B2B blogs are still a relevant part of your social media marketing strategy

What are the Top Ten Sources for Creating Fresh Blog Content?

With all the fuss surrounding Google+, Facebook, and Twitter, one would think that blogs were soon to be a dying breed for communication. After all, since 2006, surveys on social media use like that from Pew Research have found that young adults are opting more for micro-blogging rather than the effort it takes to support a full-blown blog. It seems that it is easier to write 140 characters with short bursts of random thought.

But to the surprise of many, blogs have not yet gone the way of 8 track tapes, VHS cassettes and Polaroid cameras. As of the writing of this post, BlogPulse reports that there are 166,034,259 identified blogs. In fact, over the last 24 hours there were 86,652 new blogs created and 1,059,390 new blog posts indexed.

Face it – Readers on the Internet are rabidly searching for one thing – relevant content that speaks to their interests, concerns and pain points. Yet, not all readers are the same regarding the style & tone of content they seek. Young readers are satisfied with the short bursts of information that they find with their friends on social networks. Meanwhile older readers, especially readers within business, are seeking content that is more substantive.

And this is where a corporate blog fits in with your social media marketing strategy. B2B buyers are searching for content to help them solve complex issues within their business. There is simply not enough room within the 420 characters of Facebook and 140 characters of Twitter to supply the necessary content.

But for B2B blogs to be relevant and drive traffic, the blog must constantly be updated with fresh content. Good blogs are refreshed with at least one new post every week. Excellent blogs are refreshed three or more times a week.

So how is the B2B marketing team to keep up with the demand for fresh content to maintain the credibility with their blog’s subscribers? What sources of content should marketing turn to?

Top ten sources for creating substantive blog content:

1. Search Engine Audit: Often times, marketing conducts a search audit in order to develop a keyword list for search engine ranking. But a search audit conducted on a monthly basis can help you uncover a long list of potential topics for weekly blog posts. Use Google Adwords Keyword Tool to discover what keyword phrases are being churned by your target audience. Then find the significance of these searches using tools like Radian 6.

2. Social Media Audit: B2B marketing teams should subscribe to industry blogs and discussion forums. Find ways to add value to the topics being discussed. Write posts that move the conversation forward and link them back to the industry blogs and forums.

3. Social Networking: Take part in the discussions found within LinkedIn Groups, Facebook fan pages, and Twitter feeds. As you join the conversation, you will find your next blog post topic in the banter back and forth between participants.
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Google builds a Field of Dreams – But will they come?

The Google+ Field of Dreams. They built it, but will they come?

The Google+ Field of Dreams. Google built it, but will they come?

When Google+ was announced with it’s exclusive invitation-only registration, it invited many social media watchers and practitioners to question the timing of Google and its launch into building a social networking environment.  The question was simple… “So Google built it, but will they come?”

After all, it is right to question whether users will want to migrate to Google’s social network. Consider Facebook’s counter to the hype surrounding the Google+ launch when Mark Zuckerberg held his own hype conference on July 6 with his “Something Awesome” announcement.  During this quasi news conference, Zuckerberg confirmed that Facebook has finally surpassed 750 million registrants.  An impressive number of participants, but Zuckerberg also insisted that these numbers are steadily rising and could shortly break the one billion mark.

But Zuckerberg was not finished.  Beyond the numbers hype, he went on to show that Facebook is fully capable of matching Google+ feature by feature.  Before the masses even had the opportunity to experience the advanced group video conferencing held within Google+, Facebook put Google on notice with its pronouncement of its partnership with Skype.  Though not group video conferencing, it is believed that Facebook will crack this soon with the help of its new Skype friends.

So if Facebook is able to counter the features found in Google+ and continue to delight its users with robust functionality – why would its registrants want to migrate to another social networking environment?  We’ve heard of the exodus of mass populations before within the social networking world.  Remember when MySpace was the rage? They were a first mover into the social networking space, but failed to understand where it all was heading.

