When we speak with prospective clients, we always do an analysis of their digital presence. This analysis includes a close look at their website and a conversation about how often they make changes to their website. Often, the answer is “very rarely”, and the reason given is usually a variation of “we haven’t gotten around to it and, by the way, it’s really tough to get in touch with our web developer or it takes them forever to make changes”. If you have a website built using the WordPress Content Management System (check out WordPress.org for more info), you remove the issue of contacting and paying your web developer for content changes. You can log in to your own site and add or delete text or pages quickly and easily. (And, yes, there are other Content Management Systems out there, but we prefer WordPress for several reasons).
Why is it important to be able to change and add to the content on your website if you use social media?
Second, the key component of any social media campaign is content. And the best content is always your own. Putting your articles, videos, and photos on your own website and then sharing links to that content on the various social media platforms is a great way to get people back to your primary digital real estate – your website. When you add your own content to your website, it’s always there for people to find. We get continual traffic to our website because we have developed a library of articles that contain keywords and phrases that people use in their internet searches. People find us and contact us through articles that we added to our site – and some of those articles are almost two years old.
Second, Google scores websites based on “freshness of content”. This influences how Google ranks your website for search terms. This is a great article from SEOmoz that explains more about how Google looks at website content to determine rankings.
Third, when you can log in to your own website to make changes, you are in control and you can do it at any time. If something is happening at your company or in your industry, you can share it on your website as soon as you know about it. This also makes for timely social media content. You add the event or article to your site, share the link to the page on Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook, and now you’ve got website traffic from people who are interested in what you have to say.
Fourth, there are hundreds of tools available for WordPress websites that make sharing your content via social media very simple. You can also track how often your content is shared and encourage people to follow your accounts right from your site.
Fifth, a changing website is a current website. It’s time to start thinking about it as something that is dynamic rather than static. Too many sites are just online business cards or brochures. Your company changes all the time; your website should, too. Your website can be working for you, even when you’re not. WordPress makes it easier.
As we have discussed in previous posts, the key to success in B2B social media is the development and sharing of content that will appeal to your target market. When we work with new B2B clients, we always have an in-depth discussion about content and these critical questions:
1. What type of original content do you already have? Articles, videos, radio show, infographics, presentations, photos, testimonials, whitepapers
2. What type of content will appeal to your target market?
3. What type of original (developed by you) content will be developed on an ongoing basis?
4. Who will be developing the content? A staff member, the owner, a group of people, Mediavine Marketing?
5. What other content can be used to supplement your original content?
6. How often will the original content be developed?
7. Where will the content be placed initially? The website, YouTube, a trade publication?
8. Where will the content be shared? LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, social bookmarking sites, etc.
9. Will others be able to share the content as well? In other words, is your website set up to allow comments and sharing of your content?
Once we have established the who, what, when, where and why of content, we inevitably start discussing the details of developing content. Many B2B companies really struggle with this, and understandably so. Most of us will not acquire legions of raving fans who are waiting breathlessly for our next product or announcement.
So, what do we B2B companies share out there? How about thinking in terms of “edutainment”?
We’ve adapted the term “edutainment” from the educational world, but we think it applies well to social media. Edutainment is designed in order to keep people interested and engaged, and the goal is to provide some valuable knowledge to the target market by keeping them engaged with entertaining content. It doesn’t have to be hilarious and earth- shattering, but it does need to be interesting and/or useful enough to encourage further exploration of your digital profiles and even an email opt-in or phone call. Articles/blog posts should have targeted and interesting titles, and the articles themselves need to be written in a more conversational, less “whitepaper-ish” tone. Videos, rather than the “salesly”, long and over-produced showcases of yesterday, should be shorter, authentic and address a “pain point” or offer a way to solve a problem. Think about showing your prospective clients what their success would look like if they work with you. Help them visualize how they would achieve their goals with a short presentation or an infographic.
We have found from experience that edutainment may be the thing that keeps you in your prospects’ minds longer than anything else you have on your website. What do you think about the idea of using “edutainment” for B2B social media?
