• Russ Fradin
    Russ Fradin on July 29, 2014

    Why Employee Advocacy Matters

    Employee advocacy is an emerging new marketing strategy where companies empower their influential employees to authentically distribute brand approved content, create original content, and in turn earn recognition and rewards for their activity and participation.
  • alexmoffit
    Alex Moffit on September 4, 2014

    John Doerr on OKRs and Goal Setting at Google and Intel [VIDEO]

    “Ideas are precious, but they’re relatively easy. It’s execution that’s everything,” says John Doerr, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and the man who introduced Objective & Key Results (OKRs) to Google. Google widely credits OKRs for helping the company grow from 40 to 40,000 employees. Other businesses including LinkedIn and Twitter have also embraced OKRs.
  • Greg Gerik
    Greg Gerik on September 16, 2014

    Shaking Up Social: Attending the Social Shake-Up in Atlanta

    Last year, the Social Shake-Up was one of the best social conferences to attend and this year promises to be even better. Here are a few of the hottest topics and sessions at the Shake-Up this year that are sure to deliver and drive this industry forward.
  • ddarnbrough
    Drew Darnbrough on September 19, 2014

    The Power of Hindsight: Using Historical Twitter Data to Make Better Decisions

    WEBINAR: Tuesday, September 23rd, 11:30am EDT How many times have you looked back and thought, “If only I’d known x”? We’ve all experienced the power of hindsight, and luckily now businesses can harness that power by analyzing historical social data.
  • The B in B2B does not need to stand for BORING. In the digital age, our target markets in the B2B world are becoming more and more tech-savvy and they are spending more time on social media networks. What might attract their attention even more than a content marketing article piece?

    5 Creative Digital Marketing Solutions for B2B Companies

    The B in B2B does not need to stand for BORING.

    Numerous times in my B2B marketing career, I’ve heard the same old story that content and digital marketing is tedious and boring. Content should be serious and professional and B2B marketers need to use the “boring” social media outlets such as LinkedIn.

    It’s time to throw that logic out the window.

    In the digital age, our target markets in the B2B world are becoming more and more tech-savvy and they are spending more time on social media networks. What might attract their attention even more than a content marketing article piece? Here are 5 creative ideas for conducting B2B digital marketing.

    Warning: Use with caution and continue to apply B2B marketing best practices.

    1. Webinars & YouTube Channel

    Does your company sell something completely boring? Make it interesting by putting faces to that product or service. Conducting webinars is a great way to get your audience engaged and to get an expert in front of the target market (figuratively of course). Take the webinar one step further and set up a YouTube channel where your target audience can access articles or perhaps interviews with your management and operations team about industry trends and/or new products and services.

    Think about it: would you rather download a PDF (which is probably protected by a landing page that prompts you to enter personal info) or watch a public video?

    1. Slideshare Presentations

    Slideshare is increasingly becoming a powerful and recognized tool in B2B marketing. In B2B where customers are potentially researching topics and trends in the industry, Slideshare allows you to lead them to your presentations. Make these presentations interesting with creative content and creative graphics. However, be sure not to give away too much information upfront. The point is that you want your audience to contact you for more information. Keep presentations to 20-30 slides max and keep the slides aesthetically pleasing!

    1. Infographics

    Infographics is content marketing for the digital generation. We are too busy and too distracted to focus on lengthy articles. Infographics are a creative way to present information and statistics using fun graphics that people will actually read. People love reading facts and statistics and an infographic allows you to present this information in a creative image that you can share on your social media sites. Try pairing your Infographic with a teaser like: “This infographic will explain everything you need to know about the XXX industry”. It gets your point across in less words.

    1. Multiple Twitter Accounts

    Consider having employees create Twitter accounts in order to create faces for the company. The company Twitter account will most likely stay professional and be the source of your content marketing and company updates and announcements. Create a profile for the marketing person and/or salespeople and have them tweet more “light-hearted” info such as industry trends and statistics as well as company events. It allows your B2B company to have a more “human” touch.

