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Eight Great Sources of Social Media Content to Boost B2B Sales


Here’s a challenge: suppose you are a manufacturer of machine tools. You’re not a consultant, you don’t sell to consumers, you’re not a marketer, so what does social media have to offer to improve YOUR sales?

I have argued that your customers and prospective customers are hungry for relevant, easily located information. Therefore every company should have a content strategy-a method for providing extra value to customers, especially when customers are shopping online. That doesn’t mean they are buying online, but they would much rather get information about your products (and those of your competitors) online than from your salespeople. Your customer is not “the company,” but rather the engineer or the factory manager or the purchasing agent or the tool-and-die maker who uses your products.

But if you don’t have a big marketing staff and if you don’t want to create new content, how could you provide them with relevant information to make their lives easier? How could your website become known as a “place to go to” when they are investigating?

One way is to offer a industry-relevant links and embedded content. Here’s what I found on my tour of social media sites looking for content about “machine tools.”

  • First, I Googled machine tools blog and found CR4, “the engineer’s place for news and discussion.” The blog is up-to-date and the associated forums are very active. At the moment I landed there, 243 visitors were online! Link to this space and introduce your customers to some useful conversations.
  • I went to Alltop and searched for “manufacturing.” Alltop is a site that aggregates the most popular blogs on a wide range of subjects. Link to that site and show your customers where to find relevant blogs.
  • How about YouTube, the online site for sharing videos? What does that have to do with your company? Well, I found a series of five videos about machine tools and their history, Modern Marvels. YouTube videos can be embedded into your own website or blog (as illustrated below!)
  • I tried SlideShare, the online site for sharing slide presentations, and found an analysis of the global machine tools market. Like YouTube, SlideShare permits you to embed content into your own blog or website.
  • Searching Twitter @MachineTools, a stream of tweets about buying and selling used machine tools.
  • On LinkedIn, I found a Machine Tools Group featuring discussions with 348 members.
  • Turning to Facebook, I located Machine Tools Mart, whose CEO lives in India and offers global information about buying and selling machine tools.
  • At amazon.com I searched for books on the machine tools topic. On the amazon.com site you can create your own list of favorites that you recommend (search for Listmania) and feature it in your profile. You can also create a bookstore on your website or feature books in your blog with direct links to amazon.com where your customers can buy them. Incidentally, you can earn a commission on those sales.

Please note, this post is not about machine tools. no matter what your B2B business, you can improve your sales position through social media, even by using social media very passively. Make your website, your blog, or your Facebook page a source of timely, relevant information. It will be relevant because YOU selected it, because YOU know what your customers are looking for.

Remember Danny DeVito in OPM (Other People’s Money)? Well, you can boost your sales strategy with OPC (Other People’s Content)!

Overheard on #Blogchat: Share People Stories (@ScLoHo)


Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night (or Monday morning), I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This Week’s Theme: What company blogs can learn from personal bloggers with @1680PR

This week, #blogchat was held LIVE at SXSW. Sad face that I couldn’t go, but happy face that there was still normal #blogchat at night for those of us stuck at home! Actually, I was so busy apartment-hunting that I didn’t get to the online version either, but moderator and host Mack Collier is nice enough to link to the transcript every week, so I was still able to pick out some awesome points to share with you all!

One that stood out to me just a few minutes into the chat:

@ScLoHo: Every business has people. Share people stories on your business blog

Business blogs are too often outlets for company press releases and nothing else. Think about your favorite brands in the world. I like Hershey’s chocolate. I like Gain laundry detergent. I like Dell computers (don’t judge me, that’s a debate for another day, haha). But really, I don’t like any of those companies enough to read announcements about their products every day – or worse, multiple times per day. It’s sometimes nice to know big changes that are coming, but I don’t need constant content that is little more than ads for your brand.

Corporate bloggers, write this down and post it by your computer: A blog is not a commercial.

Adding personality to your corporate blog is, in my opinion, the only way to go. But if you’re a major brand (like Hershey or Gain or Dell), doing that can be tricky, since you have a corporation to represent (not just yourself) and since you’re probably one of several people working on posts. Even as a small business owner, it can be tough to know how to go about adding personality to your blog.

That’s what I love so much about @ScLoHo’s tweet. Telling stories is something I do regularly on my own blog, After Graduation, and companies can definitely learn to do that as well.

  • Share the story of how the company was founded and how the business owners helped it evolve into what it is today.
  • Share awesome stories from people who work at your company. Feature everyone from board members to factory workers. Feel-good stories that fit your brand well are interesting and help promote your products.
  • Share stories from your customers. Not only are you promoting your brand, but you’re starting to build a community by getting your readers involved.

