Advice from Marketing Peers
Every Thursday night Jeremy Victor and a group of B2B marketers hold a B2B Twitter Chat session. These sessions are a tremendous source of ideas, insights and data. More importantly these chat sessions can create a body of knowledge on best practices and you can make new connections and build relationships with peers.
Mining For Gold in the Chatstream
Peers are the primary source of advice, recommendations and referrals for virtually any professional role (especially IT professionals for those of you in hitech marketing and business development. Learn more here). Therefore, opportunities like these #B2Bchat sessions are valuable.
The problem with real time chat streams though is sorting through the tweets for answers during and after the session. The Q&A stream can get cluttered and key nuggets can be missed. Transcripts are a partial answer to this problem and the folks at #B2Bchat are smart in offering it at the end of the sessions.
For some that’s good enough. But, it can be hard sorting through the tweets to find that shiny gold nugget of information. So, we mined the transcript and have shared with you what we think were the most valuable answers and insights from the chat session.
In a later posts we will share with you our own experiences using Twitter for marketing Mi6 and some of our clients (successes AND failures).
Twitter for B2B Marketing
Q1: What are the best and/or worst reasons to make Twitter part of a B2B marketing plan?
- My takeaway:for B2B to sr buyers, Tw might just be practitioners talking to each other..& might be enough for a while
- There is something to be said about monitoring twitter for brand & keywords as part of your marketing strategy
- Social media ain’t gonna help you if you have a mediocre product/service
- Best reason to incorporate Twitter into B2B: to Shut Up (about “you”) and Listen instead. Worst reason: to pimp your brand.
- I don’t mind a shameless plug every once in a while, but lead me to more valuable info elsewhere
- Worst reason to be on twitter is to push your product/service shamelessly
- I think a B2B marketing plan shouldn’t include twitter w/o inbound strategy, magnetic website, blog and content to link to
- Worst reason to use Twitter 4 mktg is because “everybody else is doing it”
- One of best “listening” tools available. Listen and learn
- Best reason – your customers and prospects are on Twitter; Worst reason – you think you’re a social media “expert”
- Think social media is very imp. these days…customers want to engage w/ companies they deal w/ & this provides great way to do it
- First thing..is who do we tweet to and follow? Are my followers really ideal ideal prospects?
- Meet people. Earn trust. Build relationships
- Best reason is for meaningful sharing and engagement. Worst reason is because you “should”
- Worst reason is to just pump outbound marketing style messaging
- Worst reason to use Twitter 4 mktg is because “everybody else is doing it”. Best: Because it targets your audience/influencers
- The reason is if it’s a good fit in your marketing strategy based on your expected end results. Worse, is trying to make a fit
- Best reason – for continual engagement; Worst – spamming with info and offers
- Twitter is primarily about engagement. shameless plugs are nothing more than spam
- Learn how others think, communicate
- We’re finding social media to be great way to help build relationships w/ customers/clients
- Best reason – for continual engagement; Worst – spamming with info and offers
- Twitter is the signpost, the beacon, the roadmap to your on-line property. It is valuable to every marketing plan
- Best reason, at least for me so far is the organic networks of topic-related folks that sprout up out of nowhere
- Def great for increased readers for blog posts or new product features and upcoming events
- Another best: for resolving customer issues quickly and make it obvious that you’re serious about serving your customers
- Twitter is a great way to keep up with your industry; stay relevant/informed
- Best is when you have a plan/strategy that Twitter is a good tool for
- Best of Twitter is learning and interaction plus connecting with wider group than other media allow; worst is 1-way promotion
- Twitter is also great for “quick fix” support. I’ve received it myself…love it!
- Twitter should only be part of your marketing plan if your audience is there
- Think it’s SO imp. not 2 just go by follower #s, need 2 focus on quality not quantity / real leads vs big #s
Q2: How do you gain buy-in from top management to make Twitter part of B2B marketing plan
- The best way to get Senior/CEO approval is to explain how it’s a low-cost, high-impact, synergistic ramp-up of your mrtking plan
- For many of my clients, it’s about proving that it’s more than teenagers. Fastest growing segment is ages 40-60.
