Posts Tagged ‘B2B’


How to Use Instagram for B2B Brand Management

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
flickr user Jason Howie under CC BY License

flickr user Jason Howie under CC BY License

As a visual medium, Instagram is a product-friendly social media platform. But for B2B brands, leveraging such a visual platform is more of a challenge, especially if you offer a service, not a product. Plenty of B2Bs successfully use Instagram for brand management and user engagement, and while it’s not appropriate for every B2B, there are ways to make it work. And since Instagram is now in the top ten social networks, it’s a valuable marketing tool, so here are some tips for maximizing your B2B Instagram potential.

Remember the goal

The goal of putting your brand on Instagram is not to generate sales or leads; the purpose of Instagram is brand engagement, awareness, and management. Using Instagram may not even increase your blog traffic by much – if at all – since links aren’t live. So make sure your goals are in line with the reality of the platform, and that if you’re going to put in the effort, it’s a platform conducive to your brand.

Take compelling images

Don’t go posting grainy, under-lit photos; make sure whoever is in charge of the Instagram account knows how to take and edit a photo. Learn about basic composition, and try out some free photo editing apps like Snapseed or VSCO Cam. If your organization has a photographer on staff, get them to take pictures and send to the person in charge of Instagram.

Share your company culture

If your organization volunteers, goes on team outings, or attends a lot of industry events, Instagram is the place to post shots of the fun in action. Think of it as displaying the human side of your brand and promoting who you are as a community. This is an especially valuable tactic for brands that are very involved in the community and/or host a lot of events. For a B2B brand that has a very active, well-done Instagram, check out Cisco’s account.

Get creative

Think beyond your services to your brand values and your customers. How do your clients benefit from your service, and how do those fit in with brand values? FedEx’s Instagram shows their vehicles around the world delivering packages, but also uses a visually stunning – and sometimes amusing – format. Don’t be afraid to think beyond your brand and hijack a trend or two, like FedEx did with last fall’s hit song “What does the fox say?”

Fedex Instagram What Does the Box say BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas B2B Instagram

#Hashtag

Just like Twitter, Instagram is no place to skimp on the hashtags. They’re what make you discoverable, since search functions are only by user name or hashtag. Consistent use of relevant hashtags will help your content succeed, but don’t go overboard – stick to five hashtags. Beyond that and you’re annoying or spammy.

Hold contests

If your brand regularly holds contests or giveaways, start moving them to Instagram to grow engagement on that platform. Advertise them on other platforms, but make part of the contest include commenting or liking a photo. This drives engagement and helps build up and retain a base audience.

What Instagram strategies does your B2B use? How has Instagram worked – or not – for you?

Mapping Best Practices for B2B Public Relations

Friday, November 29th, 2013

Businessman and business sketchAt the PRSA International Conference a few weeks ago, I attended my colleague Johna Burke’s talk about best practices in B2B public relations. She focused on several important areas that will always be key to our evolving industry.

Many departments within an organization have a methodical workflow. Accounting and procurement departments have a clear definition of their tasks, and they have a method for bringing in, assessing, and approving information,

PR departments and practitioners don’t exactly follow that type of workflow. Although they might create a template, or spreadsheet to plug in information, the template never quite ends up in its original shape.

PR practitioners are tasked with creating a workflow that provides clear direction for their organization. Everyone from customer service and administrative staff to C-suite executives need to understand what public relations workflow looks like, or what to expect under normal daily operating conditions.

Key to developing an effective communications plan is a firm grasp on the organization’s business strategy. Whether that strategy is education, driving sales and revenue, advertising, public relations, or marketing, understanding that focus allows PR practitioners to develop a workflow that focuses on an organization’s overarching corporate goals.

Integral to the business strategy is an understanding of the organization’s financial statements. Understanding a company’s profit and loss statement effectively aligns PR workflow and department objectives. Public companies produce quarterly and annual financial statements. Look for it, whether it’s publicly or internally available, and study it, because everything ties into to funding.

Do the research yourself. While educating yourself and your staff on your company’s financials, do the same with your competitor. Think twice about hiring someone outside of your organization to gather intelligence; you are your most effective resource.

