Archive for the ‘b2b company’ tag
Unlike their big brand counterparts, CEOs of startups and emerging companies often times don’t really know what to expect from the process of defining their brand value to their stakeholders and customers. For many, the undertaking may seem more like entering into a deep, dark forest – a big leap of faith risking valuable capital to boot.
Many ask themselves, “what if we get this wrong?”
With so much risk facing small growing brands, and no forgiveness in the marketplace if they don’t get it right, I’m convinced many entrepreneur executives have that thought cross their mind. Unlike PR, promotions and advertising, brand strategy begins as an introspective process. Defining brand value for small companies and their brands is mostly intuitive and it takes guts.
Recently, having just completed the process of changing their name and creating a new identity, a CEO of a growing B2B company, confessed to me, “ You know, at the beginning of this whole process, we didn’t have a clue where this would lead us, or have any confidence what we were contemplating was even the right thing to do. Changing our business name was a big deal — we only had one shot to get it right!
The currency of our modern social age is attention. CEOs of startups and emerging companies don’t have the financial luxury of buying attention, they have to earn it. Like your money, your customer’s attention is limited too.
The whole process of defining your unique value to customers in ways customers care about may seem rather mystical, abstract and difficult to quantify. Big brands and the companies that own them, can hedge their bets through reliance on expensive research and market data. Small brands have to rely more on guts and intuition, and a deep empathy for their customers rather than deep pockets for advertising.
We’ve all seen many examples in our business folklore where guts and intuition won over the prevailing market wisdom and data hands down. If you’re the CEO of an emerging young company, here are some suggestions that may provide you with more clarity and confidence in the strategic and creative decisions you’ll be making when you enter into the process of defining your brand’s value.
Be more of who you already are rather than more of what you are not.
Usually the driver of defining brand value is change. There is a current business circumstance that is undesirable and needs changing. Of course, this doesn’t occur in a vacuum, there are competitive forces in the marketplace that shape the context of change. Shaped by competitive forces, it can be tempting to think your organization needs to become more of what it isn’t. It’s far more powerful to be more of what has made your company and brand successful thus far. Being more of what makes you highly valued and difficult to substitute is what differentiation is all about. Brands that endure are highly focused on why they matter to people. As you think about change, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
Defining brand value is a collaborative process. Innovation and creativity come from diverse sources and usually not from where you‘d normally look.
David Packard (of HP fame) was noted to say “marketing is too important and activity to be left to the marketing department”. At the inflection point of inventing, defining, refreshing and expressing, the perceived value of your brand, you need to look everywhere and to everyone who has a stake in your success. When you’re tweaking the whole, all the parts have to be considered. Begin with customers first.
Defining brand value is not decoration but behavior.
You can create the “coolest branding” (logos, slogans and packaging) but those things don’t do anything, only people do things. Living your brand value every day in every action your company takes to create value is behavior. You can’t mandate or rule how your people behave in the marketplace; your people must, of their own choosing, be in resonance and shared values of your business purpose. Who hangs with you is more important than your cool logo.
Execute flawlessly with the resources available.
For small growing brands, money to execute on communicating their value is also an issue. If you have a gigantic marketing budget based on mass media delivery, it’s easy to get your message out and make the right impression. Money makes everything easy.
Whatever marketing tactics you choose to spend money on, execute flawlessly. Spend what it takes to do it right! If you don’t have the money to do something right, do something else where you can afford to put your best foot forward. Start with your presence and use of social media. There is a broadcast network willing to air whatever you put on for free…it’s called Youtube, Vimeo, Slideshare…you get the idea.
Sponsored by: The Brand Strategy Workshop For Startups
Have you ever heard of a PEST analysis? It’s not something you do with annoying people on Facebook or around the house. It’s a basic form of business analysis that looks at four key “big picture” factors that might influence your business, factors in the environment around you and your company. These factors are political, economic, social, and technological. Let’s take a look this week at what these might mean for your business and marketing efforts.
Today, we’re going to look at what I think is arguably the largest of the factors in PEST, the Economic factors. Why do economic factors matter so much? Fundamentally, if your customers (and their customers) have less money to spend, your business will have less potential growth. If your customers have more money to spend, your business will have more potential growth. We’ve seen this to be painfully true over the past 10 years as the economy has jumped from boom to bust and entire sectors thought to be “sure bets” turned out to be anything but.
The way to make economic factors work for you as a marketer is to see the warning signs ahead on the road before they become crises. Pay attention to leading economic indicators that have meaning to your business. If you’re a B2C company, you should be very tuned into indicators like consumer confidence or consumer credit, as these tell you in advance how your customers are feeling. Low consumer confidence may mean having to change your pricing strategy or product offering – no matter how loyal consumers are, if they don’t feel safe spending money on you, they won’t.
If you’re a B2B company, be looking at things like the ISM indices, which tell you the state of companies and demand for their services. Businesses that serve small businesses should be paying attention to measures like the NFIB business sentiment index.
No matter what business you’re in, there’s a good chance that there is a leading economic indicator that serves your industry. You can even construct your own economic indicators out of publicly available data. For example, let’s say you were a B2B company. If any of your customers are publicly traded on the various stock exchanges of the world, then you could assemble a portfolio of those stocks and watch them as an aggregate index. When the portfolio drops in value, you know that it won’t be long before you start hearing from those customers.
How often you need to look at your indicators of choice is highly dependent on your business cycle and your customers’ business cycle. Some businesses need only to look at the trends on a quarterly basis. Some businesses need to watch sales receipts daily. It all depends on how agile you need to be in order to keep pace with change in your industry.
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In the fall of 2011, I was contacted by the Director of Marketing for a B2B company. The company’s website had been hammered by Panda, and he didn’t know what to do. I could tell very quickly that his team was truly baffled. The company and website have been around for a long time, the [...]
