Posts Tagged ‘b2b marketing’

Why More Members, Money, and Ads Don’t Always Mean More Success: A B2B Marketer’s Survival Guide

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Guest post by Ariel Applbaum.

Historical Lessons

B2B marketing lessons from Facebook and MySpaceThere is an old adage that says “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” So the question is–are there things that today’s B2B marketers can learn from history, specifically, the tremendous success of Facebook and the rise, fall and possible resurrection of Myspace?

My answer is certainly–yes! This question is particularly compelling today as we see Facebook set new records in terms of users, market valuation and revenue growth and wait with anticipation to see if Myspace can reinvent itself after conceding its market leadership position in social networking back in 2008. How can the respective histories and behaviors of these two companies inform the best practices for B2B marketers?

Background on the two social media sites

From its founding, Myspace took off like a rocket ship while Facebook had a much slower ascension from launch. The two companies were created six months apart; Myspace was founded in August 2003 and by July 2005 was bought by News Corp for 580 million dollars. In contrast, Facebook was founded in February 2004 and only took in its first outside funding of 12.7 million dollars from Accel Partners in May 2005.

In 2006, Myspace was the most visited U.S. social web site, surpassing Google in site visits. Myspace’s dominance would not last though. In 2008, Facebook surpassed Myspace in number of unique worldwide visitors and one year later claimed that title as well in the U.S. Myspace’s user base decline resulted in a tremendous loss in valuation; in fact, News Corp sold substantially all of its Myspace ownership in May 2011 for a rumored 35 million dollars.

Lessons

The differences in the birth, development, nurturing, growth and monetization of these two companies go a long way in explaining the reversal in their fortunes and the sustainability of their successes.  These differences can and should provide valuable lessons for B2B marketers. These lessons include three main points: market to those of greatest relevance; create an atmosphere conducive to experimentation, new idea generation, & creativity; maintain relevance; and avoid rigid corporate structures.

A bigger user base is not always better

Myspace was created by Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe, two former employees of internet marketing company eUniverse. They had both been users of Friendster, which was initially a social networking service intended to maintain contacts and share online content and media. The Myspace founders saw both the potential of social networks and ways to improve on the Friendster offering and experience.

Myspace jump-started its subscriber base when they held a contest to see which eUniverse employees, who were the initial Myspace users, could sign up the largest number of users to the new Myspace website. This incentivized quantity over quality. Anderson and DeWolfe contacted 20 Million eUniverse users. Because of their campaign, thousands of users signed up for Myspace, and Anderson and DeWolfe began focusing exclusively on growing the social network.

But these users were not necessarily interconnected. Because those who signed up for Myspace did not know one another or had no reason to meet, then there was no ongoing incentive to use the website. What the Myspace founders and eUniverse CEO did not understand was that the most appealing aspect of a social network is that friends can connect or reconnect or share anything from photographs to experiences to news.

The importance of the Network Effect

Facebook, by contrast, started out as a social media outlet for Harvard. While Facebook started out with a far smaller prospective pool of users, specifically only 27,000 students, they all had reason to be interested in one another, thus creating an engaged and devoted user base. Because of the relevance, satisfaction and engagement with Facebook, users recommended it to their friends and other college students, creating a massive network of similarly aged, highly connected people with mutual interests.

This created a virtuous network effect which further increased Facebook’s relevance for its users. The takeaway lesson for marketers is that while it is important to get the word out, unless you are reaching qualified leads, it does you no good. Don’t send emails to everyone in your address book, rather, choose your recipients carefully. Don’t spray and pray.  Choose the right market and create a strong connection and relevance to it; otherwise, you might have a lot of misleading nibbles but no fruitful bites. It is important to segment your data and your customers to better understand and access useful people who will find you useful.

Make customers happy before you worry about money

While Myspace probably thought it hit the jackpot with its 580 million dollar sale to News Corp, the sale might have actually been the seed of its downfall. Startups often focus on quality of product and a strong user base before monetization. While Myspace was still in startup mode when acquired, its high acquisition price and obligation to a public company created immense pressure to hit quarterly targets. It hastened the monetization process, which led to over-advertising and increased focus on making money, as opposed to focus on making the customer happy or the product better.

Due to the pressure to hit numbers and the fear of underperforming, Myspace was not as receptive to innovation or user input. Tinkering with the model, platform, or product would have led the company to new and unknown territory with customers, and Myspace couldn’t run experiments that didn’t predict sufficient user growth or enhanced profits.

In addition to putting pressure on Myspace to perform, News Corp designed a rigid business plan for Myspace, which hindered it from being more focused on enhancing user experience and satisfaction and slowing willingness to adapt and change.

Facebook, on the other hand, kept its ear to the ground, listened to user input and adapted accordingly. In fact, Facebook actively chose not to take the big payout and focused on developing its product. In 2006, Facebook turned down two large offers, the first from Viacom for 750 million dollars and the second from Yahoo at one billion dollars. Facebook has never been boring. If anything, people complain about too many new features and too many updates.

