Archive for July, 2010
Despite its airy title, Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day by Dave Evans is anything but a lightweight treatment of this topic. At roughly 340 pages of text plus another 42 pages of worksheets, this is a meaty book, but the end result of following Dave’s hour-a-day guide is a solidly justified, strategic social media marketing plan. This isn’t a tactical, do-this-on-Facebook-and-then-that-on-Twitter type of roadmap either, but rather a sequence of exercises to explore, monitor, justify, plan and measure a social media program.
While many types of marketing and PR pros will find value in the book, it is aimed primarily at mid-level marketers (entry-level staff will lack the business acumen to pull this off, while senior executives will delegate it) at midsize to large organizations, possibly in b2b but more likely in the b2c space.
Author Dave Evans (@evansdave) once worked as a systems analyst for the Voyager deep space exploration program with the Jet Propulsion Laboratories/NASA. Yes, this really is rocket science. From there, as Strategy Director GSD&M IdeaCity, he developed integrated communications programs for clients like Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Southwest Airlines, AARP, the PGA Tour, Chili’s and other big brands. Later, he founded his own marketing technology consultancy. He’s a ClickZ columnist, frequent speaker, and has served on advisory boards for ad:tech and the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. In short, he’s an extremely smart guy, though with an analytics-heavy, big organization background that shows through in this book.
The book begins with a fascinating trip through the early days of the web and the foundations of social media. Evans reminds us that the web grew from approximately 6,000 sites in 1992 to one million websites by the mid-nineties. One million websites. How quaint that number now seems! (Google currently indexes more than 10 billion sites.) Spam email led to a consumer backlash over unwanted advertising and the rise of ad-voidance. Technologies such as the iPod, DVRs, pop-up blockers, do-not-call registries and spam filters have empowered consumers to take control over the commercial messages they see. Marketers can no longer rely on interrupting prospective customers in order to get their attention; they need to earn it by producing content that people want and then making that content findable when buyers are searching.
Evans also makes an incredibly strong case for social media participation: “Your customers are already talking about you. The fact that you aren’t participating is your implicit endorsement of whatever it is that they are saying…You cannot choose whether or not your customers will see you on the social web. They will, because they will put you there. You can only choose whether or not you will join them there.” By not participating in social media, you embolden your critics while ignoring your fans. Research shows that two out of three word-of-mouth conversations reference a brand, product or service—and these conversations are increasingly moving online through social media.
From there, Evans’ hour-a-day plan is laid out, starting with an exploration of the different forms of social content (blogs, video, podcasting etc.). consumer-generated media, touchpoint analysis, measurement and metrics, planning a campaign (ugh, social media campaign?), using branded social media platforms, and social media monitoring, wrapping it all up with preparing and presenting your social media plan. This makes the book an excellent guide to developing a social media plan and justifying resource allocation in a large organization environment, if somewhat short on actual execution.
There are a few questionable statements in the book. For one, Evans cites the notoriously anti-business Wikipedia as “an example of why social media is useful to you as a marketer.” At another point, the author advises readers to spend 5-10 minutes “surveying” YouTube and “if you’ve never transferred content from a digital camera to the Internet, take a break now and try it.” Uh, at this point, if you don’t know what’s on YouTube or how to upload a file, perhaps social media marketing isn’t your ideal career choice.
One risk of writing a book like this is the speed at which the social media landscape is changing; though Social Media Marketing came out less than two years ago, at the time of publication the now long-dead social bookmarking site Ma.gnolia was still active, and MySpace still drew five times as much traffic as Facebook.
He writes that participating in social media is essential for building trust with customers, then insists on developing robust ROI calculations for any social activity; which is it? The book focuses primarily on using social media to engage in brand conversations with consumers; certainly a critical application, but little acknowledgment is given to other uses of social media marketing including content sharing, media outreach and influencing the influencers. Evans claims that “there are so many good reasons to buy a hybrid other than pure fuel economy” without saying what any of those reasons are; perhaps the sporty styling? Finally, at one point, he actually recommends using an intern for social media data collection and metrics. Argh.
