THE CASE AGAINST TWITTER AND FACEBOOK:
Social media platforms appear to have induced a kind of blindness in marketing departments everywhere. It's as if we've forgotten to ask the most important questions: Who am I marketing to? Why would they want to read this?
With the exception of a precious few B2B industries, if you're counting on Facebook or Twitter to reel in leads, you're wasting your time and potentially damaging your brand. Here's why:
Except for people whose job it is to manage corporate Facebook or Twitter accounts, everyone one Facebook is in consumer mode. No one logs in hoping to be reminded of work, no one logs in wanting to be marketed to. If you're B2B, you want to go where the Bs are.
You know that people use these platforms to show off drunk pictures of themselves and leave snarky comments on their friends' posts, right? There's an abiding aesthetic of playful mayhem to these social media giants. Anything goes in the language department, as long as it's funny, biting, or about Justin Bieber. If you're not willing to engage with the platform on it's own terms (and if you're B2B, it's highly unlikely your brand is that cool), whatever you write will come off as tone deaf.
What's more, a few 140 characters blurbs a month might be enough to put your thumb on the scale with regard to some choices. But if you're B2B, it's likely you're trafficking in big ticket items purchased after a period of exceedingly careful deliberation. It's hard to see what kind of strategic value you'd be able to squeeze out of platforms for trading quick quips.
A SMARTER SOCIAL NETWORKING ALTERNATIVE FOR B2B:
Even though Twitter and Facebook aren't for you, you can still take advantage of some of the great marketing advantages of social media. My best endorsement for where to expend your social media marketing energies is group blogging.
Group blogs are a single blog shared by a number of individuals or firms working in the same industry. We've recently launched a few of these. For example, check out Accounting Software Reviews or this one for CRM Software Reviews.
Here are some of the many advantages of group blogging:
• Tons of Fresh Content: Unless you are willing to post at least once a week your blog will look sparse. We've all seen sad one or two post blogs out there, started with the best of intentions and then hung out to dry like a diary you started in 6th grade.
A blog with 40 members can churn out 40 to 60 posts per month even when each member contributes a minimal effort. With that many posts, you're well on your way to becoming a vibrant presence in your industry niche.
• Cost splitting: Starting your own blog is hard to do well unless you spend a chunk of money.
The headache of content generating aside, you need to budget for someone to who has the time and expertise update the blog code, create links, update plugins, check analytics for successful post ideas, create calls to action, keep up with privacy law changes, deal with comment approvals and spam and the list goes on.
That kind of burden is much more manageable when a blog has the financial resources to hire a blog manager to do all this work for them.
• Credible thought leadership: Blogging among other experts certifies your credibility. It gives you an arena to establish yourself and your brand as a trusted industry leader. Group bloggers get invitations to guest blog on other sites. Indeed our bloggers at the ERP Software Blog were invited to write on Focus.com because of the quality of the blog.
• Search engine blog boost: Blogging is an immensely cost effective way to increase your digital visibility.
Search engines tend to rank blogs much higher in results than static home pages. If you're generating key word rich text, your content will get found and read. Furthermore, banding together with other members of your industry means that your blog will be even more powerful and attractive to search engine algorithms. Compare two sites, one with 500 posts in a year and one with 50, guess which one ranks better in Google for each and every page?
Blogs get high rankings from growth and extensive intra-site cross-linking with tags, categories and related posts. If you only have 50 posts in your first year of blogging your tuchus off how many related posts will you have to each article you write and how related will they be?
• Link building: Sites like this one are great for establishing thought leadership, but they have restrictions that make them impractical for implementing every aspect of a good blogging program. If part of your SEO strategy is building back links (and it should be), you'll have to spill a lot of ink just to get one or two links into a post that fits someone else's editorial guidelines. A group blog lets you set the parameters. You have the freedom to build site-wide links and tailor your posts to your SEO needs.
If you were blogging on your own, you'd probably end up hosting the blog on the same server as your company website. But if you own the domain your blog is on and if it's on the same server, Google will discount the links.
With 40-60 companies occasionally linking to a group blog and talking it up among their contacts, you'll see a lot more inbound links to the blog, ultimately increasing the search rank of the blog and every site that it links to. If you were blogging on your own, who would you get to link to you?
• Self promote, shamelessly: When you're blogging on someone else's site, you trade exposure and page rank for editorial freedom. If you have something great, sometimes you need a place to shout it from the rafters.
A group blog lets you address the assets and functionality of your product directly. Because you're posting installments of content over time, it also lets you break down your sales pitch and build out the finer points in dedicated posts.
• Get read: If you're blogging among a number of experts in your field, you're proving a valuable resource to potential customers. The people that find you will actually want to hear what you have to say.
If you've properly built out the content, visitors will be able to deeply engage with your industry. You're providing a place to do the due diligence research that comes before a big purchase. Having positioned yourself as a knowledgeable expert, some will ultimately give you a call.
• Networking: Working with other experts in your field builds useful connections.
Group blogs are dynamic, growing communities that meet online, share leads, split costs and learn from each other.