The lesson for marketers is that it is important to maintain flexibility and willingness to adapt and change and remain interesting and relevant. Listen to user input and feedback and don’t be afraid to change what you are doing.  Your business plan can project 300 percent returns over one year, but that doesn’t do you much good if customers and prospects lose interest in your offering. Focus less on making money and more on making your customers happy–money usually follows.

The importance of targeted ads

Myspace was rolling in the dough–earning 800 million dollars in revenue in 2008. If you ever used Myspace back then, you would remember the amount of advertisements on your screen. However, they were more ad than content. The advertising was not interesting, or applicable, and hence would be very annoying.

Facebook, on the other hand, played the advertising game right, as it uses the information it has about you to create relevant and targeted ads.  Facebook targets ads based on your profile, your likes, and information it gets about you from your Facebook friends. Generally, Facebook knows your age, location, education, relationship status, and more; Facebook would not push an ad to 18-25 year old males about the newest and hottest bras from Victoria’s Secret or Estee Lauder make-up, but rather, ads for the newest Michael Jordan sneakers would appear.

Facebook made it a priority to run directed, interesting, and relevant ads in appropriate quantities. Facebook has paid attention to how many ads get pushed to users without annoying them. One Facebook rep was quoted in an Edgerank Checker post in October 2012, saying, “we’re continually optimizing newsfeed to ensure the most relevant experience for our users.”

It is of the utmost importance as a B2B marketer to target the right people in the right quantities. It is not enough to have tons of ads on high traffic websites; you have to reach the right people on the right websites about the right subjects. To be successful, design your ads to be suitable to the people you want to be reading them, and put them in the right places for the right people.

Example of bad MySpace ads

An image of Myspace inbox screen with advertising ranging from a spammy new scientific way to lose weight and free credit reports, to sour candy

Continued success and an attempt to rejuvenate

Facebook went public in May 2012 at a then record valuation of 104 billion dollars. After some minor hiccups at the start, it now trades at a 220 billion dollar valuation. This past quarter alone the company’s revenue grew around 61 percent to nearly 3 billion dollars. The company now has over 1.4 billion users.

In late 2013, Myspace users numbered approximately 36 million–less than half the number of unique users Myspace had at its peak in Late 2008. Necessity, rather than creative destruction, recently forced Myspace to reinvent itself into a social entertainment website when it was jointly purchased from News Corp for $35 million dollars by Specific Media and Justin Timberlake. They have revamped Myspace into a music sharing website which they hope will have value and relevance to producers, artists and even casual listeners.

While the original Myspace had an element of music sharing, the current strategy clearly is a re-visioning of the company. Although too early to deem the strategy successful, the company seems to be headed in the right direction.

Myspace’s story and history illustrates the importance of admitting failure and moving on by learning from past mistakes and being willing to let go of old ideas. Vinod Khosla, a successful and well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneur, has been quoted as saying, “Most entrepreneurs–good entrepreneurs–are just not afraid to fail… the ability to think outside the box is the Silicon Valley mindset.”

For B2B marketers, it is important to remember if a specific campaign, article or eBook does not succeed, or even gets negative feedback, and to learn from that failure or feedback and respond accordingly.

About the author: Ariel Applbaum is a Content Marketing Specialist at Radius, the data company that’s engineering decision science for B2B marketers. Ariel is studying entrepreneurship at Washington University in St. Louis. At Radius, he’s focused on building a community of innovative marketers through content partnerships.

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26 Outstanding LinkedIn Tips and Tactics

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Indisputably the largest business-oriented social network, LinkedIn has emerged as a crucial site for professional networking, B2B marketing, hiring and job seeking. LinkedIn now boasts more than 200 million members across 200 countries, and adds two new members every second; what’s more, 35% of LinkedIn members use the site daily.

Furthermore, due to its multiple sharing options including buttons, apps, personal updates, company updates, and industry-focused group discussions, LinkedIn is often among the top three or four traffic sources for B2B blogs. As a key driver of both traffic and online visibility, LinkedIn is a key component in any B2B firm’s web presence optimization framework.

How can individuals use LinkedIn most effectively, whether for personal branding, job seeking or networking? How can companies best use LinkedIn as a marketing platform? What are the best practices for advertising on LinkedIn?

Find the answers to these questions and many others here in more than two dozen expert LinkedIn guides, tactics, tips and infographics.

Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile and Use

How to Use LinkedIn Powerfully: 10 Tips to Know by Social Media Today

Tracy GoldTracy Gold offers tips for creating a more effective LinkedIn profile, among them writing a rich but concise summary (“use concrete details like results you have generated and tasks you do on a daily basis to show people how awesome you are, not tell them,” and connecting with care (“I favor being a tad picky. I’d like to think I could recommend—or at least answer questions about—anyone I am connected to on LinkedIn”).

6 Changes You Need To Make To Your LinkedIn Profile Now by V3 Integrated Marketing

Shelly KramerShelly Kramer recommends half a dozen key changes to power up your LinkedIn profile, such as adding an application: “LinkedIn offers a number of apps to help you add depth to your profile. Share what you’re reading, embed your SlideShare presentations, showcase your WordPress blog or add a poll. Other applications are available for specific industries, including Legal Updates, Real Estate Pro and Lawyer Ratings.”

