Twitter for B2B Marketing: 5 tips

While 140 characters of text hardly seems enough to say much about anything, Twitter is a useful B2B marketing tool – especially when it comes to gaining insights about content and customers. With its simple publishing, connectivity with social media platforms, and capacity to track and measure engagement, Twitter is a great tool for curating, sharing & testing content.

Here are 5 tips to get the most out of Twitter:

Its not all about you Too many businesses use their Twitter stream like a one-way pipe, pumping out dreck best left for an in-house corporate newsletter. (“Our new product launch is just 16 months away!”). Don’t link to your own stuff all the time. The web is a big place full of things that are of interest to your potential customers. Link to those things from your Twitter stream and folks will be more likely to follow you. And less likely to unfollow you.
 
Don’t be vanilla Don’t use the plain vanilla Twitter page background that came with your sign-up. It’s a sure sign that you don’t care. Upload your own background to make your page inviting, engaging, professional. Even the free ones are nice. Add your company logo, or your own photo, in your profile area in the top right corner of your page. Then link to your website or blog. Okay, there’s room for only one live link, not much space for text—and none for pictures—in your profile area. But that shouldn’t stop you.
 
Follow people to get followers A quick way to get followers list is to follow people. Search for analysts, publications and influencers in your market and follow them. Then follow their followers. Search related keywords and #hashtags (like #B2B) to find other tweets in your category and follow their authors. Now watch your tweet stream, who’s joining in the conversation and follow the accounts with something useful to add. Not everyone you follow will follow you back, but a lot will.
 
Schedule your tweets Start with 2-3 tweets a day. Use a tool like Hootsuite to bulk schedule your tweets in advance. Don’t send them all at once but trickle them out and test different times of day. You might have a morning, afternoon or evening audience or even followers in a different time-zone. You can tweet in real time too, but scheduling ensures a steady stream and let’s you post tweets more efficiently and strategically.
 
Use your analytics Here’s where you get the insights that makes Twitter so useful. Use a tool like Hootsuite to track how many people mentioned or clicked on your link. While retweets and mentions might suggest if you’re on the right track, clicks are a better measure of content engagement.

More B2B Marketing Resources

Visit the BrainRider Knowledge Center for lots of free tools and best practices.

B2B Marketing: How To Get More Customers Using Social Media

Research from ITSMA and others has been highlighting how the B2B buying process is changing.  For example over 75% of tech buyers are using Social Media like LinkedIn and blogs as part of the buying process and buyers are making use of search tools like Google which often deliver Social Media results.

A recent example from Booze & Company’s B2B Marketing Survey 2010 highlights how B2B marketers are changing their marketing mix to follow this trend.

Growth of B2B Marketing Spend Shifting to Social Media and Digital

The benefits of using social media in your B2B marketing mix

While there is lots of buzz about Social Media and B2B the practical benefits of a marketing mix that includes Social Media are:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • More targeted market reach using your network
  • More qualified inbound traffic

And when combined with a best practice mix of content, programs and pipeline marketing tools like Pardot’s Prospect Insight, Social Media can capture more prospects and deliver more visibility into your pipeline.

Along with these practical benefits, softer benefits like anecdotal market insight, corporate openness, customer engagement, and hearing what your customers are saying can also be valuable but BrainRider starts by focusing on how to use Social Media to attract and convert more customers.

The challenges in using Social Media for B2B

But social media also has some significant challenges.  We often work with mid-market companies who compete based on specialized knowledge or expertise–not price. That implies a longer buying cycle, a very targeted market and a need to focus their marketing resources.  For these client’s Social Media can be a challenge because of:

  • The large number of options and platforms
  • The demand for marketing content
  • The investment needed to manage a real-time environment
  • A lack of integration with their pipeline and sales process

However with the right approach these challenges can be managed and you can access the benefits of using Social Media as part of your marketing mix.

A best practice approach: Outposts and Anchors

Our recommendation is a low-hanging fruit approach designed to expand your reach and presence while managing your investment and channelling all your leads into your pipeline.  This B2B specific approach is based on Chris Brogan’s thinking about Social Media outposts and anchors but it has been tailored to fit the needs of our clients.

First, think of your Social Media presence as a series of marketing “outposts” setup in channels where your potential buyers are active and where search engines index for results.  This is a version of the age old recommendation to go where your customers are.

B2B Social Media strategy, LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogging, RSS

Use these outposts to share content designed to connect with prospects at each stage of their decision-making process.  This content can be re-used in multiple formats, types and outposts but it should be focused on what your customers want to know and your value proposition.  And because many Social Media channels can syndicate their content through feeds you can often efficiently post and cross-reference your content across multiple outposts automatically.   This is a smart way to efficiently reduce the time it takes to expand your Social Media presence.

We often recommend starting with a combination of Twitter, LinkedIn, SlideShare, and blogging.  These four social media channels are low hanging opportunities for most companies and they work well together.  But ask your customers what they are using and experiment with new channels as they get on your radar.  But don’t forget in each of these cases, the purpose of these outposts is to quickly connect with your prospects using light content and direct them into your pipeline by using an anchor offering more valuable content.