I just arrived at the Pre-Optimization Summit workshop in Denver and caught the end of Dr. Flint McGlaughlin’s Value Proposition Session.
In this Landing Page Optimization Workshop, Dr. McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, taught the live audience here at the Denver Marriott Tech Center about a simple case study drawn from the MarketingExperiments research library.
In the case study, Dr. McGlaughlin revealed how one company clarified the value proposition of a landing page for a 201% increase in captured leads.
Here are the details of that case study:
The company in the case study was a B2B company (anonymized for its protection) selling data and mailing lists to other businesses. The goal of the page was to capture a lead.
Here’s a screenshot of the control.
Here is a screenshot of the competing treatment.
And here are the results.
The winning treatment generated a 201% increase in captured leads by clarifying the value proposition of the page.
So, how can you, a B2B marketer, replicate the success of this case study? Throughout his presentation, Dr. McGlaughlin drew out some principles we could apply to our own pages.
PRINCIPLE #1: Frame your value proposition with customer logic
The first principle Dr. McGlaughlin mentioned is this:
“The value proposition must be framed with customer logic rather than company logic.”
The primary question we must answer to determine the value proposition of a page is in the first person: “If I am the ideal customer, why should I purchase from you rather than any of your competitors?”
By answering this question in the first person, we are able to view the message through the customer’s eyes. This is helpful because we most often view the message through our own “marketing” eyes.
PRINCIPLE #2: Determine the necessary derivative value propositions
“Customer logic demands an obvious connection between the company, its various products and its different prospects.”
While your company likely has a primary value proposition, your landing page may not be the best place for it. A landing page may have its own value proposition, while a PPC (pay-per-click) ad may have another one. All of these, however, are derived from the primary value proposition.
Dr. McGlaughlin grouped these derivative value propositions into four main categories:
- Primary Level: the overall value proposition of a company
- Product Level: the value proposition of an individual product
- Prospect Level: the value proposition for an individual prospect type
- Process Level: the value proposition for a specific step in a process
PRINCIPLE #3: Map the micro-yes pathway for each product- and prospect-level value proposition
“For every product value prop, and for every prospect value prop, there is a micro-yes pathway up the side of the inverted funnel.”
When you are determining the product- or prospect-level value proposition, you must understand that your customer must make a series of micro-yeses before you can get to the ultimate yes, which is the conversion you are after. These yeses occur on the side of an imaginary inverted funnel.
To effectively communicate the value proposition on our lead capture pages, we must be able to map every micro-yes on the inverted funnel.
PRINCIPLE #4: Use the process-level value proposition to achieve each micro-yes
”For every micro-yes pathway there are a series of process-level value props.”
The last principle Dr. McGlaughlin mentioned ties everything together. To achieve the necessary series of micro-yeses, you must use process-level value propositions at each step.
In other words, every step in the process must answer this critical question:
“If I am the ideal customer, why should I take this next step rather than end the process?”
Congratulations! You’ve finally convinced the boss-man that attending and covering an industry conference on behalf of your B2B company is fantastically worthwhile for a multitude of reasons. As an attendee, you’ll absorb rich information from true thought-leader s– info you can…
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Pinterest. Pinterest. Pinterest. There I’ve said it. Now I’m definitely out of the P-closet. That does sound a bit odd .. well you know what I mean. Couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of conducting a members only web cast for the American Marketing Association on Pinterest. The approach I took was a little different than the millions (not an exaggeration!) of webinars, presentations and posts that help you through the logistics of how to pin. Important no doubt but here at Diva Marketing it’s a focus on the strategy and tactics versus the logistics. I have so much ‘good stuff’ to share that I thought a series on Pinterest might be fun. Oh no Toby not another Pinterest post! Well, yes but we’ll look at Pinterest a little differently. As my friend Barb Giamanco the diva of social media for sales said to me – I get B2C but other then showing the “human side” of a B2B company I’m not sure of the application benefits. So we’ll explore verticals and brands that you might not think “fit” in a social visual communication network. Social Visual Communication Vocabulary matters. No more pinboards when you talk to the C-suite please. A CMO of a prominent B2B company recently told me she thought of Pinterest as a game for moms and didn’t consider a “pinboard” a serious business tactic. Rather reminds me of the days of when blogs were called journals or diaries. Love this quote: However, along the…
Well, here’s the thing: your customers probably are on social media. Can any B2B company make the case that its target audience isn’t on LinkedIn? Are there B2C companies without potential customers on Facebook? I guess it’s possible, but it certainly won’t stay that way for long. 79% of US adults use social media (if you were tuning into our webinar with Facebook today, you would have heard that very stat)! And eMarketer predicts there will be 1.43 billion worldwide social media users in 2012. Wow.
But this blog post isn’t an attempt to convince you that your future customers are using social media. It’s an attempt to convince you that there are many other reasons why social media is a crucial component of a well-rounded inbound marketing strategy — and they have nothing to do with “engaging” with your target audience.
So let’s pretend that your customers aren’t on social media, or that you work for someone who thinks they aren’t and, as such, doesn’t see the point in investing in a social media marketing program. We all know how hard it is to convince non-believers of the importance of social media, so this post will serve as your guide for having that conversation. Here’s how you can make the case for social media marketing to your boss — even if he or she doesn’t believe your target audience is using social media!
1) Social Media Activity Impacts Your Organic Search Presence
If you’re investing in content creation, it would be a shame not to get it any visibility in organic search. Social media plays a bigger role in the visibility of web pages in search engines every day. In fact, Google even started to incorporate Google+ status updates into its search engine results; we’ve even written an entire blog post about how to use Google+ to gain better visibility in search engines!