How to turn LinkedIn into a relationship filter by SmartBlog on Social Media

Jesse StanchakJesse Stanchak interviews “LinkedIn Jedi” Dave Gowel about using LinkedIn as “a relationship filter, that when you put in all the relationships that you already have, it allows you to see the ones that you could have more easily, or get information about potential ones.” The key “is to start with a really high quality first-degree connection pool” so that those potential second- and third-degree connections are really meaningful.

10 words you should never use on LinkedIn by iMedia Connection

Josh DrellerHoping to land that dream job through LinkedIn? Josh Dreller advises avoiding these 10 over-used, meaningless, or just plain dumb phrases to describe yourself, such as “guru” or “visionary”—”terms such as ‘guru’ imply that you’re beyond an expert in something; that folks should be showering you with rose pedals or sacrificing goats in your honor. And, hey, if you’re a guru, why do you need a job? Self-appointed royalty titles only make most people feel like you’re going to be a huge pain-in-the-butt to work with.”

12 LinkedIn secrets to supercharge your social networking by Ragan’s PR Daily

Shelly Kramer (again) lists a dozen techniques for advanced use of LinkedIn, such as how to hide your status updates (“If you’re connecting with new business prospects or making changes to your profile in preparation for job seeking, you may not want to broadcast that activity to your network”), make yourself anonymous (for example, when conducting competitive research) and block your connections and group activities from competitors.

13 Things You Never Knew You Could Do On LinkedIn by Business Insider

Steve KovachWhile the title may be a bit exaggerated, Steve Kovach nevertheless highlights several of the less-used features, such as LinkedIn’s resume builder tool, which “will build your resumé in a snap. It takes all the information in your profile and coverts it to a simple resumé that you can print out. There are a bunch of templates to choose from too.”

The New Networking: Ultimate LinkedIn Guide for 2012 Grads by Online Colleges

Writing “Whether you’re a LinkedIn newbie or just need to become more effective on the site, these tips offer great ideas for LinkedIn networking,” the authors provide more than two dozen tips and resources for more effectively using LinkedIn. Though targeted at recent grads, many of the recommendations apply more broadly, like being a connector: “If you know two (or more people) that should know each other but don’t, take a moment to introduce them to each other on LinkedIn. They’ll appreciate that you thought of them and recognize that you’re valuable as a person who offers assistance and great connections.”

Looking for a new job? LinkedIn can help by iMedia Connection

Jim NicholsJim Nichols offers eight tips for utilizing LinkedIn in a job search, including helpful instructions on how to search for jobs on the business social network and connecting with recruiters: “A number of recruiters told me that LinkedIn is the source of more than half of their serious candidates. That’s a remarkable statistic and the operative word in that sentence is ‘serious.’…Recruiters are using LinkedIn to proactively find great candidates and check up on applicants that they are reviewing. If you aren’t there in a meaningful way, you may never get serious consideration.”

Social Media Minute: 25 B2B Marketing Uses of LinkedIn by MLT Creative

Martine HunterWriting that “If you’re in B2B marketing or sales, you can do so much more with your LinkedIn account than simply look up your B2B marketing contacts. Use  LinkedIn to help sell product, expand your networks, grow your business and gain free publicity,” Martine Hunter lists more than two dozen tactics to more fully engage on LinkedIn, such as conducting market research with Polls, sharing survey results with contacts, and “Check connections’ locations before traveling so you can meet with those in the city where you’re heading.”

4 Ways to Stand Out on LinkedIn by LinkedIn Blog

Nicole WilliamsNicole Williams shares four tips for making an impact on LinkedIn in this concise but helpful post, for example: “Dress it up: People always say dress for the job you want, right? Well, maybe it’s time to dress up your online profile picture. People with photos are seven times more likely to have their profiles viewed. Having a more polished image will not only make you visible, but it also lets employers know that you are serious about representing their company in the most professional way…Plus, you’re twelve times more likely to have your profile viewed if you add more than one position to your profile.”

10 Ways to Promote Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn by iMedia Connection

Jane TurkewitzJane Turkewitz recommends choosing “key strategic words in that will help define your core strengths and experiences” ot use in your title, using SEO strategies in highlighting your specialties (“Don’t be afraid to use multiple terms to describe the same function as I have done in this sample because everyone ‘searches’ using different criteria”) and securing high-level recommendations (“Director level and above recommendations are ideal”) among other tactics.

Marketing with LinkedIn

6 Lessons from HubSpot’s LinkedIn Company Page by Business Insider

Amanda MaksymiwAmanda Maksymiw shares lessons from examining how HubSpot utilizes its LinkedIn company, such as “Build a robust product tab…HubSpot has done a really nice job utilizing the Products tab within the company page.  Instead of simply focusing on its software products, HubSpot also links back to larger content assets such as eBooks, assessments, webinars, and its every (sic) popular Grader tools,” which is to say, not just literally products but also assets of value to prospective customers.

Linkedin Leveraging: How to Tap Groups for Traffic, Leads & Sales by KISSmetrics

Michael AlexisMichael Alexis breaks down LinkedIn Groups strategies used by Lewis Howes to allegedly generate $1.5 million in revenue. Sales pitch aside, this post provides a helpful step-by-step guide to starting a LinkedIn Group, broadcasting group messages, setting up webinars and more.