Still, quibbles aside, Evans is a sophisticated writer who brings great depth of insight his topic. He wisely notes that “on the social web, you can’t directly control the conversation. Instead, you influence it by setting an appropriate expectation and then delivering on it.” The book covers an incredibly wide range of social media sites, including some that many readers may not be familiar with. For those who haven’t read The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth, Evans provides a concise yet workable explanation of the Net Promoter Score developed by Fred Reichheld. The book is rich in case study examples from companies like Southwest Airlines and Harley Davidson. Noting the importance of active participation, Evans writes:
“The social web demands an active presence…if your profile isn’t up to date, if you’re not commenting, if you’re not making connections, you don’t exist. ‘Lights on, but no one home’ and you won’t get the results that you otherwise might. That seems obvious, but I point it out because I see a lot of profiles across a lot of social networks…evidently abandoned and now home to what look like virtual zombies taking up residence in so many empty storefronts.”
Regarding urgency: “Whether attracting and retaining key employees or attracting and retaining key customers, part of the challenge you face in tapping the social web is getting it done today.” While recognizing that measuring ROI from social media is challenging and requires skill and judgment, Evans provides a rich set of tools and models for keeping tabs on business results.
In short, Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day is an outstanding guide to social media program design and measurement for brand managers, product managers and marketing directors at any firm or organization large enough to have people talking about your brand online in significant numbers. Sole practitioners and managers at smaller companies can also get some value from it, but will generally be interested more in simplified planning with a greater emphasis on execution.
The B2B Marketing Zone has really taken off over the past few months with the recent addition of numerous great bloggers. For those not familiar with it, the B2B Marketing Zone (a.k.a. the BMZ) was officially launched a year ago as the first content aggregation hub for leading business-to-business bloggers. It provides b2b marketers, trade industry journalists, analysts and other subscribers with a single subscription point for all of the best thought leadership content in b2b marketing and PR. I thought I would take advantage of the power of the system to let you know about these new sources, what topics they tend to write about and some of their recent top posts.
- Add WordStream’s Advanced Keyword Tools to Your Website for free, June 8, 2010
- Pricing Based on Customer Expectations, May 26, 2010
- Should You Use Foursquare for Your Business?, June 7, 2010
- Great B2B Marketing Stats (in a GREAT format!), June 13, 2010
- B2Bs, The Purchasing Patterns of Your Buyers Are Dramatically Changing. Unless You No Longer Want Their Money, This Means That YOU Must Change, Too., March 18, 2010
- B2B, Buzz & Brand ROI: Creating Customers That Create (MORE!) Customers., June 8, 2010
- B2B Social Media: Why Do Business Professionals Use Social Media? (Slideshow), February 19, 2010
- Content Marketing Results: Landing Pages Rule, July 12, 2010
- 9 Ways to Use LinkedIn for Smart Professionals, June 10, 2010
- How to Convert Readers into Clients on Your Blog, May 26, 2010
- Why Use Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn for Content Marketing?, June 8, 2010
- What B2B communicators can learn from the 2010 World Cup, June 14, 2010
- Looking for the Method Behind Your Competitors’ Madness, April 5, 2010
- Why Digital Media Outreach Shouldn’t Be Ignored, April 28, 2010
- Measuring Outcomes in B2B Social Media – It’s Time to Start, May 9, 2010
- The Sweet Spot: We’re all ‘smarketers’ now, July 8, 2010
- When social media ‘will be like air’, May 25, 2010
- Social Media Statistics for B2B Marketers, June 21, 2010
- Seth Godin Talks of the Lizard Brain, March 3, 2010
- 7 Tips for Getting People to Your B2B Blog, June 4, 2010
- Your Website is Worth More than a Cup of Coffee, May 5, 2010
- 7 Old Fashioned Marketing Tips that Set You Apart, June 14, 2010
- What’s a Facebook fan worth?, June 30, 2010
- T-Mobile Curates Web Content, June 29, 2010
- Self-promotion, Internet style, June 10, 2010
- What B2B Readers Want, Circa 2010, February 2, 2010
- Time to Kill the Press Release?, July 8, 2010
- Skill Set For Content Marketing: Number Crunching and A Gut Feel, March 4, 2010
- We’ve Got Algorithms. Who Needs Editors?, Thursday, July 1, 2010
- Content’s Evil Twin: Advertorial, Wednesday, July 14, 2010
- The Mi6 Chart Toppers, May 2010, Friday, June 18, 2010
- Are You and Your Customers Hungry for Social Media?, Wednesday, June 9, 2010
