B2B & Social Media, Not As Different As You Think: Autodesk, Caterpillar at #DF11

September 1, 2011 by  
Filed under B2B, B2B Marketing, B2B social media, Online Marketing, Social Media

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B2B Social MediaOne of the big questions in the social media marketing space is whether social media is the place for B2B marketing. As companies begin to understand for every B2B company, there’s also a “C” aka people behind the business (@garyvee).

Once B2B companies realize that buyers discover, consume and share information on social channels just like any other “human” they seek to understand how social participation and marketing fits.

The session, “B2B Social Media: Not As Different As You Think” at Dreamforce in San Francisco aimed to help answer that question with presentations from three B2B Social Media Marketing practitioners. The speakers included: Gordon Evans from salesforce.com, Brian Stokoe from Caterpillar, and Maura Ginty from Autodesk.

Godon did introductions and opened things up with an audience poll, asking how many people were on Twitter, blog and have a social strategy.

First up is Maura Ginty from Autodesk, Senior Manager of Strategy and Innovation. Autodesk provides 3D software for architecture, engineering, manufacturing and entertainment industries. Maura has initiated search and social media programs at Autodesk. If you’ve sat in a building, used a product or watched a movie, you’ve probably been touched by Autodesk software.

How did Audodesk start with social media? Starting with individual tactics, they wanted to look at social a bit differently. They use a multiple hub and spoke model. Social Media Vision in the long term is to foster social media innovations.  This isn’t just in marketing, but across the organization.

The focus is social from product to marketing to sales and went experimental with 20 people to over 100 and a more formal social strategy in 2 years.  They added social features into a consumer product, they monitor Twitter for customer service opportunities and engage with a community on Facebook with over 500,000 fans.

Social isn’t about shouting, it’s about “answering the phone” from your customers

Next up is Brian Stokoe from Caterpillar who is responsible for all public facing social media there. Caterpillar has over 100,000 employees and revenues of over $40 billion. They have 24 brands and over 20 customer industry segments, so there is a diversity of considerations for how they participate on the social web.

Caterpillar started by creating a social presence on sites like Facebook and Twitter, which worked well because people familiar with the brand expected them there. But they had to take a step back and start to consider the variety of needs for their different customer segments. Previously, they would promote a message to Facebook, but that wasn’t necessarily relevant to all customer groups.

They look at each customer segment and decide what mix of social presence is appropriate: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Forums, etc. vs. publishing one destination for the whole company. By creating unique social destinations for each segment, Caterpillar better serves it’s customers with relevant information and experience.

Q and A on B2B Social Media:

Neither Brian or Maura are part of PR and Communications departments, which is in contrast with how social media is governed in most organizations. Maura mentioned that Autodesk social media efforts worked with PR from the start.

Brian mentioned one of the customer segments his social media efforts addresses are the the audience for PR and that Caterpillar has embraced PR use of social monitoring and engagement.

Gordon: Are your goals at your company to empower all employees to be ambassadors for your company?

Maura: We want to tap into that enthusiasm. We have guidelines for participation. It helps you

Brian: It goes back to the policy we have for employees regarding social media. We want employees to show their expertise, be smart about disclosure and proprietary information. On centralized sites like Facebook or Twitter, the expectation is that the message of Caterpillar be managed through a company spokesperson. But when it comes to forums, employees can jump in as appropriate.

Gordon: What’s a good listening strategy for B2B?

Maura: The first thing you can list for are brand keywords. What’s happening with the brands and other identifiers like the tasks prospects want to complete. There’s some back and forth between what words customer are using and how you want to be known for. Understanding the how customers see things is important.

Brian: With Caterpillar, there were challenges because of “cat” and “Caterpillar” meaning different things.  As for listening, attention is paid to the differences in customer segments.

Gordon: Do you monitor your competitors?

Brian: Yes

Maura: If you’re going to listen, why not listen to the industry?

Gordon: What are you measuring?

Brian: We have an extensive metrics program. We look at it as a value funnel. We gather info for awareness and put some context to it to identify value. As the interactions get further down the buying funnel, that’s where the rubber hits the road. It’s important to tie social media metrics to business objectives, not just reputation.

Maura: Our social media center of excellence collaborates to determine what we should measure.

Gordon: How important is your video strategy as a B2B company?