11 LinkedIn Marketing Gems You’re Missing Out On by HubSpot
***** 5 STARS

Corey EridonStating that “We already know that LinkedIn is more effective at generating leads than Facebook or Twitter. 277% more effective, in fact,” Corey Eridon presents tactics for optimizing LinkedIn marketing efforts, from gathering insights from LinkedIn Group statistics to using targeted product tabs to create “different variations of your product tab for each segment of your target audience.”

9 Ways to Add LinkedIn to Your Company Website by Mashable

Brian HonigmanNoting that “Adding LinkedIn’s social features to your company website is a great way to tap into both a large-scale recruitment platform and a targeted network of business contacts,” Brian Honigman describes nine ways to do this, including Share, Recommend, Follow Company and Apply buttons, as well as plugins for your company profile and, for recruiting purposes, “Jobs Your May Be Interested In.”

LinkedIn To Launch Targeting and Analytics for Company Pages by The Content Strategist

Kylie Jane WakefieldKylie Jane Wakefield explains how two LinkedIn features, Targeted Updates and Follower Statistics, “allow companies to further target key demographics and measure the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns.” Targeted Updates enables “marketers to deliver updates to certain audiences based on specific details, such as company size, industry, geography, job function, and seniority,” while “Follower Statistics ‘provides insights about follower demographics, engagement levels, update impressions, total following, recent followers, and number of new followers month-to-month.’”

13 Brands Using LinkedIn Company Page Features the Right Way by HubSpot

Pamela VaughanPamela Vaughan details eight ways brands can make the most of their LinkedIn pages (such as incorporating your blog’s RSS feed: “While simply including your blog’s feed won’t broadcast its content to your LinkedIn page followers via the updates feed on their homepage…it’s a really easy way to promote your blog content to the visitors on your page”), supported with examples from companies like Voices.com and Zipcar.

5 Ways to Generate Leads from a LinkedIn B2B Company Page by Social Media B2B

Jeffery L. CohenJeffrey L. Cohen details a handful of techniques for generating B2B leads through LinkedIn, among them testing free banners (“Want to test some new creative ideas? Want to test some landing pages? LinkedIn gives you three free banner ads at the top of the products and services page. Create images that are 640×220 pixels, upload them to your page and add a unique URL, preferably to a landing page, and you have free ads”) and incorporating video with a call to action.

7 Ways to Drive More Blog Traffic Using LinkedIn by Social Media Examiner

Stephanie SammonsStephanie Sammons shares “seven powerful tips to use LinkedIn to drive more traffic to your blog,” among them six ways to “get active and engage” to drive more profile views and blog traffic, and four ways to “Post blog articles as status updates and link to relevant articles.”

Answers to Your Top 7 Questions About Mastering LinkedIn Marketing by HubSpot

Brittany LeaningBrittany Leaning answers the seven most common questions posed in a joint HubSpot-LinkedIn webinar, for example, Q: What’s the best way to find potential customers on LinkedIn? A: “Groups are your best bet, especially if you consider your business to be relatively niche. In a group, you can establish yourself as an industry expert very quickly through discussions and announcements. In general, groups are very engaging and allow for great communication between professionals interested in the same topic.”

How to get the most from LinkedIn Company Pages by Smart Insights

Annmarie HanlonAnnmarie Hanlon provides a detailed guide to optimizing LinkedIn company pages, from reviewing all of the key elements to create or review when setting up a company page, to sharing company status updates, to utilizing the (admittedly limited) data provided by LinkedIn Insights.

Advertising on LinkedIn

The KISSmetrics Guide To LinkedIn Ads – Part I: The Basics by KISSmetrics

Igor BelogolovskyIgor Belogolovsky serves up a step-by-step guide to building a successful ad campaign on LinkedIn, from determining whether or not LinkedIn ads are even right for your business (“If you sell something that benefits business owners or working professionals and you can, in one short sentence, clearly delineate why, the answer is probably yes”) through targeted, ad creation, budgeting and tracking.

LinkedIn…from Downtown! by PPC Hero

Kayla KurtzUsing NCAA March Madness as a metaphor, Kayla Kurtz explains why LinkedIn advertising could be a contender (“the glory of LinkedIn is it’s targeting capabilities. You can target all the way down to the CEO of a particular company and write an ad text written specifically to them, name included. If that isn’t targeting, I don’t know what is”) as well as limitations that could leave it in the losers’ bracket (e.g., historically low click-through rates).

How to set up a Successful Ad Campaign onLinkedIn by eMagine’s B2B Blog

Lee Rush SchwartzWriting that “LinkedIn ads are very similar to those you create on AdWords or AdCenter, but with the added bonus of specific targeting options not found in the other ad campaign media,” Lee Rush Schwartz steps through the six elements of ad targeting on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Infographics

Do You Use LinkedIn To Its Fullest Potential? [INFOGRAPHIC] by Infographic List

Arjan de RaafArjan de Raaf offers tips for making the best use of LinkedIn in this short but sweet infographic, including filling out all areas of your profile, as “First impressions are everything. It’s important to have everything completed on your profile to appear more professional. It’s also an opportunity to keyword optimize your profile.”

