Brain Vibe

marketing muses to stay engaged

Social Media Insight to Optimize Paid Search and Display

What if you could target your search engine marketing (SEM) efforts in paid search and display the way you target your direct marketing efforts?  Analysis of your b2b social media networks may give you that edge.

In my quest to get more out of social media than just followers and a soapbox platform, I am looking at what content my network follows, reads, and shares more closely.  In my last post I talked about the analysis of hashtags in tweets, and how that could help me better understand the personas of my network.

Now I am looking at what else I can gather and what I could do with this.  In particular, I am interested in the content being shared: blogs, web pages, video, etc.  The titles tags, description meta tags, and urls all have keywords that tell a lot about interest areas and build a richer persona.  This step got me thinking, could I tighten alignment to my network by optimizing…?

  • My paid search to reflect keyword tendencies in shared content
  • My display placement based on sites aligned to my market offers
  • The SEO on my own website

Right now, SEM allows anonymity which creates challenges when you want to focus digital marketing efforts on existing customers or known prospects.  My paid search and media plans look at broad behavior, demographics, and firmographics but specifics on their web patters at the individual level is sketchy.  However, if I align my followers to my customer list and profile their specific personas compared to the broader market, I get much closer to a targeted campaign.  This makes my digital efforts more closely resemble my direct marketing efforts – smaller targets, highly relevant content shared, higher conversion.

Another reason to think about  b2b social media beyond influence marketing and make it work to drive revenue and customer relationships.

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Filed under: b2b, blogging, customer relationship, social media marketing, Web Analytics, , , ,

Social Media Content – Too Big, Too Small, Just Right

B2B marketers are an interesting breed when it comes to social media. Our training is to create relevant content in the form of white papers, collateral, and deep websites.  When it is time to tackle the subject of content creation, out come the media, event, and campaign calendars.  Enter 140 characters on Twitter, blogs that should stay in the 300-500 word range, and video or audio that is less than 5 minutes and it is enough to drive us mad!

Certainly the venue will dictate a bit of what you actually post.  But, the B2B marketer will break the rules when possible.  We’ve got so much to say!  Don’t you want to know how smart we are and what great things our company provides?

Here are things I think about when creating content:

  • If you can’t use a single word to describe what you want to say, move on.  My word for this post, “Size”
  • If it takes longer than a minute to read what you write, people get bored and stop reading
  • If it needs to be read more than once, its only good if what you said was amazing (most of the time it is not…sorry)
  • If you need to think too hard about what to say, you are trying too hard
  • If you post multiple tweets in order to get your point across, it should have been a blog, email, or phone conversation

Social media isn’t complicated, there is no need to make it so. Live in Twitter for a while, it teaches you brevity and spontaneity.  Embrace the medium rather than fit it into what is comfortable to you.  And lastly, enjoy it.  Marketing is so much more fun when you break from the confines of structure and dogma.  Have a digital conversation.

What helps you get your content just right?

Filed under: blogging, social media, social media marketing, , , , ,

Digital Conversationalist

As a B2B marketer, social media success may still be allusive.  You blog, tweet, post on LinkedIn and Facebook. You are vested in the conversation.  But, are you really ready? How are you executing?

I am no expert.  By far, this is my most vexing question to date.  What I have done is really to start looking at what other companies seem to do, talk to fellow marketers, and try to figure out what works to build a vibrant community.  Here is what I’ve seen and taken away in my quest.

Entry level marketers and interns have typically been tasked to take on the social media effort.  In B2B, this can be a real challenge and barrier to realizing value from your initiative.  There is significant finesse, knowledge, and networking ability that is required.  Simply putting your brand, subject matter expertise, and yes, promotion out there is not for the inexperienced.

You can leverage a PR agency.  However, do they really know your business?  They do a great job of triangulating your message with experts and media.  They may even be there to ghost write.  This approach can get your effort up and running more effectively.  Over time, it is costly and slows the conversation.  Conversation is not sustained or maybe not achieved at all because of the bureaucracy to produce and eventually turns the social media effort into direct marketing and promotion or worse yet, the promotion and branding of external experts, not you.

You may have created a social media or blogging bureau and established a set of social media guidelines.  Subject matter experts are tasked with writing blogs and tweeting.  How is this working for you?  Do you have the steady stream of content?  Many times it is difficult to get people to commit to contributing if they are busy (I admit to this trap) or don’t see the value and return.

My conclusion is that what B2B companies need to start thinking about is how to be the Digital Conversationalist. Don’t just pay this lip service.  The best social media efforts are balanced between thought leadership and a vibrant customer driven community.

Here is my Digital Conversationalist job description:

This person is already versed and experienced in what you offer, is a good writer, but can also “pass the beer test” with a wide audience in your customer base.  This person can work the digital room and get discussion going.  They can balance thought provoking contribution with the ability to ask questions and get responses.  They utilize and test social media tools to illicit the most and best discussions.  They can turn lemons into lemonade, addressing discordant views and complaints in ways that promote your brand and give you insight you didn’t have.  A Digital Conversationalist knows they are only part of the conversation and not the center of attention.

Filed under: blogging, networking, social media, social media marketing, ,

Credibility Of Your Blog

Browsing through my Google reader for posts on everything on web analytics, social media, and business intelligence, it dawned on me the filtering process I go through before I click a link. or if I do click, if I even read the post.  It got me thinking about blog credibility and how it can and cannot work for you.  First, it is important to see the context of my blog reading.  I read blogs to educate myself on how to take things to the next level.  That said, I filter based on one simple observation: business or professional.