    1. Contests

    Sometimes our customers just want a break from the seriousness of marketing and sales. Creating contests at trade shows where you announce the winner via social media is a great way to get people to connect with you online. You can also create contests online by rewarding people for taking a marketing survey. Companies can also create contests using hashtags by asking people to hashtag a certain topic and get people talking about a trend. One simple contest I actually saw a competitor do (hey – have to give credit where credit is due) was post Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pictures of customers who photographed a marketing gadget of the company in various creative locations. 

    Revisiting your content marketing plan and keeping your editorial calendar fluid are the keys to content success—here’s why.
    You did everything right. Created the content marketing plan (victory), created an editorial calendar (victory), assembled an army of writers and volunteers, and after probably much arm twisting, you started to execute (victory). After which… you clicked autopilot. 
     
    It was all working, right? You had the calendar and you just followed it. That’s what everyone told you to do. 
     
    But what no one tells you is that your editorial calendar should really not be carved in stone, it should be a fluid, almost always-changing document. And when I say that, I don’t mean in the sense that you are moving deadlines around or inserting a new content piece when you get a brainstorm for a fabulous idea in the middle of the night (congrats), although you should definitely allow for this. 
     
    What I mean is that you should revisit your editorial calendar in a big picture kind of way. You need to understand if what is in there is meeting your content marketing objectives. Here are some ways to do that, and some ideas to make adjustments if the needs aren’t being met.  
     
    Circle back to the plan
     
    This is where it all started. Your content marketing plan is the foundation of your whole content effort, but what happens in so many cases is that people work very feverishly on the plan, they create goals, develop ideas, messages and themes that are then used to inform editorial planning, they present the plan to their leadership, bask in the glory of a job well done — and file the plan away. 
     
    Do you remember everything you said you were going to do six months ago? I don’t remember half the things I said I was going to do last week. 
     
    You have to revisit the plan. The economic environment may have changed, which may have forced an adjustment in marketing goals or even corporate business objectives. If this happens, you have to adjust. Maybe you have to add new ideas and themes to accommodate those changes. Maybe you have to look at your distribution strategy again. Maybe you even have to reconsider the target audience(s).
     
    Even if change has not been that drastic, a visit to the plan is important just to make sure you are staying true to your intentions. You can veer off course quickly. Everyone changes the editorial calendar — a little tweak here, a change to an idea there — and before you know it, you are moving in a different direction than you originally intended. Take a look back at what you said you would do in each section of your plan: with content ideas, where you would be as far as goals are concerned, and what you would do with your social media effort. Then make a list of what you are actually doing as comparison. It’s possible that what you are doing, even if it is not what was prescribed by the plan, is really the right thing. But you need the whole picture. 
     
    Check the metrics; improve your batting average
     
    Are you tracking awareness, readership, engagement? It’s good to stop and take a look at what you’ve created and understand which pieces click with your audience and which pieces don’t. That information should help you make some changes to what is planned for the future. Are people sharing your content? Which pieces? Are they commenting? What types of content has actually generated leads for you?
     
    Once you do your analysis, you may find that some of the content pieces that you thought would be home runs were really singles, or even strikeouts. If you have several “should-have-been-home runs” planned for the end of your year (that you now think may go the other direction), a shift is probably in order. Find out what really engages your audience and plan more of whatever that is. Eliminate the potential strikeouts. 
     
    Talk to staff 
     
    Get some feedback from staff on what types of content and topics seem have a positive effect. Ask the CEO what he finds most engaging and shares with people. Poll the sales team about which topics generate response and reaction. 
     
    While you are peppering the sales team with questions, it’s not a bad idea to query them about what kinds of questions they get from customers and prospects. I often suggest this as a good way to come up with new content ideas, so find out if there are new problems or concerns that have come up since the last time you got a list from them. If they fit with your plan’s ideas, messages and themes, create new content ideas from them. 
     
    Review the calendar
     
    When you came up with all of your content ideas, they were awesome, of course. Like any piece of content you write, when you let it sit, it can look a little different when you go back to it. Take a good look through all the ideas you put into your content calendar. Do you still like them? Even if they make sense with the plan and the objectives, and no radical shifts are necessary, do you actually think they are good ideas? Are they viable for the piece of content you have planned for them? Sometimes what seemed brilliant in January makes you wonder what you were thinking when you look at it in June. It’s ok to throw out some of those ideas. You might just have to generate some new ones
     
    Rethink the process
     
    When you created the plan and the whole content marketing effort, you likely created a process for getting it all done. Maybe you put that on autopilot with everything else. If things are clicking along that well for you, bravo! 
     