Unlike MySpace, Facebook listened to its users and kept itself nimble enough to make shifts in its business and enable applications that its mass population wanted.  A true visionary, Facebook used it’s Like button not to focus on where its audience was, but where it wanted to be.  The Like button had became a powerful tool for Facebook’s own success.  With Facebook’s culture of listening and responding quickly to the Likes of its audience, how will Google+ be able to divert this Facebook juggernaut and drive users to its own social environment?

Furthermore, why would millions of users want to juggle two social networking environments? As an avid social networking user, I myself manage profiles and relationships on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and must even keep up my own blog.  I know the time it takes to keep these networks current and relevant for my own social and business contacts.  And the biggest question is… if I set up a Google+ profile and my Facebook friends or LinkedIn network are not there, who am I going to interact with?

This points the finger right back to Google+. Sure, Google is a juggernaut in its own right.  No one can argue with Google’s success. It continues its reign as the number one search engine with 65% of search market share.  Its nearest rivals are Yahoo sites with 15.9% share and Microsoft sites at 14.4%.  Facebook is nowhere on this map.

But Google has had its share of failures.  Consider Google Wave … it was supposed to bring us a new age in email that some hailed as Email 2.0. Google wanted to reinvent email by transforming it into a hosted conversation that was more social … not linear and fragmented.  Rather than multiple copies of emails floating around, it was one fluid conversation.  Google Wave users could start an email conversation with a business partner, for example, and then invite another colleague to join the conversation.  The new participant could view the conversation in real time and also use a playback tool to see the whole conversation.  Brilliant right?

Yes, Google Wave was brilliant, but many critics say its execution was its own downfall.  Google insisted on a policy of invite-only exclusivity making it difficult to use with groups.  Users were not able to invite their colleagues, making it impossible for businesses to test and adopt.  Furthermore, Google did not include notifications in Google Wave to alert users on changes in the conversation.  Users had to go back and check to see how the conversation had evolved.  With Google Wave, Google had built a brilliant Field of Dreams, but no one came.

+1 is the #1 reason why users will come to the Google+ Field of Dreams and rival the likes of Facebook

Google +1

+1 is the new math for marketing's search strategies - search plus social

Now, Google has learned from its failures with Google Wave.  Yes, like Google Wave, it started the launch of Google+ with an invitation-only campaign. But to the delight of social networking users, it has been a more relaxed process that enables early users to invite their social networks.  Google has made it easy to tap into your Yahoo and Hotmail address books.  Furthermore, conversations occurring within Google+ come with email notifications alerting participants of changes within a conversation. And if you don’t want the annoyance of regular notifications, you easily mute the conversation with the click of a mouse.  So Google is off to a good start. Read the rest of this entry »

The Google Panda Update Interview: Search strategist warns against fast and easy SEO link tactics – Focus on building reputation with quality content

Google has updated its algorithms twice in the last three months with what is known as the Panda Update.  Many businesses are now saying that Panda has caused their search engine rankings to tank, while others are watching their rankings improve.  Some marketing teams are scrambling to make the necessary changes to avoid being penalized by these new SEO algorithms.  But could the cure simply be a matter of producing regular quality content and building a broad social media profile?

Recently, I interviewed search strategist, Judith Lewis, who is head of search and online reputation management strategies at Beyond and writes regularly for SEO Chicks as a blogger. In the following interview, Lewis warns against thin content and and encourages marketing teams to build a stronger social media profile.

New Age Marketing: What is the Google Panda Update? Should marketing departments be concerned about it for their SEO strategy?

Judith Lewis: Google’s Panda Update isn’t a normal algorithm update.  This is a manually run quality filter applied to websites, which will change how they rank depending on how Google perceives the content of the page.  Therefore if this “update”/filter is run against the database of Google-indexed websites, it is adding some sort of ‘quality score’ to each page which then affects ranking.  This ‘quality score’ isn’t calculated on the fly, nor each time a page is re-spidered – it is only rechecked then the filter is again applied.

New Age Marketing: What is the second Panda Update and what did it cover that wasn’t covered in the first update?

