Tuesday Oct 07, 2014

9 Starting Points for B2B Social Marketing

Are businesses still debating whether or not there’s a role for social in B2B?  Sure you’ll still find pockets of resistance (and nostalgia), but the marketing dollars being moved to social say the debate is all but over.  It says at the very least, serious businesses do not intend to get left in the dust as their competitors build relationships and start ongoing dialogues with buyers via social.


Better that you be the one to beat your competitor to the punch in establishing a comprehensive, integrated social marketing strategy.  And if you’re going to do it, you may as well get started on the right foot with 9 foundational principles.


1. Know whom you want to talk to.  If your answer is “Golly gee, anybody and everybody who might even remotely be interested in what I have,” you’re going out there untargeted and smelling desperate.  Know who the likely prospects are and act on where they live digitally.


2. Use social to offer your prospects something they genuinely want or need.  They don’t owe you anything and they don’t care if your company does well.  They only care about solving a problem they currently have and making their jobs & lives easier.  Speak to that.


3. Track how the content you’re giving your prospects does with them.  Did they consume it?  Did they visibly react to it (engagement)?  Or did they find it immediately skip-able?  Don’t keep giving them stuff that fails, you’ll start looking tone-deaf.


4. Hire the most exceptionally gifted channel managers to run your social efforts and empower them with the social technology to maximize their greatness.  If your brand were a person, your channel manager is that person.  So it’s critical to get this right.


5. You should listen for signals from your prospects as intently as SETI listens for alien signals from space.  And you should get just as excited if you get something.  Respond in a rapid, constructive manner…even if the signal you got back was negative.


6. Be a thought leader in your industry or sector.  If you’re tired of the term “thought leader,” be a professor, an educator, or a researcher.  If you can teach a prospect something they didn’t previously know, you’ll achieve an elevated status in their minds.


7. Be consistent.  If you start posting on social then disappear, what good did that do you?  If your blogs are published randomly, or only come out when you can serve the brand’s interests, you’re sending some very bad messages.  I’m selfish and I can’t be counted on.


8. Use social to supplement your overall marketing efforts.  Integration is a big topic in the marketing world.  It’s what everyone is racing toward even though frankly, it’s not that easy.  Go with a tech partner that’s most likely to get you to true modern marketing.


9. Somehow, some way, acquire patience.  B2B selling is a process, and one that will never move as fast as you need it to.  Social will not get you to the quick B2B close.  So you not only have to be consistent, you have to be persistent and keep the steady social drumbeat going.


Those B2B prospects are a tough bunch, much less likely to give you quick trust or the benefit of the doubt like consumers.  But B2B is made up of real people (people immersed in a labyrinth of proposals and approval processes, but people nonetheless), so value can be given, relationships can be built, and coffee can go to closers thanks to social B2B marketing.


@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: freeimages.com



Friday Jul 18, 2014

LinkedIn Inclusion Closes Chapter 1 of the Oracle Social SRM Platform

With big news having rolled out this week, we turn today’s guest blogging duties over to Oracle Social Cloud Group VP Meg Bear.


Back in May of 2012, Oracle completed a series of social media acquisitions launching its commitment to enhanced, effective digital customer experiences for brand marketers. Peering into the future, we saw that the age of carpet-bombing consumers with messages urging them to come to the brand was doing as much harm as good. We knew that the future was going to be about meeting customers wherever they are, whenever they’re there, and with personalized, relevant content.


It was clear that the social networks were becoming nothing less than the hubs of public communication.


The option for marketers to ignore social was slipping away, and the Oracle Social Cloud committed itself to building a comprehensive social marketing, engagement, and monitoring technology platform that would make differentiating customer relationships possible. The commitment was our recognition that the customer was in control and that brands would have to change if they wanted to retain customers and deliver outstanding customer experiences.


With Oracle’s subsequent acquisitions of Eloqua, Compendium, Responsys, and BlueKai, which together form the Oracle Marketing Cloud, we were able to offer integrations with the Oracle Social Cloud that moved brands far from yesterday’s point solution technology and into a marketing ecosystem capable of powering tomorrow’s promise of highly personalized and engaged customer experiences.


