Four reasons why Google+ might be THE B2B social media marketing platform

I picked the little graphic up below from the excellent Social Media B2B blog and thought it was worth sharing.

Lots of people clamoured to join and test Google+ in 2011 but it didn’t really reach the critical levels enjoyed by other breakthrough social sites.

That said, the feeling in some quarters now is that Google+ will inevitably grow to be a highly credible business marketing, networking and collaboration tool in 2013 and beyond.

If you are in any doubt, Google is behind the world’s most used search engine, as well as web advertising and website analytics and of course the highly successful Android operating system. Google has ingeniously developed Google+ functionality to have a beneficial effect on social and search optimisation. Observe your search results and you’ll see +’d content from people you may know.

And with opportunities to build specific networks (Circles) and create meaningful dialogue with them (Hangouts), it is a network that goes way beyond its competitors.

I’m thinking about using Google+ for invitation only Hangouts for clients / customers to talk about market insights, provide training or to discuss new products and service offers.

If you haven’t tried it yet, watch the demo videos here and join today. You can connect with me here.

How to develop B2B social media marketing brand guidelines

Join me for a special B2B marketing focused online event on 31st January at 15.00 GMT, when I give a 90-minute webinar for B2B Marketing Magazine, the UK’s premier business marketing publication on getting the most from social media for business.

I’ll be running a session designed to help attending delegates

  • Improve their understanding of the benefits and risks associated with social media
  • Appreciate the importance and differing roles of individuals within a business and how all can and should play a part in company social engagement
  • Develop guidelines to maximise opportunities and mitigate risks
  • Present the core elements of a social media engagement plan
  • Place valuable content at the heart of a social media plan
  • Measure and evaluate social media success
  • Effectively use social media channels to build community and grow their business

If you’re smart, you might register one user, set up in a conference room and get your whole team around the screen.

And, if you operate in industrial and trade B2B marketing, look out for a number of examples from a range of engineering and manufacturing sectors that might give you some creative stimulus.

I hope you can join us as it is unlikely this content will be made available post-event.

Going beyond the status update – content marketing for b2b marketers

So this is my first blog post in a while since migrating the blog in it’s entirety from to a self hosted platform.

I wanted to share my presentation from the recent B2B Marketing Summit, in London on 14 June 2012. At this multi stream event, 150 b2b marketers had the opportunity to attend conference presentation across 4 streams including content marketing, social media, data and lead nurture and generation.

In opening up the day in the content marketing stream, I talked around an eight step approach to get people thinking more strategically about content – focusing on audience and their information needs at different stages of the buying process.

Please share the presentation if you agree with the central proposition and offer a comment or two on your own b2b content marketing challenges below.

B2B social media case study: BASF chemicals

Whilst conducting some research into social media uptake in the speciality chemical sector, I happened across a great slide deck that outlines how chemicals giant BASF goes about it.

With a dedicated social media manager and senior management buy-in, this is about as socially emersed as B2B marketing gets.

Slides of particular relevance to me include

[Slide 4] The statistics that support why they engage on social media

[Slide 11] How different tools and platforms like content, dialogue, news flow and aggregation are used separately and together

[Slide 14] How it is all brought together as a social newsroom (FirstDirect also doing this)

[Slide 17] How to use call to actions on Facebook

Sometimes we have to see how the big boys do it, in order to take the best from it. We may not all have the resource to bring to bear, but the attraction of social media for the smaller B2B firm is that, like most digital marketing, it doesn’t take a lot to stand out from the crowd in your sector.

Play to your strengths, identify your niche and above all, add value to the people of most interest to you.

NB: Note to RSS/email subscribers, a Slideshare is embedded which may need a trip to the blog to view in full.

4 reasons to consider outsourcing (some) of your b2b social media activities

Committing to any form of outsourcing in simplistic terms means you have to pay for a service. Yet Social Media Examiner’s 2011 survey found that over 72% of marketers still retain in-house control of social media campaigns.

So why consider outsourcing some elements of your social media activity when the whole point is supposed to be about personal engagement of prospects and customers and the creation of deeper relationships?

By paying for external support with your social media you will have to:

1. PLAN: Outline what you want to achieve to a third party which means you will have to provide a written brief detailing what you want social media to do for your business.

