Using LinkedIn to Generate Leads

We have addressed it previously on HEAT, but it remains a topic that we consider to be instrumental in helping to conduct effective online lead generation campaigns. LinkedIn, when used properly, is an excellent tool for a variety of sales and marketing tactics, including prospecting, content/collateral distribution, and expert positioning.

To learn more about how to become an advanced LinkedIn user, check out our free webinar on “How to Effectively Utilize LinkedIn for Lead Generation.”

After your viewing, let us know if you have any additional questions about how to make the most of your LinkedIn account.

Recent Study Finds 90% of Tweets are Done by 10% of Twitter Users…So What?

zzaudienceYou may have heard about a recent study conducted by the Harvard Business School that found more than 90% of the content posted on Twitter is generated by only 10% of all users. To some, the study results may come across as negative, perhaps enticing social media skeptics to believe that Twitter is overrated, or worse, useless.

To these individuals, I ask: “Why is this necessarily a bad thing?” Just because 90% of Twitter members aren’t highly active in posting tweets does not necessarily mean that they aren’t active in some other way. And, it certainly does not mean that individuals and companies still can’t derive quantifiable value from marketing on Twitter.

The survey results are misleading. Who can speculate that the 90% of idle Twitter users aren’t enthusiastically reading Tweets posted by the active 10% of users? Who is to say that these “idle” users aren’t deriving value or enrichment from the active ones? Obviously there is some proof to this, or companies would not continue to utilize Twitter as a marketing tool, blogger’s would not continue to link to their posts and other trends, opinions and ideas if only 10% of users were reading.

Dell actually revealed in early June that in their 2 years of tweeting, the company has earned over $3 million as a direct result of activities and exclusive promotions via Twitter. Not bad. And, an Indianapolis-based marketing firm followed 17 Twitter corporate accounts over a 3 week period in late May, and found a 24.29% increase in their average follower count. None of these accounts were found to have decreased their amount of followers over the 3 week period. Moreover, the survey doesn’t even shed light on the monitoring tools available (Tweet Grid, Twellow, Radian6, etc.) that allow users to search for tweets from people they may not even be following at that time.

Active social media blogger and tweeter Doug Haslem agrees, mentioning on his blog that “the lurkers, the ‘Idle Class’ of social media, are important…who’s to say they don’t pass along the conversations offline?” Good point. New York Contributing Editor,Will Leitch, not a social media expert but someone who knows an emerging online platform when he sees one (he’s the former Editor of popular sports blog Deadspin), offers a different but equally supportive take in a recent post titled, “Why Twitter Is More Fun The Less You Use It.” Leitch finds enjoyment from reading tweets, not writing them, and he certainly has no problem writing about (read: promoting) the tweets that he reads in his blog posts and conversations.

Twitter is also still relatively new. There is a strong likelihood that the “10% of active Twitter users posting 90% of content” will shift to a more proportioned ratio in the near future. Many individuals and companies are still just starting to explore Twitter, and are hiring agencies to help them develop a more strategic approach.

Bottom line: if your company generates just one possible business lead, has a 1% increase in website traffic, notices important customer behavior taking place or finds out just enough background on a potential prospect, Twitter has benefited your company. If you are just an individual on Twitter for the heck of it, then it’s up to you to determine how to make it valuable.

B2B Marketer? Every Brand Can be “Social”

Forrester Research Reports that B2B Technology Decision Makers Use Social Media to Make Purchasing Decisions

Forrester Research recently released a report stating that 77 percent of technology decision makers (who make purchasing decisions on behalf of companies) use social media for business purposes. 77 percent is HUGE! So, you can assume that your prospective customers are active online.

Forrester Graph

Don’t understand the chart? It’s ok. What it boils down to is that your prospective customers do participate in social media throughout the buying cycle. Some are more active than others, but the vast majority of decision makers are online. So, savvy B2B marketers should be online too. But, most B2B marketers are not effectively using social media to influence prospects’ purchasing decisions.

Below, I explore some possibilities as to why B2B marketers are not using social media to promote their companies.

Possible Reason #1 – Marketers think there is no way to develop B2B service business other than through referrals.

In the olden days of marketing (just two or three years ago!), B2B businesses increased sales primarily through referrals, but the playing field has changed. Or, more specifically, the way people communicate has changed. Today, people communicate through traditional channels like over the phone, and they talk via email, on blogs, in online forums, and through their social networks (how many groups do you belong to on LinkedIn?). B2B marketers can benefit from this change in communication behavior by working with an agency like ours that uses advanced technologies to monitor the millions of conversations taking place online and identify prospects that are in need of your services in real time. New media technologies also enable us to engage your prospective customers in conversation through their preferred social media channels, which they use to communicate with their peers and look for solutions to their business problems. Being able to monitor millions of online conversations simultaneously is extremely helpful in developing new business leads. It’s like going to a business networking event with millions of attendees and monitoring every conversation in the room at the same time for prospects in need!