So this week’s inclusion of LinkedIn to our publishing and engagement capabilities should really come as no surprise given the role LinkedIn is playing for B2B marketers today. Adding 2 members per second has brought it to over 300 million users, a number that’s doubled in the last calendar year with over half of those users outside North America.


This addition of LinkedIn to the Oracle SRM platform is great for our customers, solidifying the platform as the clear choice for B2B marketers. But it’s really just the end of an opening chapter in an amazing marketing revolution story we’re all seeing play out in full Technicolor in this era of digital transformation.


This revolution is about mobile, social, big data, cloud-powered outrageous customer experiences. Recognizing the magnitude of this opportunity is the reason our product has been so rapidly innovating. We have been building new capabilities in concert with our global customers with the aim of helping them deliver best-in-class customer experiences…the kind of post-revolution brand encounters customers have come to expect.


As we continue socially enabling the enterprise, we are excited about the great experiences we can unlock with our partner LinkedIn using the Oracle SRM platform. The future is bright for marketers, and Oracle Social is happy being able to do our part to bring innovation to our customers, working together to write the next chapters.


@oraclesocial
Photo: freeimages.com

Friday Apr 04, 2014

You Didn’t Miss These Changes at LinkedIn Did You?

LinkedIn changesYes, LinkedIn is a very different social network with very different users and a very different purpose than the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not a platform that’s always experimenting, evolving and changing like the others.


In the past few months alone, LinkedIn has made alterations that you, especially if you’re B2B, must be aware of in case they affect current strategy or serve as inspiration for new LinkedIn tactics for your brand.


Congratulations! You’re a Publisher!


Did you ever see a post from one of those LinkedIn Influencers and think to yourself, “Hey, that should be me”? Now it can be. If you can’t publish already, you can apply to do it sooner rather than later. Then you can get people to follow you who aren’t in your network and start building an audience for your content.


But just to give you an idea of how impressed people need to be with your content, the average Influencer post gets over 31,000 views, over 250 likes and around 80 comments. We guess that’s why they’re called Influencers, and we’re proud to count Oracle President Mark Hurd among them.


Hmm, That Didn’t Work, Part 1


In what LinkedIn described as a decision to focus on a few big bets, they shut down LinkedIn Intro. It had only been around less than 4 months, so the decision to stop focusing on it came pretty quickly.


Intro infused LinkedIn contact data into your iPhone email inbox. LinkedIn still likes that idea and will pursue it via partnerships, but to do what it did meant LinkedIn had to scan every email that came into your inbox, which raised security concerns and frankly, successfully scared many people off. Adding to the headache, those that did install Intro had to be sure to uninstall it or their email wouldn’t work properly after the shutdown.


Hmm, That Didn’t Work, Part 2


LinkedIn is shutting down Slidecast (which didn’t make the “we want to focus on this” cut either). That let LinkedIn-owned SlideShare users put up presentations complete with audio. That stops April 30.


I Don’t Have to Deal With You Anymore


LinkedIn provided something users had been asking for in large numbers, a way to block members. It’s called…are you ready for this…”Member Blocking.” But before going nuclear on someone and blocking them, LinkedIn encourages you to try other settings such as disconnect, change your profile visibility, use anonymous profile viewing, and be mindful of what activities you broadcast.


Hmm, That Didn’t Work, Part 3


Sell Hack thought its "Hack In" tool did a pretty cool thing. It let you go to any profile on LinkedIn and with the click of a button, get the email address of that person from LinkedIn’s database. Boy did LinkedIn not like that. After a cease and desist, the tool was removed, though Sell Hack said they’ll be back with something else that fits more in line with LinkedIn’s terms of service.


The Best Way to Get to People


The new “How You’re Connected” tool is right there on profile pages, and shows you not just who in your network knows them (which is pretty helpful in and of itself), but how they know each other. This way you can choose the person to make the introduction that makes the most sense given what you’re trying to accomplish.


How’s Your Content Doing?


