Archive for the ‘tech BtoB marketing’ Category

Can You Beat the Algorithm? Take the Retweet Quiz and Find Out

Monday, July 14th, 2014

retweetWhat’s it take to get retweeted on Twitter? Three computer scientists decided to find out. They created an algorithm that sorts through flows of social media data to determine which of paired tweets (i.e., “two tweets about the same link sent by the same person”) is more likely to be retweeted. The scientists wanted to find out if certain word patterns, phrase lengths, vocabulary choices and other content variables were predictive for which of two tweets on the same subject by the same writer would be retweeted more often.

After running through some 11,000 pairs of tweets, the algorithm got pretty good at predicting which tweet is more retweetable. Pretty good, but not outstanding. According to the New York Times, the algorithm “can guess which tweet gets retweeted about 67 percent of the time, beating humans, who on average get it right only 61 percent of the time.”
The Times developed a 25-question quiz Can You Tell What Makes a Good Tweet? to measure whether humans can beat big data analytics when it comes to guessing which tweets get retweeted. Take the quiz and see how you perform against the algorithm.

Tweet this: Can you beat an algorithm at picking top retweets? nyti.ms/1pXx7zK via @m_sendhil Take the quiz and find out

So, if an algorithm can predict retweeting patterns, can we use its insights to write better tweets (assuming that retweeted tweets were better, more engagingly written)? Well, not so much.

The study found that asking for what you want is a good strategy: People are very suggestible. Using the words “retweet” and “please” in tweets resulted in more retweets. Using unusual or novel words or phrases also seemed to be predictive of retweeting. However, once you start reusing attention-grabbing language, it quickly becomes less so: “Once an algorithm finds those things that draw attention and starts exploiting them, their value erodes. When few people do something, it catches the eye; when everyone does it, it is ho-hum.”

It seems that longer tweets are more likely to be retweeted than shorter tweets. Of course, given that this is Twitter, you can push length only so far. And don’t start maximizing tweet lengths with the expectation that you’ll automatically get retweeted more often. The upshot is that longer tweets have more content, and more content is more interesting than less content, so content-rich tweets will get retweeted more often. “So the lesson is not ‘make your tweets longer’ but ‘have more content,’ which is far harder to do.”

Turns out that there’s no secret formula for writing tweets that succeed in getting retweeted. Instead, write creatively about interesting content and you’ll get retweeted more often. That may seem apparent, but writing good tweets takes time, wit, and attention to detail to get right. If you want to win at the retweeting game, then you need to bring your A-game.

Let us know how you did on the quiz – and tell us if you have advice on writing tweets that get retweeted.

What You Need to Know Now About LinkedIn Showcase Pages

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

With the recent removal of the LinkedIn Products & Services tab from Company Pages, it’s time for businesses to switch gears to the newly minted Showcase Page format. Showcase Pages are an extension of a LinkedIn Company Page that allows a business to promote specific products or services to a targeted buyer persona.  LinkedIn users can follow a Showcase Page without following the business’s Company Page. This allows business to promote for and cater to multiple audiences through up to 10 Showcase Pages.

IBM Big Data & Analytics Showcase Page shares visual content daily with an audience of 12,700 followers.

IBM Big Data & Analytics Showcase Page shares visual content daily with an audience of 12,700 followers.

Another reason for B2B brands to consider moving to LinkedIn Showcase Pages is the dwindling performance on Facebook Company Pages due to algorithm changes driving down news feed visibility. Janel Pettit, McBru’s social media manager, notes, “It’s a valid conversation to have with clients. Step back and consider your marketing objectives and how they align with Facebook as a social channel. Does the client want to build a Facebook community with an active user or affinity group? Can the client tag business partners with strong Facebook communities to grow its audience organically? If not, pay-for-play advertising on Facebook is the most legitimate option to reach a vast consumer base. The alternative is to consider reallocating your focus to a LinkedIn Showcase Page keeping in mind the platform’s lead generation features.”

