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B2B and Social Media – Does it blend?

December 7, 2010

B2B and social media sometimes seem at odds with each other.  The other day I was talking with a colleague about B2B and it’s use of social media.  He just doesn’t see the value in it for this type of model.  Only ‘the kids’ are using social media and no serious ‘business person’ would use Twitter for real business.  Well, I disagree and think there is a value for social media in B2b, but just as with everything you need to be smart about it in your approach.

1. Go Fish – We’ve all heard the saying ‘Fish where the fish are.’ – This is still applicable today in social media.  Are your customers in Twitter or in LinkedIn?  Don’t get sidetracked by the popularity of a social media channel and leave your customers at another ‘pond’.  Know your customer and your customers’ social media preferences.

2. ‘Hi! Nice to meet you. Here’s my business card’ – Don’t sell me every day – Sales are relationships and so is social media. What information or expertise can you provide for your customers? If you’re not providing a value, I’m not going to Follow/Friend or even Like you.

3. Social Search – Social media marketing has positive effects on your search performance.  These inbound links improve search rankings in search – an important function whether you feel your customers are active in social media sites or not.  Customers use search as a way to discover information.  Search results will be heavily weighted on social media links so where will your company rank?

4. Commitment/ROI How much time does this take?  I found a great post from Aliza Sherman on how much time should be spent on various social media activities and I think it’s worth a read.  ROI has always been a tough struggle for me because there are so many intangibles, ‘soft’ metrics and costs associated with social media.  This, at least, helps provide some guidelines for the time cost metric.

Social media is important in B2B, but do some research before you jump in and find someone in your organization that is interested in this space.  It does take commitment and consistency.

Have you used social media for your B2B company?  What has worked?  What has provided you with some ‘learning opportunities?

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Discover the Triangle

November 30, 2010

25 square miles, 16,000 acres and 2 municipalities.

If you think all is ‘gloom and doom’ in the valley, then you haven’t heard about the Discovery Triangle. This morning I attended an meeting to get an update on what was going on in the Triangle and what Phoenix and Tempe are doing to build the community we live in.

For background, the Discovery Triangle encompasses a 25-square mile area from downtown Phoenix to Tempe and Papago Park.   The area is rich in assets, but divided by two municipalities, rules and focuses.  What happens next is exciting. The city officials, businesses and residents decided to get together and focus on the strength of combining the ‘whole’ for the long-term growth of the region.

How is this done? Several ‘expert groups’ were created to create action plans for their respective areas deemed to be integral for the development of the Triangle.  The groups included are listed below along with their chair.  They are volunteer driven and are looking for additional team members.

  • Development & Planning – Darin Sender
  • Education – Pearl Esau
  • Entrepreneurial – Kimber Lanning
  • Health & Nature – Darren Petrucci
  • Transportation – Marc Sorenson
  • Job Creation – Barry Broome
  • Public Policy – Grady Gammage
  • Neighborhood Revitalization – Paul Johnson
  • Social Sustainability – Debra Friedman
  • Sustainability – Ed Fox

A couple hundred people have participated in various sessions to talk about their ideas and suggestions to promote the area.  ‘Urban Vitality in Nature’ has been the re-occurring theme and has become a sort of working slogan for the effort.

From the Emerging Technologies Incubator at the Gateway Community College to the discussions on how cities will develop and grow communities to attract and retain Generation Y employees, it was great to see people planning for the future instead of blaming the past.

I love the creativity, the passion and the desire to grow and am looking at a volunteering for one of these groups.

What are your thoughts?  Is this what we need to move the community forward?

Something else for small business marketing!

November 4, 2010

Wow.  I am continuously amazed at the opportunities that small businesses have for little or no expense when it comes to interactive marketing.

I’ve listed a few of my favorite tools that I currently use and features or applications that I’ll be testing.

Website Tools

WordPress – Probably one of the biggest and best applications out there for small businesses and it’s FREE!!!  There’s a template that should suit every business and countless plugins and apps to help you customize for your needs.  WordPress allows just about anyone the ability to keep their site fresh with content they control.  The best part about WordPress are the plugins.  Here are a few that I’ve found that I’ll be focusing on for 2011:

Wishlist Member – Allows you to create a membership driven site.

WordPress Multi Site Mobile Edition – Uses the Carrington Mobile theme designed for mobile devices when visitors come to any site on your network with a mobile device.

Email

Constant Contact – Starting at $15/month/500 email addresses, Constant Contact is easy to use and includes some great tracking and reporting functionality.  There’s even a great survey tool that also includes a reporting function.  You need a professional email product to keep your communication out of your customer’s spam folder while making you look like the kind of company that deserves their business.

Social Media

Hootsuite – If you haven’t tried it yet, check it out.  It’s a great way to manage your social media accounts as well as quick access to a URL shortener as well as statistics. Did I mention a basic account is FREE?!

Foursquare – With over 4.5 million users now, they’re worth a look to see if it makes sense for you to claim your site.  Check out the tips and comments folks have made while checking into your business.  You’ll also want to look into creating a checkin for any events at your company.  Once again, this FREE tool provides stats that may be helpful in gaining insight into your customers.

Analytics

Google Analytics – Google Analytics is amazing.  It’s FREE and unbelievable.  Check out their new Content analytics showing you the clicks for each link on each page.

Of course, these are just a few tools and there’s more to talk about, but all of these tools represent a range of interactive marketing tools that small businesses can use for next to nothing.

What about your favorites?  What tools should we be checking out for 2011?