Do you want an analytics resource that gives you insight into the impact of your paid and organic content on LinkedIn? Awesome, because that’s exactly how LinkedIn defines their Content Marketing Score. Take your unique engagement on LinkedIn, divide it by your total target audience and there you have it, along with tips on how to get your score up. It’s partner, Trending Content, shows you what stories are resonating best in a range of subject areas.


So Long Products & Services


Products & Services on Company Pages will be gone by April 14th. Who needs it when you now have “Showcase Pages,” which let people follow individual products without following the whole brand? That means more relevant content and communities. Updates still show up on the Company Page though, and show up there in search results.


LinkedIn is doing just fine, 277 million users and adding 2 per second. 40% of users check in daily. There are 3 million business pages and 2.1 million groups, with 8,000 more created weekly. With all that going on, be ready to stay on top of what the inevitable growth spurts might mean for you.


@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Friday Jun 14, 2013

Forget B2B and B2C – Tech Enables B2P (Business to People) Marketing

handshakeUh oh, here comes more silo-busting.  For decades we’ve operated with a mentality of two separate marketing worlds, B2B and B2C. It’s another one of those things that’s ingrained in us, but that’s ripe for upheaval and disruption. Today, guest blogger Angela Wells, Oracle Director Outbound Product Management for Social, explains why B2B and B2C might be consolidating into B2P.

Marketers traditionally think of themselves as targeting either businesses or consumers.  Books and blogs vie to tell us how to succeed in either of these schools of thought. We can turn to experts, resources and companies based on their reputation for executing one or the other, but then we might miss out on the opportunities today’s technology offers us.

In my marketing career, I’ve helped sell everything from 99-cent impulse bags of potato chips in grocery stores to multi-million dollar, multi-year market research programs to global Fortune 100 companies. Yet I’ve never been more excited about the current opportunities to connect with potential customers in new ways, driven by tech.

What’s “B2P Marketing”?

It’s the recognition that businesses aren’t buying what you’re trying to sell. Individual decision makers, people, inside those businesses are buying what you’re trying to sell (or not), making judgment calls on behalf of their companies.

B2C Marketing is aimed at consumers making purchasing decisions primarily around simple products for personal use. B2B Marketing boils down to “getting leads,” and there’s plenty being written these days about B2B content marketing for achieving just that. B2P Marketing “gets” that human decision makers and influencers drive both.

It’s no surprise emotions and perceived relationships with brands influence product & service recommendations. Be aware corporate decision makers and influencers are entrusted with major investment choices, so the perceived relationship will factor greatly in their willingness to recommend you and be your inside advocate.

Why Does “B2P Marketing” Matter More Now?

With the rise of social and engagement, it’s become increasingly obvious we’re all targeting people.  And these people are consuming media like never before, across a range of social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.  Individuals look to connect online with brands that matter to their personal choices (why I’m a fan of Dairy Queen on Facebook), and to inform their professional choices (why Oracle Social has over one million Facebook fans).

Keys to B2P Marketing Success

Continuously Offer Content of Value:
Content is created every day and of every kind people gravitate towards – repeatedly! Yes, as marketers, we’re trying to sell. But those with whom we communicate will find real value if we primarily educate and inform so they can be better at what they do.

Have a Clear Brand Voice:  
The impersonal “one to many” communications on most corporate websites often fall flat. Crafting content as if you were writing personally to a professional colleague might help your messages sound more genuine.

Engage in Ongoing Customer Dialogue:  
Social offers a two-way dialogue, complete with the ability to see, comment, re-tweet…positively and negatively. For example, Oracle Eloqua created a community for engaged customers on which to share feedback with Oracle Eloqua employees and each other.

Provide Support that Helps End Users:  
“Businesses” don’t call your customer support, people do. They’re reaching out to your account managers or combing through your “help” materials. What kind of human experience are they having? Individuals lose precious time when they have issues with their purchase from you. Keep your support info updated and easy to find. Making customers input search terms that surface mostly irrelevant results from a massive online catalog will rarely get you rave reviews.

So B2B and B2C, welcome the B2P concept, marketing with a keen awareness that real people drive decisions and effectively managing social relationships with them is critical.

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