The Crocodile – big appetite for B2B marketing

Posts Tagged ‘social strategy’

New Timeline will make brands work harder on Facebook

New Facebook Timeline is a force for good and a chance for B2B brands to shine. B2B can do branding every bit as well as B2C, and the new Timeline format is all about branding and brands having to work harder to stay relevant.

Facebook pages will automatically switch to the new Timeline layout on 30 March. Here’s a summary of the changes and what they mean for business pages.

Cover photo
You now have an opportunity to showcase one large image on your company Facebook page. The image must be a minimum of 399 pixels across and the maximum dimensions are 850 by 315 pixels. You can’t include any calls to action and you can’t tell people to ‘Like’ or share your page. You can’t feature any contact information.

Profile image
The size of the profile picture has been changed to 180 by 180 pixels and appears in the news feed as a 30 by 30 pixels picture.

Highlighted post
You can now highlight an important story or event on your Facebook page so that it expands to run across the whole Timeline.

Pinned posts
You can now ‘pin’ stories to the top of your Timeline for up to a week so you have more control over what content visitors to your page see first.

Milestones
This is a new feature that lets you tell your brand’s story. See how Starbucks has done it here by clicking the bottom of their Timeline to reveal a picture of their first store opened in 1971. Who knew Starbucks was that old?

Applications
One of the biggest changes affecting company pages is removal of the default landing tab option, which mean new visitors to your page will always arrive on your wall first. Applications, welcome tabs, contact forms, competition etc. are all still available and can be showcased in a new position top right beneath the cover image. New app buttons are customisable and the dimensions for these are 111 by 74 pixels.

Facebook offers
This functionality is due to be rolled out soon with easy ways to share offers. As Facebook has the user’s email address they are able to email offers to whoever claims them.

Analytics and messaging
You now access Facebook analytics, or ‘Insights’ as they are called these days, by clicking on the Admin Panel top right. You can now see Insight information about any page using the new Timeline format. Plus pages now have the ability to receive messages from fans, which means some of those customer services conversations (complaints?) can move off your wall. This is similar to the DM feature in Twitter and is a welcome new feature for brands. To protect users from unsolicited contact, conversations can only be initiated by your Facebook fans.

This covers everything you need to know to make the transition to new Facebook Timeline and start driving more web traffic and better search performance. Bear in mind however that not everyone in your marketing team is gong to be a Facebook expert. There may be 30 million users in the UK but they are not all expert users.

Like many businesses you may decide to outsource all or part of your Facebook marketing. If you’d like to talk to someone about anything from competition pages, apps, welcome canvases or fully outsourced Facebook account management, call us.

Photo: Mark Zuckerberg introducing Timeline at F8
(Credit: Facebook)

Using Twitter for lead nurturing

B2B Marketing magazine has published a Twitter Best Practice Guide which includes a chapter by The Crocodile.

The B2B buying process can be long and arduous, not to mention potentially risky. Choosing the wrong supplier or partner for a business-critical service or product can have ramifications beyond initial capital outlay. No surprise then that your customers are increasingly turning to the social web, seeking advice from colleagues and peers to support their decision making processes.

Twitter can help you tune in to what your target market is talking about. Joining in these conversations in a timely and appropriate manner is a key part of an effective nurture strategy, one that can quickly and cost effectively help your business acquire a position of stature and leadership.

By addressing your audience throughout the various stages of the decision making process with useful, relevant content you can engage prospects in social dialogue that will help prove relevance, drive consideration and set you apart from the competition.

Good quality content and conversation are key to cultivating long-term relationships and valuable repeat sales opportunities. The challenge is in understanding, firstly, how to use Twitter to create and nurture leads, and secondly to establish the qualification criteria that determine when a marketing conversation is ready to progress into a sales discussion.

To help B2B marketers use and understand Twitter, B2B Marketing magazine has published a  Twitter Best Practice Guide including a chapter on using Twitter for lead nurturing and sales written by me and The Crocodile’s digital director Tom Marrows.

For brands, Twitter is no longer optional – it’s essential. The Twitter Best Practice Guide looks at the basics principles through to sophisticated techniques and examines all aspects of creating a sound Twitter strategy. Get your copy of the Twitter Best Practice Guide.

Follow us on Twitter or, contact us here.

Is your company ready for social media?

According to a report by eMarketer only 14% of senior marketing managers consider their business to be fully integrated with social media. With that in mind, and as the 2012 trends for marketing all refer to the continued growth of social media as a platform, it is vital that marketers have a structure in place to fully benefit from their social offerings.