IBM has a series of Showcase Pages dedicated to different market segments. You can see IBM’s list of Showcase Pages in the right hand column of its Company Page.

IBM has a series of Showcase Pages dedicated to different market segments. You can see IBM’s list of Showcase Pages in the right hand column of its Company Page.

IBM has a Showcase Page about cloud computing and another about Big Data and Analytics. By having different Showcase Pages for each business unit, brand, product, or initiative, users can chose what topics they want to follow. LinkedIn also provides dedicated analytics for each Showcase Page, which allows businesses to drill down into each of the buyer personas. By keeping content focused, personal and visual, a Showcase Page can drive high engagement and impressions.

In my next blog, I will share five easy steps for building and maintaining a LinkedIn Showcase Page. Has your business made the transition?

Don’t Bludgeon Your Audience, Nudge

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014
Courtesy of Clik/Hear

Courtesy of Clik/Hear

Last summer I was fortunate to attend a presentation at Portland’s Urban Airship by Rand Fishkin, CEO of MOZ. In his talk, hosted by SEMPDX, Fishkin spoke about “The Mighty Nudge,” a method of influencing behavior that is being leveraged by everyone from policy-makers to content marketers.

Similar to Gladwell’s Blink and Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow, Fishkin’s presentation was based on the book Nudge, by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, which examines how people make decisions and how, as marketers and advertisers, the “nudge is mightier than the sword” when it comes to influencing behavior.

For example, Fishkin’s presentation showed how different messages about tax evasion in Minnesota—when tested—produced different reactions toward solving the same goal, which was to get more of the 7% of Minnesotans who were not paying their taxes to pay.

 

• When the message was “Tax dodging costs millions,” the main response from non-payers was “I won’t get caught.”
• When it was “Taxes go to really good works,” response was “Cry me a river; most people cheat on their taxes.”
• But when the message was “Actually, 93% of Minnesotans pay their taxes,” more non-payers paid!

Fishkin’s Marketing: Many Ways to Nudge

The Minnesota tax-dodger example introduced the first of twelve points Fishkin says marketers need to use to nudge (rather than bludgeon) their audiences.

1. Show Social Proof
Social proof is based on the human tendency to seek out kinship and commonalities with fellow human beings. Showing social proof sounds something like this: “They’re like you. They like us. You should too.”

The closer social proof gets to the audience you’re trying to reach, the more effective the social proof phenomenon. Telling Minnesotans about the effects of tax dodging had limited success. Giving them social proof that “most other Minnesotans pay their taxes” made the difference. The nudge was small, without explicit threat of punishment or offer of reward, but this was the message that had a positive measurable effect.

2. Play the Name Game
aspirational-namingChances are you’ve probably seen a pricing menu that read something like this: “Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum.” However, aspirational naming conventions—names that reflect who the audience actually is—have been shown to result in higher conversion rates at higher price points than generic naming conventions such as Bronze, Silver, etc. If you are a large company, you are more likely to identify with a plan titled “Enterprise” than one called “Platinum,” and therefore be more inclined to pick that plan as the appropriate option to fit your needs. Again, a subtle difference in naming can have a significant impact in behavior.

3. Limit Choice
Fewer choices lead to more actions. As marketers many of us are already familiar with the Paradox of Choice, yet we continue to paralyze our audiences with too many options: four pricing tiers where three would do, options for sharing to ten different social channels under the assumption that if the user doesn’t see the option that is an exact fit, she won’t act. In fact, the opposite is true: when the options are too many, choosing becomes more difficult and action less likely. Which brings us to number four:

4. Don’t Make Them Think

Courtesy of Kyle Rush

Courtesy of Kyle Rush

People like quick and easy, even if it means more steps. Back in 2012, the Obama campaign did some fascinating experiments with an eye towards optimizing their webpages. After many rounds of high-volume a/b testing, they were able to show that a donation form broken up into sequential steps outperformed a similar form that was presented all-at-once. As Kyle Rush, one of the members of the optimization team put it, “turns out you can get more users to the top of the mountain if you show them a gradual incline instead of a steep slope.”

