Sunday, May 19, 2013

2013 B2B Social Media Marketing (Whitepaper) Report

There has been an explosion in B2B social media of late. In fact, 83% of all B2B companies now use social media to connect with customers and prospects and to generate leads.

The challenge: how do you make your social media investment pay off?

Our white paper B2B Social Media Monetization gives you need-to-know advice for setting social media strategies, measuring the success of your campaigns, and driving revenue.

Download your copy of whitepaper now!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Effective B2B Social Media Lead Generation in 5 Simple Steps

Over 500 people registered for our B2B social media webinar early this week and I must confess that the response was overwhelming. At first I thought that I thought that my campaigning team had done an exceptionally good job (which they have indeed) but as the webinar was nearing to end I had a realization that most of the attendees where present because of the topic - B2B Lead generation from Social Media.

Now this gave us a reason to condense the discussion and present the steps and the steps and processes towards setting up an effective and successful lead generation program for B2Bs using social and online media in simple 5 effective steps:


Search (the number one source used in B2B purchase decisions)
Online advertising
Social advertising

Use clear language telling your audience exactly what you want them to do. Use a big red button they can’t miss.

Make sure your landing page matches up with what you’re promising in your ads.

Define a clear path for your visitors
Guide users to a single desired action (one offer)
Limit friction, confusion, and distractions

Perhaps a prospect got to your landing page but didn’t fill out the form. Use retargeting ads to get their attention again. These ads display on third party websites to those who went to your website but didn’t convert. The goal is to bring them back. Your retargeted ad could offer different incentives or a softer sell.
An example of a re-targeted ad

Our jobs as marketers don’t stop when the form is filled out. Sales and marketing must work together to connect with the leads after they've completed the form and ensure the messaging is relevant to that prospect. To keep it organized, track your campaign within your CRM. This enables sales and marketing to track every action including:

Where the lead came from
Campaign details such as media costs
Next steps/directions for sales (Summary info, qualification questions, email templates)
Use your CRM to create shared dashboards between marketing and sales to give everyone a transparent picture of how things are performing.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The 10 Commandments of Social Media for Brands

Fleeting as social media exchanges may seem, they can have a pronounced impact on business and their influence can echoe far beyond a simple post or retweet.

While the anonymous, public and often informal nature of Internet dialogue often leads corporations to relax their guard, it’s important to note: Managing a brand’s social media presence is a tricky balancing act. The key to being successful? Keeping things polite and professional, and constantly acknowledging your audience’s voice, while adding value or insight to customer exchanges.

Looking to enhance your corporate social media efforts? Here are 10 simple rules every corporate social networking team should follow to better connect with fans and maximize the value of their online presences.

1. Thou shalt be patient and considerate.
While many campaigns seem to go viral overnight, it’s important to remember that businesses rarely experience instant breakthroughs or meteoric audience growth on social media. More important than chasing huge follower or subscriber counts is to consistently and meaningfully engage an audience by creating helpful and insightful content that addresses key concerns or speaks to consumer needs.

Over time, through constant two-way dialogue with users, this commitment will help your business build a loyal and involved following, the influence of which may far outstrip that of larger, less engaged audiences.

Be relevant, generous and sincere. While doing so may not seem as sexy or instantly gratifying as posting a viral video or infographic, it will help you build trust, empathy and, most importantly, relationships, the currency of the modern social realm.

2. Thou shalt not be indifferent to the voice of thy customer.
When you engage in social media, you commit to playing a role in very public customer conversations. This entails consistently having to acknowledge other parties’ opinions, and embracing both the good and the bad, including harsh or critical feedback.

Instead of looking the other way when someone posts something unflattering, take a moment to objectively assess the feedback. Constructive criticism not only presents opportunities to improve our efforts to serve end-users; it also presents a chance to engage in human exchanges, and apologize and appease the situation.

In other words, the goal is to create conversations, not critiques, and optimize the level of customer support and service provided to your audience. Sometimes, simply taking a moment to acknowledge others’ voices, or answer questions directly can bridge gaps that threaten to build a gulf between you and end-users.

3. Thou shalt be true to thyself.
You've spent ample time crafting your brand’s mission and values across your website, marketing materials and advertising efforts. Now is not the time to abandon the positive image you've worked so hard to cultivate, or forsake professionalism or propriety in the name of popularity.

Given the medium’s more personable nature, social media exchanges should certainly be more human than formal. But all should be respectful of customers, audience needs and the positive image you've worked so hard to cultivate. It’s important not only to respect followers’ time and intelligence, but also to be consistent with your branding and messaging across all platforms. That way, fans and followers know both who you are and the values that your business stands for.