Whereas many B2C companies sell products and services that can inspire raving fans, B2B companies often struggle with inspiring that same type of interest and interaction. The key to staying in front of people is producing the kind of content that your target market will want to read or watch- and perhaps even share with others. People will notice and pay attention if you give them something that will pique their interest, help an issue or even make them chuckle. Also, when potential customers do take the opportunity to check out your company website or profile on Facebook or LinkedIn, for instance, they will see activity and recent content. After all, more and more of us do all of our research about a company online, regardless of the industry.
So, what type of content can offer the most value to your B2B company?
Articles/blog posts: As painful and daunting as it may seem (or actually be), writing articles and blogs can be really effective at gaining an audience, increasing website traffic and solidifying your expertise in your area. When you add a new blog post to your website on a regular basis and share it out on all of your social media accounts, you never know who might end up visiting your website and reading your post. Our clients who produce articles the most often also see the most return on their social media activity.
Videos: These days, videos don’t always need to be high-quality productions that cost thousands of dollars. With the popularity of YouTube, people are used to videos that have been made on the fly and have a human quality to them. You can set up a camera and do a video blog instead of a written blog, if you prefer. Keep them short and authentic, and share them out wherever you have a profile.
Questions and Polls: Posting questions and polls on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can be an effective way to start a conversation about a topic of interest to your target market. Questions beg for an answer, and usually someone will be compelled to give an answer if the question is thoughtful or provocative enough. Fred McMurray, one of our partners, has had great success with this strategy, especially on LinkedIn. He has made numerous valuable connections in the B2B space with people who have chosen to answer his questions.
Photos: On Facebook and even Twitter, photos draw a lot of attention. They are easy to share and don’t require a lot of thought. Not that photos should the sum total your content, but interspersing photos and images can be a way to continue your visibility on days that you don’t have more comprehensive content to share.
Share articles/blog posts of others: Don’t have time to write an article right now? Consider sharing the articles of others that you believe your target market will appreciate. Although the traffic won’t be coming to your site, at least your company name and logo will be associated with something that could be of value to someone. The idea is to keep your company name in front of people on a regular basis.
If you have a B2B business and are finding success with your own content, we’d love to hear about it!
Whether you have a child, a pet or a plant, you know that you have to give it attention and keep it fed and watered or it will be very unhappy, won’t grow and will eventually die. The same goes for your small business’s online network.
So how do you keep your online network happy and growing? Here are some tips that we have gathered while feeding our network and the networks of our clients.
1. Post and share content on a regular (daily) basis. Producing your own articles or videos can be a daunting task, especially for those of us who struggle with writing or appearing on camera. However, we have found that consistency and frequency really does equal visibility, so when you can’t produce your own content, share someone else’s. The idea is to share articles and other items that provide value to your followers. Let the choice of content that you share reflect your company’s culture, mission, vision, and sense of humor. It is a good idea, however, to give your own thoughts when you’re sharing someone else’s content, and of course, give credit where it’s due.
If you want to save time, try using a site like HootSuite, TweetDeck or Dlvr.it. You’ll be able to share content to different sites from one interface.
2. Interact and acknowledge. All too often, we see small businesses do “hit and run” posting. They’ll post something, which is great, but then they don’t bother to acknowledge when someone makes a comment or shares it out. A classic example is a community bank in our area that asked people to go on their Facebook page and write about their favorite tellers. This was a great idea, but not one person (and there were a LOT of comments- they must have some great tellers) who wrote on the bank’s wall was acknowledged in any way. No likes, no thank you’s, nothing. Next time the bank decides to do something like that, they will probably get a less than enthusiastic response.
Besides acknowledging when someone makes a comment or retweets your own content, etc., it’s also a good plan to initiate some comments, retweets and likes. Not doing so fits the definition of “hit and run” posting.
3. Add connections every week. Whether you’re using Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ or another social site, you need to be increasing your friends and following on a weekly or even daily basis. Some may argue that it’s best to work the connections you already have, but we have found that it’s vital to expand your network if you have content (articles, videos, promotions) that you want to share in order to provide value and increase your visibility.