I think that personal bloggers can take some value away from this idea as well. Don’t be afraid to share your story and the stories of readers if they are relevant to your topic. It’s one of the most basic ways we can connect as human beings. Between the press releases, some human interest stories go a long way for corporate blogs, and for personal bloggers, this is a way to spice up your content, doing something different and interesting for your readers.

How Big Businesses Are Achieving Blogging Success

How Big Businesses Use Blogging

Yesterday our very own Rick Calvert moderated a session at the Blogging Success Summit 11 (it’s not too late to sign up!) that covered How Big Businesses Are Achieving Blogging Success. The panel featured Sukhjit Ghag (from Sony), Deanna Govoni (from Cisco), and Scott Monty (from Ford). Here are some take-aways from the presentation …

How Big Businesses Are Achieving Blogging Success Sony:
Sony uses their blog to engage with enthusiasts and customers. They use several multimedia elements including photos, video blogging. Sukhjit says that it’s really important to have a visual side to a blog update – and even on Facebook. She also revealed it’s important to put yourself out there – as long as you have solidified and support your message.

Sony also put together some case studies, and saw some amazing results by showcasing exclusive content for their readers and sneak peeks to new products. A key aspect to their blog strategy is responding to their comments. “It’s not about being the expert in everything, its about knowing what experts use to connect with the community.”

Cisco uses their blog as the social media hub – which reaches out to their Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Flickr accounts. But their goal with those external products is to always push back to the Cisco home and brand. The main blog is also a hub for their 28 separate blogs with teams focused on different products! Their goal is to showcase thought leadership, engage a community and gather valuable feedback from customers, partners and stakeholders.

Cisco believes that “participation is the currency of the new economy” by engaging with the audience, listening to the conversation, and changing business practices if necessary.

Ford evolved their blogging platform into The Ford Story. It didn’t really start out as a blog – but was launched in 2008 as a political action site to provide readers with a humanized way of telling their story and provide documentation of the execution of the Ford plan. They saw great results but realized they needed to turn it into a blog for further updates and to interact with their readers to make their content “embeddable, spreadable, and shareable.

The blog is designed around the community of Ford fans – showcase their comments via blog posts and Facebook – and allowing them to share their stories via text, images, and videos.

Want to hear more of these business strategies? sign up and check out the archives!

Book Review & Giveaway: ‘Perspectives on Social Media Marketing’


Perspectives on Social Media Marketing isn’t your average social media how to book. It provides easy to digest topics with both an agency perspective and a brand perspective (with a guest perspective thrown in for added viewpoints). Stephanie Agresta (from Porter Novelli) and B. Bonin Bouch (PepsiCo) come together to talk about understanding social media, how it has changed the marketing landscape, how to implement a tactical and strategic social media plan across your organization, how to best measure the ROI of a social media campaign, and more. Each topic has short and concise answers, with concrete examples and tips – so you can start implementing social media marketing in your business today. We have a copy to give away, details below!

Audience: Large Businesses, Small Businesses, Individuals – There’s something for everyone, including start-ups and successful businesses.
Tone: Conversational with some personal views, humor, and case studies sprinkled throughout.

Here are just some of the 89 specific topics included:

  • What is Personal Branding and How Important Is It?
  • How Has Social Media Changed Customer Service?
  • Do Consumers Really Want to Communicate with Brands? Why?
  • What Tools Are “Must Haves” for Every Social Media-Marketing Effort?
  • Should Strategy Come from PR or Marketing?
  • How Can Companies Use Social Media Internally to Improve Employee Morale?
  • Should Your Company Follow People on Twitter, or Just Be Followed?
  • Is There a Direct Relationship Between Social Media and Sales?
  • Is It Ever Too Late to Start Social Media?
  • What Would You Consider to be the Worst Social Media Campaign Ever Run?

An excerpt from the book (reprinted with permission):

Topic #27 What Advice Would You Give a Manager For a Company That Has So Far Ignored Social Media But Now Wants to Get Up to Speed?

B. Bonin Bough: The Brand Perspective
The first step is to make sure you yourself participate in the platform. Don’t kill yourself, though, trying to participate in every platform. Figure out which platforms you care about and focus on those. Also, understand that as an individual, you can be a part of social media without necessarily putting a lot of content into the space. I think one of the best rules of thumb is the 1–9–90 rule. It says that 1 percent of the people create the social media content, 9 percent of people participate in that content, and the other 90 percent are passive. It’s okay to be passive—although as a marketer, you want to be sure you understand the nuances of what it means to participate. I’m not the most prolific Twitter contributor, but I’m a freak about following it, so much so that that I have data visualization in my office that I can follow like a news ticker.

