Monday, June 27, 2011

10 Twitter Tips for B-to-B Events – (the first 8 need to happen BEFORE the event…)

A business-to-business client recently asked me to pull together top tips for using Twitter at an industry event.  The
client goal is to broaden the impact of an industry event via strategic use of social media.

There are smarter folks out there who have assembled good ideas for using Twitter at trade shows and conferences, including MarketingSherpa.

It’s All in the Preparation
After noodling ideas around and assembling the list, it is clear that the majority of these tips pertain to activities that need to take place before the actual event.   It’s not enough to fire up a Tweet stream the day of an industry or business-to-business event. 

The key concept here is strategic planning (isn’t it always, eh?).  Tips one through 8 assembled below, for example, have everything to do with pre-event planning and tasks.

10 Twitter Tips for Events – (the first 8 need to happen BEFORE the event…)
1) First Things First:  Set the Event Hashtag:  Decide upon an easy to remember, intuitive and concise hashtag.  Use to check if it is a unique choice. Minimize the character count to maximize the chance for retweets, plus avoid meaningless abbreviations. For our purposes here, the sample Business to Business 2011 Conference hashtag will be #b2bconf2011:
2   Pre-Promotions of Hashtag:  Starting as early as possible before the event, promote the event hashtag on all outbound communications (email signatures; web; press releases; advertisements; HTML email; print; event  website; invitations; etc.)  include the following:  Follow the B-to-B 2011 Event proceedings on Twitter #btobconf2011
3)    Build Relevant Following Before Event: Connect and follow via Twitter with key influencers who would have an interest in this event (media; analysts; executives) as soon as possible before the event in order to gain key followers
4)    Build Interest Before Event: Direct message all relevant key followers about the event.  If they are not attending, invite them to follow the proceedings during the event using the event’s hashtag. Remember, you can only direct message folks who follow you.  See point 3 above, the key is to engage with relevant folks early.
5)       Coordinate a TweetChat During Event: Consider extending an invitation to Twitter followers or media not in attendance to ask questions, participate in panels as events are occurring using  during the actual event.  This can only work if there are followers who can’t attend, who you reach out to via DMs, and ask for participation during the event via Twitter. This depends on pre-event promotions to be worthwhile
6) Consider Stream Options: Before the event, take time to consider live streaming some of the conference session speakers integrated with a live Twitter chat.  See how to leverage or
7) Prepare Promotions of Tweets/Hashtag During Event: Using large monitors, or on the presentation screen at the bottom of PowerPoint slides, set up a live feed widget at the event to showcase live Tweeting; include hashtag on signage, presentations during the event.  Remind presenters or any emcees to announce the hashtag for participants to Tweet from event. Consider adding a small footer to nametags “Follow Event on Twitter at #b2bconf2011
8) Showcase Tweet Stream: Set up a widget on the client’s website, relevant blogs to display tweets using
9) Organize the On Site Team: Establish two or three folks to be the designated Tweeters during the event. Assign sessions to attend to cover the entire event.  Tweet items of interest, engaging headline-worthy content and keep less than 125 char for optimal chance of retweeting by others. Consider a 3rd party collaboration tool to manage Tweets such as Hoot Suite, TweetDeck, CoTweet or other tools to track who is saying what and when.  Use appropriate twitter handles  and other key words and hashtags and embed links of interest as relevant. Assign one team member to monitor tweet stream during event; correct any erroneous hashtags being used; reply to any questions or concerns that might come up (don't let a Tweet go by that complains about the event for instance, without replying and trying to remedy the situation); retweet and comment; or connect with others who are at the event
10) Steady Stream, Consistent Messages: Keep Tweets “human” and personal during the event, but stay on topic (for our purposes for the sample conference, keywords include #marketing, #socialmedia, #business, etc) which will help put this information out to those already following those key hashtags.  Intersperse live Tweets with scheduled Tweets.  A tool like Hootsuite makes it easy to create and schedule Tweets in advance. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Lesson of the Orange Shoes

For me, shoe shopping happens when there is an immediate need -- either because an old pair of shoes has worn out, or a new pair is needed for a fast-approaching special event.

The task is not entertaining. It’s no-nonsense pursuit, moving fast to complete the task.

Yesterday I took a few spare moments to zip to the shoe store for a new pair of sandals.  The chore squeezed into a frazzled day of juggling the demands of teen-agers, attending end-of-school events, hosting out-of-town in-laws, attempting to exercise, conducting a lengthy phone meeting and working on business-to-business marketing projects for 3 different clients in one day. 

It was a typical day of hyper-speed multi-tasking.

A Lesson is Offered
After a fast look at the store’s inventory, while simultaneously keeping a frantic watch for work-related emails on my Smartphone and fielding a call from my son’s Orthodontist, the final choice was between two versions of the same model of sandals: one pair in brown and the other pair in orange.

Brown or orange?  A choice between sandals in a conservative, safe color or something with a tad more flair?

Taking a Moment
The shoe decision offered the chance to be still and become fully immersed in the task.
 By taking that moment, I realized I had been standing up the entire time since entering the store, even when trying on all the shoes that came before these sandals.   Here was a chance to sit in a comfortable wicker chair and contemplate the decision.

There was time to take several deep breaths. The concerns of the day were gone in that moment.

It was a chance to become fully immersed in the present moment.

A Single Focus
The focus was on brown or orange.  The other distractions and concerns momentarily quieted.

A gift, really, all because of the orange shoes.