- What was Linkedin Thinking?, Wednesday, July 14, 2010
- How to Calculate Social Marketing ROI, June 24, 2010
- B2B Blogging Excellence, May 25, 2010
- The Power of B2B Communities, May 27, 2010
- Vital statistics for every B2B marketer, March 16, 2010
- Vital Statistics for B2B Marketers – the video, June 10, 2010
- The lure of cheap content in B2B marketing, April 26, 2010
- Social media and thought leadership: The virtuous circle for B2B marketing, March 11, 2010
- The hard questions about social media for B2B solutions providers, June 11, 2009
- Blog as hub, site as spoke, June 23, 2009
- The Process of Inbound Marketing Automation, Wednesday, July 14, 2010
- B2B Sales Lead Generation using SMM, Monday, July 19, 2010
- Are You Thinking About Being More Helpful to Your Frazzled Prospects?, June 24, 2010
- Why Asking About Your Prospect’s Budget Can be Bad for Business, April 9, 2010
- Hey Small Biz Readers: This One’s For You!, April 30, 2010
- To get a referral from you do I have to paint a picture? Yup., Thursday, April 29, 2010
- Hate Cold Calling? You May Not Have a Choice., Wednesday, June 9, 2010
- How Much do you have to use Facebook and Twitter to Really be Effective?, May 26, 2010
- 5 Ways to Attract People to Your Content Before They Even Click, Thursday, April 15, 2010
Of course, this got me to wondering what the system thought were my top posts and top topics. Here are my top 10 posts and topics:
- Best Social Media Stats and Market Research of 2009, March 31, 2010
- (Almost) 100 (of the) Best Social Media Marketing Blog Posts and Articles of 2009, February 1, 2010
- 11 Myths of Social Media Marketing, May 24, 2010
- How to Launch a Successful Blog in 12 Weeks: Lessons from Webbiquity, May 4, 2010
- Five Big Shifts in Social Media Marketing, April 19, 2010
- 6 Ways To Spread Thought Leadership Content (Without Blogging), February 3, 2010
- How to Find Killer Topics for Blog Posts, April 12, 2010
- How to Get Coverage in Blogs – Really, March 22, 2010
- Social Media is Simpler Than You Think, March 29, 2010
- 7 Reasons Every Business Needs to be on Twitter, February 10, 2010
- SEM & SEO & PPC & CTR
- Business Blogging
As always, I would highly recommend subscribing to the B2B Marketing Zone to keep a steady flow of information from the more than 60 top sources we have participating in the site, and would love your feedback!
Guest post by Ajay Goel.
It’s that time again – the dog days of summer for email marketers when recipients are eager to trade in the cold blue hue of their computers for some warm summer rays. When more emails will go unopened, because chances are, recipients are either away on vacation, preparing for vacation, or simply wanting to be on vacation!
So how can you make your email marketing messages matter to office workers counting the minutes before happy hour on sidewalk patios? Or busy moms and dads whisking their kids from one outdoor activity to the next? Email marketing service JangoMail came up with some tips you may find helpful.
- • Tap into how your products will make summer activities even more fun. Barbeques, campfires, hiking trips—each presents an opportunity to reach out to recipients with deals on food, apparel, cookery and other products your recipients already want.
- • Keep your messages breezy and brief. Emphasize warm and cheerful photos and images over text. Make your text large and colorful. Papyrus’ photo of a small girl stretching on a pristine beach immediately draws one in, reminding us to celebrate life—and buy cards for those birthdays, weddings, and showers!
- • Hook into the viral effect of email by offer up great summer deals. Include built-in incentives for recipients to share your coupons as Six Flags Great Adventure did for its “buy one, get one free” campaign.
- • You don’t need to be Coppertone to reach people during the summer months. Even B2B companies can “summer-up” as Alcatel-Lucent did when touting application enablement, with one image featuring the words “open has value” floating over a woman relaxing on a green, inviting field.
- • If possible, emphasize events recipients can go to. Whether it’s a sale or trade show, hone in on the social elements – create a visual picture of the food, drink, service and good times with others they can expect. They want to get out of the house or office anyway. Show them why they should come to you when they do.
- • And don’t forget! Take advantage of your reporting and analytics to track how your recipient behaviors are changing with the season. Are they opening your messages earlier in the day? Are they opening them at all? Capturing the essence of the summer also means adjusting to the season’s pace. Your recipients will show you how.
Ajay Goel is CEO of JangoMail, an email marketing company that helps businesses reach customers and prospects in a highly reliable and personalized way.
