
7. in Google Adwords that is low on competition and high on search
8. for which there is no struggle for material to write
Wondering how to make your content stand out from the 27 million pieces shared in the U.S. each day?
When I first started working with bloggers and writing online copy, I never paid much attention to the topic of SEO using keywords and trending topics, but once I began to understand it, I realized how critical it was. Social platforms as well as press releases use keywords to optimize and get you more power to be seen. Also, trending topics that are most talked about are key to know. Choosing the right ones can result in increased traffic to your hardworking content assets, online sites and releases.
One example of the power of using popular keywords and topics I found is on YouTube, which not only allows you to put keywords into the video description area, but also includes a tool which gives you suggestions. When folks search on them, if you have the proper keyword placement, your chances of being seen are multiplied many times over.
What are keywords, anyway? How do you determine what are the best keywords for you to use?
Keywords are the words used when someone searches for information on the web and types the word or phrase into the search engine. A single word will return a broad sweep of information and websites that may mostly be irrelevant to your needs. A phrase will help you focus what exactly you need. This is why it is key to know the most common keywords and phrases used in your industry.
How do you find keywords?
Online keyword tools are invaluable. One of my favorite is Google AdWords, a free online tool by Google that helps you to pinpoint the most optimal terms to use. Sometimes it’s as easy as changing a phrase in your copy from “Virtualization Solutions” to “IT Virtualization” that can make the difference from popping up in hundreds of prospects’ searches to thousands.
A tool I use to discover trending topics is Google Trends. You can simply type in your word or a comparison of your word and a different word, for example; virtualization versus desktop virtualization. This tool will show you the search rank for these terms by comparison and also geographic regions from which the searches take place. It’s cool, try it!
One more, the twendz Twitter-mining tool uses the power of Twitter Search, highlighting conversation themes and sentiment of the tweets that talk about topics you are interested in. It helps you to check your relevancy.
I found my keywords, now what?
After you locate your keyword treasure trove, you may want to store them for fast reference. One idea I picked up from Online Marketing Blog is to create a Keyword Glossary, which organizes the keywords and topics that can be used by your company copywriters and content generators as well socially engaged staff that creates online content.
Last but not least, don’t forget your target customer
Remember the traditional marketing best practice of addressing your customer’s needs and the language they speak through the following points made by blog author, Lee Odden, for TopRank Online Marketing Blog:
- Identify customer segments – What do they care about? What is their context?
- Document pain points & information needs during buying cycle.
- Build a path of content including triggers that inspire purchase and social sharing.
Add keyword optimization (SEO) to that mix and voila! you’ll find yourself caring about this very powerful combination.
It’s time to, because your competition is there for sure. You can be sure it’s a culture-altering project, not just for your company, but for the entire global marketplace, that requires you to pay lots of attention, but comes with significant rewards if you do. Here are some pointers to starting you on your way:
1-Choose one platform to start with and get to know it well. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are all functional for different purposes. 74% of tech companies report having Twitter accounts, LinkedIn at 72 percent and Facebook at 20 percent. (Wildfire, 2011)
2-Take stock of your content. You need to say something before you begin, retweeting is good, but what do you have that’s original, and even more important, what people are looking for? (Read my next blog on why trending topics and keywords matter.) Do you have a hidden “subject matter expert” gem somewhere that’s willing to become an elite blogger for your company? Or maybe it’s just your presence as a line “reporter” at industry shows, but it’s your insight that counts.
3-Be in it to run the marathon, not the sprint. Long-term results come after months of stick-with-it engagement. An article I read last week by techeye.net discussed a recent study, citing that 43 percent of tech brands with a registered account have never bothered to reply to a tweet, while 66 percent of Facebook pages received comments from users, and 75 percent didn’t even bother to reply. (Techeye, 2011)
4-Use the power of amplification for all of your posts. One application that does this is GaggleAmp, which allows your organization’s employees, friends, business partners and fans to become part of a group that helps you push out your news, to all their networks. It’s like those few snowflakes that drop from the winter sky and become a full blown blizzard. Your messages will multiply.
5-Be prepared to commit resources to your social media efforts. Social media is not free. It requires strategy, management and monitoring and that requires head count or at a minimum, if you outsource it, you will still need an insider as your point person. Enlist an executive champion to help you evangelize your cause and that will make acquiring resources and gaining support much easier.
The blog is at the core of your social media efforts. It’s a wonderful tool that when done well satisfies the need for content to backup your social media strategy, showcases your expertise and allows you to become industry relevant by being part of the big conversation. You can also use it for a very soft sell.
I’ve compiled a list of five ways that you can use your blog like a good p.r. campaign to help influence potential buyers as they work their way through the buying cycle.
1. Link to company offerings from within blog posts. Sometimes when you are offering insight on a particular observation or challenge, it’s appropriate to include a link to or mention of your own offering. You can even use links to your website such as when you are describing an offering like Software Integration, the reader can click to your site with Software Integration hotlinked to it. It will also maximize your SEO exposure as well.