Everyday, thousands of your ideal B2B prospects/targets are expressing their needs for solutions to their business pain points through social channels. You can generate and nurture new business leads if you have a protocol in place for identifying prospective clients, engaging them in conversation, and offering content that positions you as an expert and helps to solve prospects’ problems.

Possible Reason #2 – It’s too difficult to prove ROI with social media.

This is a FALSE statement. (I would say this is “Crap” but that would make me crass)

ROI can be measured! The way we measure ROI from social media for all of our B2B clients is by the number of quality leads generated – ‘Nuff said! We successfully generate new, quality leads by strategically executing campaigns that involve leveraging social media technologies and search marketing strategies. These campaigns also involve engagement protocol development, engagement through social channels, content development (white papers, webinars, podcasts), extensive monitoring of the social Web (using tools like radian6), landing page development, possible CRM integration, and drip marketing planning.

Possible Reason # 3 – B2B sales are too complicated to take place via social media or a social media agency.

First of all, social media is not a tool for closing business deals, so don’t think of it in that way. Instead, social media is a tool for listening, identifying prospects’ pain points, creating awareness of your brand and the benefits you offer, expert positioning, engagement, and lead-generation.

Second, just because there are very few social media agencies that have expertise in B2B marketing (our agency is one of the few that focuses on B2B), this doesn’t mean they don’t exist. If you are a B2B marketer looking to execute a social media campaign, you need to find a social media agency that understands the complexities of the B2B sales cycle, and the sometimes difficult B2B buyer.

To identify a good B2B new media communications agency, I suggest you start by looking at the staff of the agency. Ask yourself questions like: “Are these people seasoned communication professionals who I would trust to help create content for my lead-capture and/or demand generation initiatives, or are they just a bunch of techies who are knowledgeable about the latest, shiny applications?” “Would they know how to map out a cohesive strategy to tie in their efforts to my demand generation campaign?”

Now, I would like to hear from you. Why do you think so few B2B marketers incorporate social media into their business lead generation initiatives?

Couch Potato Predictions

As we all turn a new page and start making plans for the coming year, those of us in marketing may want to reconsider this year’s online video strategy.

2008 was a landmark year for online video. Not only were 75% of the U.S. internet audience watching videos online, but the average online video viewer watched nearly four hours of online video per month. Hulu, one of the most popular sites for watching hit TV shows and movies online, launched in March. Now it’s hard for me to even imagine keeping up with my favorite TV shows without it. Tivo? Who needs it anymore? I can watch the latest “The Office” episode right on my laptop, anytime, and with limited commercial interruptions.

I had the opportunity to attend a MITX panel discussion a few weeks ago, entitled “Planning Your Online Video Strategy for 2009”. What inspired me most was the out-of-the-box solutions the panelists suggested. Online videos are much more than just an advertising venue concerned with logo placement and banner ads. Creating an online video is really about publishing, creative story-telling and engaging the viewer. Some of the most memorable videos of 2008 were either user-generated or created under relatively low budgets. Who can forget the chubby guy lip-synching to the “Numa Numa” song (a clip which later got used in a Weezer music video)? Or the “Where the Hell is Matt?” video of a man dancing across the world? And those are just two of hundreds of viral hits.

Dynamic videos, which have been under the radar until recently, will come full blast in 2009. You may have received a link during the presidential elections where the video plays out as if you were one of the candidates. Your name appears throughout the video on billboards, in the various news headlines seamlessly, and even tattoed on the lower back of an old lady.

By customizing videos in this manner, viewers will be more engaged in the story, and given the right technology, may even be able to drive how the story unfolds. To clarify, recall those decision-based storybooks where you flip to different pages depending on what you want the hero/heroine to do? Now picture that same user-driven approach within an interactive video, and you’ll catch a glimpse of what’s to come. No two viewers will experience the video the same. PermissionTV currently has a platform for creating these non-linear videos.

The MITX panel discussion also revolved around strategies for promoting your company’s videos on a blog, through social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.) and even through other videos. You really don’t need an uber-professional crew of cameramen and actors to get a video done – use the resources that you have in-house and try to get as many online videos out there as you can. [check out this successful low-budget video by HubSpot: “You Oughta Know Inbound Marketing“]

The more creative or funny you can be with the story, the better. I’d also steer clear of creating very obvious self-promotion videos. Online video viewers are very savvy and can smell an ad campaign from a mile away. Interestingly, major corporations like Gatorade, JCPenny and EA Sports, who all launched successful viral videos last year, did so with very minimal branding incorporated. Check out EA Sports’ video response to a glitch caught in their Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 game “Tiger Woods Walks on Water” as well as JCPenny’s “Beware of the Doghouse” video. Both are extremely well done, with little self-promotion – and more importantly – they’re fun to watch while getting the message across.

It’s just a matter of time before every household has an internet-enabled TV set, and once that time comes, you want to be on-board with your own series of cool online videos. So pull out your digital cameras, figure out your strategy – and Action!