Judith Lewis: The second Panda Update is a little unique.  What happened is after the first Panda update they went and looked at what the fallout was.  They saw who gained, who lost and who stayed the same that they felt should have lost.  They then tweaked the filter and ran it again.  The fact it is a manually run filter is the biggest worry for me.  No matter what if you get hit you have a minimum 4 week wait it seems to see whether your content is up to scratch.  I’ve heard of sites with completely unique content getting done simply because they sell their own ads direct.  It seems a little too strict in prioritizing non-commercial content over e-commerce (boy am I glad I never placed any ads on MostlyAboutChocolate.com !!)

New Age Marketing: Why did Google come up with the Panda Update? What was the issue they were trying to solve?

Judith Lewis: The cynical part of me says it was aimed at a particular publisher who was churning out content of questionable value targeted at the long tail.  The practical part of me thinks that they were trying to address an imbalance in the search results and the vast numbers of people who had chosen to block certain search results in order to deliver a better experience to all.  The optimistic part of me thinks that they were trying to make the search results a better place for everyone.  A fairer, nicer, better place.

I think the truth lies in a combination of all of them.  Google noticed that the search results were becoming polluted, tried to identify the lower value search results through CTR, blocking and preferences and then created a manually applied filter which attempted to get rid of those results and leave the search results pages less cluttered with low value content, thus promoting what it saw as authoritative, quality content.

New Age Marketing: What is the impact of the Panda Update on search marketing?

Judith Lewis: The impact is that some 12% of the sites, which were delivering results to searchers, have found that their traffic has dropped dramatically.  Some have had small drops of 10% and some have seen drops of more with some reports I’ve heard reporting a shocking 90% loss of traffic from search – however those could be apocryphal.

New Age Marketing: What do marketing teams have to do differently in their Website design and content?

Judith Lewis: What marketing has to do differently is to stop chasing fast and easy rankings and build reputation.  It’s the same old things I’ve been harping on about for years only this time it isn’t just best practice – it’s also to avoid a penalty.

In their wisdom, Google have tried to offer “innocent” and novice webmasters some advice.  If you read it carefully, you’ll see how authority and social elements may be being introduced as part of this experiment as Google can’t possibly run a program which can judge authority and expertise in a subject but they can correlate the number of re-tweets, comments, books written, etc. and estimate likelihood of authenticity. Read the rest of this entry »

Your readers expect a lot from your B2B corporate blog …

So you’ve launched your B2B corporate blog. Suddenly, however, you have come to grips that this new channel of communication could be a considerable undertaking on the part of your marketing team.  You built the corporate blog to boost awareness, shape thought leadership and ultimately to gain followers, but to reach these objectives the maintenance of the blog could drain a lot of time and resources necessary for the success of other marketing initiatives.

And the amount of effort and energy it takes to make your B2B corporate blog successful should be taken seriously.  After all, to gain your readers’ trust you must provide quality content that meets their high expectations.  The target audience for your blog expects to receive:

  • Exclusive and meaningful commentary that aligns with their interests and critical pain points;
  • Insights into the latest industry news to help them make business decisions;
  • Useful tips to help them solve problems within their organization; and
  • Engaging dialogue and community.

Coupled with the expectations of your readers is the scrutiny of the search engines.  Search engines are constantly crawling for fresh content and reward only those corporate blogs that are regularly updated with keyword rich content – but to achieve the rewards you must update with fresh posts at least 2 to 3 times per week.

So with all the other responsibilities and expectations placed upon B2B marketing teams, how can you manage the production of content for your corporate blog – especially if your organization is a smaller startup?

You could outsource the content and rely on external agencies.  But then you run into the effort of training the agencies to understand your offering in order to write the content.  Furthermore, articles written from an agency place your brand at risk as poorly written posts may lack authenticity and authority. If you work for a large B2B operation, you may also choose to hire a team of internal content writers for your blog, but marketing budgets at most organizations are not this lavish.

To boost the influence and presence of your corporate blog, the content must be consistent, fresh and regularly updated, but must be credible, believable, and written with authority.  So another alternative is to recruit a volunteer team of content writers who are made up of internal staff from multiple departments across your organization.

