2011 Trends for B-to-B Blogging

February 9, 2011

My blog is an integral part of our total overall marketing program. We use it as the hub of our lead activity and think most B-to-B companies should be blogging as part of their overall marketing efforts. To that point, there’s a new white paper out authored by Tony Karrer and Tom Pick that asks industry leaders (and mine) their thoughts.

Blogging is often viewed as the core component of a B2B social media marketing strategy, and other than discussion forums, it’s the most mature component of social media. Facebook, Twitter and even newer tools like Quora may be sexier and get more attention, but blogs are the workhorses essential to making social media marketing work. Research from HubSpot shows that small businesses with blogs have twice as many Twitter followers as those who don’t. Increased search engine visibility, targeted traffic and enhanced brand image are just a few of the benefits of business blogging.

B2B Blogging Trends in 2011 - White PaperSo what’s next for B2B blogging? What trends are likely to emerge in the coming year? To answer those questions, the founders of the B2B Marketing Zone asked 22 of the most influential b2b marketing and PR bloggers—including Roxanne Darling, Jay Baer, Ardath Albee, Erik Qualman and Chris Abraham—for their prognostications. You can get the whole story in B2B Blogging Trends in 2011, a free (and no registration required) white paper from Aggregage (the software that powers the BMZ site). Among the findings:

  • If you don’t have a blog yet, 2011 is the year to start one. As less than half of all B2B companies currently have blogs, there’s still an opportunity to stand out and establish thought leadership in your niche. If your company doesn’t have a blog, you’re not a laggard…quite yet. But time is running out to grab the best intellectual spots of turf on the B2B blogging landscape.
  • Blogging helps a company demonstrate expertise, it’s ideal for search, and as Blake Landau points out, “As push marketing becomes less effective, blogs become more important.”
  • Blogs are not islands; as pointed out above, they are the central point to social marketing efforts. Blogging is most effective when integrated with other communications efforts including PR and email marketing.
  • Although there is still opportunity to get started with a business blog, it’s crucial to do it right. Jay Baer predicts an “explosion of bad B2B blogs” in the coming year as companies scramble to embrace the medium, but many fail to do it well. To stand out and achieve business success with a blog, it’s critical to focus narrowly on the information needs of your customers and prospects, as Kristin Zhivago and Harry Hoover both note.

There’s much more. Again, you can download the complete Aggregage white paper on B2B Blogging Trends in 2011 here.

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7 Excuses Not to Use Social Media in B-to-B Space

December 14, 2010

I hate to exercise, and mentally every morning, I use every excuse not to get out of bed. They’re all lame excuses, but that doesn’t stop my brain from trying to convince my body to stay put.

Social media for some, even though they may not hate it (some don’t really know what it is and how it can help them), is one of those things that you keep making excuses why you’re not jumping on board.

I recently read a post by Jay Baer, Destroying the Myths of B2B Social Media that I suggest you read and pass it onto your associates who are always making excuses. He dispels all the excuses. Here are some of the myths he responds to:

  1. My customers don’t use social media.
  2. Social media isn’t worth the trouble.
  3. If nobody is tweeting about my company, I don’t need social media.

Hopefully some of the naysayers will change their minds after reading this.

Share with someone who is always making excuses. It’s time to get on the bus!

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Twitter: Steps to Ensure Success

October 21, 2010

According to new research from Sysomos, 92.4% of all retweets happen within the first hour. If you’re looking to be retweeted and nobody picks you up in the first hour, chances are slim to none that it will happen.

Replies and Retweets on Twitter a Report by Sysomos 300x290 6 Timely Tips for Twitter Success

TIMING is crucial when sending out tweets. Jay Baer recently wrote a post, 6 Timely Tips for Twitter Success, where he outlines ways you can increase your odds. Here are some highlights:

  • Find your influencers – These are the ones we want help with spreading your message.
  • Repeat your tweets – If 94% of all retweets happen within the first hour, then it stands to reason the more times your message is out there, the better the chances of it getting picked up.
  • Test your times – Depending on your audience, you may want to think about when you send them out. For example, contractors are early birds and if you want to get them, the best time is either between 6-7 in the morning or between 4-5 in the afternoon. You also need to take into condsideration time zones if you have customers across the country.
  • Pay attention to structure and language – Are shorter ones better than longer ones? Is it better to put the link at the front or at the end?
  • Manage expectations – Reality is 6% of all tweets are retweeted so be realistic.

Twitter is a great tool, but you need to do some homework to insure you’re getting the most out of it.