    But any pause offers time for reassessment. If you have added any staff, take a look at who is doing what. Do you really have the right people connected with the right tasks to be most efficient with your content production? Can you recruit any new writers from your staff? Is this the opportunity to add freelancers to create that anchor content that’s been scheduled but no one has time for? 
     
    If your content marketing plan has become a distant memory for you, dig it out. Getting reacquainted with it —and being willing to change it — can be the best thing you do for the success of your content effort. 
    At the Social Shake-Up, I attended a panel called "How CMOs Drive Innovation and Revenue Growth," featuring speakers David Davidovic, President, pathForward, former CMO, Merck; and Tim Minahan, CMO, SAP Cloud and LoB, SAP. Jason Breed, Enterprise Social Business Lead, IBM, moderated this session, which explored how CMOs tie their strategy to revenue; marketing's involvement in development; how marketing can fit into a business holistically, and not as an advertising add-on; and how marketing should participate in business ownership.

    At the Social Shake-Up, I attended a panel called "How CMOs Drive Innovation and Revenue Growth," featuring speakers David Davidovic, President, pathForward, former CMO, Merck; and Tim Minahan, CMO, SAP Cloud and LoB, SAP.  Jason Breed, Enterprise Social Business Lead, IBM, moderated this session, which explored how CMOs tie their strategy to revenue;  marketing's involvement in development; how marketing can fit into a business holistically, and not as an advertising add-on; and how marketing should participate in business ownership. For highlights, check out this Storify of the live-tweeting that was going on during the panel.

    The rising availability of wearable tech like the Apple iWatch and Google Glass is changing the modern business world with goals of higher productivity and a better bottom line in mind.

    The rising availability of wearable tech like the Apple iWatch and Google Glass is changing the modern business world with goals of higher productivity and a better bottom line in mind. Although originally focused on the consumer market, the switch has been made to development with business applications in mind. The impact has been seen in the field service industry with technicians bringing wearable cameras to work. These smart devices have put field companies in a position solve problems at a faster rate saving money in the long-term.

    All of this is great news but there has to be a catch, at least to some degree.

    Wearable Tech and Data Security

    Devices like Google Glass present a different risk from before since it has the ability to record video and sound, presenting the worry that confidential information could be audio-recorded and transferred outside the network. These devices have the ability to interact with the analog world around them and obtain data. It still isn’t fully known to what extent data can be transferred and stored. Paul Martini, CEO of iboss, notes that the difference between the original calculator and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smart watch is that while the calculator watch had the ability to sum and multiply numbers, it wasn’t able to transfer or store information. Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smart watch also sends and receives texts, stores voice recordings and makes phone calls. The risk is that the information gathered by wearable tech in a setting like a hospital can collect sensitive information violating HIPAA.

    The medical industry isn’t the only industry concerned with threats wearable tech can present. The UK has banned Google Glass in cinemas over film piracy with some saying that the U.S. may do the same. The sports world is always looking to find ways to improve business practices and athlete performance but could also risk information loss if wearable tech is in the wrong or improperly trained hands.

    MDM and acceptable use policies

    Knowing when smart phones are and are not acceptable is key to successful mobile device management (MDM) for any enterprise. For example, an MDM solution or rule in place may be banning smart phones from an acquisition but this rule does not ban smart watches from being present. The watch is always on the user with the same abilities to potentially take pictures of documents and record business chats.

    Upgrading the network security infrastructure, including computer security, is key to the success of any enterprise looking to fully adopt wearable tech. This will help IT detect and hopefully prevent any data loss or security breaches through the presence of wearable tech. By coming up with advanced security solutions, data can be analyzed as to how it flows while identifying the types of devices used. Training employees on acceptable use policies and the effects of using wearable technology improperly will lead to prevention of future problems. Policies can be used to emphasize that wearable technology is only acceptable to an enterprise if it brings value or increases efficiency.

    Technological convergence has allowed the end user to receive calls and discounts and gain navigation information while accessing emails. All of these abilities presented by wearable tech have proven to be productive in the long-term. If the right precautions are taken with the correct policies in place, enterprises can put mobile devices to work for them, increasing company ROI and reducing risk.