Brian: For us yes, much of what we do is very visual. One thing we’ve identified is that there’s no reason to re-create the wheel with video hosting – people watch videos on YouTube, so that’s what we use.

Maura: We determined that YouTube was a great place for use to participate through Net Promoter score. We have almost 14 million views on YouTube so far.

Brian: A lot of organizations come from a world of high video production and we’ve found authenticity is more important. Actual experiences and the rugged reality of using our product better connects with the audience.

Gordon: Can you give advice on how to evolve your channel or dealers through social media propgrams?

Maura: We include them in social media training. There’s more work to do there

Brian: Dealers are a critical part of Caterpillar. They carry their own brand in dealing with customers. It’s important to us that dealers have training and guidelines so customers have a congruent experience.

Audience Q: Do you actively pursue and engage key influencers?

Brian: Yes, especially in forums who help out. Whether it’s tossing them a CAT hat or publicly recognizing them, we strive to keep them involved.

Audience Q: How did you segment social media efforts by customer segment?

Brian: I borrowed somewhat from an Enterprise strategy that had similar considerations for the differences in customer groups.

There was more Q & A but I needed the time to wrap up this post so I’d have time to work on the morning keynote post.  A great session overall and good insights into how B2B companies have actually implemented social strategies in their companies. Along the lines of this topic, here are a few good posts that share specific resources for B2B social media: infographicsreports.

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B2B & Social Media, Not As Different As You Think: Autodesk, Caterpillar at #DF11 | http://www.toprankblog.com

5 Reports on B2B Social Media Marketing & New Media Trends

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B2B Social Media Marketing 2011Staying on top of social media and networking trends is essential for B2B marketers. Forrester Research predicts, “B2B companies will spend $54 million on social media marketing in 2014, up from just $11 million in 2009.” via eMarketer.  Data and research are key to forecasting and strategy development but not many B2B companies invest the time and effort into such initiatives outside of link-baity Infographics.


Luckily, there are many analysts and agencies that serve the B2B Marketing industry that do conduct regular research into topics like social media marketing.

Here are 5 meaty reports published in 2011 that can help B2B marketers understand the direction new media and social media is taking in terms of overall strategy, industry trends, unique audience and application differences between social media platforms and measurement.

B2B Technology & Social Media Report

B2B Tech Marketing and Social Media: Which Social Media Channels Reach Tech Buyers? Schwartz Communications. This report focuses on B2B tech marketing and which social channels do tech buyers engage. There’s a lack of strategy in most B2B social media efforts and understanding of unique focus and appropriate use for each distinct social channel. This report covers specific social media platforms for B2B including: Blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Report link (pdf)

The Infinite Dial 2011 Edison Arbitron Report

The Infinite Dial 2011: Navigating Digital Platforms. One of the keys to approaching social media strategy for B2B marketing programs is to understand industry trends. Since 1998 Arbitron and Edison Research have conducted a nationally representative survey focusing on trends in digital platforms exploring the expanding digital media and communications landscape. This new report includes data from 2011 and covers numerous platforms used in B2B social media marketing from Smartphones to iPads to Facebook. Report link (pdf)

2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report

2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report - How marketers are using social media to grow their business by Michael A. Stelzner of Social Media Examiner. This report looks at both B2B and B2C social media and how they differ including time of use (B2B have used social media longer than B2C), which tools are used (LinkedIn, Video & Blogs) and even SEO (B2B marketers are more likely to use SEO). Report Link (pdf).

B2B Social Media Marketing B2Bento

Social Media for B2B Marketing from B2Bento (Asuthosh Nair & Jaspreet Sidhu). This report covers why social media matters for B2B, tips on planning strategy, conducting research and establishing guidelines. It also proves b2b social media marketing examples including a product launch, demand generation & customer retention. Of course there’s also advice on monitoring and measuring results. Overall a good B2B Social Media primer. Report link (pdf).

Emerging Trends in B-to-B Social Media Marketing: Insights From the Field

Emerging Trends In B-to-B Social Media Marketing: Insights From the Field from BtoB Intelligence Center. This report is not free ($149) but chock full of charts (sample pdf) and insights into the current state of Social Media Marketing for B2B by answering questions about budgeting, strategies, tactics, metrics and integration. Specific attention is paid to dominant social channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Customer Communities and YouTube plus the all-important ROI.  Report landing page link.