Turns out, search engines take cues from social media activities — like when someone shares content from your website on Twitter, for example — to determine the relevancy and authority of your site. So the more people that “vote” for your content on social media, the better your search engine visibility becomes. Give them the chance to vote for it by publishing blog posts, ebooks, buying guides, case studies, testimonials, and other interesting content to your social media accounts, and reap the benefits of better search engine rankings as a result.
2) You’ll Have More Control Over Your Online Image
Speaking of search engine rankings, maintaining an active social media presence for your brand lets you dominate the SERPs in another way, and to meet another end — a better reputation (or at least the appearance of one). Let’s say someone hears about your company and is curious about who you are; what you’re like; and whether you’re generally “good people.” If someone conducted a Google search on you right now, what would come up? Here’s what comes up for HubSpot, for example:
Notice all those orange call-outs? Those are some of HubSpot’s social media accounts, and they appear in the top 10 results for a HubSpot query. That’s because these sites have a lot of clout with search engines, and the results are typically relevant for someone trying to learn more about a company or brand name. That also means, however, that a big review site like Yelp! (have you ever performed a search for a restaurant, for example?) is very likely to come up as another relevant, high authority site. In fact, Socialnomics reports that 25% of big brands’ search results return content from things like review sites and blogs.
Wouldn’t you rather leverage the power of big social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, etc. that you manage over third-party review sites over which you have little control? Plus, the appearance of your social media accounts will only give interested searchers access to more of your great content!
3) User-Generated Content is More Critical Than Ever Before
Which brings us to user-generated content. According to eMarketer, 65% of users ages 18-24 consulted the information they found about brands on social networks when making a purchasing decision, and a whopping 2/3 of consumers use search engines when researching a purchasing decision according to eConsultancy. Sounds like there’s a good chance your audience is part of one of those groups. Social media is a great way to get that user-generated content you need out on social networks and in search engines to an audience who clearly cares about it.
4) You’ll Gain Industry Clout
Okay, let’s say your customers really aren’t part of the 2/3 of consumers that care about what they read about you in search engines, and they’re not part of the 65% of millennials who care about your social media presence. There are still your colleagues, thought leaders, conference organizers, future employees, potential business partners, journalists, and marketing & PR professionals using social media on a daily basis. These power players expect to not only find you, but also learn from and communicate with you using social media. And frankly, you should expect the same from them!
Use social media to make connections that could help your business, learn from people, get selected for speaking opportunities, find sponsors for your events, etc. Your activity in social media will give you the clout and visibility you need to get identified and selected for important opportunities — especially if your competitors haven’t jumped on the social media bandwagon yet.
5) Other Companies’ Customers Are on Social Media
Speaking of identifying new opportunities … other companies’ customers are on social media. Could any of those business’ product or service offerings overlap with yours? Or perhaps their audience opens up another part of the market you haven’t tapped yet. It would certainly behoove you to get visibility with these companies and their networks on social media. Share their content, build relationships by interacting with them, create great content that speaks to these companies and their audiences — this will get you exposure to a whole new audience that could yield new partnerships, gain you referral business, and open up a new audience to whom you could sell!
For example, let’s pretend HubSpot’s audience isn’t on social media (hah). But there are a ton of marketing agencies who have clients who would benefit from some marketing software! If we are active on social media and engaging with those marketing agencies — sharing their content, publishing content they would like to share with their audience, and having conversations with their fans and followers — we could build a mutually beneficial relationship with the agencies, get more referral business, and tap into a whole new audience at the same time.
6) Social Media Helps Expand Your Overall Reach
The agency instance we just described above is also an example of using social media to expand your overall reach. Let’s break down the importance of reach for your business in more detail, though, and explain how social media helps you achieve it.
Reach is the concept that all of your fans and followers have their own fans and followers. So if one of your Twitter followers has 100 followers, shares one of your tweets with a link to your blog post in it with her 100 followers, the reach of that tweet and blog post has expanded to those 100 people — many of who don’t know you yet. So even if that one Twitter follower of yours isn’t part of your target audience, there’s a chance one of the 100 people she shared your content with are.
There’s another benefit to having wide social media reach. Remember in the beginning of this post when we talked about how important social media was for your organic search presence? That’s exactly why you need a ton of social reach; even if your social media followers never convert into customers, they can still share your content and amplify how many other people see that content — an indicator to search engines that you’re important enough to rank in the top of the SERPs.
This is why we at HubSpot encourage employees to be active on social media — it helps us expand our reach! Because we celebrate employees using social media, more of them tweet out our content (like this blog post, for example!) and thousands of people that aren’t HubSpot’s fans and followers yet get access to our content. In this way, every single employee of yours has the potential to bring their own book of business — even if they’re not in sales or marketing.
7) It May Cost Less to Generate Customers on Social Media
One way you should be measuring the effectiveness of your marketing is based on the cost to acquire leads and customers, and how much those leads and customer are worth to your business. While this may not be the case for every business, the following scenario is an important one to consider.
Let’s say your social media investment only generates 1 new customer per month. Take some time to look at the cost associated with generating that one new customer compared to other marketing channels. Your cost of customer acquisition (COCA) for email marketing, for example, may be much higher than your COCA for social media — email marketing might require expensive software, more staff to manage it, and content creation man hours while your social media marketing program could be executable with no software investment and just a couple dedicated man hours per week.
Email marketing may generate more customers than social media marketing; you need to solve for both volume and efficiency, so both would still be crucial components of your marketing strategy. But this is why social media often gets a bad rap. Marketers often focus on fluffy engagement metrics like comments and likes, and neglect to consider the end goal of all of their marketing efforts — customer acquisition.