Since the early days of the Internet, b2b purchasing has seemed like an area ripe for the efficiency and transparency improvements the web could bring. The theory has been that b2b buying processes are labor-intensive and inefficient, with heavy reliance on phone calls, emails and even face to face meetings. Large purchases, and often even small ones, involved negotiations conducted with imperfect and limited information, leaving both sides wondering if they really got the best deal. Web-based systems could improve transparency and efficiency, significantly and simultaneously reducing both procurement costs for buyers and selling costs for vendors.
However, problems with this theory quickly became apparent. While online marketplaces worked well for commodity purchases like office and maintenance supplies, they were viewed skeptically by buyers and sellers alike for more strategic purchases. Vendors didn’t want to reveal pricing and specifications to their competitors, and in many cases buyers didn’t want their own competitors to be aware of what they were buying (as it could tip off competitors to new product designs or process improvements) or even the terms they were getting.
As a result, the dramatic forecasts for b2b ecommerce revenue growth from Gartner and other analyst groups never materialized. Some of the market pioneers flamed out: Commerce One, founded in 1994, went public in 1999 and saw it’s stock price soar from $20 to more than $600 per share before the dot-com bust. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2004, and the remains of the company were sold off in 2006. VerticalNet, founded just a year after Commerce One, was another classic dot-com-boom-to-bust story. Though the company was never profitable, revenue grew rapidly and the company’s market cap topped $12 billion in early 2000 on revenues of just over $100 million. The company was acquired by an Italian cement maker in 2007 for $15 million.
Ariba is one of the few b2b ecommerce survivors from the dot-com era. Though the company has fallen a long way from its dot-com era $40 billion market capitalization, it’s still in business, posting respectable revenue and modest profits.
But today, a new breed of vendors is determined to leave behind the hype-to-bust path of early b2b ecommerce and online marketplace trailblazers and improve b2b purchasing practices through social media and other Web 2.0 technologies. Here are five companies that exemplify these new approaches.
TradeKey b2b marketplace: sort of a web-based version of a bazaar or street market, TradeKey is an online, global b2b marketplace which connects traders to wholesalers, buyers, importers & exporters, manufacturers and distributors in over 220 countries. With 27 categories from agricultural to transportation products and nearly 10 12 million visitors per month, TradeKey connects an incredible range of buyers and sellers. Looking to buy commercial carpeting or USB drives? Want to offload some extra fishing lures or folding doors? This is the place to do it. TradeKey is sort of the b2b version of eBay or craigslist, with the closest analogues on the b2b side being sites like Alibaba or VertMarkets. But the site’s busy though highly visual design sets it apart, and TradeKey was the first online b2b marketplace to earn ISO 9001 Quality Management System and ISO 27001 Information Security System certifications.
FYIndOut.com b2b social media hub: billing itself as “the central place to find and promote business information, applications, and services,” FYIndOut.com provides an environment where b2b vendors can list their products and services for free (they pay only for interested leads) and interact with prospects, while buyers can research sellers and post their own reviews. The site covers a broad array of products and services from accounting software to web conferencing services, and was among the first b2b sites to introduce social review elements similar to Angie’s List or Yelp on the consumer side.
ChoiceVendor business-to-business vendor reviews: similar to FYIndOut.com but with a different business model—rather than generating revenue from providers, ChoiceVendor’s revenue plan is to “offer certain features by subscription to users who are seeking vendors.” Both sites enable b2b vendors to register and list their products for free, and buyers to review at least some of this information at no charge. So whether you’re a b2b seller or a buyer researching vendors through social signals, the best site to use between FYIndOut.com and ChoiceVendor is…both!
GetApp.com business software portal: unlike broad-based b2b market sites, GetApp.com is focused on a specific niche—business software, SaaS and cloud-based applications. The company’s goal is to become a global online channel for SaaS and PaaS (platform as a service) b2b application providers. GetApp.com is more like (though more broadly based than) SaleForce.com’s AppXchange or the recently launched Google App Marketplace than a general b2b marketplace. The site got some nice coverage from TechCrunch earlier this year, which stated that buyers can “find, compare and select from a wide range of business applications, organized into categories by IT and business need and by industry. The search functionality is pretty powerful and allows visitors to filter results down to a single vendor or enterprise-grade application. To assist buyers from a neutral point of view, GetApp offers user-generated reviews and a free personalized assessment tool as well as a number of guides on the subject.”