4. Thou shalt think before you post.
Trade secret: Every post or status update you share should add value for your audience, regardless whether that value comes in the form of enlightenment, entertainment or an uplifting exchange.

Therefore, make every share unique, and think about how to ensure it counts – i.e., what can you add to the conversation that others can’t? As a simple example, retweeting posts of note is an excellent way to share information, but adding your own opinion or links to further resources is an even better use of time. Likewise, if you post every single little detail or update about your brand, industry and products, fans may become fatigued. Respect your audience and think about how to make posts superlative, singular and of notable worth before sharing.

The key question to ask yourself: What’s in it for them?

5. Thou shalt be brief.
Remember to keep it short and sweet on social media. You have only a few seconds to catch someone’s attention, and even less time to keep it. Therefore, make sure your posts have an immediate impact and utilize concise language, links, references or (better yet) visual assets, such as photos, videos and inforgraphics. These quickly convey key information at a glance.

Look for ways to distill an idea down to a single statement or elevator pitch that clearly and quickly communicates subject matter, tone and target audience, and provides further points of reference should audiences wish to dive deeper into the topic.

6. Thou shalt not hog the conversation.
In many ways, social networks serve as the world’s largest cocktail party. But no one wants to be stuck with a self-centered conversation hog.

The same rule applies to your social media presence, where it’s important to listen before speaking – doubly so, as the dynamics of conversation and rules of online behavior differ depending on context and parties in attendance. Dedicate the majority of your time proactively engaging your audience, then split the remaining time between content your audience will care about and promoting your brand.

7. Thou shalt do good.
Think of social media as the world’s largest megaphone or amplifier – it can project your online voice louder, farther and faster than ever before.

Always be engaging and upbeat (negativity never reflects well on the poster, especially online, where conversational subtlety and nuance are often lost in translation), and take advantage of the opportunities presented to promote positivity. Material you post online should be less promotional than beneficial in nature, designed to help viewers save time or money, enhance learning and awareness, or offer key opinions and insights. From securing support for charitable ventures to offering deeper looks at evolving trends to helping fans and followers make valuable connections, consistently look for ways to aid, assist and uplift your audience.

8. Thou shalt keep it strictly business.
While color and personality are always welcome online, business and pleasure seldom mix well in social media contexts – personal and corporate accounts are best kept separated. Remember: Users following business accounts do so because they identify with the brand, and expect content in keeping with its core image and focus. Posting anything outside of this realm may prompt confusion, surprise or indifference, and has the potential to reflect poorly on your brand.

Communications should universally be polite, professional and on-topic. Where the risk of misinterpretation or controversy exists, play it safe and skip posting. Keep your tone and voice upbeat and respectful – avoid complaints, negative comments and stabs at the competition at all costs.

9. Thou shalt respect the hashtag.
Twitter hashtags are great vehicles for highlighting topics of relevance, drawing audience’s attention and fostering fan engagement. However, they can also be dangerous when used incorrectly – i.e., too frequently or in inappropriate contexts.

Oftentimes, brands overuse hashtags or place them in unrelated posts to drive added visibility. But doing so may leave viewers feeling cheated, especially if those hashtags add no relevant context to conversations or potentially alienate readers. This can cause a negative reaction to your online voice and ultimately your business, which will not only hinder fan acquisition but potentially detract from your brand.

10. Thou shalt not lie.
Skip the temptation to embellish, fib or inflate the truth online, especially since it can easily backfire or even lead to potential legal repercussions. Likewise, be honest with your audience. If fans and followers have questions about an evolving scenario – e.g., a potential PR crisis -– sometimes, the best answer is simply a prompt: “Apologies, but we don’t know. However, rest assured we’re working on it, and will let you know as soon as possible.”

Trust is the foundation of any relationship – real or online, and its loss can have a marked impact on both your brand and customer perception. As Benjamin Franklin once pointed out, it takes many exchanges to build a positive reputation, but only one mistake to undo it.

Images courtesy of iStockphoto, tanukiphoto, IlonaBudzbon and Maravic

Scott Steinberg, a top-ranked international event speaker on the lecture circuit, is a bestselling expert on leadership and innovation, and the head of strategic consultancy TechSavvy Global

5 New social networks that brands are embracing

There always seems to be some hot, new social network on the block, gaining popularity among consumers and media. With each, marketers ask how the platform will benefit their businesses — and whether they should even be on it at all?

When brands create presences on new social platforms, what’s important isn't registering an account, but rather, the innovative ways they choose to use the tools. Here are five new social platforms gaining traction with consumers. Learn how your brand can best leverage them.