- Presenting case studies & successes based on parity products and services. Allow them to voice opposition & listen not push
- I just show them which competitors are already using it and how well
- Forget about proving ROI initially. Focusing on becoming useful listening post that provides a new channel of info worked 4me
- It virtually takes little budget (unless you want some of the fancier analytic Twitter apps
- Prove to your mgmt that your audience is on Twitter and the impact they can have for your brand
- Innovative use of Twitter, integrated into Zendesk helpdesk app with spectacular results
- Gain buy in from management by showing a clear plan/strategy with clearly defined goals and how Twitter will achieve goals
- Gain management buy-in by providing evidence of the biz’s relevant conversation happening on twitter
- Also show how many potential b2b customers are already in the space. #b2bchat That along with general stats.
Q3: Who should be in charge of the B2B twitter content? PR Dept? Marketing Dept? Outside Agency, Freelancers?
- Put whoever has things to say and appetite to engage in charge of twitter
- I like to set guidelines on what is acceptable and what’s not, then release the hounds
- Marketing for strategy + each function speaking to their audiences about what they care about
- Depends which department is trying to establish themselves as?current?, relevant and legitimacy
- Similar 2 your other mktg plans, need 2 keep branding consistent~execs, PR, Mktg, Sales should all be on board w/ messaging
- If the strategy is announcing and gaining support for new products, then PR dept is best to handle…and so on
- Marketing should set overall strat, w/SM sub-defined as one channel, execution can be the work of many
- If the strategy is customer service, then customer service handles Twitter with support from other depts Marketing, Sales and Support as a team approach
- Who’s in charge? Depends on the company. Whoever is best suited to carry out strategy and be able to measure and achieve goals
- Twitter works best with representatives from important depts. available. There are great apps for multiple people using acct
- If you have the right culture, everyone in the org is a potential source of Twitter borne content IMHO, Marketing, with PR input. Not all communications are meant for the public, (i.e., customers) but it is inherently open
- Organization need to own content development; joint effort betwn PR and Marketing with input all
- I think a team of 3-4 people and employing tools like HootSuite or CoTweet will work pretty efficiently
- Depends on size, culture of company- use social operations function to balance open participation with some corp standards
- Interesting question “who is in charge” of a Twitter campaign since targets include custs, partners, analysts, investors, etc
- There are only linchpins and tribes, no one person is in charge…it’s ONE organism
- I think everyone in an org an contribute via Twitter. It’s important to have insightful msgs, not just mktg jargon and retweets
- Frankly – whichever team has the knowledge, skill, and right intent…should take the lead of the B2B twitter content
- Given the wide range of target demographics on Twitter, multiple campaigns/accounts might be warranted
- Word of caution — if U set a tone of “our department is in charge” of #SM, U’ll never get the supportive adoption U need
- We’re using sprinkler and co-tweet a criss multiple users and departments. Working well…
Q4: Who should a B2B company follow on twitter? Should they only follow those that follow back?
- Birds of a feather–influencers–prospects. Follow backs will come when make sense
- Competitors, Prospects, Industry pundits to begin with
- They should follow industry voices, evangelists, advocates and influencers for sure
- Should follow customers, analysts, partners, potential customers, media and bloggers in industry targeting
- And make themselves worthy of following with insightful and engaging tweets
- Follow influencers in your target audience, regardless if tweep follow u back. you r on twitter to listen first
- Companies should follow anyone who provides something useful. Useful being in the eyes of the beholder
- Who should a B2B company follow on twitter? If in Sales-fish where the fish are
- My constantly amazed how much u can learn from others on twitter, so limiting to just follow your followers seems quite wrong
- I think it’s good 2 follow some of all the above…keep tabs on competitors, engage customers, get insight from industry experts
- Follow those who add the most valuable content to their stream. Also follow people they would like to engage with
- Not necessary to follow everyone back if there’s no added value or engagement opportunity
- For us, Twitter less about direct sales leads, and more about becoming thought leaders, so we follow a ton of industry folks
- Relevant trade associations, trade pubs, customers, and @B2BTOTY, of course!
- Pretty much follow anyone who is interested enough to follow you (I leave out those who look like spammers or are scary)
- Q4 is crux of tonite. Beyond learning (KEY), if prospects not here, do b2b providers just talk to each other?
- For me, I follow those who add value to my stream OR if they engage with me on a regular basis (thats value too!)