2. GOALS: Set objectives that will give you something to frame your activity within, to work towards and to evaluate your success against.

3. ROI: Deciding how success is going to be measured helps to quantify what the return on investment your management can expect to see.

4. CREATIVE: You may not have the creative spark (the big idea), technical expertise (to translate dry product information into high impact lead generating content) or in-house resource to develop a relevant and durable social media campaign.

Going through the process of explaining what you plan to do opens up your plans to scrutiny, which brings clarity. And whilst bringing in the experts naturally creates an additional cost,  managed well, you may just execute sharper, focused more creative and more relevant social media campaigns as a result.

Image: Tom Fishburne


Links worth a click #7

Some digital titbits to start your week with.

GOOGLEWant to know more about the almighty battle going on between Google and Facebook right now and need an explanation of the key battlefields? Check out this must read piece on Google’s strategy to dominate on six fronts including search, mobile, browsing, local, social and technology.

B2B SOCIAL MEDIA: Interesting piece on locating and engaging with your connections online 5 Ways to Find Your B2B Company’s Online Fans

FOCUS ON BLOGGING: Three posts dedicated to the channel of blogging. First an interesting piece on 21 common blogging mistakes and how to fix them. Next some great advice on using a blog as a viral online publishing hub, and finally a useful piece on the biggest benefits of a company blog.

Image: Ark Wildlife


Links worth a click #5

There have been some really interesting reads online.

Here is my pick from the last week, we 24 June 2011.

SOCIAL MEDIA:  Mashable offered up an interesting ‘Behind the Scenes’ on 8 Innovative Social Media Campaigns. My personal favourite is The Voice because it is a new take on reality contest TV and was perfect for social media.

B2B: I particularly liked the advice on keeping your mind on ‘next action’ as a driver on what and how to present in Social Media B2B’s post on How to Create Great B2B Presentations

FACEBOOK: Australia’s finest, Jeff Bullas has pulled together an overview of 5 creative Facebook pages. I was initially surprised in scrolling through to find games, movies, cars and lingerie, but hey it is Facebook!

SEO COPY: The ever useful Marketing Profs site published a handy little guide on writing with SEO in mind. Their Five Tips for Writing Content That Keeps Pace With B2B Searches included titbits such as staying aware and staying relevant.

BLOGGING: If you need to get your CEO on board with your social media thinking, here is a useful post designed to get them involved in the blog side of things.

Now, a three way tie for content of the week:

EBOOKS: First off Hubspot’s How to Write and Launch an Ebook That Generates Leads. Staggeringly useful.

INFOGRAPHICS: Secondly, a must try: Infographics are all the rage right now if you have a dataset you want to present in an innovative way. Here are 5 tools to help turn data into infographics.

WEBSITES: Finally, from Econsultancy, and just to make most of you feel your age, just look at how some of the UK’s top e-commerce sites have changed in the past five years (or in some cases not changed).

Hope you see something you like. More next week.


Eight reasons why Facebook IS a place to do business

Last week I wrote a blog post arguing why I felt Facebook was no place for b2b marketers. I seeded it in a number of Linkedin groups and it has developed some interesting debate. (Look up the B2B Social Media and B2B Online groups if you are interested).

The intention was to follow up immediately with this post, but the London Marathon got in the way. So by way of redress, here are EIGHT reasons why Facebook should be considered in your marketing mix:

1. You just can’t argue with the numbers. Scale: 600m registered users. Pace: Reached 150m in 5 years when it took TV 38 years. Removing the ‘interruption’ argument, some of your target customers will be amongst them.

2. Facebook remains quite cool and there is still an early adopter advantage. Few companies in traditional b2b sectors are embracing the business services available, the opportunity to build a brand, develop a hub for all online content, drive the creation of an engaged, opted in community and drive transactional traffic.

3. It is becoming increasingly harder to delineate professional-personal networking. Rather than using Linkedin and Facebook in markedly different ways and with different groups of contacts, a rising number of users are simply removing some of the more contentious material from Facebook and using it for professional purposes too. As engagement with brands, campaigns, viral and video takes off, we’ll inevitably see more b2c, b2b, public sector and media brands make the cross over to Facebook.