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Social Media: It’s Better to Give Than to Receive

August 25, 2010

We’ve all heard of this saying and most people at least try to follow that advice. In the social media world, this mantra is the rule not the exception. Many who jump into social media think of it as just another marketing tool and start SELLING right off the bat and can’t figure out why they aren’t getting anywhere.

There’s another saying – When in Rome, do as the Romans do. This couldn’t be more true than with the social space. You need to help people by giving info away. This flies directly in the face of traditional marketers who want to control the message and have the potential customer jump through some hoops to get information. That’s not how the Romans do it!

I was reading a post recently by Jay Baer, 5 Ways to Turn Helpfulness Into Marketing Greatness, and he outlined ways you could identify customer pain points in order to be helpful. Here are some highlights:

  1. Use your customer service department – Who talks more frequently to your customers than they do? Have them document every question they receive, and if a pattern develops, create content to answer the questions.
  2. Ask your customers directly – Web surveys, e-mail surveys, and focus groups are just a few ways to get feedback. Better yet, talk to your top 100 customers and ask them about issues of dealing with your company. You’ll not only come away with good info, you can get some goodwill by just asking.
  3. Internal search reports – If your website has a search engine, look at a report that tells you what people typed in. This should give you a clear indication of what’s on their minds.
  4. Get in the trenches – You can’t learn much about your customers’ experience by sitting in your office. Go out and buy your own product, call your customer service department, try to return something. You may be surprised as to how your company is really being perceived in the marketplace.
  5. Shop the competition – Repeat step 4 but with your competitors. Again, once you go through the experience first-hand, you’ll be able to tell your strong and weak points.

Those are some ideas on how to identify areas/ways to be helpful to customers. What are you doing?

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Want to Find Out if Professional Tradesmen are Active with Social Media?

June 2, 2010

If you’re reading this blog, then it would be safe to say that you aren’t asking the “why” or “should” we be using social media. What you’re looking for are ways to answer the “where” and “how.”

Companies should follow, not lead their customers in the social media arena. I read a post recently from Jay Baer, one of social media’s thought leaders, Four Ways to Find Out if Your Customers are Active With Social Media, and I thought I’d share some of the highlights:

  • Hire a Spy – There are companies out there that track down your customers and see what they are on and to what level (scary thought). Flowtown and Rapleaf are two of the leaders.
  • Ask – It’s too obvious, isn’t it? In your regular business conversations, ask if they are active. If you have an online lead generation form, add data fields for LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
  • E-mail Behavior – Add links to your social outposts in your e-mails.
  • Gmail Stalking – Twitter, Facebook and other outposts have incorporated a function that allows you to see if they are using their services and invite them to connect with you.

If you like this post, you might like:

How B-to-B Marketers Can Make Good Use Out of Facebook Fan Pages.

Follow Companies on Twitter: Keep Tabs on Your Competition or Customers.

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Are B2B Social Tactics Different Than B2C ?

February 18, 2010

One of the biggest challenges I face with our B2B clients is trying to convince them that Social Media has a place in their overall marketing plan.

B2B an B2C are more aligned than you think. And in most cases in my opinion, B2B companies have an advantage because they have a well-defined audience, (e.g. Plumbing Contractors), where they can focus their energy and expertise.

Jay Baer in a recent post, Crushing the Myth of B2B Social Media, agrees with my premise, and he cites a recent study by MarketingProfs, State of Social Media Marketing Report, (which surveyed more than 5000 marketers) that both B2B and B2C marketers basically used the same tools… Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and MySpace.

In that study, both use the same basic tools, but how they use them differentiates the two groups. Jay reinforces the fact that no matter who you are, you should have a plan and process in place to implement and monitor your progress.

So B2B marketers should get on the band wagon and start utilizing these tools.

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Social Media: Integrate Into Your Core Marketing Plan to Maximize Effectiveness

December 8, 2009

socialmediasitesI’ve always said that social media isn’t the silver bullet that will make all things right. It’s just a tool like any other tool in your marketing tool box. Whether it’s e-mail, snail mail or social media, they all work better when they are a part of a bigger picture and an integrated plan. When we talk with clients about social, they are so focused on the “how” instead of the ” why.” “How” isn’t relevant if you don’t have plan on “why” you’re going to integrate social. Marketers need to realize that by integrating social into existing programs, the net result will be better because social lets potentials identify you!

I read a post recently by Jay Baer, The big social media integration picture, that highlights ways to achieve cross-media synergy using social media that I think is worth reading. Jay is a leading authority in social and he’s on my must-read list every day.

I’d like to hear from you on ways that you’re integrating social into your current marketing plans.

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