2. Use the sidebar on your blog to advertise your content assets: video, white papers, studies, etc. When a new piece of content is published, you can summarize it in a blog post then link to it as well. Or you can create a link in the body of your post when the post applies.
3. Don’t forget to use the power of networking. Your blog should have links to your website, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter channels and vice versa. Also include share buttons for your readers to easily send your content to others. And make a subscription box on your blog sidebar so readers can easily subscribe to the feed. It gives you more face time to network with your audience.
4. Have a new product or service? You can’t link to your press release from your actual blog unless it relates directly to your story, but you can post a link to it in your blog sidebar.
5. Syndicate when possible. There are many sites you can syndicate your blog to that aggregate blogs in your space and make them available to tens of thousands of potential readers. Some of them are Ezine, ITToolbox, BlogNotions and Technorati.
So you see that if you use your blog not only to showcase your expertise, but also to promote it; in turn you’ll maximize your efforts and help along your marketing ROI. Have a great summer and enjoy blogging!
This week I brought my daughter to have her wisdom teeth removed. Before leaving she looked up all of the information on the procedure posted on the Internet. By the time she was done, she might have gotten a few credits for dental school. And by the time we got in the car to leave for the surgeon, she was in pieces because she knew exactly how and what type of instrument was going to remove the teeth and that she would possibly vomit because 30% of the patients do. Shall I just say that thanks to TMI, we had to practice deep, cleansing breaths on the way.
It’s nearly the same story when my friend gets an ailment; from a dizzy spell to a bump on the skin, she visits WEBMD to look up her symptoms and has herself diagnosed with some form of terminal illness two out of the three times she looks. Their tagline is “Better Information. Better Health.” It should be “Too much information (TMI) is unhealthy.”
So I ask you, when is all this information just TMI? Online communities are abuzz with discussions, polls, blogs, etc. At no time in history has marketing ever had this much expert knowledge at their fingertips. Particularly social media marketing How-To articles.
I skim through the daily treasures from Ragan Communications, Social Media Examiner, PR 2.0, and Social Media B2B and I’ve decided to compile five of the best articles that have actually given me useful information:
1. How LinkedIn is Helping Businesses Grow
LinkedIn is becoming a strong tool for event marketing in that it obtains invites from people through networking and uses their networks to further the reach of the invites. Here’s a great video–you have to watch Lewis Howes, author of Linked Working, who explains the how-to at the beginning.
Good for business users. My favorite is Feedburner, which you can use to feed your blog to your Facebook site.
3. Why Facebook Should Not Replace Your Website
I get asked once a week why someone needs their website when they have Facebook. Jason Matthew Murphy so eloquently puts it in this article–a short read, but valuable to show any proponents of ditching the website for this ever evolving platform.
4. 10 Quick and Easy B2B Blog Post Ideas for a Thursday Afternoon
What can I say, these 10 ideas will jumpstart any writer’s block when writing your blog. I especially like #8, “List Your Favorite Industry Publications and Websites,” you can see I’m doing that here!
5. PR Pros: Ban These Terms From Your Writing
Words that make your writing sound cliche–another favorite of mine from Ragan Communications. I have to confess that I use 1, 5, 8 and 9 too much–how about you? Post a comment and let me know your top used word from the list.
I find that Twitter is great for making personal connections with business partners, customers and prospects at shows. Twitter, not unlike trade shows, is used for brand awareness, introductions and nurturing relationships without hard selling.
Here are 7 best practices for using Twitter to be seen and heard at a busy show:
1. I try to establish my company’s Twitter presence a few days before the show opens. And every day during the show/conference, I’ll post amusing or informative links, announcements, insights and observations.
2. On the first day of the show, I let the show management know we’re active on Twitter by sending a message to the show using a hashtag (i.e. #EMCworld for the EMC World show) to let them know we are an exhibitor, and ask them to retweet our messages to share it with their followers. For example: “#EMCworld we’re a gold sponsor and would like you to retweet our messages to followers.” It works if they are truly checking their messages.
3. I also include the show hashtag (like #HPDiscover for the HP Discover show) on all of my messages during the show. Attendees will read the hashtag for the event as a stream, and your followers will also receive them. For example: “Here at #RedHatSummit keeping up with the latest…”
4. I swap Twitter addresses with anyone I meet at the show. I also try to get my contact’s company Twitter ID so that my company can follow them and when I give them my business card, our Twitter address is printed on it.
5. If we have a booth, I use Twitter to keep attendees informed of happenings. For example: “@yourcompany The next demo will starting in 10 minutes in Booth 45 #EMCworld,” or “@yourcompany Drawing for an iPod shuffle at 1pm in Booth 377 #EMCworld Must be present to win.”
6. If I want to have some fun, I do promotional giveaways for Twitter users. For example: “I’ve got a copy of “Dummies Guide to Cloud Computing” for the next person who finds me. I’m wearing a straw hat!”