What new reports on B2B social media marketing have you found to be useful? (paid or free). What sub-topics would you like to see covered?

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Understanding B2B Social Media Through Infographics

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B2B social mediaIt’s a persistent question: Is social media and networking appropriate for B2B marketing?  There are many ways to answer that question and one of the most engaging is through statistics and information presented as an infographic. My team knows I’m a big fan of using visual assets to persuade and I’ve been a fan of information graphics since XPLANE’s amazing work started appearing in popular business magazines years ago.

Besides using infographics to explain social media in the B2B space, there are a growing number of B2B marketers using infographics in their mix, such as this case study about Cisco.

Here are 5 useful B2B social media marketing infographics that help tell the tale of social media and B2B marketing working together. Click on each image for the large version.

B2B Social Media Landscape

B2B Social Media Landscape – If it was possible to simply open the window of the CEO’s office on the 18th floor and look out onto the B2B social media landscape, this is what you would see according to Elearning Examples.

Social Media Statistics B2B

Social Media Facts & Figures for B2B Sales – Understanding Fortune 100 social media involvement can be motivating for small companies looking for direction and leadership in their online marketing. This infographic shares a number of those stats including the most popular social media sites for generating B2B website traffic.

Quickstart Guide to Social Media for Business

Quickstart Guide to Social Media for Business – B2B Marketers love process as much as anyone, so this infographic from GETIT COMMS offers 14 steps on a B2B social media journey from establishing goals to measurement.

LinkedIn 100 Million Members

100 million members and counting – The “go to” B2B social network of choice for over 100 million professionals is of course, LinkedIn.  This infographic celebrates key statistics and milestones for LinkedIn that are worth a look. Did you know Brazil is the fastest growing market for LinkedIn? Or, did you know that Service, Finance and High Tech are the most represented industry sectors on LinkedIn. Last but not least, someone is hiring a “Martini Whisperer” on LinkedIn.

Do's & Dont's of Social Media for Business

Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media for Business – They say common sense is the least common thing and by the looking at the behavior of many brands on the social web, it’s easy to agree. This infographic spells out behaviors for B2B marketers on the social web that are pretty much common sense for individuals. The problem is, brands often forget the human aspect of social media, so these tips are worth revisiting.

For even more B2B and business social media infographics, check out this handy list of B2B infographics on Marketo’s blog (client).

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Opportunity for Better B2B Marketing with Social Media & SEO

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B2B Content Marketing Social SEO

Oftentimes marketers budget, plan and implement online marketing tactics in silos. When it comes to SEO, Social and Content Marketing – integration is the best practice and that means a tremendous competitive opportunity. Why Social Media and SEO for B2B? The intersection of social media and search engine optimization is a perfect match for B2B Marketer for several reasons:

Long B2B buying cycles have always involved engagement through content. The opportunity for coordinated Social SEO is in part inspired by buyer information discovery, consumption and sharing habits that have changed with the influence of social technology and search.

Influence of Search & Social Media on Buyer BehaviorConsumers are increasingly using both search and social to discover content. In a recent study by GroupM and comScore, only 1% of consumers were led to a purchase via Social Media but 51% were channeled via search and 48% through a combination of search and social media.   I’ve heard B2B buyers are people too :) and these consumer behaviors are also reflected, to some degree, in the B2B space as well.

B2B companies have adapted well to implementing search marketing programs. They’ve also begun to experiment with social media marketing. In fact, according to the recent SME Social Media Industry Report (pdf), B2B marketers are significantly more likely to employ search engine optimization (71% B2B vs. 65% B2C) than B2C marketers.

According to Forrester, B2B social spend will hit 54m by 2014 and BtoB Magazine reports that 93% of B2B companies are using some kind of social media application.

However, there’s a big difference between testing social media marketing and effective implementation with Social SEO and content marketing.  Here is a video interview I did at SES London recently on this very topic with Tracy Falke. We discuss the intersection of Social SEO and Content (Content Marketing Optimization) as well as the importance of integration and how companies can leverage across an organization.

Click here to view the embedded video.