    Identity protection tips for wearable tech

    A few tips for protecting user identity when it comes to mobile apps and wearable tech include avoid using identifying information and using unique passwords for self-tracking apps. When creating usernames, avoid names that appear on any forms of identification if possible. Password generators can help if coming up with a unique password is difficult. Another tip for protecting user data and enterprise information is checking the privacy policies for every app and wearable tech developed. It will help CIOs be informed as to how to address security threats and update current security policies.

    Developing a social media strategy is important. But beyond just implementing a plan, you’ll want to evaluate your social channel’s success in order to improve moving forward. Google Analytics is a valuable tool that can help you to analyze and enhance your social media strategy.

    We understand that having your brand on social media is important. But simply setting up a Facebook or Twitter account is not enough to drive visitors to your company’s website and convert them into customers. That’s why developing a social media strategy is so important. But beyond just implementing a plan, you’ll want to evaluate your social channel’s success in order to improve moving forward.

    Google Analytics is a valuable tool that can help you to analyze and enhance your social media strategy. The social section (Acquisition > Social) in Analytics breaks down your website’s visitors that are being driven from social networks. The data available in the reports outlined below will help you take your social media strategy from mere existence to a key asset in converting traffic into customers.

    Network Referrals Report

    The Social > Network Referrals report allows you to get a better understanding of which social accounts are driving traffic to your website, as well as provide an overview of which visitors are the most engaged. This report provides a list of the top networks that drove traffic, as well as data on the average session duration and pages visited per session.

    It’s tempting to assume that whichever social network drives the most traffic is where you want to dedicate your efforts. However, be sure to evaluate engagement. For example, in the report shown below, Twitter and Facebook are sending the most traffic.  However, Disqus and LinkedIn are sending visitors who are more engaged.  They spend more time (Avg Session Duration) and view more content (Pages / Session).  As a result, this brand may want to invest more effort generating traffic from Disqus and LinkedIn.

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    Landing Pages Report

     Most social media strategists understand that sharing insightful and helpful content is going to build trust with your followers and drive more interest back to your website. Therefore, sharing blog posts, infographics, event information and offers are going to initiate web traffic. Google Analytics can help you refine this strategy and determine whether you should be promoting more blog posts or special offers. The Social > Landing Pages report shows you exactly what page your social visitors are first landing on.

    Within the report, you will notice a list of URLs ranked by sessions, which shows which pages were most visited from your social networks. For example, if you see that blog posts offering expert advice are sorted at the top of the list, you should be sharing this kind of content more often. Within this report, you can also click on each URL to learn more on the specific social networks that drove traffic to that point and see how long people spent on a particular page after it was initially shared via a social channel.

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    Conversions Report

    Traffic and engagement are important measurements of a social strategy’s success. However, you want to take a look at how social media is impacting conversion rates. The Social > Conversions report within Analytics supplies data for conversions that are coming from social users.

    The Conversions report ranks social networks in order of conversions (goal completions). You’ll be able to determine whether Facebook or Pinterest are driving the most visitors who are likely to become customers.

    Google also allows you to tie monetary values to conversions by following some additional steps, but this extra insight can help you to associate expected revenue with your efforts on social media. Showcasing the ROI of your strategy often reinforces to clients or colleagues the importance of a strong social media presence.   

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    User Flow Report

    Understanding which social networks are sending traffic and conversions to your website is important, but the User Flow report will provide you with insight into how they navigate your site. The report appears like a flow chart, showing first which network users are coming from, the starting pages and then where they visit next. The overview gives you an idea of what content interests these users, which can vary depending on whether they’re coming from YouTube or Pinterest.

    If you notice in the User Flow report that traffic is leaving after visiting a particular page, you may consider tactics on how to guide them to additional content. For example, if you’re noticing a number of people are reading blog posts but they immediately leave the website, incorporate  “Recent Posts” or “Suggested Blog Posts” links to keep them engaged.

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    Conclusion

    For smaller businesses or agencies, implementing a well-thought-out social media plan can take a lot of time and effort. Make sure you are getting the most from the effort put in. The reports we’ve outlined above are good starting points to gain more insight into how your strategy is working and how you can improve.