Next, you want to identify people in your business or industry who are influencers and power-users. If you can find folks who represent your passions, that’s even better. Start to fan, follow, subscribe. Search online to find recent articles that talk about the players in your area who are doing social media well and identify experts who discuss social media marketing in general. If you are a brand manager, bring in as many agencies as you can find time for.

I know that becomes very difficult after a while, but bring them in to talk to you so you have a sense of your options. Nobody has the one answer in this space, and you want to understand what all the different players bring to the table. Look for an agency that sounds different and that provides ideas that are not just based around their traditional business structure. And if they are a social media agency, look to see if they understand the scale necessary to drive your business objectives. Do not be afraid to be very clear about the resources that you require to actually make your program successful.

Another important piece that gets overlooked a lot is going to conferences. I spend my life going to conferences—talking to people, mingling with people, meeting new technologies. It’s a great way to be exposed to the culture of the space. For example, if you go to a social media conference, there will almost certainly be a Twitter screen behind the panelists. They are talking and tweeting at the same time. Everybody at the conference has a laptop, and they’re talking and tweeting and reading different things. That level of multitasking is completely lost inside the walls of a lot of marketing agencies right now; that’s a proof point that as a group we aren’t spending enough time at the conferences where new ideas are being formulated and thought about and behaviors are being transformed.

Finally, you want to follow and analyze your competition. You want to identify the best-in-class examples, and you want to find where the gaps and opportunities are. Also, look beyond your direct competitive circles and look at comparative circles. For example, with Gatorade, we are not just thinking about Gatorade and what might be perceived as other beverage competitors; we try to figure out who shares the mindspace of our core targets. In the case of Gatorade, that is elite athletes, athletic directors and coaches, and sideline moms. Who else are they listening to? Are there programs they are part of we can align ourselves with? That’s some of the best advice I can give for getting started.

Stephanie Agresta: The Agency Perspective
If you want to get up to speed with social media, the first thing you need to do is to get started with your own social media efforts. By that, I mean create personal accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These three platforms are the most widely used. For media consumption, check out YouTube and Hulu and photo-sharing sites like Flickr. If you’re feeling ambitious, try starting a blog and posting a few thoughts. Sites like blogger.com and wordpress.com offer free blogging solutions. Create media and upload it. Share it with your friends. Also, read, read, read! There are so many great blogs out there, and the best part is, the content is free! Check out AdAge’s Power 150 list (http://www.adage.com/power150) for a complete list of top-notch marketing and PR blogs. Also, take note of what people are tweeting and re-tweeting on Twitter. Often, the best content is curated by people who are in your trusted network. Tools like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn basically create a river of news from your friends, colleagues, and family members. More and more, people are using this as a main source of information. Posts on these networks may just clue you into what is going on at a very high level, thereby allowing you to do further research on search engines and professional news sites.


Here are the rules to win a copy of Perspectives on Social Media Marketing:

  • Leave a comment below, saying what you’d hope to learn from the book, to receive one entry.
  • Tweet about the contest for a second entry.
  • Entries must be received by midnight PST January 18th to be considered.

How to Turn Your Blog Into a Lead Generation Machine


To generate online leads, you need a steady stream of new, qualified prospects to your web site. These days, that means strong search engine visibility coupled with an active presence in social media.

And there’s no better tool to help you in both categories than your business blog. But like any tool, it doesn’t work by itself, it just amplifies your own efforts. Here’s how to maximize your efforts to increase your online visibility, drive more qualified traffic to your site, and convert that traffic into leads for your sales team.