- Follow who you will but commit to cull the herd at least once a month if no value coming through
Q5: Should the voice of B2B tweets be that of a company or of an individual?
- I don’t know what a “company” sounds like… I have only ever spoken with people. Twitter shouldn’t be different
- Should have a strong individual tone but toe the company stance
- I always vote for people, not company
- Have to hedge here: it depends…on company style, industry, people, audience, regulatory environment, etc.
- Voice needs to be from company if corporate account and person if individual account
- Depends on objective. Some personal brands are greater than corp brand. Followers like the real deal, not just corp schpeel
- People. People can hear the company’s voice through other channels
- There’s room for both individual and brand personalities need to be reflected in tweets
- I would prefer to hear from a person, but obviously not from a “personal” standpoint – that would be meaningless in B2B
- Welcome to the emergence of the brand ambassador!!!
- Depends…if meant 2 represent co. as whole need 2 keep tone/message of co…if want 2 push personal agenda use personal acct
- I think tone needs to be human/conversational keeping in mind company messaging but never product speak
- In the world of tech mktg there is value (esp w developers) to give the developer a voice. Just make suer they know boundaries
- Every one of these questions can be answered in the same way. The what, the who, the where, the how defined by strategy and goals
Q6: What apps are best to manage twitter for B2B marketing?
- Love tweetchat, hootsuite, Tweepi
- Hootsuite rocks for group tweeting and management
- Best tool is whatever one works best for those using it. If none work, wait a month and someone will build a new one
- Tweetreports and Company Buzz(within LinkedIn) have both helped me in addition to the common fav’s
- Hootsuite gets my vote for sharing and scheduling tweets for B2B marketing
- Hootsuite has my vote for managing groups
- New release of Tweetdeck with auto API streaming is working very well also
- Love Tweepi for managing follower lists
- Like Hootsuite if you need to manage multiple social media accounts
- 10 Essential Social Media Tools for B2B Marketers
Q7: What companies or individuals are setting the best examples of best practices on twitter?
- Can’t be successful if just continuously posting your message. Need 2 listen, engage, learn
- ABH is our motto. Alway Be Helping. Good approach for Twitter
- The #usguys has a ratio – 20%broadcast – 60% listening – 20% dialogue – these are to be amped up/down as needed
- @JetBlue, @Comcast, @Zappos are all great examples of companies using twitter effectively w customers
- I don’t know if anyone is best practice on Twitter yet. Not sure what best practice is. Easier to pick out bad practice
- Forrester has set a great example for Twitter use
- @JoeZuc made it easy to find B2B professionals and brands setting a great example of twitter best practices. www.B2BTOTY.com
- Cisco CTO @padmasree for striking that balance between being a person, and representing Cisco so well
- I think a great example is @jowyang. He’s set clear expectations in his profile and is very disciplined about it
- Not surprisingly many social media/marketing firms do well with Twitter
- I can name many bad examples, but harder to name best examples. perhaps Zappos & Dell would qualify as better
- What individuals are setting the best eg of best practices on twitter? Love @dannybrown for genuine engagement
Q8: Most, if not all of you are B2B marketing pros. How has Twitter been most helpful to your business?
- Twitter works great for “keeping in touch” and getting new engagements better than Linkedin
- Increase awareness of company & offerings
- Undoubtedly it’s oppty to learn new things from ppl I would never otherwise have met, like tonight
- Twitter has been helpful so far mostly because it is free, and casts a very very wide net, especially on the listening side
- Reputation, credibility and relevance building, and as a learning platform like
- Great question. We’ve reached contacts we would not have reached with email or search or cold calling for sure
- Twitter is best for getting a pulse reading of real-time news, convo
- Agreed the low cost & wide potential audience is one of the biggest appeals of SM for most companies
- Great sounding board/resource
- I have more C-level conversations because of twitter than cold calling as well
- Only 2 mo in, but so far: learning, meeting people who I’d like as colleagues, better understanding of controversies
- We’ve seen much more interaction with the media, and it’s been a great way to reach ppl we never would have access to otherwise
- Twitter has been invaluable 4 expanding my professional network, given me new business oppty & provides amazing industry info
- Meeting people with common #b2b interests, having less formal interactions than typical analyst model allows, sharing content
- Trying new things to see what resonates with people. Things change so quickly, and Twitter is a good place to experiment
- Twitter has actually given us business leads – so there!