5. Tap the Power of Reciprocation
Give and ye shall receive. This powerful nudge shows up in marketing, politics, and day-to-day life. It’s the principle driving the pay-what-you-want restaurants and digital “tip jars” across the Internet. If people feel they are getting free value, in many cases they will nevertheless feel an obligation to reciprocate, often generously.

6. Use Ego and Competition to Drive Participation
A little stroke of the ego can go a long way toward nudging users into action. Not surprising, considering the degree to which social activity on the web is about self-fulfillment. Sites like iSideWith.com put this principle to work by showing users to what degree his or her social sharing resulted in action on the part of other users. Seeing the results of one’s actions, especially when presented in comparison to the results of others, is a powerful motivator and a great way to spread a message.

Fishkin went on to describe another six methods for marketing through nudges. The bottom line is that marketers are moving away from the bludgeoning tactics of the past and embracing the power of the nudge to move audiences. Tactics of begging for social shares, shouting slogans, and interrupting audiences are being replaced by subtle cues based in research and human psychology. Are you leveraging the power of the nudge?

You can  read more from Rand Fishkin at his blog.

A Team of Writers

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

content-treeAt McBru, we have an excellent technical writer on staff. You’ve probably heard of him: Bill McRae. Yes, he’s quite the celebrity among our deep tech clients. He whips and wrangles their content into easy-to-digest and highly credible technical pieces. Anyone who has worked with him can appreciate he knows his craft, and he knows technology. It’s impressive.

We also have Kevin Fann, our Creative Director. But in him, we not only have a spark plug of a creative mind (or maybe it’s a bon fire?), but also a Cracker Jack copywriter. To someone outside the field of marketing, being a copywriter may seem like a grunt task. Kevin loves to write and proves to anyone who reads his work that it is in no way “grunt” work; it’s masterful and poetic.

These two may hold the titles of “writer” in the firm, but we all are here and drawn to McBru because at our core, we love to communicate with technical people – and do it in creative ways.

Writing is one of the most fun – and challenging ways to do so. And always cut out the fluff and stuff – we know our clients’ technical audiences don’t want to hear it.

One of the ways we enjoy writing is through this blog. It allows each person at the firm to share why they love the work here, cool projects they’ve been a part of, quiet think time to reflect on an industry trend or piece of insight or put forward a bold point of view about where tech B2B marketing is heading.

Just like our secret sauce when trying to speak to deep tech audiences, some of the things we believe are important in our writing for this blog include:

  1. Educate. We all read this, and our clients do too. If you aren’t a client presently, we’re so glad you’re tuning in. We hope you learn something about us and how we think differently. For us, we love to see our colleagues’ smarts come through on the screen. We are a unique group who holds tremendous respect for each member of the team.
  2. Arm. We arm our readers with resources that help them get their jobs done. We love to talk about tips and best practices for our “Great Eight” disciplines.
  3. Inspire. This comes from being truly inspired by what our clients and their customers do; genuinely and authentically appreciating their work. Yes it’s cheesy but we get our cups filled seeing our technology clients succeed. We are glad we get to help.
  4. Have fun. We never take ourselves seriously. Ever. We’re always open to new ideas, a good laugh, and being stretched and challenged. Yes, to us, a challenge is fun.

What topics do you love reading on our blog? What could you use more of in the future?

Is Emotion Relevant in Tech B2B Marketing?

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

For those of us who spend our days trying to solve the riddle of successfully marketing to audiences who hate being marketed to, it can be easy to fall into the trap of “just the facts, ma’am” content and messaging.  But that approach is almost certainly not a winner.

Just because engineers and developers mistrust marketing doesn’t mean they are robots. It sounds corny to say “technologists are people too” but, well, they are. And all humans have a left brain and a right brain; most of us even use both sides.

orange

This image appears in an ad we created for a client in the e-learning space. The target audience: chief learning officers. We were playing around with the idea of “knowledge” and how knowledge is attained; the notion of the tree of knowledge (think Eve, apples and serpents) was tossed into the creative mix. But our client is a very innovative company delivering e-learning in a fresh new way (they’ve been called the iTunes of e-learning, for good reason).