If you’re a long time SEO practitioner, are you coordinating content marketing and social media with search engine optimization? Does your social media SEO and content marketing extend beyond products and services content? What challenges do you face at getting the people responsible to implement a coordinated effort?

One of the reasons I ask that second question is because I’m speaking at ad:tech San Francisco tomorrow on the topic of Modern Search Engine Optimization, which is essentially going to be a holistic view of how Search, Social Media and Content intersect. I don’t believe a company can achieve great success in competitive categories without this triumvirate of tactics.

Consumers and B2B buyers alike search for more reasons than just to buy something and companies can realize business value by making sure their content is easily found through search for those myriad reasons.  Consider the customer lifecycle of content needs and it spells out the opportunities for optimization for better search visibility.  The result?  Increased revenue of course, but also reduced costs, improved efficiency and reach for things like Customer Service, Recruiting, Investor and Public Relations.

An integrated and holistic approach to Social Media, SEO and Content Marketing is a great opportunity for B2B marketers to boost their effectiveness and create competitive advantage. Hopefully corporate marketers can demonstrate the vision for coordinating disparate resources in the organization and realize the collective benefit outside of just marketing.

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How Can B2B Marketing Become More Social?

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b2b social media B2B marketers have joined the social media marketing movement in droves. In fact, Forrester Research predicts that B2B firms will spend $54 million on social media marketing in 2014, up from just $11 million in 2009 (eMarketer B2B Social Media Marketing Heats Up).

Unfortunately, many of those efforts are entirely tactical, methodical and without a true understanding of the “social” aspect of social media marketing.  B2B marketers that are early in their social media marketing maturity level tend to focus on message distribution such as Tweeting or posting Facebook links mostly to their own content vs. engaging with customers on a human level. That one-way communication profile doesn’t engender discussions and sharing, so social traffic level increases tend to plateau pretty early.

In order to grow and scale the return on social media marketing investments, B2B marketers need to think more about the “social” than the marketing. Here are a few thoughts on that:

Decide What You Stand for Topically

The social SEO benefits of being intentional about language that reflects your key business areas of focus as well as the conversations happening within your target community are essential. Topically fragmented blog and social networking content dilutes a company’s ability to “stand out” to customers amongst the sea of noise in social conversations as well as to search engines.

Practically, that means a strategy that identifies goals, customer personas, content & editorial plans and search/social keyword glossaries.  A content marketing strategy is the plan that executes what your company and brand stand for as well as how it will communicate those key messages. A social SEO keyword or topic plan filters into all relevant web and social content creation. It can also flavor social network topic engagement and conversations. That means a guide for which blogs to comment on, which influentials to network with, word choices for Tweets, blog posts and tags.

Do: Create and participate where your customers and influentials spend their time and with a content plan that supports your key topics of focus. Be useful and share social content that’s worth sharing (whether it’s your content or others’).

Don’t: Overly self promote and publish social content that is not directly or indirectly in alignment with your key topics of focus. That doesn’t mean everything you create is keyword optimized. It means everything you create and promote is thoughtful about where it fits in your social & content marketing plan.

The outcome and benefit is that your own content creation and promotion efforts are aligned to inspire discussion, sharing and links according to topics and keywords that are important to brand, business and marketing goals. An ideal manifestation is that your target audience sees your brand in a positive way everywhere they look for topics XYZ and 123 on social channels, when they search and even offline (inspired by online) word of mouth.

Plan to Win

If you enter a competition half-assed, guess what? No matter what your talent is, the chances of a win are pretty slim. Unfortunately a lot of B2B companies approach social media participation with an attitude of using the least amount of resources possible.  Oftentimes this means following structured best practices list from some self-professed social media guru. Checklist marketing works to make redundant tasks more efficient, but it’s no way to engage a community.

For example, one of the most common “plan to be mediocre” mistakes I see with B2B marketers is predictable social profile creation and publishing focused solely on LinkedIn, Twitter and a blog without researching those channels.  Such a plan also involves a focus on promoting company content and superficial (at best) engagement with the community.

Planning to win means having a plan for networking into influentials’ sphere of influence and knowing what to do once you get on their radar. It means creating social content that will inspire engagement and outcomes to further your business goals. It also means providing training within your organization to distribute and grow the role of social participation within your brand.