Infographic: How people are using LinkedIn by Ragan’s PR Daily

Here’s a fascinating collection of LinkedIn facts and stats, among them: less than 10% of members use the paid, premium version of LinkedIn. More than 80% of members have fewer than 500 connections. And the four most popular features on the business social network are Groups,  people searching, “people you may know,” and checking on who has viewed one’s profile.

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17 Tragically Common Copywriting Mistakes to Avoid

Monday, December 17th, 2012

With more than 80% of b2b and high-value consumer purchasing decisions now starting with online research, content marketing is hot. Consider:

Buyers want content. According to J-P De Clerck, “87% of surveyed buyers look for advice before buying a product, service or solution. The first source when doing so: Web searches. With 71% of respondents who look for information, searches are by far the main source of information. Search and content are by definition very integrated.”

Marketers are producing more content. Recent research from MarketingProfs found:

  • • On average, B2B content marketers are spending 33% of their marketing budgets on content marketing, up from 26% last year.
  • • 54% plan to increase content marketing spending next year.
  • • All content tactics are being used more frequently than they were last year, with the use of research reports, videos, and mobile content having increased the most.

Content is replacing advertising. Writing in Forbes, Michael Brenner explains how content (which buyers seek out) is more valuable than advertising (which many buyers ignore or even try to avoid): “Great content and engaging stories help your company’s content get found and get shared. When great content is shared, commented on or liked, it is no longer your content alone. It is their content. And user-generated content is trusted more than advertising or promotion.”

As content proliferates, standing out becomes more difficult. It requires originality, deep understanding of customer needs and motivations, and the cultivation of a network to share and amplify it. But most fundamentally, it has to flow well,  to follow the basic rules of spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Faced with an overwhelming array of choices, buyers first prune their lists of any obvious “no” options. Vendors can be excluded out of hand for many possible reasons: their prices are too high, they lack expertise in the buyer’s industry, their products are missing critical features, or…their content is sloppy. It’s similar to a human resources manager reviewing a hundred resumes for a single open position: those with spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors get tossed in the first review cycle.

How to Write Good - Amusing but HelpfulThough marketing content can come in a wide variety of forms—text, video, podcasts, infographics, animation—virtually all content starts with writing. Poor writing leads to ineffective content; content that doesn’t get shared, doesn’t get ranked, doesn’t get (widely) read, and doesn’t compel action.

So, the basis of producing interesting, shareable, actionable content is solid writing. To help make your content “must read” rather than “just toss,” avoid these xx unfortunate, grating and all-too-common writing mistakes.

1. “A lot of.” Granted, there are times when it’s okay to use this phrase (and a lot of people would agree with that), but in general, it’s abused. Avoid unless it’s really the best fit in context. It’s informal and imprecise, e.g., “a lot of marketers are embracing content marketing.” That’s true, but not helpful. Is 100 “a lot” of marketers? Is 72%? Or better yet, 72% of b2b marketers in small to midsized companies?

2. “Things.” Ugh. This is bad—rarely do we write about “things.” Features, attributes, concepts, attitudes, perspectives, capabilities, options, topics, specifications, qualities, and benefits yes, but “things” no. This is particularly awful when combined with #1 above. Which is better? “A lot of things make XYZ software stand out” or “Several unique features make XYZ software stand out.”

3. “Good.” Double ugh. This is one of the most overused words in the English language, despite a wealth of superior and more precise synonyms. A “good” meal may be delicious, tasty, scrumptious, satisfying, delightful, lip-smacking, or even extraordinary. A “good” writer may be brilliant, skilled, creative, original, capable, expert, talented, accomplished, prodigious, adroit, adept, widely published, often-quoted…you get the idea.

4. Misuse of “over” vs. “more than.” This one is somewhat subjective and tricky, but one general rule of thumb is to use “more than” before numbers and “over” before units, e.g., “We got more than 12 inches of snow” but “we got over a foot of snow.” Grammar Girl does an excellent job of describing the subtleties in this word choice:

“The AP Stylebook encourages you to look at your particular sentence and then pick whichever phrase sounds best…You always want to evaluate your phrasing for each specific sentence you’re writing…The AP guide suggests that ‘She is over 30′ sounds better than ‘She is more than 30.’ The AP’s second example is ‘Their salaries went up more than $20 a week.’ I do think it would sound odd to say ‘Their salaries went up over $20 a week.’ I would definitely pick ‘more than’ in that sentence. If you choose to agree with the majority of the style pros and use more than and over interchangeably, always read over your work and make sure the phrase you’ve chosen sounds right in your particular sentence…There’s ‘more than one opinion’ about this. I do think it would have sounded odd if I’d said, ‘There’s over one opinion.’ Don’t you agree?”

5. Misuse of hard / difficult / challenging. As the Oxford English Dictionary makes clear, as with “over” and “more than” above, the use of “hard,” “difficult” and “challenging” is subjective and depends to a degree upon author preference and which word sounds best in a given context. There are no hard and fast rules (though one would never speak of “difficult and fast” or “challenging and fast” rules).