Managing your corporate blog writers like an editorial news team

1. Creating the Blog Editorial Team
To increase your content output, consider nurturing a team of writers that could be made up of company staff from Sales Engineering, Product Marketing, Product Management, Resource & Development, and Service Delivery.  Members of these departments are experts in their field and are already authorities on the key issues and critical pain points that your target audience is trying to solve.

Any one person from the above-mentioned departments might view writing weekly content for a corporate blog as a daunting task that hinders them from doing their day-to-day job.  So you as the coordinator of the Blog Editorial Team should recruit and coach 10 to 15 staff members who would be required to contribute only two posts per month. These posts can range in word count from 250 to 400 words.  This practice would provide you with a storehouse of content – while limiting writer fatigue. Read the rest of this entry »

B2B marketing must take email off the endangered species list.
We’ve heard a lot about the dynamic growth of social media and its impact on B2B marketing initiatives altogether.  It is shaping the behaviors of B2B buyers as they search industry communities, social networks and blogs for relevant content that helps them achieve their business objectives or solve an organizational problem.

The influence of social media causes these B2B decision makers to expect more out of the organizations they do business with.  They want interaction and a two-way dialogue and an end to the former shotgun approach of the email blast.

But this does not spell the extinction of email.  B2B marketers have learned hard lessons in the last few years.  The best practitioners have eliminated indiscriminate email blasts and now incorporate strict methods for permission-based email marketing.  The mandate of our new social audience dictates it.

Email Marketing Trends for 2011
And now there are some interesting trends coming to the forefront that give B2B marketing more incentive to communicate to a social audience via email.  A few weeks ago, ShareThis released its report that measured the sharing and clicking habits of more than 300 million people a month – and there is something that stood out.

The report points to the fact that Facebook accounts for more than 38% of sharing traffic.  It is believed that sharing traffic accounts for an estimated 10 percent of Internet traffic and 31 percent of referral sites from search and social.  But more significant than Facebook is the fact that Email held its own in second place – owning 17 percent of sharing traffic over the likes of Twitter, which accounted for only 11 percent.

To underscore this, comScore released its email usage report earlier this year that could convince B2B marketing to boost its budget for email promotions.  The report found that though Web-based email is down 6 percent, Mobile-based email usage is on the rise. In fact, the number of people who check their email every day via mobile devices has grown from 31.1 million to 43.5 million users – an increase of a whopping 40 percent.

And if those two statistics are not enough to convince the skeptics of the efficacy of email marketing, consider the fact that a good number of B2B decision makers are not using Web-based email in their communications.  These B2B buyers are receiving content via company-based email.  No one could suggest that company-based email is declining since this form of asynchronous messaging is still a large part of business communications.

Today’s readers want content & community
Rather than trying to drive the nail into the coffin for email marketing, B2B marketers should focus on what works.  Email can actually be a very effective tool in your social media strategy as long as it is:

  • Relevant – providing content that your target audience values,
  • Personalized – segmented according to your audience’s interests, and
  • Permission-based – subscribed to by your audience.

Ultimately, if the email follows these rules and leads readers to valuable content and community, email marketing is not dead… it’s thrives.

8 Practical tips to integrate email with your B2B social media strategy

1. Make your email social friendly

  • At the top of your email newsletter, add share buttons enabling users to share email content on the social network of their choice.  Add social links enabling them to gain access to your company’s social fan pages and groups.
  • Store your email newsletter on your Web server like a Web page – then post the content on your social media sites. Read the rest of this entry »

LinkedIn has evolved into a powerful for tool for B2B marketing

Most of the successful technology, social media and social networking companies of our age start with a story of humble beginnings. We see it in the likes of computer giants like Microsoft and Apple, both of which began with their founders tinkering with computer electronics in their garages – knowing even then that the future of computing would be one of users sharing data and information electronically.

LinkedIn is no different in its story of humble beginnings as it started with an idea in the living room of co-founder Reid Hoffman in 2002. Launched even before there was a Facebook, LinkedIn founders believed in a dream of a social networking site that allowed business professionals to share a profile enabling an effective way where people could develop an extensive network of contacts to learn of jobs, business opportunities and connect with people.