Practically, this means forecasting resources (people, process and technology) for social media marketing as significant marketing channel, not just an experiment or a checked box on a list. It means an integrated plan to dominate your category through growing social influence & networking, content, search, word of mouth and media plus the resources to execute and measure.

Do: Hypothesize, forecast and commit resources to test, develop processes and scale social media engagement within your business. What starts as social media marketing can turn into social business as the impact of social media engagement propagates from marketing to other departments and throughout the organization. Winning the social media game for B2B marketing doesn’t just mean increased sales, it means dominating your category.

Don’t: Think that social media content promotion as part of a Search Engine Optimization program is the same thing as social media marketing or social business.  It is not.

The outcome and benefit of planning to win in B2B social media is that you have enough resources to provide value to customers throughout the B2B buying and customer lifecycle. Additional benefits include facilitating awareness, trust, confidence, word of mouth, sales and referrals. On top of that you will have built/facilitated a community in alignment with your company’s goals.

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5 Tips on Better Facebook Marketing for B2B Companies

February 4, 2011 by  
Filed under B2B, B2B social media, Facebook, Online Marketing, Social Media

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B2B Facebook, Marketing B2B, Social Media B2BFacebook has been a great tool for reaching consumers directly for many B2C brands.  But can companies focused in the B2B industry use Facebook to enhance a reputation and grow new business? Absolutely.

Quite a few B2B companies are successfully using Facebook to build important relationships with prospects and customers. If your B2B company is still considering where Facebook might fit within an online marketing mix, here are five tips on building a Facebook fan page that will better support a B2B brand:

1. Create Two Way Conversation – Rather than using Facebook to simply push out news at the audience, spend time understanding the challenges potential customers face. Search online using keywords and monitor other social tools like Twitter to find out current concerns the target audience is facing.  Be a resource to potential customers by providing content and insight that will help them alleviate the problems.

After establishing a relationship with fan page followers, encourage them to provide input on the content being shared. Ask questions of followers and use responses to create content that will keep them connected to the brand.  eMarketer does a good job at this.

2. Connect a Community – Create opportunities for fans to come together and share positive experiences with each other. Oracle is an example that has built a page providing valuable professional content, news, and fans discuss or share directly on the page.

The best advocates are happy customers already engaged with a B2B company’s product or services. Highlight success stories on the page and let followers see the value provided to similar companies. Should there be a negative comment, which scares many B2B companies, address it with understanding and sincerity. In most cases, transparency and listening go a long way in stemming off negative feedback.

3. Build Relationships – Often times B2B involves a greater commitment than simple retail transactions. Sales cycles can be long and, as the old saying goes, you’re more likely to do business with someone you know. Facebook is a place to let you brand personality shine – let them see who you are. According to a survey by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate, customers are more likely to buy from companies they track via social media. By putting a face to a brand it is possible to position your brand as a resource that will be the first call for that follower when the time comes to make a purchase decision.

4. Cross Promote Content – Use Facebook as an outlet to share interesting content that’s been created elsewhere. B2B companies should consider re-purposing photos and video from promotional materials or industry events. SAP utilizes photos well and has a large number submitted by other users. Brands need to understand that not all contacts are fully engaged with every promotional effort. Don’t assume that if a message has been shared in one channel that it needs to be retired.

Connecting a blog feed to Facebook will increase the likelihood content will reach prospects through another social channel.  By connecting and cross-promoting, a B2B blog will reach the walls of current fans and potentially new contacts if that information is shared.

5. Make it Shareable – Content that is interesting or fun will be shared more widely than a bland corporate statement. This applies to companies of any size or customer focus. Providing a list of copy-heavy pages is not going to help reach new targets because nobody is excited to share boring content.

Be creative and understand that humor, visual appeal, and brevity all increase your chances of having your content move through Facebook.  Seeking a good example? Look at the creative holiday play from Cisco. A short video can convey a lot about a company and its culture. Companies that create content with sharing in mind are able to extend the reach of content significantly and build memorable connections for potential customers.

Facebook marketing for B2B companies isn’t limited to the mega corporations. At the core, it comes down to building meaningful relationships. If customer focused and creative, B2B companies can reap greater rewards from online marketing than many retails giants in the form of long-term customers.

Be sure to check out TopRank’s Facebook page for news, resources and discussion we don’t cover here on the blog.

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