Generally, “hard” is used with physical actions (e.g., “it’s hard to move a pile of rocks by hand”), “difficult” implies trickiness (“maneuvering a large boat through a narrow waterway is difficult”) and “challenging” is used in intellectual and sporting situations (“it’s challenging to out-coach Bill Belichick”). Ultimately though, this word choice requires judgment; it can be hard, difficult or challenging to select the right word at times.

6. Misuse or non-use of adjectives. Too often, writers skip needed adjectives or use fluffy, pointless descriptors in place of meaningful words. “XYZ provides the best service in the industry” is an example of both sins. First, “best” in this case is worthless puffery. Now, if XYZ won a Best Customer Service award from a recognized organization, then by all means, let people know! Otherwise, skip the self aggrandizement.

Second, the sentence above begs the question: the best what service? Dental service? Excavation service? Software implementation service? Prospective customers actually search for phrases like those, so including the most specific adjective is essential for search optimization. But no visitor worth attracting ever searches for “the best service.”

7. Incorrect subject/verb agreement. Skilled writers knows what this means. See the problem?

8. Improper use of single vs. double quotation marks. “Quotes are always set within double quotation marks.” Single quotation marks are used only for quotes within quotes, e.g., as Chris Smith wrote, “in my interview with Pat Jones, Pat insisted ‘Capable writers understand the proper use of quotation marks.’ I think that’s true.”

9. Mistaking your vs. you’re. This is elementary English, yet it’s disturbing how often the wrong term is used in place of the other. “Your” is possessive, “you’re” is a contraction for “you are.” You’re going to look like an idiot if your writing includes this mistake.

10. Improper hyphenation. Hyphenation is another practice that’s not that difficult but nevertheless often done wrong. Hyphenate terms when using them as adjectives (“she’s attending a high-level meeting”) but not when using them at nouns (“he is performing at a high level”).

11. Mixing first-, second-, and third-person voice. No writer should mix voices, writing from different perspectives within one piece. We don’t often use first-person voice on this blog. You should be consistent in your writing.

12. Using passive vs active voice. Is it improper for one to employ the passive voice, needlessly adding words to a sentence? Yes, so use the active voice.

13. Incorrectly spelling out (or not spelling out) numbers. Spell out numbers less than 10 (one, two,  three) but use numerals for larger numbers (39, 139, 1,339, etc.).

14. Getting “you and me” vs. “you and I” wrong. This is another area of common confusion that should be easy. When in doubt,  leave out the “you” and then see whether “I” or “me” fits the sentence. “You and I should go to the park” is correct because “I should go to the park” is correct. “She sent it to you and me” is right because otherwise she would have sent it to me, not sent it to I.

15. Improper use of “who” vs. “whom.” So many people find this situation so confusing that the use of “whom” is rapidly disappearing. Shame though, as it’s a perfectly fine word, and the rules for using “whom” vs. “who” are in general no more complex than those for the proper use of “you and me” versus “you and I” above.

In this case, determine whether the sentence in question would make more sense using he/she versus him/her. For example, “To whom should I mail this?” (I should mail it to him.) “Who will sign for the package?” (She will sign for it.)

16. The unnecessary use of “that.” Unnecessary “that”—let me assure you that we don’t make this mistake. Necessary “that”—we don’t use this word improperly because that would be annoying.

17. Repetitive word usage. Consider the following two examples:

Facebook is on a roll. Facebook now has more than one billion users. It’s hard to imagine any competitor overtaking Facebook.

Facebook is on a roll. The world’s largest social network now has more than one billion users. It’s hard to imagine any competitor overtaking Mark Zuckerberg’s creation.

Synonyms are a writer’s (and reader’s) friend. Use them. Sometimes it requires a bit of creativity, other times it’s as simple as checking thesaurus.com, which should be a prominent bookmark in every writer’s browser.

Proper writing alone won’t win every battle for business or search engine rank, but shoddy, sloppily produced clients will often guarantee a loss. Avoiding the sometimes simple but too-common mistakes above is a baseline for content marketing success.

For an expanded and far more amusing list of common writing mistakes to avoid, check out How to Write Good. Among their words of wisdom:

  • • Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
  • • If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
  • • And always be sure to finish what

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Looking Back at 300: Top 10 Posts on the Webbiquity Blog So Far

Friday, October 5th, 2012

After 32 months (time flies when you’re having fun!) and 300 posts, here is a quick look back at the 10 most-read posts on the Webbiquity blog to date. This is an update of the looking back at 100 post in July 2010.

Again, thank you for reading the MarketingSherpa Readers Choice top b2b marketing blog for 2012. Without further ado, below are the 10 most-viewed posts on this blog to date. Some of the entries are surprising, but life and the web can be unpredictable. These are the posts that Webbiquity readers have “voted” as the best by their traffic so far.

Top 10 Posts So Far on the Webbiquity B2B Marketng Blog10. PR Monitoring and Management Tools: Which is Best? Vocus vs. Cision (November 8, 2011)

Vocus and Cision are both powerful and popular PR monitoring and management systems. Both provide PR and social media professionals with extensive capabilities for tracking and growing media coverage of their organizations or clients. So which is best?