7. By the way, I’m not the only one tweeting at a show; usually a good practice is to have 2 tweeters (but no more) to catch all the buzz. I manage our tweets on CoTweet, which enables us all to see what the other has tweeted, what’s scheduled and to also pre-schedule our tweets. By the way, the mobile app to CoTweet is not free, so if you’re going to use it, you have to take a laptop, or login through your mobile phone’s browser.
Our beloved b-to-b marketing climate changed over the past couple of years. And it started with the economic storm–bad things happened, and then bad things continued to happen.
I saw three significant events occur that created a natural disaster somewhat akin to a Cat. 4 hurricane:
1) The economy brought massive reductions in staff, especially marketing.
2) The wave of social media increased marketing departments’ tasks, leaving us with more to do and more to learn. But, we weren’t asked NOT to do any of the other aspects of marketing, demand gen, PR, etc. So not only did we have to learn something new, we needed to implement and leverage it while it was emerging and evolving (i.e. no good roadmap of best practices, etc.).
3) Partners and vendors trimmed marketing co-op budgets, which restricted marketing’s efforts to absorb and implement the increased workload through outsourcing, which is probably how we would have addressed the problem in #2 in the first place.
Less overall marketing dollars and less headcount + more workload = OMG I better find a better way.
So, after having this thought process, and realizing that I am still getting a lot of stuff done (although I take more work home these days), I thought about the few things that I had done successfully to counteract these bad events:
-In the book, “Zilch,” by Nancy Lublin, the author implores for-profit companies to behave more like not-for-profit companies in that we need to make “everyone do everything.” She refers to CEOs stuffing gift bags for events and office managers proofreading PSA announcements. So I tried to do more of that–you wouldn’t believe what a great proofreader our event coordinator is, and how well our receptionist can phrase a follow up letter to respondents from a customer survey. Besides that, we’ve tapped our in-house experts to write blogs for us, so I now have writers as well. Video? The VP of Sales’ office works great as a set for expert interviews and our in-house graphic designer happens to be a video whiz.
-I used the social media apps to be more effective. That’s not super easy, as there are like, thousands of them. Some I use are TweetDeck, to measure your Twitter online mentions, Google Alert to measure yours and others mentions, and Cotweet, to allow you to control your company master Twitter account but let others in. A new one we just demo’ed is GaggleAmp, which takes your social media program and makes is real easy for you to get your employees to use their followers/fans/friends to post all of the company stuff to, exponentially increasing the amount of your online reach. Worth a look. And instead of producing that resource draining monthly company newsletter for partners, we get them all to join a LinkedIn group and post content there. Cost=FREE.
-I also use online content hosting sites as a way to turn up the volume. I find sites like BlogNotions that act as libraries for blogs and they draw the crowds for us. We posted a blog article written several months ago by one of our in-house technology high frequency trading experts to a financial traders’ site at: The High Frequency Trading Review and in 24 hours he had 500 reads. With our old co-op funding from item #3 above, we might have paid $10k for an event that would draw one tenth of that number and pray that everyone came. Today, without as much funding at our disposal, this tactic cost us a fraction of that, and shows an exponentially better ROI. That’s the beauty of syndication. Use it.
There’s hope for us all, a lot of work to be done and plenty of marketing jobs to be had. That’s good news: you’ll be able to pay your mortgage, tuition, car insurance and still eat three times a day. I will leave you with this comforting statistic published recently that says the demand for marketers is at a four year high. At least you’ll have some shelter from the storm.
Since my side of this blogging team is the more practical day-to-day execution of marketing programs and events I thought I would share how I spent my day:
How many times have I sent a booth or tabletop display or even something as simple as a collateral rack to an event in the field and found out later that it wasn’t used or something to that effect because they couldn’t figure out how to put it together etc.?? Too many times!
We recently purchased a new tabletop display unit for our shows, complete with a frame, graphics and lights. Since I won’t be traveling to every event where this will be used I decided to take some time today do a test run and augment the manufacturers instructions with my own – complete with pictures!
First I scanned the instructions and saved them – since they invariably will disappear from the box, I will make a habit of sending them electronically to the Account Executive who will have to put it together.
I took out all the pieces and followed the directions, trying to pretend I was someone who had never put one together before, evaluating the clarity of them along the way. When I was finished I took a picture of the completed display – knowing what something is supposed to look like can help with assembly when all else fails. I printed the picture and taped it to the reverse of the instructions.
As I was taking it all apart again I decided to number the pieces that went together – channel bar #1 attaches to # 1 on the frame – etc., since they all looked the same – but clearly aren’t. In addition I wrote up some “extra” instructions that will make it easier for any novice to put the display together, without tearing their hair out!
It was an investment of my time, but one that will be well worth it when our great looking display unit is easily assembled and displayed without me having to travel to every city it goes to!
Just another day in the life of a marketer – not one of the more glamorous days – but a worthwhile one nonetheless.