Thursday, 18 September 2014

Guest Post: Lessons learned from the trials and errors of a B2B social media manager


The Comms Crowd's Hiwot Wolde-Senbet shares her learning experiences on managing social media channels in B2B.
A little less fluff and a bit more substance in the world of B2B


Growing up as a part of the social media generation, I have seen many of my PR and marketing counterparts adopt different practices. And of course, some are better than others and some are simply laughable. We all know those that send out mass messages to their families and friends on Facebook asking them to like and follow a certain company. Sure, it could work if your company sells milkshake that appeals to everyone. However, in B2B, your friend’s aunt that works at Asda isn’t really going to help you spread the word about the merits of enterprise wide trading systems. In B2B you must know your audience and really understand their issues.

Most of us in this game know how to use the main social media platforms; along with some measurement tools such as Sprout and Hootsuit. If your target audience is the average Joe and you are doing social media for B2C, you can share something a bit witty with a fairly attractive photo of your favorite product to generate likes and build up your followers. However, I've learned that you have to work that bit harder with social media management in B2B. You have to demonstrate understanding of your market and its needs and most importantly - interact with your niche.

Your objectives in B2B must go beyond creating a buzz for your business and need to work towards creating a platform that is credible and attracts the power brokers and the influencers. It is also important to remember, social media is more than a communication platform; it is part of your marketing, PR, customer services, business development and sales. Therefore, managing it in a way that reaches the right people and shares appropriate insights is vital.

Since clients have to find you relevant and interesting to follow and engage, here’s some tips that I have picked up along the way to make sure your social media comms don’t sound like a broken record but resonate with those that will affect your business’s performance.

1. Clear messaging: Identify and clarify what you want to say about your company and how you want to say it. This can help promote the services or the products you provide along with your company’s values and mission.

2. A targeted audience: Know who your industry’s leaders are, who your current and potential clients are, anybody who is anybody in your industry that is relevant to you and ensure you connect with them.

3. Relevant talking points: Identify issues, trends and regulations that impact your audience’s business and share relevant news.

4. Platform consistency: Ensure your platforms are up to date and consistent.

5. Listen as well as talk: They say the best way to lead is to listen more and talk less, so tune into what your followers are discussing and participate when relevant.


Subsequently, you need to put some performance measurements in place, regularly track your progress and re-evaluate. By following the steps above, you are on a road to growing your B2B social media platforms in an organic and sustainable way and ensuring ROI.


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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

How the storyteller got her PR stripes

Once upon a time many years ago, there was a very bored admin manager who worked for a software development company. She found her job excessively dull, and so would spend much of the day quietly sitting at her computer, writing short stories. For some six months, she (barely) managed to perform her admin duties while working tirelessly on her craft, and soon enough her stories started to get the literary recognition she so desperately craved.

This should have been my office chair
But then one day, the CEO – an entirely overly motivated individual, in her opinion, whom she’d successfully managed to avoid in the main – summoned her to his office. Her heart sunk when she saw upon his desk a sheaf of printouts, not of the latest tedious project timelines, but varying drafts of her stories and poems.

She braced herself to be fired: what cared she? She would live in an attic, make a career move out of being miserable and thin, wear fingerless gloves and die a fine and beautiful death of consumption.

“These are rather good,” he said evenly.

Momentarily thrown off balance but determined to remain on the offensive, she replied haughtily, “Well if you can’t give me enough to do, I have to get through the terminable day somehow.”

“My fault entirely,” he concurred with a half-smile.

She glared at him balefully. Was he just passing time waiting for the HR lackey to come in and do his dirty work for him?

Apparently not. “So I was wondering if I might prevail upon you to apply your talents to writing a few stories about the company, our solutions and how we help our customers grow and so forth...”

“Oh, I don’t think so,” she interrupted, immediately seeing a flaw in his plan. “They’d be so boring: who would want to read those?”

“Ah, yes,” he replied with a mere smidge of a vindictive twinkle in his eye. “But it would be your job to make them interesting, tell a good story, engage the reader and what not. Then, maybe, you might talk to a journalist or two, see if you could interest them in writing their own stories about us…”

She looked at him aghast. Why, just the thought of it made her feel queasy. “PR! You want me to do PR??” How very dare he? ”I shan’t do it, I shan’t! You can’t make me!” shewailed.

“Well, no need to agree the brief right now. Why don’t you have the rest of the afternoon off to think about it?”

She grabbed her papers from his desk and stalked with great dignity from his office, not trusting herself to speak.

And so it was that after a sodden gin review of her overdraft facility, our heroine reluctantly conceded that just possibly there were worse things one could do for a living than telling corporate stories. She’d just do it for a few months before she went and found herself a proper job ­or, at least had saved enough  for a deposit on an attic and a pair of fingerless gloves.