In researching your competitor, don’t go for the thirty-thousand-foot overview. It’s too easy to misinterpret your market. Also, it’s critical to market against a competitor’s reality, not their myth, or your perception of their overarching goals. Know their concepts, understand their message. Understanding their marketing materials and how your competitor is spending money is equally beneficial to your overall success. The time you put into understanding all of these elements will provide the intelligence to back up what you will ultimately need to sell to your C-suite.

Next, study your customer. How do they find you?  What does their daily organic search look like? How do they get to your product or service? Are you creating SEO interesting enough to speak to your audience and capture your service or product’s attention?

That static audience no longer exists. Understand why people are using each platform and what they’re doing with the information. Are your followers influencers? Can they help your business? Are they able to cause action? How do you communicate with them?

Create thought leadership around the topics your followers have posted. Look for themes around the content you’ve created, or the content displayed about you. This provides an opportunity to invite followers interested in a topic that’s related to your service, product or industry. Create a saturated market by looking at what surrounds your brand and how those themes tie in.

Take an open-mined look at the conversations around your content. Ask someone else in your organization to interpret your message and help you clarify your message.

Talk to your audience. Talk to your advocates, the people who have had a good experience with your product or service. Reach out to your badvocates, those who have had a bad experience and need to be reconverted. Acknowledge the trolls – those posters, who no matter what are going to be out there spewing venom.. Instead, classify them and if necessary, call them out with, “Dear Troll, we know you don’t like us, however, you are not our target audience, so what we’re saying doesn’t resonate with you, but thank you for the comment, we so appreciate your feedback.” Ultimately people connect with people behind the message, not with brands or the message themselves.

The Future of Public Relations: Seizing the Opportunity

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Bulldog Media Relations Summit Virtual Conference: The Future of Public Relations Seizing OpportunityI wasn’t able to attend this year’s Bulldog Reporter’s Media Relations Summit workshop (in New York) in person earlier this month. However, I did have the opportunity to attend virtually. 

Speakers for the panel “The Future of Public Relations: Seizing the Opportunity” consisted of:

  • Aedhmar Hynes, CEO of Text 100
  • Matt Harrington, president and CEO of Edelman U.S.
  • Peter Land, SVP, communications, at PepsiCo Beverages Americas
  • Martin Murtland, VP, solutions for corporate communications for Dow Jones Inc.

I’ve listed some of the key points that I heard in the podcast. (NOTE: Unfortunately since there was only audio and no video, I was unable to keep track of exactly who was speaking at some times – so my apologies, in advance, to the panel if I’ve not credited you with your quotes.)

Hynes talked about marketing, advertising, public relations, etc. all being separate departments with separate budgets, as this is the business model that’s served well in the past. However, in reality, the future of the industry is about communicating the brand of the organization. What are the goals as a whole and what are the skill sets that match those strategic goals? This is the time for organizations to think about the fundamental concept of moving away from managing information or news to shaping and directing conversation.

Companies must influence the influencers. The concept of third-party advocacy has never been more important than it is now.

As in any discussion of PR these days, the conversation moved to changes in ROI and measurement and analytics. We all know we should get away from ad value equivalency, but what do we use in its place (aside from media value)?  How do you know your campaign is a success?  There are many tools out there that measure “online buzz.” Yet what does that really mean?  It goes back to where you start – when you set your goals, they must be measurable. Measurable goals will drive your reporting and allow you to determine which strategies were successful.   

So, what does the future look like for public relations?

  • PR now has more opportunity and voice as it relates to corporate strategy. In other words, PR professionals are gaining more access to the C-suite.
  • The future (of PR) is about confidence and being nimble. According to Land, we must be able to move incredibly fast and confident to walk into our CEO’s office and make suggestions.
  • The move away from “agency of record” was briefly discussed because corporations have multiple needs (e.g., advertising, digital, creative, B2B, direct to consumer, etc.)  
  • The next decade in public relations is predicted to be the most exciting in history thus far. It may seem like it’s “back to the future,” as some have lost sight of fundamental best practices, but we must now come back to this strategic consulting in shaping views, per Hynes.

What would you add? What does the future of PR look like in your mind’s eye? If you attended the conference virtually, what are some of the points you took away from it. Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

Social Media Success for the Small and Middle Market

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Gail Nelson
Recently, I read The Cost– And Payoff — Of Investing In Social Media by the freelance writer Lydia Dishman. She reported on how small businesses owners could participate in and benefit from social media. One entrepreneur was quoted as saying, “Previously wasted downtime like sitting in taxis for 20 minutes or standing in a bank line for 10 minutes is now spent on my mobile phone, bouncing between Twitter and Facebook. It’s getting easier and easier, and for branding an entrepreneur, I think it’s golden.”