What’s fresher than a just-picked orange? And thus, the “orange of knowledge” was born. He’s friendly, eye catching and makes you want to know more. That emotional appeal breaks through the clutter and allows us to tell the serious story, backed with data, that our client needs to tell. Both sides of the brain are stimulated: the part that makes you smile back at the cute little orange guy, and the part that takes the facts and figures in, and makes an assessment.

The fact that the emotional tug is a little quirky helps. Even as tech B2B audiences resist being marketed to, they would resist overt manipulation of emotions even more. So yes, emotion is relevant in tech B2B marketing… as long as it is delivered with a dose of affection, respect and admiration for the audience.

360 Degrees To A Kick-ass Social Media Program

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

kickHave you done a 360 lately? That is, a comprehensive macro view of your social media program. Whether for your own tech B2B business or a client’s, a Social Media 360 can help lift your head up to analyze morphing goals and find out how they line up with a program that drives results.

You may have noticed that social media changes quickly. Where do you and your competitors, and especially your customers and prospects, live in that mix? Are you leveraging emerging channel features? Does your social media program have a direct line to ROI with concrete measurements to track KPIs?

McBru can help you answer these questions with a Social Media 360, a deep analysis uncovering insights that set the foundation for a results-oriented social media program. We zero in on key influencers and conversations that can move your business objectives, and bubble it up to a customized social media marketing playbook.

Social media moves fast, and keeping your program ahead of the curve can be a challenge. Here are three things you can to do bolster your program in 2014:

1. Where do you and your competitors, and especially your customers and prospects, live?

Find or validate the conversations you want to be in to build long-term authenticity. Use your hashtag and influencer search tools. Don’t forget about Google’s Keyword Planner – it does have utility. Discover new or ancillary communities to broaden your reach and influence.

Tweet this: Where are your customers and competitors on #socialmedia? Freshen up your program insights.

2. Are you leveraging emerging channel features? 

It’s no secret that channels are continually evolving, especially with monetization, which is a good thing for B2B marketers—and for customers who want access to products and services. Scan channels for demand gen and CRM options; what mix is the best for achieving your goals? Have you checked out StumbleUpon?

Tweet this: Are you leveraging emerging #socialmedia channel features? Amp up your program and results.

3. Does your social media program have a direct line to ROI with concrete measurements to track KPIs?

This is consistently a leading question and challenge, but it doesn’t need to be difficult if you are deliberate. One key is to determine, right off the top, the metrics that tie back to your business roadmap. Then, find what repeatable and sustainable measurement tools are readily available that accurately report on identified metrics. They’re out there, it’s just harder to plug them in if a results reporting plan is developed after or independent of the program launch. Download this free Social Media ROI Calculator.

Tweet this: Does your #socialmedia program link to #ROI? Download this free Social Media ROI Calculator.

At McBru we love Social Media 360s! 2013 was a great momentum year for building out highly customized social media programs for clients based on their business needs. We’re happy to do the same for you. Let me know how McBru can help at @janelpettit.

LinkedIn Ranked #1 Social Platform for B2B Marketers

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

LinkedIn Surpasses YouTubeLinkedIn reigned supreme in 2013. According to Holger Schulze, a B2B content marketing executive, LinkedIn surpassed YouTube as the most influential social media platform. It also saw the highest adoption rate among content marketers this year according to the Content Marketing Institute.

Two factors leading to this development include LinkedIn’s new layout: the site’s professional audience and atmosphere, and targeted advertising options. Company pages are not only a great place to consolidate your company’s information, but a company profile with many followers helps expand the reach of your B2B content.