And so, best beloveds, thanks to the thankless intervention of a remakable CEO, I began my twenty year, hugely enjoyable and vastly rewarding career in PR.

Funny that now, ‘PR is all about telling stories.’ I thought it always was…

If you liked this story you may also like:
Imagine a world without tech PRs - told fairytale stylee
The hidden dangers of PR career talks - a joyous anecdote even though I don't come out of it too well
The fallible freelancer - a cautinary tale - oh a real page turner this one


Monday, 30 June 2014

Guest Post: Sibos - no rest for the wicked or even the wise

Eria Odhuba, resident analyst relations lead at The Comms Crowd reviews the 'dos and don'ts' for getting the best out of the mighty trade show.
 
Sibos  - comes round quicker than Christmas
So I’ve just been to a couple of big industry events, and it got me thinking about the preparation exhibitors need to do to make them worthwhile. I am going to use Sibos 2014, this year in Boston, as an example here as I have shed so many tears getting clients Sibos-ready over the years.

Obviously there are many exhibitors who have got Sibos running through their veins and if they had time, could write this post with their eyes shut, but here's a guide for Sibos newbies, or a useful checklist for the seasoned salts.

What are some of the issues with events like Sibos 2014?

  1. ROI – if you’re going to exhibit, you want to make sure you recoup your costs and some! It's a very expensive line item, the return needs to be quantifiable and equally impressive. 
  2. Poor preparation before the event – If you don’t plan your communications and resources properly, you will look amateurish and it will show compared to those companies that have this event down pat. 
  3. Being heard above the white noise – if you don’t know your key message, if it's not relevant, fresh and exciting, then you won't get heard. 
  4. Thinking lead generation begins at the event – People come to Sibos to continue conversations, not to start them, Sibos needs to be the culmination of a campaign that results in a face to face meeting. 
  5. Recruitment consultants – not much you can do about this. I remember a consultant at Sibos who told me, at a party, that he had received or processed CVs for about 25 people in the room. The recession is over; it's a seller's market. 
What should you NOT do before Sibos 2014? 
  1. Panic (!) i.e. wait until it is too late before preparing for the event. 
  2. Keep your head in the sand and ignore industry trends leading up to the event – you need to know what pain delegates are feeling so you know what your products and services best address it. 
  3. Miss the opportunity to try and connect with signed-up delegates before the event (more on this later). 
  4. Prepare conference material that is bland or off topic. 
How should you prepare for Sibos 2014?
  1. First of all, you need a three-month activity timeline with specific actions and deadlines, allocating responsibility for each action. So, with Sibos 2014 in October, you need to start planning now, July. 
  2. If you're reading this and you haven't booked your hotels and flights yet, suggest you stop reading right now and get on it :) 
  3. To stay ahead of the game, read the Sibos 2013 summary by Aite Group here and other post-event summaries. 
  4. Read Sibos Issues and other news to understand what people will be talking about this year. Don’t repeat the last year’s messages or themes – find something new and relevant to attract attention in the lead up to the event. If you can’t figure out how to articulate your value proposition, get help. 
  5. Think how this event falls into your sales funnel. Identify key prospects from the delegate list, and plan multi-step communications or lead generation activities to get them to want to talk to you at the event. Each step should add value to the relationship, so use content to increase interest. Get delegates to self-select themselves to contact you for a meeting based on the content you have provided BEFORE the event. 
  6. Plan your press and industry analyst engagements now. Influencers don’t have time to speak to everyone so make sure you know how and what to pitch to them. If you don’t know how, get an expert in. Don’t be unprofessional about this and ignore the value of great influencer meetings. 
  7. Focus on meeting influencers you rarely see, rather than those that are down the road from you who you can catch up with any time. 
  8. Go for feature opportunities that get you in the news the week of Sibos, and make sure whatever news announcement you have is actually informative and not simply white noise. 
  9. Contribute or link to pre-event social media communications to help build your profile before the event. 
  10. Plan your post-Sibos steps now – what content or steps will you follow up with and who will be responsible for these steps? What you do after the event is even more important if you want to convert prospects into sales? 
What to do at Sibos 2014?
  1. Make sure you set time and proper spaces aside to speak to delegates you have meetings planned with. 
  2. Document your meetings and make someone responsible for managing follow up actions. 
  3. Plan how each contact will be communicated with after the event and when. 
  4. Get someone to walk the floor to see what other exhibitors are displaying. You need to understand what competitors are saying and how they might be getting their message across. 
  5. Have content that is sharp and precise enough for someone to read in two minutes that would make them want to ask questions. 
  6. Enjoy yourself; ergo no rest for the wicked! 
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