4. The tie up with Bing brings social-search closer. Let’s face it there was never going to be an agreement with Google. Facebook and Google are going to battle for Internet domination until one of them wins or until another platform rises to threaten them. There is much antipathy to Google around the world so integrating Bing search within Facebook simultaneously increases the likelihood of several things: more Facebook users around the world, users staying within Facebook longer, social media profiles and activity becoming more relevant to search results.

5. Facebook is viral by design. You want your content to spread, get it on Facebook. If it is any or all of the following – engaging, relevant, believable, accurate, amusing – it will be liked and shared. Having a page on Facebook is increasingly useful as it acts as a community creator and facilitator.

6. Facebook Places will inevitably dominate the location based sector. Though slow to take off, in comparison to the innovators at Foursquare and Gowalla, the resource that Facebook can bring to bear on their location based service, coupled with the attraction that an audience of 600 million provides, means it will become the most widely used platform of its kind.

7. And Facebook Deals will be the catalyst for this development as brands tap into the benefits of offering real-time offers to customers based on their location. Though this is largely restricted to big brand b2c at the moment, I’d expect a raft of b2b brands ranging from professional services, building and construction, IT, telecommunications and others to start to see the benefits of this.

8. Facebook offers highly targeted, low cost PPC advertising. Though it has been reported the costs are rising sharply, and the argument continues as to the overall effectiveness, Facebook advertising delivers in terms of reach, cost per impression and cost per click.

There are many more good reasons, and I’m sure there are scores of companies large and small, operating in mass market and the niche who will claim success in this area.

But what is your experience? Have you built a community from scratch? Developed your reach? Made a sale even?



Ten reasons why Facebook is no place to do business

Social media, as you must know by now, is not just Facebook. Yet, it is the first platform discussed when businesses discuss their social media options. This might seem provocative, but if you’re in b2b marketing, consider these ten compelling reasons why Facebook  is no place for you to do serious business right now.

1. Facebook was conceived as a social network, not a business network. Think about your own use. Do you use it to source new products, services and suppliers or catch up with friends and family, share photos and video and ‘like’ the occasional link?

2. Just because there are 600m users, it doesn’t mean they are the slightest bit interested in what you have to say to them. See point one. Your brand messages and communications interrupt them whilst doing something else at a time when they have in all likelihood switched out of work mode.

3. Businesses using Facebook in ways that add real value are the exception rather than the rule.

4. Many businesses still outlaw Facebook use during work hours and on work hardware. It is seen as distracting, time wasting and risky. And far from being blurred (as some commentators suggest), there is a case to suggest that the divide between professional and personal networking is wider than ever.

5. Facebook had a great opportunity to create a powerful social-search platform but opted for a tie-up with Bing rather than Google. Google dominates search where Facebook dominates social. This has to be seen as an opportunity lost because Facebook probably wanted to dominate online, rather than offer a truly global service with customer experience at its heart.

6. It gets worse. There are no real SEO benefits. Having a profile might help you in the rankings but all site content is locked behind password access.

7. Facebook Places and Facebook Deals (the company’s take on innovative online players like Foursquare and Groupon) are inevitably b2c and retail high street focused. How will the immediacy of making a passing purchase in b2c translate to the slower, multi-stakeholder influenced b2b buying decision? Arguably not well and not very quickly either.

8. Highly targeted, low cost pay per click advertising might appear attractive, but if you’re not paying a lot for your clickthroughs, it suggests aren’t getting many. And if the news is correct, the cost of Facebook advertising is about to soar.

9. Websites remain the primary platform of choice for companies and brands to inform and engage customers. Throughout all stages of research, shortlisting and selection of suppliers, websites rank highest in all information resources. And doesn’t it seem a little absurd to send people to a Facebook page which then presumably wants to send them back again?

10. Ultimately, I think if you want to use Facebook for business you have to be a business falling into one of two categories. A hyper-local business operating in a clearly definable geography with a compelling retail USP which can use a friend network as word of mouth is one. Another is a significant b2b brand which, like a Blackberry, can draw on the brand cache of a consumer market and engage thousands of people. For everything in between, you might be disrupting people in their downtime and risking your long term reputation.

But that’s just my view, and the landscape is changing daily. What’s your experience?