8) Social Media Amplifies the Effectiveness of Your Other Marketing Efforts
Even if you don’t rely on social media solely to generate leads and customers, using it will help your other marketing initiatives be more effective. In fact, social media helps just about everything: organic search, email marketing, blogging, even online and offline events. For example, you can add social sharing buttons to your emails and blog posts to encourage content sharing and expand your reach. Or you could use social media to generate buzz for an in-person event — it’s common for live events (and webinars, too!) to make use of a hashtag to encourage participation and get more people talking about your company and your content.
We’ve written an entire post about how to integrate your marketing if you’re interested in learning more about the tactics, but it’s no coincidence that social media makes quite a few appearances on that list.
9) By the Time You’re Ready, It Might Be Too Late
Okay, maybe you’re not ready to use social media today. But it would be short-sighted to think your audience will never be on social media (see Sarah Palin’s predicament to the right), or that you won’t want to use it more actively in the future. That’s why it’s a good idea to secure your social media account names now, and have enough activity on those accounts so that emerging businesses with the same name can’t petition the social networks to take over your name. Or worse — claim the name before you had the chance to grab it.
10) Your “Irrelevant” Social Media Audience Could Turn Into Your Target Audience
People change, man. The audience you build on social media will go through several career changes, industry shifts, acquire new hobbies, make new friends, change religions or political leanings, have children, get divorced, retire … you get the point.
Alternately, you could change. Your business may expand product and service offerings, identify an opportunity in an emerging industry, or maybe you’re just so good at your job that you nurture your social media leads into wanting your product or service.
In any event, if even one of these changes takes place, wouldn’t it be great to already have your social media audience built instead of starting from scratch? If baking soda was invented in 2012, Arm & Hammer would be glad to have a social media following beyond just bakers, as people have discovered that it can be used for many other applications — from science experiments, to personal hygiene, to cleaning, and more.
Why do you think it’s important to be on social media, regardless of how much of your target audience is?
Image credit: Elsie esq.
A B2B company that is trying to change the way that marketers procure services for ad campaigns says that it has just closed one of Europe’s largest-ever angel financing rounds.
blur Group, which runs a platform calls the Creative Services Exchange, says that it has raised $2 million. Bypassing the VC route, the company instead opted for a group of about 20 business names and angel investors including Archie Norman, currently chairman of UK broadcaster ITV; Kevin Lomax, the founder and former chairman and CEO of Misys Plc and director at M&S; and Tim Schoonmaker, chairman of Grapeshot Limited and ex-chairman of Emap Advertising and ex-CEO of Odeon Cinemas Ltd.
Much like crowdsourced funding has cut out banks (and their approval processes and commissions) from the act of lending money, blur’s approach is trying to do the same for the world of marketing: by offering a platform where creatives can offer their services direct to the people commissioning them, blur claims to cut out some of the time and money that used to have to be invested in requests for tender from agencies. Final projects cover areas like design, marketing, creative, art and innovation campaigns.
That also means a much wider net of people for marketers to target with their tenders. blur says that currently 14,000 creative professionals from across 135 countries are already using the Create Services Exchange. Since launching in 2010, the company says that some 300 companies have already briefed on 700 projects with the total value of those projects at just under $10 million.
Philip Letts, blur Group founder and CEO, says that while the company had spoken to venture capital firms while raising funds, it opted for the angel approach because it followed in the mold for the company itself:
“We saw an opportunity to build our own network of partners,” he says.
The aim was to find a group of people who would not only invest in the company but put blur in touch with the right contacts at the marketing end to create more business. “The value of VCs is in their connections, so we decided to cut the middle man out and go straight for the people with connections.”
The average value of deals, at $10,000, is still relatively “grass roots,” he admits, although the client list hints at just how quick more established brands are being to trying out different routes for their marketing procurement. The list includes Disney, Sega, Ralph Lauren, HSBC and the FT, among others. Letts says that later stages of funding would not rule out bringing in more traditional VC firms into the mix as well.
This is Episode 6 of the Social Pros Podcast : Real People Doing Real Work in Social Media. This episode features Jonathan Wichmann the head of social media for Maersk Line, the world’s largest container shipping company. Read on for insights from Jonathan, our “Work It Out” advice segment, and Eric’s Social Media Stat of the Week (this week: are we unfriending each other more than ever?).
Click the play button to listen here:
Download the audio file: http://socialpros.podbean.com/mf/play/xnz5ze/SocialProsEpisode6.mp3
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Find us on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/convince-convert-blog-social/id499844469
Please Support Our Sponsors
Huge thanks to data-driven social media management software company Argyle Social for their presenting sponsorship, as well as Infusionsoft and Jim Kukral at DigitalBookLaunch. We use Argyle Social for our social engagement; we use Infusionsoft for our email; and Jim is our guest host for the podcast and a smart guy).
Social Pros Transcript For Your Reading Enjoyment
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Jay: And we are back with a Social Pros #6. I am Jay Baer joined, as always, by my trusty sidekick Eric Boggs. Eric, how are you?
Eric: I’m just great, Jay. The pre-South by Southwest episode should be a good one.
Jay: Absolutely. Did you miss me last week?
Eric: I did. I did. Jim Kukral’s a pretty good cat, though.
Jay: He is a good guy and we appreciate his support and for him stepping into the breach when I am away. I do appreciate you guys ganging up on me in my absence last week so I have to watch and listen when I’m gone. People will stab me right in the back.
So we’ve got a great show today and, as you said, South by Southwest is coming up in just a few days. You and I will be palling around out there in Austin, trying to get some live audio from our compadres at South By so that should be a good time. In between tacos and beer, we will try to get some Social Pros audio while we’re out there.
Eric: Yeah. Take a look for us. I’ll be the guy with the argyle pants toting around a microphone so it shouldn’t be hard to miss me.
Jay: It should not be hard to miss Eric Boggs.