1. Vine
Last month, Twitter launched new mobile app Vine, which allows users to record six-second clips of looped video. The app quickly became popular with consumers, rising to the top of the iTunes App Store, and brands didn't hesitate to jump on board.

Urban Outfitters was the first brand to create a vine, a video of puppies. MSNBC revealed what goes down in its newsroom; a local coffee shop showed how to make a latte; and Wheat Thins used Vine to interact with fans during the Super Bowl.

Vine presents new opportunities for unique visual content and storytelling — the time constraints require marketers to expand their imaginations. Rather than investing in a longer form commercial or YouTube video, with Vine, your brand can easily humanize itself, by giving an insider’s look into the company, while providing value.

2. The (New) Myspace
Last year, Myspace was resuscitated and transformed into a hub for creative content, specifically for music. With an extensive library of songs, the new site is a platform for consumers to connect with artists and brands, to discover and share music, photos and videos.

It’s an obvious fit for brands in the music industry, but for many brands, the new Myspace provides an opportunity to delve deeper and create greater personality, connect with consumers on a more personal and relevant level with easily shareable content.

For example, marketers can create brand-related playlists, give users a behind-the-scenes look with photos and videos, and share exclusive content with fans that interact the most. Myspace is currently integrated with Facebook and Twitter, with plans to integrate Pinterest and Instagram soon. With those kinds of expanding ecommerce opportunities, Myspace potential is truly exciting for brands.

3. Pheed

This pay-as-you-go social network is quickly gaining traction among consumers. Launched in the fall of 2012, Pheed has well over a million users, popular among artists, photographers, filmmakers, actors and teens.

Pheed asks users to create their own channels, from which they can share text, photos, videos, audio and live broadcasts. The network gives influencers the option to charge for content, with the theory that this allows for higher quality content. Celebrities like Miley Cyrus are already on board, but some companies are hesitant to jump in quite yet.

But Pheed offers the “bonus features” of social media, permitting loyal consumers the chance to get inside, with exclusive access to beloved brands.

4. Snapchat
Mobile app Snapchat blew up during the beginning of 2013. The app, which allows users to send photo messages that self-destruct after several seconds, proved incredibly popular with consumers, but didn’t seem to provide an opportunity for marketers.

One brand, however, decided to test the waters. Frozen yogurt company 16 Handles experimented with Snapchat as a promotional tool with its “Snappy New Year” campaign. The campaign, modeled after scratch-off discount cards, encouraged the company’s Facebook fans to send “snaps” of their froyo purchases to the 16 Handles Snapchat account. Customers then received a coupon via Snapchat to be redeemed at the register. The campaign was originally planned for Twitter, but 16 Handles community manager Adam Britten deemed Snapchat more fitting; this way, the coupons couldn’t be copied and circulated.

While some marketers hesitate to jump quickly into brand new platforms, Snapchat provides the perfect example that taking a risk in the spirit of innovative solutions can really pay off.

5. Thumb

Mobile app Thumb is crowdsourcing at its best. Users simply upload a photo and ask fellow users to share their opinions on a specific topic — with a thumbs up or thumbs down.

Thumb is generating serious engagement among consumers, who are clocking in around four hours a month, second only to Facebook. While consumers use the app to get feedback on things like shoes, Thumb offers opportunities for marketers, too. Gain customer feedback by posing a question to users, or demonstrate thought leadership by offering your company’s expertise, then ask customers' thumbs up or down.

While every social platform isn’t necessarily a fit for every brand, keeping tabs on consumer trends allows marketers to constantly consider how to best engage with their audiences and provide more valuable content. Remember to experiment and don’t be afraid to jump in. Put your customers first, offer them value on whatever platforms you choose — and your brand will benefit.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Social Lip Service vs. Social Customer Service: AT&T Wireless Case Study

Many organizations claim to “be social.”

They claim they have social media integrated with sales, marketing, and even customer service.

They may even tout that their customer service teams are using Twitter to communicate and help customers.

The real question is… are they providing social lip service or social customer service?

Social Lip Service: 
The company assigned tweeter pretends to want to solve my problem. They reply quickly to my tweet. However, they rarely do more than point me back to a customer service department via 1-800 phone number that I probably already spent 2 hours working with.

Social Customer Service:
The key difference is that the assigned tweeter sees my problem through to resolution even if it takes more than one day! They provide relevant value in taking my time to read, respond and act on the suggestions they recommend.