If that sandal was only available in the conservative brown, there would be no chance to pause for mindful consideration.

I would have promptly chosen the brown sandals, and hurried out the door onto the next task.

Instead, I immersed myself in the decision and considered.

I chose orange.

Why Orange Shoes?
These orange shoes offer the opportunity for learning to be present.   Not a trivial matter.

Perhaps wearing them will help me get into the habit of remembering to focus, of remembering to be present, of being more aware.

When you see me in orange shoes, it’s because they serve as a reminder to do one thing at a time.  To approach tasks slowly and deliberately

The orange shoes will serve as a reminder to pay attention to the present more completely and with more concentration. 

Zen and the Art of Shoe Shopping
Don’t you find that it’s a challenge to focus on what one is doing, right now, and enjoy the present moment?

Maybe a pair of orange shoes can help in this important effort.

Or to paraphrase the Zen proverb: "When the student is ready the orange shoes will appear."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Addicted to Metrics: The First Step is Admitting There’s a Problem

The first step in any well-respected recovery program is admitting there’s a problem. 

When it comes to business-to-business marketing and monitoring social media metrics, this serves as public admittance of a potential problem.

The smarty-pants at Hootsuite, the social media management application, now offer robust reporting metrics showcasing the return on investment and value of social media marketing for Twitter.  (They offer this reporting for Facebook as well, but I’m not actively managing client social media on that platform, thus don’t run FB reports.)

In the case of Twitter, real-time reports show relevance of Twitter followers, usefulness of Tweets, and number of followers who click through any links embedded into a Tweet, along with other addictive analytics.
Most Popular Links
Over the last few months, one report has become extremely addictive. 

The “most popular links” summary shows the number of click throughs followers take for anytime a link is embedded in a tweet.

As more clients request social media management of b-to-b Tweet streams, the more this addiction will get out of control.

Got Relevance?
In my mind, no matter the client, the report serves as a key way to measure relevance on Twitter.  

Another way of looking at the report is that it demonstrates that the higher the click through (Ie higher the number of people who click on the link), the more the content resonated with followers.  

As long as a Twitter program stays on topic; is consistent in frequency of Tweets; includes key words and hash tags related to the topic, and as long as the account has built a following of relevant followers, the “most popular links” report should be a joy to read.

There are so many important reasons to be thoughtful and strategic in social media management.  In business-to-business social media programs, the focus is on connecting and relating to like-minded folks, thought leaders, potential prospects, etc. in a professional way.  (Of course, I’m making the assumption that this is the overall goal…many folks have gotten into big trouble when using Twitter for other more sensational reasons, like celebrities and certain members of the US Congress) 

Simply put, tweets and comments must stay on topic to attract relevant followers. 

In Search of Value
Think of it this way:  if you signed up for a conference or webinar about the latest industry trends in physical therapy, why on earth would a presenter stand up and devote a presentation to thoughts about movies, what they ate for dinner, or what funny thing their kid did yesterday? Why would the attendees find this content of value? And what motivation would participants have to connect, engage, or pass along this kind of irrelevant information?

There are other social media outlets for that kind of sharing other than a business-to-business Tweet account.

A Better Way
These useful reports show the value in staying strategic when B-to-B Tweeting. 

Attract a relevant community. Stay on topic to those who found you.  Cultivate a relevant following via consistent management; share information of relevance that offers context; reach out and connect to other relevant folks; and measure the effectiveness of such an engagement.

Now I’ve got to close this post up  – it’s been a day since I ran that Hootsuite “most popular links” analysis and I’ve got an itchy Twitter finger! 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Is Your Marketing Content Strategic?

It's a pleasure to provide clients with business-to-business marketing support; business development; public relations and communications services.

It's worthwhile to examine current marketing programs, and how a team can collaborate to use marketing content to fuel business development efforts. 

One Goal in Mind
In many cases, those involved on a project agree on the goal – driving lead and demand generation.  A worthwhile focus is on how marketing content helps contribute to that effort.

First off, what is marketing content?  A useful definition is the key messages; case studies; white papers; online web copy; direct marketing content; social media; advertising content; signage; public relations; product marketing communications and other content that fuels marketing programs.

Keyword: Strategic
Instead of a one-off or piecemeal approach to creating marketing content, social media programs or other programs, a more effective technique is the strategic management of content including its design, development, presentation, measurement, evaluation, production, management, and governance.

The key is consistency and relevancy. 

When the team is working fast, trying to keep marketing programs running at full speed, the case could be made to assign someone in the role of “Content Strategist” to oversee all marketing content.

The Content Strategist Defined

The content strategist evaluates and develops content assets for all marketing communications programs including print; multi-media; product literature; white papers/case studies; social media; web to consistently and effectively bring product and services to life.

Why Content Strategy?
There are key benefits to this strategic approach, including the following:

·      Efficient    Avoids cost and effort of rework and fixes when all communications are managed in a strategic manner.

·      Consistent   Maintains consistent voice across all programs with appropriate guidelines and tactics to ensure that marketing and online communications are strategically in synch.

·      Streamlined   Helps effectively oversee multiple language/industry versions of marketing communications across platforms.

·      Relevant    Helps create content strategies based on user needs, stage of buying cycle, business objectives, and product knowledge so each vehicle stresses key benefits of marketing proposition in user/prospect/customer-friendly way.

·      Intuitive  User-focused: Helps direct most intuitive presentation of content.

To me, that sounds like a wonderful job description! Watch for a future blog post, detailing the specifics of how content strategy can be implemented for effective marketing programs.