If I am looking for information on how to extend the value of web analytics, take a strategic approach with social media, or better design and implement business intelligence solutions I put more credibility in the insight from practitioners than a company.  So, when I see URLs that are from known businesses or have a business name in them, I don’t click through.  If there is ambiguity and I click through and get to a businesses blog, I don’t read the article.

To be fair, when I’m at the stage that I would like to find a service provider or interact with or hear comments from  other professionals using solutions and services I want to purchase or am using, then blogs from businesses have value and credibility for me.  However, I am already familiar with the brand/provider and directly visit the website and blog.

This goes back to the debate on integrating your blogs with your business websites or having them stand on their own.  I flip flop on this issue as there is huge SEO benefit from blog and website integration, but going back to my filtering behavior, it can have an unintended affect of not getting the most out of your thought leadership and branding effort.  Establishing a blog and determining how you want to implement it is highly tied to what you are trying to accomplish and how that fits into the behavior and needs or your audience.

Given what you want to accomplish will determine how you utilize blogging in your marketing tactics.

Goal:  Thought leadership

The primary use of blogs, this offers challenges.  As I’ve described in my own blog filtering behavior, assessing expertise and leadership is done in two stages: (1) general education (2) vendor assessment.  The issue I see is that blogs on corporate sites try to take on a conversational tone and pretend to be non-selling, but this isn’t really accomplished.  Having the brand attached brings out cynicism in the reader.  Now, if you have subject matter expertise in your workforce, posting on community networks or through non-branded blog sites may offer a less “sell” type of approach.  Take networks like SocialMediaToday, here you have venues where subject matter experts in leading agencies, marketing organizations, and boutique services organizations provide relevant and thought provoking points of view.  Most recognize the underlying point of blogging is to generate buzz and build personal or business brand.  But, there is a subtlety here.  Blogger personalities become recognized and through little more than a click you get the connection.  At the end of the day you spread a perspective shaping the community’s thought without the stigma of selling.  The goal is to see how the market is aligned to your position and are your subject matter experts generating relationships that can lead to higher consideration of your point of view and company.

Goal:  Conversion

In this scenario corporate blogs are kings.  You don’t want to disassociate and can approach posts similarly to how you approach white paper development or press releases.  On your site, it is all about you and while the tone can be conversational, putting a sales spin on is not unexpected and is actually required.  Trying to be too soft in conversations won’t lend to conversion.  You need to not only re-establish thought leadership but provide prospective customers with a purpose of considering your products and services or actually clicking through to a sale.  The perspective that social media should be a party, on your website, forget it.  That isn’t to say that the marketing fluff you used in press releases for SEO and positioning statements for solution descriptions should be used.  The point is to still keep posts informative, relevant, and convince customers that you are their best choice at a more detailed and credible perspective.  Blogs for conversion are all about lifting sales either directly through e-commerce activities or priming the marketing funnel with more qualified leads.

Goal:  Customer Relationships

Similar to conversion, stay on relevant topics and be supportive of the after sale relationship.  Position case studies in posts to describe how to get the most out of your solutions.  Create interactive discussions for problem solving or new solution ideas.  Bring forth ideas to generate interest in new areas you may be moving into.  Leverage your blog in a forum format and become a member of your customer’s team.  This is where your focus is on engagement to improve satisfaction, likeliness to purchase from you again, and generate evangelists and advocacy in the market.

Filed under: b2b, blogging, customer relationship, social media, social media marketing

The Importance Of A Compelling Blog Title

search seo sem long tailMost people adhere to the fact that to improve SEO a key component is having a keyword rich blog title.  Okay, that’s a no brainer.  However, I think there is more to a great Blog title than savvy SEO, but still a big factor in search.  You need to create a compelling blog title that stands out in long tail search and after PPC efforts.

I wrote an article several months ago on social media in Latin America.  It was never a show stopper in terms of first day visitation.  What is interesting is that it is no. 2 of my top most read posts and almost never fails to get at least one reader per day.  Outside of a topic that is probably compelling, when I’ve analyzed the results of long tail searches and those specific to latin america, this post is not on the first page.  It is not on the second page.  In fact, it is ususally pretty deep in the search results.  At times I just give up. (Yes, Google will customize results based on your profile, but I don’t think it alters the results drastically.  For those unfamiliar, do a search with your name on Google then have your friend do the same thing on their computer.  You’ll get similar but different results.)

This really got me thinking about how people determine what search results they are going to click through and I’m coming to the conclusion that two things are happening.  1)  Search results at the top are more marketing driven and may not actually be sources seekers consider a good source of information for a variety of reasons.  2)  Once a seeker has determined to head down into the bowels of search results, they need an easy way to realize the information they seek.

As marketers, we spend a lot of time focusing on the former.  However, I think there is something to the latter to consider.  People are pretty savvy at cutting through the marketing results.  URLs are a dead give away as to who is providing the information which can be pro or con depending on what the person is attempting to know or do.  Long tail searchers are more indicative of researchers trying to educate themselves and are looking for trusted sources.  Thus, moving deeper into search results let’s them move beyond perceived biased information driven by savvy marketing.  But, if you’ve ever gone more than a couple pages deep, you know search titles become more and more irrelevant and vague with a few gold nuggets thrown in.  Thus, the title of your blog is even more important to stand out from the pack.

For acquisition strategies, best practices for SEO/SEM are still the way to go.  If you want to cultivate a market and reach deep grabbing customers at the beginning of their consideration process, having a better understanding of long tail search and the ability to stand out after primary search pages is key.  Not all of your blogs will be able to stay at the top of search results over time, but a good number of steady pullers in your portfolio will help attract visitors over time and help them become more aware of what you have to offer.  Pick a strong blog title to stand out.

Filed under: blogging, social media, social media marketing, , , , ,

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