If your business is thinking about jumping on the LinkedIn bandwagon, follow these steps to create a comprehensive company page:

  1. Company information: Add your company’s description, address and specialties. This section also functions like keyword tags for search purposes.
  2. Cover photo: A cover photo that represents your company is an opportunity to grab your audience’s attention and get more clicks to your page.
  3. Products and services tab: This section gives viewers a snapshot of your company’s offerings. You can also gather recommendations for your products or services to help establish trust and build a strong brand reputation.
  4. Page updates: Create an editorial calendar for updates about your company, industry news, customer testimonials, and other relevant material. Post content on a regular basis to stay top of mind with your followers.
  5. Customer engagement: As with other social media profiles, the key to LinkedIn is to build relationships. Be sure to foster two-way communication with your followers.

If your company has a budget for social media campaigns, LinkedIn offers a compelling advertising program. You can target ads based on job function, which Hewlett Packard used to encourage followers to recommend the company’s products.  In the first two weeks of the campaign, HP gained 2,000 recommendations and later became the first company to reach 1 million followers on the platform.
What B2B marketing strategies have you found successful on LinkedIn?

Chinese Fortune Cookies, Social Media and Tech B2B Marketing

Friday, December 27th, 2013

fortune-cookieLove them or hate them, the delivery of fortune cookies at the end of your Chinese food meal creates excitement about what’s inside.

You may not ever eat the cookie, but the fortune may earn a spot on your fridge or pinned to a bulletin board with the date scribbled in the corner.

Will your fortune allude to a possible new love interest?
Is a promotion on the horizon?
Will it finally convince you to book that tropical vacation you’ve been daydreaming about?
Or maybe it holds the winning lottery numbers on the flip side?

There is a tradition of reading them out loud and hearing others – does it fit them? Who got the best one? And who read theirs with a funny phrase at the end, causing the party to erupt in laughter?

I bet we can all agree the shared experience and commentary is the best part.

Whether you eat the cookie or not, the fortune inside, if it speaks to your life, gives you a sense of jubilation that your “fortune” was true.

You’re probably wondering why I’m going on and on about fortune cookies. For the record, I do like to eat them and read them out loud.

I see a lot of parallels between the fortune cookie “tradition” and social media for tech B2B companies.

Those who share—using social media, or any medium for that matter—to enrich the experiences of others, will progress in their goals of success and influence. A Forbes article included a few of these things in its “25 Things Influential People Do” list.

The stories and messages that humanize a person or company brand, and allow us to relate – giving us a shared experience – will be the “fortunes” that are pinned to walls and revisited for years to come.

fortune-cookie

Some of us love social media and eagerly consume, and contribute to it, all day long.
There can be anticipation of what lies within our news feed.

Or maybe that’s just me – I could be more than slightly addicted to staying connected with my network.

Is there happy news about a friend who got engaged?
Perhaps a funny annotated image of a cat pestering a dog?
Or devastating news about a tragedy unfolding in another part of the world?

And what will each you and I contribute to the conversation that day?

Just like in the physical world, the most impactful moments are those in which we are engaged and relate to others, not just passively observing and moving along to the next thing.

Can you imagine someone refusing to read his or her fortune at the table? That certainly would dampen the mood and experience.

The same is true for social media within tech B2B. The more involved a company or organization can be in social media – truly engaging, relating and sharing with others, the richer the experience and brand perception rewards will be.

Sure, there are times the fortune is totally off or just plain dumb. And that holds true for social media as well. Despite days when my feed is littered with posts, stories and videos I couldn’t care less about, I still like to be involved and participate. Perhaps a “like” here and there on those days.

So, how are you sharing your stories, and engaging with others’ stories on social media? Which platform(s) do you prefer – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram?

And don’t forget: next time you get Chinese food, be sure to share your fortunes out loud with your fellow diners. And if yours doesn’t fit, maybe you can give it to your friend.

Fortune Cookie designed by Ben Hantoot from the Noun Project

Is 2014 the Year of Social Media for B2B Marketers?

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

social-mediaConventional wisdom tells us that utilizing social media for B2B marketers is not a strategic initiative. The overarching opinion is that social media is for consumers and those that market directly to that audience.

Interestingly, a recent eConsultancy survey found that 67% of marketing decision makers agreed that social media is integral to their marketing mix (and only 11% disagreed).