9. How to Write an Effective Business Blog (January 8, 2010)

Helpful advice on choosing a blogging platform, authors, topics and frequency for an effective business blog. This post is starting to show its age, but the guidance is still useful to beginning bloggers.

8. 33 (of the) Best Marketing Strategy Guides and Insights of 2010 (February 14, 2011)

Sometimes it’s essential to step back from everyday marketing tactics to ask the bigger questions, like: What conceptual models are we basing our marketing assumptions and practices on, and what new models should we be thinking about? Which emerging trends do we need to keep an eye on? While you won’t find much in the way of “tips and tricks” in this post, you will find guidance on answers to these big-picture marketing questions and more here in some the best marketing strategy guides and insights of 2010. For a more up-to-date look at marketing strategy, check out the Best B2B Marketing and Sales Strategy Guides and Insights of 2011.

7. The One Effective Use of Facebook for B2B Marketing (March 9, 2010)

The intimate, informal nature of Facebook makes it the ideal venue to showcase the human side of your company, with content that may not be appropriate elsewhere. While I’d write this differently today, the post holds up pretty well considering there were “only” 350 million users on Facebook when this was published.

6. 78 (of the) Best Social Media Marketing Tips, Guides, Tools and Strategies of 2010 So Far (August 16, 2010)

More than six dozen of the best, most bookmark-able articles and blog posts about social media tactics, tools and strategies written in 2010, by leading writers like John Jantsch, Lori Dicker, Lee Odden, Lisa Barone, Jay Baer and many more. You can find a much fresher version of this type of content in the recently posted 33 (of the) Best Social Media Guides, Tips and Resources of 2012 So Far.

5. 50 (of the) Best Twitter Guides, Stats, Tips and Tools of 2010 So Far (October 5, 2010)

What are the best ways to use Twitter for business? How you can use it most effectively? Which tools are most helpful? You’ll find the answers to these questions and many more here—or check out more recent thought on the topic in Best Twitter Tips, Tools and Tactics of 2011.

4. The Nifty 50 Top Women of Twitter for 2011 (May 3, 2011)
50 of the most remarkable women on Twitter, from B2B marketers to social media experts, journalists, PR professionals, or just plain fascinating personalities. Though this list is almost timeless, The Top #Nifty50 Women in Technology on Twitter for 2012, published just last month, honors 50 remarkable women on Twitter who work for or with technology companies.

3. What’s the Best Social Media Monitoring Tool? It Depends (October 13, 2010)

The explosion of social media has led to a corresponding need for more sophisticated monitoring tools that can crawl the hundreds of social networking and bookmarking sites and millions of blogs across the globe. A rapidly proliferating collection of tools are being developed to meet the need. This post highlights nine tools at various price levels that may or may not be the best but are certainly among the most popular and capable social media monitoring tools currently available.

2. Best Email Marketing Tips, Tactics and Metrics of 2010 (February 21, 2011)

How can you use email marketing most effectively and avoid overloading your recipients with information? How can you grow the size of your email marketing list? Avoid mistakes that will cost you readers? Integrate your email and social media marketing efforts to improve results through both channels? Find the answers to those questions and others here in more than two dozen of the best email marketing guides of 2010. Or get more current email wisdom in 17 (of the) Best Email Marketing Guides of 2011.

And the number one, most viewed post of all time so far on the Webbiquity blog (imagine mental drum-roll sound here) is…

1. Best Social Media Stats, Facts and Marketing Research of 2010 (January 17, 2011)

Learn how buyers use social media, which platforms are most effective, and more here in the best social media marketing stats, facts and research of 2010. If you crave social media stats and data (clearly a popular topic), check out the much newer collection of such in 79 Remarkable Social Media Marketing Facts and Statistics for 2012.

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Book Review: The B2B Social Media Book

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

With The B2B Social Media Book: Become a Marketing Superstar by Generating Leads with Blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Email, and More, authors Kipp Bodnar of HubSpot and Jeffrey L. Cohen of Salesforce Radian6 have literally written the book on social media best practices for B2B marketers.

Unlike the multitude of other social media marketing books, this one isn’t about how celebrities build a huge Twitter following or how big consumer brands use coupons and contests to attract massive “likes” on Facebook; it’s focused on the content-centric, information-hungry world of B2B marketing.

The B2B Social Media BookThe book is divided into three main sections: The Fundamentals of Social Media Lead Generation, Social Media Lead Generation in Action, and Taking Social Media Lead Generation to the next level. As those headings suggest, this isn’t a book about “engagement,” conversations, shares, likes, followers or any other soft measures of social media success, but rather is focused on using social media to generate a high volume of qualified leads,  the top priority of B2B marketers.