This doesn’t mean that you just add connections blindly, accepting every LinkedIn connection and following everyone who follows you. Growing a network does take time, effort and thoughtfulness. The point here is that you do need to keep it growing regularly, so schedule in some time to seek out connections. New connections mean new points of view, new information and new content. They also mean the potential for more people to share out your articles, videos and news to their networks.
4. Have a plan. Whether you’re the social media “expert” in your small business, or you are able to give the task to someone else, you want to have a plan of action. Morgan Miller Plumbing in Kansas City has seen great success with using social media, and the owner, Jeff Morgan, set a goal to post a blog on the company website once per week. His office staff members begin bugging him the Friday before to get his article written so that they can post it and share it with their network. Having this goal in place focuses everyone to think about their customers and target market, the industry and what’s happening within the company.
How do YOU keep your small business’s online network from dying? We’d love to hear about it!
When it comes to using social media websites for recruiting – what we call social recruiting – how far is too far? Beyond learning the hard way what works and what doesn’t, there are some best practices emerging to help recruiters know when they’ve pushed the proverbial envelope too far. And hiring professionals are discovering a new line of recruiting applications and tools built into applicant tracking software to help them rise above the same old hashtag to better identify, connect with and place viable candidates.
For all their good intentions, many folks using social media in their recruiting efforts are running into the same issues. Here are the top three:
● Spamming job posts. Want to render your social recruiting efforts ineffective? Spamming people with your job opportunities is a surefire way to do just that. The key to social recruiting is to be social and engaging. Share industry news and articles of interest, exchange personal messages, etc.
● Prying rather than researching. Some positions require a flawless social media presence. For the rest, you shouldn’t be digging too deeply into their profiles. Screening should be focused on general impressions of candidates to see if they would fit within your company culture.
● Penalizing candidates for level of access. It’s not unusual for candidates to deny recruiters access to their Facebook profile, inviting them to connect via LinkedIn instead. Many people use Facebook for personal, rather than professional networking – especially in Generation Y. Don’t write off candidates for showing a bit of backbone and managing their public image – it’s hardly something to penalize.
Lessons Learned from the Trenches
Some people are experiencing more success in social recruiting than others, and have picked up a few tricks worth sharing. Carolyn Betts, CEO of Betts Recruiting, is one such person, and was recently featured in a New York Times article, for leveraging social media to grow her recruiting success. She and I chatted last week, and she shared some lessons she’s learned from the trenches.
● Focus on strategy. You won’t be able to make the most of social media if you’re going into it blindly. You need to have a plan for how you want to accomplish your goals. Betts suggests starting with one social media site, familiarizing yourself with it, then growing your presence gradually.
● Have realistic expectations. When you consider the industry you’re in and the position you’re hiring for, are your deal-breakers realistic? You need to determine upfront how much weight you are giving a candidate’s social media presence.
● Leverage the right apps and tools. Many successful social recruiters know that in order to make the most of your social recruiting efforts, you need to leverage the right tools. Why go it alone when there are applications with built-in best practices for recruiting more effectively?
Software Expanding Recruiters’ Reach
Human resources software is growing to help recruiters make use of social media in their hiring strategy. But before recruiters can fully harness these helpful tools, they must determine whether or not they are in the right social media playground.
According to a recent study, approximately 85 percent of U.S. companies used LinkedIn for recruiting last year, though only 30 percent of active job seekers are on LinkedIn. As such, many recruiters are finding LinkedIn a bit overcrowded. Where are the candidates? The large majority of them are on Facebook.
Because the data recruiters are looking for is a little harder to find on Facebook, however, many miss the sourcing opportunity this vast network provides. Fortunately, there are third-party software developers devising methods to put actionable candidate information into the hands of recruiters quickly and efficiently. Some of these recruiting solutions are standalone applications that leverage recruiters’ networks. Others – like Bullhorn Reach – are applications designed specifically for automating social recruiting.
For further reading, check out Kyle’s HR blog at: http://blog.softwareadvice.com/articles/hr/social-recruiting-how-far-is-too-far-010271/