Eric: Also standing beside Jay Baer so there’ll be a massive entourage of cool people too.
Jay:Yeah, that’s exactly what happens. That doesn’t even happen in my own house, much less at South by Southwest. We should include a photo of you in your pants again in the blog post so that people can identify you by your pants. In addition to Eric’s fine company, Argyle Social, which we use at Convince & Convert for all of our social media needs, other sponsors for this fine program are our friends at Infusionsoft and we’ll be at a little party for them on Friday at South by Southwest and, of course, Jim Kukral himself at Digital Book Launch helps to sponsor the Social Pros podcast as well.
Today, on the show, in just a moment, Jonathan Wichmann from the Maersk Line, which is the world’s largest container shipping company. If you have ever seen a container vessel or a train or maybe a long-haul trucking operation in this great land of ours, you have seen Jonathan’s company. He’s going to tell us just how many goods they import and move around this world. You think, “Gee, why do we have a container shipping company on the Social Pros podcast?” You are going to be blown away when you understand just how good these guys are at social. So if you’re out there thinking, “Geez, my company is boring. I make ball bearings. I’m B-to-B. I can’t do social media.” Bull! We’re going to show you how you can for a company that most people would not think is inherently social media-oriented.
Eric: Also, our first international guest, if I’m not mistaken.
Jay: That’s right. Jonathan is going to join us from Copenhagen, I believe, is where he is today and I think that’s where his primary home base is. One of my favorite cities in the world and I’m not just saying that because I’m a quarter Danish, although it doesn’t hurt.
Jay’s Thought of the Week
So let me talk about my thought of the week. My thought of the week is all about this new Facebook thing. I wrote a blog post today called, “Fourteen Ways that New Facebook Betrays Small Business,” and I feel like everything they announced last week is pretty nifty if you’re a larger company that has a staff and some social media consultants at your disposal. But if you are a local mom & pop dry cleaner, restaurant, baby-sitting service, etc., I think many, if not most, of the changes they have announced are going to be burdensome. It requires some additional management of your Facebook presence as well as some additional aptitude with photos and uploading and things like that.
Ultimately, that bothers me. I feel like Facebook is making the classic mistake of, “Hey, we need additional dollars so let’s cozy up to the Fortune 500,” and not realizing that there’s a lot more small businesses than there are big businesses and that’s why I feel like Google has always gotten it right in that regard, if nothing else, in that all the things that they’ve done with AdWords and Optimizer and Analytics and all these other things are very small-business friendly. I think, long- term, that’s a smart play.
Eric: Yeah. I think you are on point there in terms of Google’s ability to capture the long tail in terms of the smaller advertisers. I’ll tell you, my perspective on a lot of the Facebook changes. I think most of them are actually good but I agree, it does add so much overhead even in terms of just finding the cover picture for your page. It took me probably an hour to find a high-res photo that we had hanging around Argyle to put on our Facebook page and I can only imagine . . . my Mom is actually a marketing consultant and she does social for a lot of local businesses and they’re not going to be able to put this together very quickly and easily and it’s going to be painful. So for people like my Mom, who make their money helping businesses do this, it’s a boon, but for the businesses themselves, I think it’s just going to create a lot of complexity that they’re just not going to find as rewarding.
Jay: Yeah and, as you said, it’s going to take some time to put this together and for small businesses, they’re not sitting around thinking, “Geez, I’ve got a few extra hours a week, let me dive into doing Facebook more aggressively.” My favorite part of this whole thing was Facebook literally patting themselves on the back for giving people 30 days notice, as if that is some extraordinary gesture. I’m like, “Thirty days?” For a small business, that is not very much time to get this figured out.
Eric: Seriously. Well what do you think about the changes to the ad units? I mean, that really gets back to the conversation we had on an earlier podcast episode where we talked about the ability to target organic content and that’s effectively exactly what Facebook has built. You just have to pay to do it.
Jay: Right. Yeah. Their targeting capabilities far supersede anything else available on the Internet in almost any way shape or form but what I think that they’ve said is, “Look, we can only monetize that to a certain degree going with primarily direct- response-oriented advertising,” is what they’ve been involved in so far with marketplace ads. A lot of people have bought Facebook ads on a cost-per-click basis so now they’re saying, “You know what? Let’s change this game a little bit and orient these advertising opportunities more towards bigger brands who are going to pay us on a cost-per-impression basis longer term, bigger dollar deals and it certainly makes sense for Facebook but there’s going to be less advertising inventory available for the small guys who will prefer, obviously, to buy stuff on a cost-per-click basis.
Jay: So we will see what happens. It will be interesting on March 30th to hear the collective disturbance in the force when everybody turns on their Timeline and it’s all jacked up.
Eric: Yeah, it’s a lot of work, you’re right. I’m trying to think about when I activated timeline on my personal page and Facebook did a pretty good job of guessing when I was born and when I was married and the things like that that I had already structured based on my usage of the platform. Businesses have none of that. I guess you have like the date you started your business if you put that in your company page but all the other milestones and things that sort of align with the timeline paradigm, they don’t exist for the most part, I would guess, in a typical brand’s page. So it’s going to be a ton of work to go back and sort of back fill all of that.
Jay: And I agree with you. I think that ultimately it’s for the best because it forces companies of all sizes to be less overtly promotional. As Facebook has said, they want businesses to act like people and they’re sort of legislating that to be true based on how they’ve reconfigured the technology. So I think, ultimately, from sort of a spiritual perspective, it makes a lot of sense in terms of how businesses use Facebook and to protect them from themselves, to some degree, but it is going to be a hassle for a lot of small companies and they’re just going to have to either say, “Hey, we’re going to find a way to make time or we’re going to get off of Facebook,” so we’ll see how that shakes out.
Eric: Yeah, yeah.