The most important thing to remember about social is that it might not be suitable for everyone (there I said it!), you don’t have to dive right into a social strategy if your organisation isn’t going to benefit. To see if your company could benefit from a social strategy, and whether that strategy stands a chance at success, we’ve put together this simple checklist:

1. Do you and your company have clear goals for your social strategy?

The more specific your goals the better. It’s a lot easier for the people taking on the task of growing and implementing the strategy if a clear set of goals is awarded to it. Keep in mind why you are doing it. Is it to increase conversion rates, build brand awareness or improve customer service?

2. Do you have the manpower to fully commit?

Social media is about the personal touch. Having a dedicated team providing content and real-time responses will stand you in good stead. Involving people from various areas of the business provides you with greater exposure to a wider audience. Using their collective experience will help to shape the approach going forward, driving an uplift in visits to your site or your blog. In the long run this strategy will yield impressive results.

3. Do you have the content?

The most important part to social media is having the content to ensure you can deliver thought-leadership, build trust and increase credibility. A good place to start is by looking at your existing material and deciding what can be recycled for social. As you create new content it’s important that the material is optimised for social. Use eye-catching headlines and visuals, as well fresh new ideas to make sure your content drives customers to find out more about you.

4. Do you understand where your audience is?

Research at the beginning is essential. There is no point placing all your content on Facebook if all your potential clients are on LinkedIn. Make sure your attention is focused on the right areas.

5. Does your company website engage with new prospects?

It seems like an obvious one but it can so easily be overlooked. It is important that traffic driven to your site can be assessed. Where are the leads coming from? Once you can establish the reasons people are coming to your site, and from where, you can use this information to direct future social strategies. Make sure you have prepared your site beforehand. Make sure it is a site you are proud of, and above all ensure you have a strategy in place for dealing with any lead generation (contact forms for example).

6. Are you able to ensure your social media is useful at every stage of the buying cycle?

It is vital to customer retention that your social brand remains consistent throughout the buying process. Make sure you have steps in place to both monitor and track your customer’s conversations, supplying them with the content they need at the right time.

The bottom line is social media is important to a modern marketing strategy, but done badly it can be damaging. The difference between social media and more traditional marketing is that it takes time to build momentum and provide a visible ROI. However, by making sure you have all the above steps in place you can ensure a great foundation for social marketing success, and by maintaining a long term strategy it can deliver real business benefits.

Harnessing employee social engagement

Social networks are now more popular than search engines in the UK* so it’s important to ensure your brand has a consistent voice across the social web. This necessitates a formalised approach, particularly for larger organisations, but it is important to be flexible and leave room for creativity and innovation.

Company social profiles are a key element of modern brand building. Proactive participation creates new opportunities for companies to interact with customers and prospects, share content and tap into professional networks up and down the supply chain.

Compared to company profiles the value of employee social profiles, with their unstructured mix of personal and work-related content, can seem less clear. However, if properly managed, employee social engagement can play a significant role in helping organisations achieve their social media objectives.

Increasingly people are using social technologies as research and networking tools for work. By supporting the use of personal accounts and harnessing this enthusiasm, companies can extend their social outreach organically and build a stronger sense of community.

But how can brands maintain a level of consistency with so many people adding their voice to the conversation? Here are some ideas for keeping enterprise-wide social media engagement on track.

1) Establish a set of guidelines

Making sure your company has direction for social engagement is essential. The approach needs to be fixed enough to ensure a consistent message yet flexible enough to allow for creativity and innovation. A simple set of guiding principles can help direct staff participation and maintain company standards.

2) Offer training

People who make mistakes online usually do so innocently. If you want your employees to use social networking tools to the company’s advantage, offer training. Employees will be open to learning more about how to use social networks to further their own careers and the brand.

3) Define objectives

It’s important everyone understands why the business is engaging with social media. Whether it’s to increase sales leads, reach new audiences or improve customer service, define the objectives early on. This will make it much easier to develop strategies, assign responsibilities and recognise success.

4) Break down barriers

Don’t limit participation to the marketing team. Select participants based on their individual skill sets and encourage all departments to look at how they might benefit. Successful social initiatives are those that draw on expertise from all requisite disciplines including IT. The result will be a more connected organisation.

5) Share experiences and ideas

Social media is a learning process and the landscape is changing rapidly. Platforms that are working for you now may fall out of favour in the future. Encourage participants to share experiences and ideas. Lessons learned on one platform will lead to innovation and new thinking on another, ultimately serving to optimise the approach.

* Source: Hitwise, – Robin Goad, June 2010

Crocbites

Crocbites is our running commentary on the trends affecting B2B marketing, alongside our own insights and independent viewpoint formed from working with global brands turning marketing budgets into bottom line benefits.

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