71918615_14resizeforblog2.jpgOn the other end of the spectrum lie the investments large companies make in social media. If you watch any TV at all, it’s likely you’ve seen BestBuy’s pricey TV ads designed to spread the word about Twelpforce – a cadre of staff providing customer assistance via Twitter.

So what does social media success require? Simply a long commute and a smartphone, or a major restructuring of the business? Of course, the scale and type of effort depends on the size of your organization, its business goals, and other factors, but it’s a question many B2B PR and marketing pros are wrestling with right now. It reminds me a bit of the customer relationship management (CRM) revolution of yore: As with CRM, social media burrows into the heart of company’s interactions with its clients, and like CRM, getting to a winning strategy is a journey.

I’m happy to report that I’ll be participating on the panel of a free Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) webinar exploring what really works for the “meaty middle” of the market – companies with more than one employee but less than the 10,000+ of an IBM. During Overview of Business Applications of Social Media (part of a webinar series on social media in a B2B setting), I’ll be sharing the BurrellesLuce experience with the social media revolution – our sales, marketing, PR, and customer service goals, our program results, and a word about our clients.

Joining me are some top-notch PR and marketing executives: Angela Lauria, CMO of AppAssure, will present her company’s case study. Jeff Majka, Director of Marketing and Business Development at the national PR firm Strategic Communications Group, will offer insights based on his firm’s work for its portfolio of clients. Guiding the session is Karen Leavitt, CEO of Marketing Fusion. Here’s where to register for the September 8 webinar. Hope to see you there!

How Do You Bridge the Gap Between LinkedIn and Twitter?

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Gail Nelson
A recent Mashable blog post outlined the different ways to apply Twitter and Facebook to your social media strategy and described how the author, Soren Gordhamer, uses each platform. For B2B marketers, though – many of whom have grown up with LinkedIn – that social network remains important.

I started to wonder, with Twitter gaining traffic every day, how do PR and marketing pros balance their use of LinkedIn and Twitter? I ran a quick, one-question poll earlier this week on both LinkedIn and Twitter, and this is what I found:

twitterlinkedin.jpg

As expected, the preferences of the 58 folks who answered the question at the time of this post differed a bit based on whether they accessed the Twitter poll or the LinkedIn poll.  For example:

  • More than half (56 percent) of the Twitter poll respondents used both, but preferred Twitter.
  • LinkedIn respondents were more likely to say they used both and found them equally useful.

(For those of you looking to run a poll on these services — perhaps more scientifically than I did — consider using LinkedIn. It has good free tools and, for a fee, the ability to target the right people inside and outside of your network. But for a full-fledged survey, I still like SurveyMonkey. )

For insight into the Twitter versus LinkedIn issue, I asked two successful users of both services to weigh in.  

Kent Huffman, CMO at BearCom Wireless and author of the soon-to-be launched SystemicMarketing.com (Twitter: @KentHuffman LinkedIn: Kent Huffman), has built a large community of marketers. Here’s what he had to say:   

“I spend about the same amount of time on Twitter and LinkedIn. Twitter has been a great tool for finding like-minded professionals and initiating relationships. By contrast, I’ve found LinkedIn and its associated groups to be ideal for sharing more in-depth conversations and relating on a deeper level. Both forums have helped connect me to some awesome people who have become great colleagues and even better friends.”

Johna Burke, Vice President at BurrellesLuce and Southern Region Chair for IABC (Twitter: @gojohnab LinkedIn: gojohnab ), said:

“I find them equally useful, but my contacts are different on both networks and I use them for varying purposes. There are significant distinctions in how I share and engage on each network. I update Twitter more frequently and send and receive on average 25 direct messages each day. I have an average three emails daily through LinkedIn, but then talk – yes “old school talk,” – to at least a couple LinkedIn contacts each week.

“That said, there is still some industry cross-over in both networks and when there is something relevant I will post an update to multiple platforms via ping.fm. There are other services, but this is the one I have found to be the easiest for me.”

As for me, I have found that as the time I spend on Twitter has accelerated, I check LinkedIn less often.

How do you participate in LinkedIn and Twitter? Are you phasing out one in favor of another? What is the best use of each?