The opening chapter, “Why B2B is Better at Social Media than B2C,” helpfully lays the groundwork for the book with two key sections. First, five reasons B2B companies are a better fit for social media marketing than their B2 counterparts:

  • • Clear understanding of customers (“B2B marketers go far past demographic data”)
  • • Depth of subject matter expertise
  • • Need for generating higher revenue with lower marketing budgets
  • • Relationship-based sales
  • • Already have practice doing it (“long before the social web, [B2B marketers] were publishing newsletters, quarterly magazines and [using] other marketing tactics that map to many key social media marketing methods”)

All of which should sound familiar to B2B marketers. Still, that said, the authors point out that there are situations where social media isn’t right for B2B firms:

  • • Very small, concentrated market
  • • Purchasing decision makers are behind strong firewalls (e.g., the military, power utilities)
  • • No internal advocate for social media (i.e., lack of executive support)
  • • Need to generate a high volume of short-term sales
  • • Lack of resources to be successful (“you will always need more time and money than you expect for executing your social media tactics”)

The book also points out that social media marketing takes time to produce results, as it more of a long-term investment than an immediate expense with a quick payback. “With the hurdles into publishing and information sharing now so low, it is harder than ever before for a company to stand out. A great CMO needs to take risks an try new things, while also ensuring that the entire marketing team understands that risk and polarization are accepted and encouraged for the success of the business.” Fortunately, CMOs have a bit more luxury of time today than in the recent past, as the average tenure for a CMO has increased from just 23 months in 2006 to 43 months now.

After laying the foundation, the book steps through best practices for developing eBooks and webinars; business blogging; marketing through LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook; making email social; B2B social mobile marketing; and integrating tradeshows with social efforts. Along the way, the authors share numerous bits of marketing wisdom and findings such as:

Content really is exploding. “According to Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, more information is created on the Internet in 48 hours today than was created by all humankind from the beginning of time until 2003.”

You have to ask for leads. “The lack of conversion opportunities is the single biggest mistake that we see when speaking with B2B marketers working to leverage social media.”

“Emulate the best, not your competitors.” “The people who sign your multimillion dollar purchase orders read the New York Times, buy digital goods from iTunes, and order shoes from Zappos.” Yes, you need to do a better job with search and social than your direct competitors, but for inspiration, set your sites higher.

Social media marketing isn’t a campaign, it’s a reorientation. “The only way to get more time back for new marketing strategies, such as social media, is to stop strategies and tactics that don’t work. Stop now. This simple idea of stopping tactics that don’t work will instantly make you a better marketer.”

Search and social are inseparable. Given that the number of Google+ and Facebook shares that a piece of content gets impacts its search ranking, “SEO is the number one reason a B2B company should be using social media marketing” according to the authors. “Social media isn’t the first thing a business should focus on to improve search traffic, but it is certainly part of long-term SEO success.”

Content is core to social media marketing success… “Getting found on the web is a lot like winning the lottery. A person who has 100 tickets has a much better chance of winning the lottery than a person with only one ticket. In the world of social media, content is the equivalent of lottery tickets.”

…but it has to be high-quality content. “The biggest secret in B2B social media marketing is that those companies that create great content consistently over time are the ones that succeed.”

eBooks and white papers are complementary. Too often, these terms are used as synonyms, but there are important differences between the two formats which the book explains simply and concisely. “Traditionally, white papers have been more academic in tone and style. Although an eBook may strive to educate on the same topic, it would do so in a more entertaining tone, accompanied by images to help illustrate its points…Go for the eBook instead of the white paper when talking to nontechnical audiences.” The authors also include an excellent “10-Step Blueprint to eBook Awesomeness.”

Improve your webinar presentations with a live audience. Among the helpful tips in “Five Steps for an Engaging Webinar” is the suggestion to use a live audience: “Even if it is only one person, have someone else in the room with you while presenting a webinar. As speakers, we all use feedback from the audience to adjust our presentation. Since you can’t see the people listening to you on a webinar, having a co-worker sit in as an audience to provide feedback is invaluable.”

Keep videos short. “Perfection in B2B video is not when there is nothing left to add in, but instead when there is nothing left to remove…three minutes is an eternity on the Web.”

And there’s much more, including how often you should aim to publish new posts on a business blog, the best time to send b2b emails, and how to promote your company on Twitter without overdoing it.

The book has its minor flaws. Rank is not “dead” as the authors claim; true, with Google experimenting more with image results, additional ad placements, personalized search, and even displaying email results on SERPs, rank doesn’t have quite the unique value that it once did. But it still matters; ranking at #1 or #2 will virtually always result in more clicks than ranking at #8, or #18, or #28.

The analogy used on page 65 is of questionable appropriateness for a business book, but it does get the point across. (No, I won’t tell you what it is, you’ll need to buy the book to find out.)

And the most significant criticism I’ve heard of the book is that it covers too much old ground. But in defense of the authors, given the wide range of social media knowledge in the marketplace (from newbie to expert), it’s challenging to appropriately balance the risks of stating the obvious versus leaving out crucial detail. In truth, those who are relatively new to B2B social media will find the book an essential primer, while even seasoned experts are likely to discover useful tidbits.

Quibbles aside, Jeff Cohen and Kipp Bodnar have done an outstanding job of producing a B2B social media book with enough practical substance mixed with higher level theory to meet the needs of virtually anyone involved in this area, from entry-level practitioners as well as senior B2B marketing executives. The B2B Social Media Book deserves to be read, highlighted, dog-eared, Post-It noted and referred back to often by pretty much anyone whose role is impacted by B2B social media.

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