This business networking revolution started upon the formal launch of LinkedIn in May of 2003. By the end of that month, LinkedIn had a total of 4,500 members in its network. But the network didn’t stop there.

Leap forward into March of 2011, LinkedIn announces that it has crossed the mark of 100 million registered users and that 1 million members are joining the LinkedIn network every week – equal to a business professional setting up a new profile every second. Sure, this is just a fraction of what Facebook has achieved in a shorter amount of time – with many social networking watchers predicting that Facebook could cross 1 billion users in 2012.

But the difference between the number of LinkedIn and Facebook users is not surprising. Facebook is more youth dominated – it’s about making and maintaining friendships and relationships. LinkedIn, on the other hand, attracts an older audience of professionals who are searching for business opportunities. Speaking of this search, LinkedIn reports that there were over 2 billion “people searches” on its business network in 2010.

So what has LinkedIn evolved into since its humble beginnings in 2003? Yes, it continues to be a powerful business networking tool where users can tap into their network of connections for referrals. It is also a job finding tool… my recent position in marketing came to me as a result of my LinkedIn connections.

But for B2B marketing, LinkedIn has become a commanding source for building awareness, increasing thought leadership, generating leads and nurturing community relationships with clients and prospects.

Six tips for integrating LinkedIn with your B2B marketing strategy for SEO and social media results

1. Create a LinkedIn Company Page: You may ask why your company needs a LinkedIn Company Page when you already have a Website. First, this is a company profile on record that functions similar to individual professional profiles. But unlike your Website, this company page taps into the power of word-of-mouth recommendations and trusted testimonials in a way that brings your brand and products to life. You can build tabs on your company page that include sections for a company overview, products & services, and careers. Here users can engage with your brand, read company blog posts and Twitter feeds, and read recommendations on your brand from people within their own networks. As you engage with this network, you and your customers / prospects are jointly building content that is ranking in the search engines – inevitably boosting your SEO results. Furthermore, you have access to analytics that provides you information on the composition of your followers so that you can know not only who they are … but what they were interested in when clicking on your Company Page.

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Higher expectations on B2B marketing to generate leads and assist in closing deals – Budgets increase for online video spending

Over the last three years, deep cuts in budgets have forced B2B marketing practitioners to become very judicious if not cautious about their marketing spend. Regardless of budget downsizing, however, the expectations from sales and the finance department were still high … they want more qualified leads that help sales close more deals.

To achieve this objective, marketing has conducted a strict audit of all the functioning systems within the marketing machine and unbolted any under-performing mechanisms. The driving factor? If the tactic doesn’t generate a lead or contribute to closing a deal – remove it.

As a result, we’ve seen a decline in the investment of things like trade shows and brand advertising and a dramatic shift toward increased spending on social media, search, content syndication and pay-per-click.

As we look at 2011, we see that B2B marketing spend is finally on the rise. A Forrester report points to a 6.7% rise in B2B marketing budgets compared to 2010. Could this mean that happy days are here again … and we can add some of the frills back to the marketing machine? Not so fast. B2B organizations still have high expectations that the marketing budget will be invested in the highest performing activities.

An interesting trend is forming for 2011 B2B marketing spend. According to a survey by BtoB Magazine, 62% of B2B marketers will increase their spending in social media, 57% in search, and 51% in online video.

Should B2B marketing invest time and resources in YouTube?

Operating within this scrutinous environment, marketing practitioners may wonder if YouTube should function as one of the moving parts within their leaner marketing machine.

Again, we must ask ourselves the question… Does YouTube help generate leads or contribute to closing a sale? And the answer is that YouTube is a powerful engine for building awareness, thought leadership, and even lead generation.

Awareness through Search: Most people think of YouTube as a platform for delivering online video content… but it is more than that. Over the last few years, YouTube has become the second largest search engine averaging nearly 28% of all Google searches… consistently ranking above Yahoo and Bing. To underscore this, a recent Forbes Insight survey on online video found that 52% of C-level decision-makers are watching business-related online video via YouTube.