Eric’s Social Media Stat of the Week: 71% of Execs Say Taking Social Media Seriously Gives Them a Competitive Advantage
Jay: Tell us, good sir, if we have a social media stat of the week. This has been a good week for social media stats, all kinds of stuff. What is this week’s social media stat of the week, Eric?
Eric: There have been plenty to choose from. This week, we’re going to talk a bit about a forth-coming report from Forrester Research. Forrester’s consulting division did a survey of over 100 V.P. and C. level professionals, including 12 CEOs, CMOs, VPs, you kind of get the whole deal. Facebook actually commissioned this report. The full manifesto will hit later this week. So look for it on Wednesday, I think. A few interesting data nuggets: 41% of those surveyed have begun to use social media marketing to promote their products, manage their staff, optimize their operations; 76% of those sort of viewed social media as a brand- builder for their organization; 40% plan to start employing social media as a marketing operations tool. So those that have not adopted it plan to. What I find interesting and appealing about all of this is that a survey was conducted of VPs and C- level marketing professionals and they had some intelligent things to say about social media. They had visibility to social media marketing as a mechanism to move their businesses forward.
Jay: Yeah, I found it interesting how much people were using social or thinking about social as an awareness builder.
Eric: Yeah. Well, one other data nugget I didn’t mention, 71% say that companies taking social media seriously gain a competitive advantage. Actually, I probably should have led with that one. But, yeah, it’s kind of a curious thing to see what this survey might look like two years from now versus what the survey might have looked like two years ago.
Just goes to show that the market’s moving quickly. But this idea that executives are starting to think about social media as mission-critical in terms of a way to gain a competitive advantage or a way to not sort of wither on the vine, I think is a pretty compelling story.
Jay: Yeah. It’s good job security for you.
Eric: And you.
Jay: Yes, so they tell us and everybody else who is a social pro, right?
Eric: Exactly, exactly.
Jay: Hence the name of the podcast. Let’s talk to today’s very special guest, Jonathan Wichmann from the Maersk Line, which as I mentioned in the intro, is the world’s largest container shipping company. Jonathan, thanks very much for being here.
Special Guest: Jonathan Wichmann, Maersk Line
Jonathan: Thank you for having me here. It’s a big honor.
Jay: Well, it is not a big honor at all but we appreciate you saying so. Thank you very much.
Jonathan: It is a big honor and you are quite right, I’m situated in Copenhagen, Denmark so I guess I’m the first international guest.
Jay: You are. You are very much and hopefully you will not be the last international guest after the European community gets word of the Social Pros podcast. When we were doing some research for this, and you and I have interacted a couple times in the past, Jonathan, it is absolutely amazing to me the number of things that your company has going on in social. Could you maybe give the listeners just a little bit of a sense of how Maersk Line works and sort of how that container shipping business rolls out and who your actual customers are and then some of the things that you’re involved in social media?
Jonathan: Well, the container shipping business is a, in a way, an old business, conservative business you might even say. It’s been around for more than 100 years and the company has a rich heritage of very strong stories to tell. But as it is, kind of, I wouldn’t say a secret business but not very public and not living very much from sharing the stories, at least in the past. It’s been quite a change to jump into the whole social media sphere for Maersk Line. I believe that’s the first company in that industry and it’s been equally overwhelming to see the response from the outside world and I don’t think anyone in the company anticipated that it would reach these heights so soon. Basically, we decided, and we’ve only been there for four months . . .
Jay: Is that right? Wow!
Jonathan: That is right. I joined on the first of October last year and I was hired to do this and I’ve been driving it by myself, actually, part-time. So it’s a rather small set-up, a lean set- up we do.
Jay: But here’s the thing, right, you’ve been doing this for four months, you’re the only guy doing it. You started it. You are a container shipping company, let me just make sure people realize that. You have 174,000 fans on Facebook.
Jonathan: Yeah. It’s really taken off. There are a lot of good things. It is a global company. It is 110,000 or 120,000 employees. It’s truly global in the sense as a network and all the countries. The Maersk brand is really strong so that’s a big advantage, of course, when you start out. Then there are a lot of very different kind of users that find it interesting to interact with us, the employees of course, there’s the whole shipping community, and then there’s the customers. That was really the whole idea behind, that was what convinced the company to, “Okay. Let’s do this now,” because before I came, they had been in what they termed “the listening phase” for three years . . .
Jay: That’s a long phase.
Jonathan: Yeah. Just listening to what and how can we be anything in this social world. So the whole plan is to, the whole strategy is to get closer to our customers, that’s how we defined it. But really there are so many other aspects of it as well. But in terms of employer branding and the brand loyalty and creating awareness and driving the agenda in the container shipping industry. One of the good things, for Maersk Line in terms of this is we’re really ambitious in terms of changing or shaping the shipping industry, driving the innovation because right now it’s not as profitable as it should be so things has to change and social media could be one of the ways to actually learn how we could go about it because we don’t necessarily, in Copenhagen, know what’s the best thing to do. All the good ideas might be out there. It’s also about connecting and bringing in some intelligence from influentials in the industry.
Eric: Jonathan, how do you think about socializing a brand as big and international and traditional as Maersk Line?
Jonathan: Yeah, that is really the attraction of my job, I think, because social media and Maersk, that is not something that meshed, so it came as a surprise to people and all of the sudden it can work out. It can be social. One of the things we did was, in the pattern I work in, it works rather close to a, like the senior people, the executives and so on, so we’ve managed to get some of them on both our Twitter feed and on Facebook where they tweet about what’s up and down in their world. That’s, of course, a way of engaging people upwards in the company. You can show that it’s not just another add-on. It goes right through the center of the company, or should at least. It’s still a learning phase, I would say. We’re just getting started. Because the front-line people, all the many young, enthusiastic guys and girls around the world, they jump right into it and they just started sharing team photos and whatever with us and we started posting those as well.