The problem:
A couple weeks ago I attempted to upgrade my iPhone on the AT&T Wireless Premier Business website. It still shocks me how companies as big and powerful as AT&T can still have such a terrible user experience on their own website. However, I digress and that’s not the point of this post, although it is very much a part of it.

I was unable to upgrade my iPhone on the AT&T business website using my account. For some reason the iPhone 4G didn’t appear as an option for upgrade.

Social customer (me) tweets opinion

It was after 10 pm et and I was of course multi-tasking tweeting, watching the news & trying to take care of my dying iPhone 3G.

I sent one tweet to politely vent in 140 characters that I wasn’t having fun on the AT&T premier site. I got a few responses with others stating their same frustration. I didn’t encourage the conversation to go into a bashing of AT&T because that’s not how I roll.

Here’s the fun part…

AT&T customer service responds via Twitter:
The next day I woke up to a friendly tweet from the assigned AT&T customer service tweeter. The tweeter had a real face on the Twitter avatar, though I don’t know if that’s who was really responding. Not sure if they have numerous customer service representatives who tweet from the twitter account and assign to customer service as necessary?

I saw the tweet and replied. The AT&T tweeter asked me to follow her so she could provide me directions.

She immediately sent me a DM offering to help. She asked for my email address and phone number.

Social customer (me) doubts AT&T’s ability & commitment to solve problem
I pretty much laughed it off. I had dealt with Verizon on issues with their FIOS performance and never received more than a push back to their 1-800 line which I had unfortunately had already spent the morning on with no resolution.

However, the AT&T tweeter had such a friendly, smiling face I thought “what the heck, I’ll give this a try.”

AT&T solves my problem!
The AT&T tweeter sent me a couple DMs and an email even though I had not yet responded back to her.  It was a very busy week for me as we were out of town negotiating some major business deals.

Several days passed and she was still following up.

By the end of the week I had an email and a DM stating my problem was solved! Even better she left a voice mail on business phone stating the same thing.

I thought “Yowza! Are you serious, my problem is solved and I didn’t have to call the 1-800 number and be transferred to 3 more people, hung up on twice & still not get a resolution?”

I couldn’t believe it! I logged into the AT&T premier business website and you guessed it… it was fixed. I could now upgrade my iPhone immediately. Problem sovled!

Thank you AT&T!

What did AT&T Wireless do right?
1. They were doing social listening (they knew about my tweet)
2. They had a policy for how to respond.
3. They responded in a timely manner.
4. They were genuine in their communication.
5. They were consistent even though I got busy & didn’t respond back to them in a timely manner.
6. They followed through on what they said they would do.
7. They resolved the issue.
8. They respected my time. I didn’t have to do anything besides reply to a DM with my cell phone number and email address.
9. They provided value to me as a customer during a very hectic and busy week.
10. They inspired me enough to write this post about their excellent social customer service.
11. They kept me as a customer.

Why has the social customer service bar been set so low?
If you really think about this scenario it is quite disappointing.  It is unfortunate that we are accustomed to terrible quality of customer service from most companies. The fact that I am ecstatic about a quick response to a problem stopping me from spending $400 with a company is sad.

There is tremendous opportunties for organizations to raise the bar in their level of customer service and customer satisfaction by properly implementing and integrating social media into their business. Responding via Twitter telling customers to call the 1-800 which takes me to the same broken customer service department that I started with is not a solution. Such a scenario only makes it worse and more frustrating for the customer.

Organizations must take the time to look at the end to end process and how you can leverage communication mediums such as Twitter to drive efficiencies and improve key performance metrics. There are no more excuses. Sending a tweet as a band-aid to a broken customer service department is only going to highlight your core issues. Take the time to do it right and you just might wind up with a blog post written just like this one!

Don’t do social. Be social!
Don’t just do social media. Be a social business!  I am a social customer. If you want to communicate with me on the social turf then you need to behave like a social business! Your chosen method and quality of response on the social networks has immediate and lasting impact to your company reputation, brand and bottom line.

Your Turn:
Do you know a business that is successfully integrating or has integrated social media into the DNA of their customer service? What are they doing right?  Have you had negative experiences as well? What happened? What recommendations do you have for organizations to improve customer relations by leveraging social media?

Pam Moore
Half marketing, half geek, social media addict, CEO & Founder of Marketing Nutz @MktgNutz, entrepreneur, speaker, trainer, coach. Lover of strategy, ROI, Brand, God, Family, Friends, Beach & Life! 15+ years of experience helping small startups to Fortune 100 companies, budgets teeny tiny to big in both B2B and B2C markets build brand awareness, grow new markets, develop communities.