Simply uploading videos to YouTube is not enough. To get video content found, B2B Marketers must take video SEO as seriously as they do for optimizing their other search initiatives.

Read the rest of this entry »

Online reading behaviors are changing – the effect on your content marketing strategy

Most practitioners in B2B marketing are familiar with the 3-30-3 rule when it comes to user online reading behavior.  It is foundational when executing your content marketing strategy in a digital age.

The idea is that once the viewer arrives at your online channel you have three seconds to convince the reader they’ve arrived at the right destination before they press the “back” button.  If you’ve arranged keywords phrases properly in your content, you then have another 30 seconds wherein which they will scan your content for further validation that they should read on.  If the reader finds valuable content in that 30 seconds, you may have possibly bought 3 more minutes of their time to convince them to act on your call to action.

With all of the distractions online for attention to content, it’s amazing to think that we even have as much time as the 3-30-3 rule implies.  To some extent, writers of content are writing for a mass audience with attention deficit disorder.

And who can blame the readers for their lack of attention? By February of 2011, the Netcraft survey placed the number of Websites at over 284 million with millions of more sites added each month.  To add to this deluge of content, The Nielsen Company in February reported that there are now more than 156 million public blogs in existence. We are literally swamped with content.

Aside from the quantity of sites available, online channels have reshaped the reading behaviors of potential viewers.  The fact is that online readers aren’t reading word for word.  They are scanning content.  According to research by the Nielsen Norman Group, it is highly likely that the readers who spend any amount of time with your online content are only reading 20% during their visit.   Today’s readers want instant satisfaction.  They are skimming your content – only absorbing the headlines and subheadings as they seek the information that they want.

Underscoring this is the research that finds people read slower online compared to print.  Reading on computer screens causes eye fatigue reducing reading speeds by 25% compared to print.  Even with the Kindle and the iPad, it is found that readers are 6.2% slower in their reading than in print.

So with all of these competing factors for attention and deficits in online reading, what is a B2B marketing team to consider when developing their content strategy?

9 steps to developing a successful content strategy in a digital age

1. Know your audience – develop personas: Before writing and positioning your content, conduct an audit of your target audience to fully understand their business needs. This should be done with a combination of surveys, interviews with clients, and social media audits of communities and forums.  Based upon this audit, develop personas to give a face and personality to your audience that highlights their interests and wants.  This is more than demographic information.  It’s an understanding of what keeps them awake at night.  You’ll find it easier to position your solution in the content you write when you have a more intimate close-up view of your audience.  Read the rest of this entry »

Email is not dead… the way we use it has just changed

For years now we have heard that email marketing is dead.  To borrow from Mark Twain, I believe the rumors of the death and demise of email marketing have been greatly exaggerated.

Now we can’t be too harsh on those who would believe the death of email to be true.  After all, there is a great deal of research in the last year pointing to the decline of Web-based email usage.  In its US Digital Year in Review, comScore reported that the total Web-based email usage declined by 8 percent in 2010.  The same comScore report found that social networking sites accounted for 12 percent of all time spent online last year.  And we can’t forget the Nielsen ratings that reported how if all time spent on the Internet were condensed into one hour, 13 minutes and 36 seconds would be dedicated to accessing social media, whereas only five minutes would be dedicated to accessing email.

But to counter these findings was research conducted by Forrester that found that email continues to have a strong influence with online buying behaviors while social media was light on direct revenue and more influential in product awareness.  Furthermore, going back to the comScore report, it is discovered that, of the top mobile device activities, 30.5 percent of smartphone and mobile device users are accessing their email while only 24.7% used the same for accessing social networking or blogs.  To underscore this, consider the Nielsen report listed above that found users of mobile devices spending more than 40 percent of their time accessing email and only 10 percent of the time accessing social networking.

So while I am one of the first to acknowledge that the rise of social media implies we refocus our budgets and marketing activities, I am not so quick to say we must reduce our spend in email marketing.