Eric: Yeah, that was actually the next thing that I was going to ask you. Some of the photos are beautiful. Are they all sourced from your team?
Jonathan: The team’s photos you’re talking about? You’re talking about vessel photos?
Jonathan: Yeah, on the Instagram, we have, of course, a library of 14,000 photos. That was like the first thing I did when I started was to go down into the basement, into the archives and get a hold of some of these really, really amazing photos from the past and current, new photos as well. But on Instagram, the whole idea is to get container or ship tagging going and we can see that has started to happen, that people in terminals or on the ships, in the streets or the cities, when they see a Maersk container, they take a photo with a mobile phone and then they hashtag it “Maersk” and then it automatically feeds into our Facebook page. So there are many kinds of engagement or interest around the brand. This is a very visual site.
Jay: One of the other things that I really like about your Facebook page is the “house rules” section, very much a best practice. Very few companies actually do it but on your Facebook page you have a tab that says, “Obviously, we’re around the world but we’re doing this in English and here’s kind of how we handle customer service and you can’t do things that are offensive,” and it basically sets forth the ground rules for how you’re going to manage your Facebook page. Really, really excellent idea. Did you use a social media management software tool to create that page or did you just build it on the fly?
Jonathan: We just built it on the fly right from the start because we realized that customer service, you know, if we start inviting them into the game, then it’ll never end and we need a whole team of 50 people sitting there.
Eric: Probably more than 50.
Jonathan: More than that, even. We already have some on-line tools that people can use instead so we’re rather direct them to those than trying to handle them on social media. So we have a very focused approach to it. Yeah, as I said, getting closer to our customers but also bringing in some intelligence from the outside world. For example, we did on LinkedIn, we’ve done this closed group of influentials in the industry, the shipping circle, it’s called, where we ask questions like, “What’s the next big innovation that will turn the industry upside down?” and people write amazing pieces, really insightful stuff. I will then involve the management team and see if there’s something there that they can pick up in their decision-making.
Jay: So as leaders in the industry, your company is facilitating conversation about key topics in the industry?
Jonathan: That is the whole point.
Jay: As I mentioned earlier, you’ve got 174,000 Facebook fans, in fact, 10 more since we started the podcast, even though the podcast isn’t live, so that’s good news, but substantially fewer, just a few thousand on Twitter. Was that a design to sort of channel emphasis issue or just sort of how it happened to roll out?
Jonathan: It was quite deliberate that we started on Facebook because, in terms of volume, that is, next to Google, where people enter the journey on the Internet as of right now. That’s how I look at it at least. If you know what you’re looking for, you go to Google. If you don’t know, you go to Facebook. It might be different in the United States but in Europe, I think, and especially in Asia, that’s how it is today. So that was quite deliberate. Then that is the idea to create volume and awareness through Facebook and I think Twitter is more for sharing news and trying to even influence the press and the other bloggers and stuff like that.
Jay: Well and certainly given how photo-driven a lot of your social communication is, Twitter makes that a little more difficult. Obviously you could link to your photos and it’ll show up in your little photo area on Twitter but certainly Facebook and even Google+ would be better places if you’re going to have a heavy photography play. You have a Tumblr blog as well that contains your Instagram feed, is that right?
Jonathan: Yeah, that’s right. We just keep that nice and clean, only the Instagram photos and nothing but that. So it’s for all those without an iPhone, basically, so they can be part of it as well. We were quite latecomers on Facebook, as you can tell, so the idea with Instagram was basically to say, “Okay. Even though we’re late here, we might be first movers in other areas.”
Jay: Fantastic. Well, hey, there’s a lot of companies that would like to be late to the game and put up 174,000 Facebook fans in four months for a container shipping company so I think you’ve got an awful lot to be proud of. It’s a fascinating, fascinating program.
Jonathan: Thanks. Thanks a lot.
Eric: Agreed, yeah. It’s very cool, Jonathan.
Work It Out
Jay: Speaking of photos, today’s “work it out” segment comes from Phil, a Social Pros listener who asked about Pinterest. We talked about Pinterest at one point on the show and he wants to know whether or not it makes sense for his particular business. Phil’s an interior designer. It would seem that Pinterest is on everybody’s lips but it’s not for everybody, right, Eric?
Eric: It is indeed. I wrote an article today about Pinterest. This is probably not where you’re going or where Phil wants to go with this question, but about copyright issues with some photos earlier today. Anyway, that kind of popped in my head randomly but, yeah, Pinterest, it’s a kind of a wait and see game, I think, for most. But if you’re an interior designer though? It seems like bread and butter, I would think.
Jay: Yeah and I think for companies, I think you raise a good question about copyright. Jonathan just mentioned that he has this entire basement full of 100 year-old Maersk Line photos that he can cull through and post to the Internet because they presumably have rights to those photos and have this amazing legacy of the company and putting those on Pinterest in a way that is interesting, I think, makes perfect sense.
But what has happened now is that a lot of people go out and just pin a lot of images that you don’t have rights to maybe even the site you pinned it from doesn’t have rights to it. So people who were actually the original photographers of that image are starting to say, “Hey, wait a second! What happened to my link and my credit and my licensing,” and all those other kinds of things so it’s going to be interesting to see how that shakes out.
We’re very much getting into yet another micro-era of niche networks, of people saying, “Well maybe it’s not just Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and YouTube. Maybe we should get into Pinterest or Path or whatever else is going to float through the transom.” To some degree I can see the attraction there. On the other side, I think people need to worry about doing what we have today better more so than doing the new thing.
Eric: Yeah. Jonathan, you do a pretty good job of blending a mainstream network like Facebook with a smaller network like Instagram. Are you guys sort of purposeful in that or what even makes you adopt Instagram when there’s a perfectly functional photos function inside of Facebook?