  1. Spend time crafting a keyword-rich title for each blog post. Every blog post creates a new web page; each web page is another opportunity to rank well for one of your targeted keyword phrases in Google and other search engines. Your blog post title becomes your web page title, and titles are the biggest variable in the search engine algorithm, so don’t short-change yourself here. Make sure your best keyword phrases appear in the first few words in the title for maximum exposure.
  2. Keep those titles compelling. Leverage the “sharing power” of social media by creating compelling titles. People will often “Like” or retweet a blog post based solely on the title, even without reading it first! Although the tool may be tongue-in-cheek, check out the Link Bait Generator for ideas on how to create a compelling title.
  3. Blog for your audience: your prospects and customers. Too many business blogs appear to be where press releases go to die. Although there’s a place in an active blog for company news, for most businesses that’s not what will attract customers. Instead, keep the focus of your blog on your customers’ pain points. Every time you get an email or phone inquiry asking you for your expert advice, turn it into a blog post. If one person had that question, probably a dozen, a hundred or a thousand other people had the same question. Answer it before your competition does. Eighty to ninety percent of your blog posts should be addressing problems that your prospects face on a daily basis.
  4. Blog regularly. Don’t fall into the “I don’t have time to blog” trap. Blogging is marketing, and every business needs to make time to market their services. Get up an hour earlier, stay up an hour later, don’t watch “Project Runway” one week (unless of course you have a fashion blog. Then watch it twice.) You should really be blogging at least twice a week, three times when you’re just getting started.
  5. Reach new audiences through guest blogging. If you have the opportunity to blog at someone else’s blog, you are immediately introduced to a new audience. If you get another blogger to contribute to your blog, very often they will promote the post to their faithful readers, who will check out your blog. In either case, the cross-promotion is valuable to help you reach an audience who may never have heard of you otherwise.
  6. Actively market your blog. If a blog is such a great marketing tool, then it should market itself, right? Well, it needs a little help from you, especially at the beginning. Leverage your social media presence by promoting your new blog posts through tweets and status updates. Use tools like Pingoat to push your post to news aggregators. Use social bookmarking & news tools like Digg, Delicious and StumbleUpon as appropriate. Leave (intelligent) comments at related blogs and make sure your name links back to your blog post.
  7. Funnel blog traffic to your web site. Once you start attracting new traffic to your blog, it’s time to convert those visitors into prospects. You can do this through keyword-rich links to areas of your web site where you offer more information, or directly to a lead generation form. Consider offering a free download from your blog (at flyte’s blog we offer “The 11 Biggest Mistakes Small Business Bloggers Make”) that requires an email registration for collecting leads.

Now it’s your turn: what techniques do you use on your blog that generate leads and get people to start doing business with you? Share your ideas in the comment field below…and who knows, maybe some later readers will follow your link back to your blog!

Rich Brooks is president of flyte new media, a web design and internet marketing company. He writes flyte’s company blog, is an Expert Blogger at FastCompany.com, and contributes to the Social Media Examiner. He teaches courses on web marketing and social media at the University of Southern Maine, and is the “Tech Guru” on 207, an evening news magazine on the NBC affiliate in Maine. You can stalk him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/therichbrooks.

Is There ROI In Location Based Marketing?


Justin McHood

If you are a business, is it time for you to start paying attention to location based marketing applications like Foursquare and Gowalla?

As adoption velocity of social applications appears to be increasing at an increasing rate, chances are that you will be hearing more about companies using applications like Foursquare in innovative ways to answer the basic marketing questions:

  • What makes people come to my store and buy something?
  • What makes them buy more when they are in my store?
  • What makes them come back and buy again once they have left?

And when developing a strategy around these basic marketing questions, it may make a lot of sense to start utilizing location based marketing services to your advantage.

Continue Reading

Size Matters To Those That Want Size


I was hoping I could get a better title than that but I wanted to also see what kind of Google search results that will provide with giggles late at night.  The reason I wanted to talk about size is because there seems to be a differing opinion as it relates to the size of your Twitter followers.  One of the most attended and best received panels this year at BlogWorld Expo was about the gaming of Twitter and the inflation of follower numbers.  I unfortunately was not able to attend the session as I was otherwise busy with a few things, but I know it did well.

The inspiration behind the panel was why it is a bad idea to inflate or increase your follower numbers just for the sake of a big number.  I was reading Seth Godin’s blog about bullhorns.  Yeah I know he has a way of speaking in metaphors better than anyone.  You have to read the post yourself to get the idea. In the post Seth talk’s about Anil Dash’s recent and often discussed series about being on the suggested user list and why having a million followers on Twitter is actually not really as it seems.  It seems among my brethren in social media and marketing circles that they are shouting from the mountain tops that size doesn’t matter and note that many of which don’t actually have the size spoken of and are not benefiting from Twitter with the same dollars that Kim Kardashian is seeing with her $10,000 per tweet budget.  Are any other people out there with 100 followers making that kind of coin? Not hardly.  Why? Because the size of your bullhorn matters.  If Kardashian get’s 10K how much would Oprah get?  I shudder to think of that amount.

I can remember when people like Jason Calacanis and others were begging to be on the list and others were upset they were not included.  It’s about the numbers.  We all know that size doesn’t matter (it doesn’t right?).  If size doesn’t matter why do companies only want bloggers that have huge traffic numbers, and only pay attention to Twitter people that have large followings?  It is because they can put a metric on it and sell it.