That being said, social media marketing has had a tremendous impact on many aspects of our lives, from daily relations to our business practices. And as the lines between personal and professional lives blur, social media marketing can add to the client relationship. At the end of the day, it is still important for any marketer to be listening to the digital conversations that are taking place about a company’s brand, service and competitors. The real value, however, comes with going beyond listening to engaging with customers. There are three tactics that really underscore the need for B2B marketers to implement social media as part of their integrated marketing plan.

  1. Responsiveness.  In order to retain customer loyalty and retention, it is critical for a company to monitor and respond to customer questions.
  2. 3rd Party Validation.  Social media can turn good customer service and listening into great marketing. It can also create authentic customer referrals and testimonials on your company’s behalf.
  3. ROI.  Running an efficient social media program can impact the bottom line.  Seventy percent of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated, according to an ExactTarget report.

2014 could be the year that B2B social media will start to see its potential. With B2B social media marketing, you have to remember that the universe is smaller and success in B2B looks different. It’s also important to remember the purchasing lifecycles are much longer. Rolling out new accounting software to 20 countries is much different than purchasing a new smartphone. It means you need to build trust in the social media channels beyond the face-to-face time you have with customers.

What social media channel do you think gets the most B2B play?

Chirp Loud, Chirp Proud: Strategically Tweeting

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

birdSocial media has become a substantial part of marketing in today’s world. Social media can provide many beneficial outcomes from a marketing standpoint, anywhere from increasing brand awareness to building key relationships needed for the success of the company. According to All Twitter, 87 percent of B2B marketers now are strategically using social media, with 85 percent using Twitter. With that being said, just because a business has a Twitter account does not ensure that it is an aid to its marketing efforts. Here are some tips to more effectively utilize Twitter and to generate more strategic Tweets.

It isn’t all about you. It is very easy to get caught up in self-promotion, but posting content other than “Me Tweets” can be wildly beneficial. Reading tweet after tweet by a handle who’s writing about themselves and nothing else doesn’t hold the interest of followers. That does not mean you need to avoid writing tweets entirely about yourself, but engaging in what others are saying helps to build and nurture relationships. Follow your followers, connect with key influencers in the industry, and engage with them. Additionally, this is a place where you can be a thought leader, starting conversations or introducing topics that get others talking. This will keep users interested in what you have to say.

Be proactive. On the other hand, one can easily form a tendency towards reactive tweeting, only tweeting in response to a complaint, comment, or question from another. Don’t get me wrong, responding to others is part of the active engagement that helps build relationships. Think about it this way, how would you feel about looking at a Twitter user’s account, and seeing that he or she only responds to others, without ever posting original content? This may be rather boring, therefore you probably aren’t going to go look at that handle’s content regularly. Instead, be proactive. Be bold. Be a leader. Make others react to what you’re saying. This will bring much more attention to you than if you were solely the reactor all of the time, and will keep people wondering what you will talk about next.

Be in the know. You can tweet all day and all night, but if it is on content that no one is interested in, it won’t necessarily be helpful. This is where a bit of research can help. Search to discover what is trending, and what hot topics people are really talking about. This will help you to build content that will gain attention, and be current and in real time. Going hand in hand with knowing what’s trending is using rich and appropriate hash tags in your posts. Hash tags are meant to help broaden your reach, and help your post to be more searchable. Therefore, hash tagging something such as #ournetworkrocks won’t help much, as most people aren’t going to search that phrase. If you hash tag something more specific or relevant to what people are talking about or the content you are posting, this will increase your reach and the number of people who will see your tweet.

Tweeting smartly can greatly benefit your marketing efforts. As B2B marketers, we see the copious amounts of social media resources that we can harness. With that being said, if we don’t approach these social media platforms strategically, their impact will be minimal. So even as tweeting may seem simple and straightforward, being engaging, proactive, and putting a little legwork into research will go a long way to help to utilize Twitter to your benefit.

Bird designed by Jennifer Gamboa from The Noun Project