Jonathan: I think the thing that the Instagram community is quite different from Facebook and from Twitter and it is interesting to . . . I just find it interesting, actually, to go out there and see happens on various challenges. I think the small set-up that we have, especially in the start-up phase, is very important so you don’t get caught up and be measurements and KPIs and all that, which can happen at big companies because then you can experiment a bit, try out some stuff and maybe you find out, “Oh, it doesn’t really work for me.” On Google+, for example, I couldn’t really see, for example, how it would work for us but maybe I haven’t experienced it at all yet so it’s just about going out then and seeing what happens.
Jay: It’s a good point you raise about not measuring it to death. Eric and I both come from a measurement background and tend to be as strategic as possible about social participation but I think, especially in big companies, you’re right that sometimes you can put so much math around it that it kills your ability to experiment and I think it’s actually really commendable that you’ve been able to go as far as you have as quickly as you have with Maersk Line without getting bogged down in a lot of analysis and reporting so far.
Jonathan: And I think really, the whole thing is that the social media, is it a business logic or it is a social logic? Because if it’s a social logic, then measurements are no good really. You need to measure it in a qualitative way in order for it to make sense. Let’s just say, “Okay. We have 170,000 fans on Facebook. That’s not a success as such.” So I really think we need to look at other ways of measuring what’s good and what’s not good, to put it that way. So I’m not all for all the metrics in the start- up phases at least. Especially when you talk B-to-B companies, there is quite a long way to an actual sale, of course, so that makes it even less relevant.
Jay: This has been fantastic, a fascinating episode, one of my favorite so far for sure. Jonathan, you’ve been great. Thank you so much for taking the time. I know it’s late at your place. Eric, thank you as always. Thanks again to our sponsors: Eric’s fine company, Argyle Social, Infusionsoft, our buddy Jim Kukral. Next week, we will be back with some sort of South by Southwest show. We’re not even sure who we’re going to be able to corral yet. Week after that, Ian Greenleigh from Bazaarvoice is going to be our guest so we’ve got all kinds of amazing things coming up on Social Pros and we thank you for your support.
Publishing a lot of content and optimizing that content so it gets found in search engines is an important part of inbound marketing. And when we say “content,” we don’t just mean the written word. Videos are an important part of content, and given that YouTube is by far the most popular video website, you should be publishing videos there — even if you are a B2B company. Before we dive into the 5 key elements of YouTube search engine optimization, watch our video below about how to upload video content to YouTube.
Title & Description
Just like on-page SEO for web pages, you need to optimize the basic text information describing your videos: the titles and descriptions. As we mentioned in our video above, these can be edited when you upload your video. Your video’s title should contain a keyword phrase for which your business wants to get found (you have done some keyword research, right?). Just keep in mind that your video title should be fewer than 66 characters, since titles longer than that will be truncated in Google search.
The description can be longer (2-3 sentences or more is fine), and it should also contain keywords and variations of keywords. Including a link early on in the description is a good idea, since only the first few lines of the description is visible by default (without clicking ‘show more’). To include a link in the description, just add a full URL (including http://) in your description. Use this to drive traffic back to your website, and be sure to include calls-to-action on the pages you’re driving traffic to maximize lead generation from YouTube. For example, on YouTube, the video included at the top of this post includes a URL pointing back to this post on our blog, on which we’ve included calls-to-action for conversion.
For SEO, you should include at least 5-7 relevant keywords as tags for your video. Using tags will associate your video with other similarly tagged videos, which will allow your video to be shown as a “related video.” This will help you generate additional views from people who were originally watching other videos.
The popularity of your video (the total number of views and the number of views in the past 24-48 hours) is an important factor in how well your video will rank in search results. YouTube prefers to show visitors popular videos because they are almost always better quality videos, especially considering the fact that, according to YouTube, roughly 60 hours of new videos are uploaded to the site every minute, meaning many of the videos on YouTube are poor quality. Finally, videos that generate a big spike in views in recent days will get preferred placement and “honors,” which adds your video to lists like “most viewed today,” which in turn attract more views.
This is why it’s so important for you to get as many eyes on your video as possible in a short period of time. To do so, share links to your newly published YouTube video in social media, embed the video on your blog, and promote it in other channels like email to generate views in boost your video’s popularity.
Inbound links (links from other websites to your website or video) are important in traditional SEO. They are also important in YouTube SEO, considering that an embedded video (when a YouTube video’s code is added to a website, displaying the video outside of YouTube) functions like an inbound link. You can see how many links and embeds a video has accumulated using YouTube Analytics, YouTube’s internal analytics tool for account administrators. To access your channel’s YouTube Analytics, log into your account, click on your username tab in the top right corner, click ‘Video manager,’ and then select ‘Analytics.’ Then take a look at the video’s ‘Playback Locations.’
Getting more websites to link to and embed your video will help it rank better in search results, so, as we mentioned before, promote your video to people who might embed it or link to it. Another tip is to find other similar videos and click the ‘Show Video Statistics’ icon below the video (next to its views count), which will show you ‘Significant Discovery Events,’ which will list whether the video has been embedded or linked to by other sites. If a blog liked another similar video, they might also like yours. You can then contact this website/blog to let them know about your video, increasing the likelihood that might also embed or link to your video.
Ratings & Comments
Higher ratings and more comments are also indications of higher quality and more interesting videos, so it’s helpful to generate as many ‘thumbs up’ ratings and comments as you can for SEO purposes. The best way to do this is to create awesome content, but if you’ve already created your video, encourage your fans to check out your video via your blog and social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or LinkedIn.
Are your videos optimized for search? If you’re not sure, it may be time for a video SEO audit!
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