Apparently, it is all about the Twilebrity?

Until we come up with a better metric or until we can stop “measuring”, size will always seem to matter.  To the people that are writing the checks and paying for Tweets or making lists of the tops in Twitter that has the most traffic it does matter.  Now, where did I put that stupid bullhorn?  Sorry Seth, apparently that is the game we are playing and until the rules change, those like you that have the largest will be the winners.

Mashable Gets A Face Lift


Today as I was going through some Twitter links that I open in tabs on Firefox, I came across a post that someone had sent me written on Mashable.  I immediately saw a difference in the way the blog looked and read and the overall scheme.  I thought I was reading it through a weird reader or something.  I normally read Mashable with Google Reader in my own time, and normally never actually make it to the site for a look at the real deal.  I immediately asked my Twitter community if I was on a fear and loathing type trip and Jennifer Van Grove and Shannon Paul were quick to end my anxiety.  In fact, it was revealed today Mashable’s new look. I wish I had taken a screen shot of it at the time I saw it because it was clean and devoid of advertising if I remember correctly and it looked very cool.  No I am not saying it doesn’t look cool now it was just clean sans ads.

We are implementing some early stages here of a new look and feel and we will be unfolding those shortly.  I am not sure of the application or whether there will be any significant changes other than certainly our UI and the simplicity of the blog to gear up for our new push for content.  Good job on the changes over at Mashable guys, I am jealous of the coolness factor!

UPDATE:  I knew I was going to forget something important, like the name of the company that did their redesign.  Here is their announcement.  Great job by the people over at nclud.

Echo – Changing The Way Bloggers Communicate Through Comments


logo-jointherealtimeweb1 I was given the opportunity today to sit in a press conference briefing with the folks over at JS-Kit.com, or should I say Echo?  They have changed the name of the company from JS-Kit, one that I couldn’t seem to wrap my head around, to now just being Echo.  I myself like the change and I think it better represents the mission of the company.

We have yet to adopt any commenting system here on the Blog World blog but I think it may be time to look into allowing some real time comments and conversations to break out.  Once  of the benefits of Echo that was discussed in the call was the fact that “comments turn into a chat room and the conversations in the chat room are more interesting than the actual content.”

They tell us about Echo:

Echo is…

the next generation commenting system. It’s the way to share your content, and watch the live reaction. You can quickly embed Echo on WordPress, Blogger, or any website and turn your static pages into a real-time stream of diggs, tweets, comments and more.

Those of you that remember  Techcrunch’s Real Time Crunchup might remember how they stated boldly that comments were dead. I am not quite sure if death is the proper word but certainly given Twitter and other real time web applications, the way we communicate on blogs is changing.  Echo looks to be a leader in that change with its new system.  Echo will allow the publisher to manage the real time stream.  Where once we shouted “Content is King” and now we are shouting “Social Networks are King”, Echo allows for the balancing act to occur between the two.

Echo has some competition out there in the world with other commenting applications with the likes of IntenseDebate and Disqus and others, but they seem to get the idea that they have the ability to harness the power of conversations in this world of social media.  I look forward to what they will bring as new features and will keep a close eye on how they are changing our communication on blogs and how we as bloggers comment. They have some pretty big publishers with companies also like Technorati, Dow Jones and Hearst Media in the mix.

It Profits To Be A Non-Profit At BlogWorld!


****Update***  You Only Need A Weekend Pass To Attend The Non Profit Track***

Let’s face it, money is tight.  If you are a large corporation or a hobbyist, an employee or an employer, you know of what I speak.  This is not more prevelant that in the non-profit world.  They have budgets that would make most of us cringe, yet they seem to continue on carrying the torch for their causes.  They are passionate to keep up their good deeds and find ways to make their lack of money stretch to meet their needs.  The folks at eBay and PayPal, in conjunction with BlogWorld & New Media Expo are easing the pain of budgetary constraints a little.  paypal_logo

logoEbay_x45 They are allowing those in a non-profit organization to attend our event at half off the regular price.  That is right, 50% right off the top of the ticket price to go to Blog World!  In order to qualify you can apply by sending an email to blogworld@kompolt.com and applying for a special code that can be used when you register.  This allows you to get whatever package you choose at half price. Obviously you have to be a non-profit to qualify.

We understand what the non-profits have to go through to get to experience the same benefits as their “for profit” brethren, we and Ebay and Paypal want to help level the playing field a little.  Get over and apply for your special code to get 50% off your ticket.  I’ll make sure it is worth your time and effort!  Thank you eBay and Paypal for making this possible!

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