Resource Nation business resource marketplace: this site connects business buyers with providers of a wide range of common b2b products and services, from email maketing and payroll outsourcing to phone systems, laser printers and steel buildings. Rather than relying on social signals, all vendors are pre-screened by credit reporting agency Experian. The website also includes useful articles and guides for buyers. Approved vendors receive qualified leads for a fee. Resource Nation is somewhat similar to BuyerZone, but with less of a focus on price as the sole purchase criteria. This works well for commodity-type procurement (e.g. CD/DVD duplication or mailing services) but shouldn’t be relied upon as the sole source for more involved, strategic purchases like enterprise software or a PR agency.
Despite the challenges of online b2b commerce (e.g. will customers really share honest opinions in an open forum?) and past failures, a new breed of online b2b marketplace sites is determined to make it work. They bring to the task unique approaches and mindfulness of what worked, and what didn’t, for the groundbreakers in this space. The key will be to provide value to b2b purchasers. Vendors will flock to any site that is embraced by buyers.
Disclosure: I’m an unpaid advisor to FYIndOut.com and a (so far) unpaid affiliate of Resource Nation (just recently signed on). As for the other vendors highlighted here, I just think they are doing very interesting things in this space.
Optimizing a website by incorporating keywords into page titles, headlines, text, page URLs, image alt tags and internal links will help improve the position of a site in the search engines—but it’s only half the battle. As one of the posts linked below notes, “In Search Engine Optimization, things that are happening OFF of your site can be just as important (if not more so) than things happening ON your website.” Search engines look at on-site factors to determine relevance, but at external links to gauge authority.
Julie Batten offers nine key elements to include in a link-building toolkit–such as lists of targeted keywords and directories–to make link-building efforts more efficient and productive.
In this brief but useful post, Jessica Nielsen explains five ways, such as crafting a relevant “professional headline,” to use LinkedIn to improve your company site’s Pagerank.
Raiding Your Competitor’s Backlinks by Internet Marketing for Business Owners
How to quickly find and replicate backlinks to competitor’s site to improve your site’s search engine ranking.
71 Technical Factors For Backlink Analysis (From 30 Link Building Experts) – Part 2 by Search Engine Land
For those who have waaaay too much time to spend on link building, Garrett French walks through the URL, on-page and sitewide factors to use in backlink profile analysis. Includes helpful commentary from a range of SEO experts like Eric Enge and Aaron Wall.
The 30-minute-a-day link building plan by iMedia Connection
Another piece from Garret French, this one outlining his recommended link building plan, starting with linkable asset identification: “common linkable assets include webinars, job listing pages, PDFs, blogs, forums, subject matter experts, deals, news, a community participant, contests, podcasts, and free tools.”
Top 100+ Link Building Resources by Vertical Measures Blog
An extensive list of blogs, tools, forums and other resources to assist with link building knowledge and tactics.
Simple tips for improving your website’s links by iMedia Connection
Ramsay Crooks presents guidelines for building quality links as well as low-value link building tactics to avoid.
Another Big Roundup of Link Tools by Search Engine Land
The always brilliant Debra Mastaler presents a helpful list of backlink analysis tools plus mini-reviews of several “non-standard, outside of the box link tools like Smarter Search.
Ultimate Guide to Link Building by Agent SEO
Jacob Stoops provides an excellent tutorial, beginning with explaining the process and importance of link building then stepping through different tactics and key sites of different types (directories, social bookmarking, article submission, etc.).
Build Links Backwards by Search Engine Journal
Rather than begging for links or hoping your content will appeal to a publisher, Jennifer Van Iderstyne suggests throwing the process into reverse — contacting great sites (blogs, educators, news sites, associations) and asking what type of content they would be interested in linking to.
In this guest post, Dana Lookadoo engagingly live-blogs a session from SMX Seattle featuring tips from several link building experts including Roger Montii (use target searching, don’t rely solely on competitor backlinks), Arnie Kuenn (targeted email requests, content development and promotion), Chris Bennett (infographics), Debra Mastaler (content syndication, guest blogging) and more.
The Art (or Science) of Building Links by Search Engine Watch
In her first post for SEW, Nichola Stott compares link building to expanding one’s professional network: factors like reputation, connections and relevance all matter in both realms.
Google’s Recommendations for Organic Linkbuilding by 10 Golden Rules Internet Marketing Strategy Blog
In this short post, Marc Purtell shares Google’s recommendations for organic link building, which basically come down to: produce quality content.
Case Study: I Listened to Google and I Failed by Graywolf’s SEO Blog
This case study puts Google’s linking advice (see post above) to the test. Is great content really all you need?