(To get you started here is a quick post on how to setup your LinkedIn profile to act as an outpost.)

Next create an “anchor” on your own website (BrainRider’s anchor is our https://brainrider.com/knowledge-center) .  Your anchor should be designed to help your prospects quickly find more interesting thinking, knowledge, and expertise as well as to encourage them to easily opt-into for access to even more content.   And because they are now on your website, you can use digital analytics and marketing automation tools to track a specific prospect’s interest in a subject area and nurture them through the decision process with additional relevant content.  Click here for some thoughts on nurturing best practice.

As more and more research is showing, Social Media can be an important part of your marketing mix, I hope this post and the outpost and anchor approach is helpful in getting you get started.  For more information or to discuss your specific needs please feel free to contact us.


For more insight on Social Media, B2B Marketing, and the Booz & Company research Courtney Wiley, Director of Digital Marketing over at INgage Networks has a terrific blog post looking at this trend and she leverages her own practical knowledge to share 7 great tips on what you can do for your own marketing efforts.

Or check out our resource center.

B2B Lead Generation Leveraging Social Media

There are some really great questions being asked online these days about the performance of social media in B2B lead generation.

Questions like:

  • Are you happy with the results you’re getting through social media?
  • Are your efforts on Twitter and Linkedin paying off?
  • How many leads have you generated? Are they converting to paying customers?
  • For those who are getting results, what has created the breakthrough for you?

Here are some of our answers: (more…)

Twitter for business: If you don’t know these 4 things, your business will never succeed on Twitter.

 

1. Twitter is a real live back and forth conversation, not a radio broadcast from 1937.

Too many businesses use their Twitter stream like a one-way pipe, pumping out dreck best left for an in-house corporate newsletter. (“Our new product launch is just 16 months away!”)

Full of puffery, selling too hard, self-absorbed, trivial, using ‘we’ language. (“We’re all going to the conference today. The cab stinks!”)

Don’t link to your own stuff all the time. The web is a big place full of things that are of interest to your potential customers. Link to those things from your Twitter stream and folks will be more likely to follow you. And less likely to unfollow you.

Twitter is your forum to engage customers, both current and prospective: some happy, some bored, some angry. Use the Twitter search bar on your home page to save searches about your own company.

If you’re not big enough to generate third-party tweets, at least pay attention to what people are saying on relevant business topics you know something about. Then get into the conversation.

Talk to people. Listen to what they say. Then talk some more. You can do it. You never know where it might lead.

Whole Foods engages customers on Twitter better than anyone.

JetBlue Airways, too.

And here’s Frank Eliason, the man behind Comcast Cares.

 

2. You can’t succeed on Twitter wearing a paper bag over your head.

Don’t use the plain vanilla Twitter page background that came with your sign-up. It’s a sure sign that you don’t care. Upload your own background to make your page inviting, engaging, professional. Even the free ones are nice.

Add your company logo, or your own photo, in your profile area in the top right corner of your page.

Then link to your website or blog. Okay, there’s room for only one live link, not much space for text—and none for pictures—in your profile area. But that shouldn’t stop you.

Customize your look. Use the left sidebar to display pictures of your people, email addresses, what your company does, and more.

Bring your page to life. Looking good matters, just like it did in high school.

Look at what Verizon has done with Twitter.

Here’s Darren Rowse, problogger.

And Shaquille O’Neal.

And BrainRider.

3. Twitter is not the bulletin board in your company lunchroom.

Don’t fill your Twitter stream with stuff that no one outside your company cares about. It’s a public space, and people are free to come and go as they please.

Twitter is more like a hotel lobby. It’s your reception area, it’s your storefront, it’s a handshake, a business lunch, a non-stop around the clock business convention where every encounter holds the promise of a referral, or even a sale.

But that doesn’t mean you should be pushy. Be polite. Relax. Smile. Shine your shoes and make a good impression. Make your mother proud of you.

Be interesting. Be topical. Be controversial. Be informed, inquisitive, smart, funny, and even though you’re on Twitter for business, don’t be impersonal. Be human.

Like Chris Brogan.

Or Scott Monty, for Ford.

Or Tim Walker, for Hoovers.

4. People don’t suddenly become more gullible just because they’re on Twitter.

Don’t push a system guaranteed to get a million Twitter followers in a week. Don’t spam. Don’t use exclamation points!!! DON’T USE ALL CAPS!!!

Don’t troll for Retweets by sending out automated pre-loaded Tweets quoting Abraham Lincoln every two minutes: “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”

Don’t link to your own website all the time. (Even though you’re linking with tiny URLs, Twitter knows. You’ll look like a spammer.)

Don’t send out automated Direct Message thank you notes to new followers: “Hi, [your name goes here], thanks for following! Your website is amazing! Visit mine [link] to buy my stuff TODAY!!!”

Treat people the way you’d like to be treated.

Like Starbucks.

Or Kodak.

Or Lance Armstrong.