- Us as well. Twitter overall 3rd largest referral to our site
- Brand awareness building in new markets has been a benefit
- Thanks to twitter, we have seen site traffic, conversions, leads and new business increase
- Twitter great for learning about new opportunities
- Funny how nobody talks about any of the failed SM campaigns – I’m sure there are many
- Yes, I posted about “learning from their mistakes” recently, though in relation to brain studies
Q9: A B2B company wants Twitter in marketing mix but their competition is way ahead of them. Is it too late? How do they catch up?
- Twitter is only a channel; what is most important is how you engage people & what is the unique value you provide
- Being competitive is not about your competitors – it’s about how well your prods/services perform for custs
- Remind sme of saying “Moment you are bored with your message is exactly when it starts to work”-we’re all still learning here
- Many companies have no clue how competitors are in tweet convos. They assume all competitors are equal. Optimize to your market
- The beauty of Twitter is that 140char is a great equalizer. Mobilization & focus are the real issues
- Not too late, many of your customers are just coming in as well
- I think the differentiator is HOW twitter is used. Is it retweeting and getting your name out, or adding true value
- Even w/ 5 followers, those are 5 people who could be prospects, chatty customers or even employees
- For B2B compet differentiation is always about how well you solve customer probs/needs, enable cust success – do same on Twitter
- It’s never too late to start building relationships
- The best way to catch up is to NOT push your wares. start convo in the right channel, be helpful. gratitude goes a long way
- Whatever you do, don’t try to do the SAME thing and expect to catch up
- A B2B Co needs to 1st benchmark competitors & monitoring tweets for inbound activity, RTs, and sentiment. No blind competition
- Find an issue that matters, put out the best content for it, and ride that one horse for all it’s worth, is one way
- Don’t see Twitter usage as competitive differentiator per se – it’s what’s being done with Twitter that can differentiate
- I don’t believe you are ever “behind” on twitter. It’s about the quality of interaction and, as stated before, your goals
- Not at all, as long as you can learn from the early mistakes they have made. It is still too early to know full opp’s
- It’s never too late to incorp twitter into mktg plans. why give up b4 u start? this is new for everyone
- Do it better, do it differently, and learn from what they’re NOT doing. There’s always something
- Definitely not too late…jump in there!
- Twitter is about being yourself – you voice, your message… your competition can never be ahead of you
Q10: For any still at starting line with twitter, what goals should be set and how do they measure ROI?
- Starting goal is to follow, listen and start convo; measure mentions, retweet velocity of message, links, other content
- I tend to believe if you can’t attribute ROI you aren’t prepared to take action
- Set goals around both output (what you’re doing) and outcomes (what you’re trying to achieve)
- Not too many want to expose that. Too many companies focused on numbers instead of overall results
- Focus on integration of Twiiter into overall marketing/sales plans and correlate to impact along buy cycle, not transaction
- Yes ROI can be difficult…can’t just look at one thing like # followers or # deals need to consider building awareness
- Social Media is and isn’t about ROI. It is about a single voice (brand) being heard amongst the thousands of international voices
- Use bit.ly to keep track of who’s clicking links in your tweets and what’s most popular..then keep doing that
- Measuring ROI isn’t just about conversions. how do you measure gratitude and the good karma as a result of providing value?
- Just starting out: don’t ‘over follow’ early on, let it grow more naturally
- If you truly know your business and underlying drivers you CAN get ROI, and you owe it to the company to do it
- #1:Have Inbound Twitter goals. #2:Measure Non-Twitter Channel Inbound Act. #2:Identify Outbound Twitter Cost ROI=*(1 +2)*$-3/3)%
- Twitter participation leads to qualitative value as well as quant. ROI not always easily calc’d
- If you can’t attribute, then correlate, test, optimize, then test again. It can be done on Twitter & across all marketing channels
- Sometimes ROI is shown anecdotally (screenshots). Spotted a lead, RTed to customers who served as refs, deal closed.
Add to the Conversation
There are many answers but what do you think? What challenges or questions do you have about using Twitter for B2B marketing and business development? Or Twitter in general for B2B companies? What concerns do you have? Add to the conversation below by leaving a comment.