Indeed, social media is altering our online behaviors, but email marketing has not come to an end… the way we use it has just shifted.

What are the challenges for B2B email marketing strategies in 2011?

Unfortunately, there is a lot of head trash surrounding email marketing simply because of its affiliation with spam. And B2B marketing behaviors have not helped – as many B2B organizations have been notorious in the past for buying lists based on demographics and blasting out emails indiscriminately.  Fewer returns on these activities have taught us a hard lesson that, regardless of the value of a B2B white paper or Webcast, blasting emails to purchased lists hurts your brand and increases reports of abuse.

So in 2011, B2B marketing is facing a number of challenges with email marketing.  Respondents to a recent B2B Magazine survey stated they have a number of concerns for their email marketing activities moving forward:
1) Competition from Social Media: 28% believe that social media will compete heavily for the attention of the email recipient.
2) Email reputation: 27% are concerned they will encounter increased backlash due to email reputation and will be up against blacklisting, higher bounce-back ratios, stricter spam filters and spam ratings.
3) Permission base: Up to 31 percent of the respondents report they will be challenged to build an opt-in email list in 2011.

Pertinence, Personalization and Privacy are the key for success in email marketing for 2011 and beyond.

And B2B marketers should be concerned about the challenges that lie ahead.  Let’s face it, we now live in an opt-in world.  Buy a list for email marketing and you will get blacklisted.  List rental houses will tell you that their email lists are 100% opt-in.  But no one signs up to a list perpetually.  So there is no middle ground on purchasing and sending to an email list… it must be permission-based.

No matter how valuable you think your content is… if you purchase a list rental and blast out an email to it… you are a spammer.

But email is not spam.  Read the rest of this entry »

The corporate Twitter page and the question of departmental ownership

Recently, I’ve come across a few discussions in forums and blogs stating that the marketing department should not be in control of the corporate Twitter page.  The primary concern was that the marketing department would be too concerned with brand messaging to truly engage the customers according to their needs, wants and interests.  The assertion was that the Customer support team would do a better job with customer engagement.

Perspectives from the Linkedin group – “Social Media Marketing Executive Network”

To get a well-rounded view of this question, I decided to pose the topic to the Linkedin group – Social Media Marketing Executive Network.  This topic created a lively discussion this last week with numerous social media practitioners weighing in.  Below are excerpts from a few of the comments and suggestions for managing a corporate Twitter page:

1) “At the end of the day, the initiatives should be implemented by the individual or group of individuals within the organization who are most familiar with the organization’s strategy for growing the organization and most adept at interpreting what’s being said about the organization’s products and services and entering into those conversations in a way that adds value from the customer/prospect’s perspective.”

2) “Successful Social Media is about communicating with your customers and prospects… If SM is brought into the business plan and becomes part of the company objective (i.e. give our valued customers excellent service, to promote and support our products with the use of SM, etc., etc.,), then all departments will have equal ownership in making sure that SM works for the company.

3) “It’s company dependent. Who can best be the voice of the company? who will actually make it happen? who can best build internal collaboration so that it doesn’t become another political football? who is passionate about the channel?”

4) “Right…and who suggested … PR/Communications or Customer Care?:) I’ve worked in all these areas and a good marketing team has the right feel for social to take the lead. That said, everyone should participate, but marketing should take point.”

5) “My opinion is that it is a combined effort. For our clients – we need to have a goal, a message and a reason for their audiences to MOVE! Remember their product or service – top of mind. I believe in my heart you need someone that has a marketing background, sales experience and is a solid communicator.”

6) What’s really more important than where SM lives is the strategy and execution behind it. All SM (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) should be managed to provide an authentic voice for the company and support the brand objectives of the company. Generally, this is congruent with the goals of the marketing department.

All of these are interesting reflections and I thank those who participated in this week’s discussion on Linkedin.

Develop a cross-functional team to manage the corporate Twitter page

Over the years of working on corporate blogs, social networks and discussion forums, I’ve come to the conclusion that Twitter, Facebook and social media as a whole is a responsibility that must be shared across the business. Read the rest of this entry »