In this episode of the FIR B2B Podcast, Paul Gillin and I discuss the critical role online advertising plays in building demand for products and services with Greg Johns, SVP, Senior Director Digital Strategy at Initiative and new research by Joseph Turow (@joeprof) and Michael Hennessey from Annenberg (@APCCPenn) and Nora Draper (@NoraADraper) the University of New Hampshire that finds most Americans do not believe ‘data for discounts’ is a square deal.
“It’s a misnomer that people don’t trust the media,” says Greg Johns. “The truth is that people rely on paid media quite a bit to make decisions, and they rely on brands to help guide them.”
In this episode of For Immediate Release B2B, Paul Gillin and Eric Schwartzman interview SAP Head of Social Business Sarah Goodall and discuss the risks of relying on social networks to deliver news in a democracy, Sprinklr’s Get Satisfaction acquisition, Meerkat and Periscope.
Fair use is an essential tool for journalists, enabling them to draw upon copyrighted material in the name of the public’s right to know. But who decides what constitutes fair use in a medium that spans the globe? Read the rest of this entry »
The proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is one of the most popular topics of conversation on social media in Lithuania, according to a recent study I conducted to inform the digital communications strategy of the US Embassy to Vilnius for Ambassador Deborah A. McCarthy.
Our findings also suggest that recent data from Pew Research — which showed 71 percent of Lithuanians support a free trade agreement between the EU and the U.S. — has spilled over into a vibrant discussion on social media about the potential economic benefits of TTIP to Lithuanians.
The killer app for B2B social media at trades events is, believe it or not, the app.
But not just any app. Mobile apps. More and more, attendees are using iPhone and Android apps to network digitally at events, and marketing them in the process.
Most of us have had some experience using mobile applications at professional conferences and corporate events to post status updates, tweet, check-in and exchange ideas with others who are either in attendance or following the event remotely. With the help of hashtags on Twitter, the social media back channel makes for better networking, spreading awareness worldwide all the while.
So powerful is the prospect of mobile social networking at events that a number of conference organizers have already taken a stab at building their own, branded mobile apps. So far, the results have been mixed. Because just like any other social media channel, those that go the distance prevail.
That means using technology to add value to the stream, whether it’s through content marketing, community management or automation. You’ve got to offer people something of value, be it ease-of-use, networking with a targeted community or the ability to engage in a niche back and forths without spamming your friends and family. B2B mobile apps can deliver this value at events.
For a B2B mobile app to deliver, it’s got to help attendees get more out of an event and give the conference organizers a way to generate excitement before during and after the program dates. For an app to get used, it’s got to do more then just provide the program schedule, speaker bios and basic event info. It’s got to enable interactions, both in popular social media, and via partitioned, semi-exclusive spaces. But what exactly does that mean? And what specifically does it take to succeed and delivery a truly useful B2B social media mobile app?
Here’s my punch list:
Social Sync – Perhaps the single, biggest benefit a mobile app can offer event attendees is the chance to see if anyone they know is registered to be there. Social sync gives them a way to see of any of their Linkedin connections, Twitter followers or Facebook friends are planning on attending. Working with Janrain, the mobile app at SXSW 2011 allowed attendees to cross-reference their social networks with registered attendees to see who they know that’s attending.
Make Public Posting Optional – It’s great to be able to publish to Twitter or Linkedin from a branded, mobile app, but don’t force the user to do so. They may want to use the app to have a segregated conversation with attendees without crowding up their Twitter feed. Not that they would need to keep those conversations private, but they should be able to decide, on a per share basis, what they want on Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook, and which ones they think are only useful to people on site at the event.
Think Beyond the Event – It may be tougher to get people to download and invest their time in a mobile app for a single event. From a B2B social media marketing standpoint, the whole idea of the app is to generate excitement for the event before it happens, and extend that excitement after it’s finished. Cisco Events used Double Dutch to build what is one of the most useful apps I’ve seen to date for extending the reach of B2B events via the social web.
Location Based Social Networking – B2B mobile app should let attendees “check-in” on their mobile device at different locations. This can be a great way to drive traffic to exhibitors or sessions. To make sure attendees don’t check-in without visiting an exhibitor’s booth, build a QR code reader into your app, and offer incentives to attendees who check-in the most.
Auto Generate Hashtags – For those attendees who choose to publish their shares from your mobile app to their Twitter stream, make sure you give them the option to include the conference hashtag in their tweet. If it’s an internal company training event, use different QR Codes on the last slide of every presentation deck and use incentives, like leaderboard listings and other event privileges, to attendees who collect the most QR codes.
Socialize the Photo Opp – In the old days, trade show exhibitors would book a celebrity to come by their booth for photo opps. Nowadays, it would by silly to do something like that without integrating social to extend the reach via the web. Make sure your app offers a way for people to share photos and video among conference attendees and easily publish them to Twitpic, TwitVid, Flickr, YouTube and Facebook as well. Remember my cardinal rule of usability: ease of use drives adoption.
Notifications – Don’t make your attendees have to open your app to see new activity. Offer push notifications as an option and make darn sure the mobile app icon on the device home screen displays a number in a red circle in the upper right hand corner of the desktop icon to indicate new activity since last time it was opened.
Offer a “Pull” Option – The value of syncing your Linkedin account with your Twitter account is not so much the ability to syndicate tweets to Linkedin, but rather to search the tweets of other Linkedin users by industry, geography, company and time frame. Go to Linkedin, sync up your twitter account, and try searching Linkedin Signal. The tweets from your first, second and third tier connections appear, and can be segmented by a variety of options. If your app can pull in and display all the social networking activity of other conference attendees, that’s useful, even after the event is over, because it serves as a sort of lens to bring social networking activity of a particular community into focus.
Offer Keyword and Klout Score Search – B2B decision makers in different parts of a company have different priorities. Give users the ability to isolate the discussions they’re most interested in by keyword or phrase. To fight digital illiteracy, let them also filter by user’s Klout scores, so they can learn what online influencers do to stimulate engagement. These are features in Hootsuite’s premium service, which is very useful when conducting influencer relations at live events.
The Cisco Events app that I mentioned earlier offer many of these features. But if I had one piece of criticism, it would be that the app offers social sync for Facebook and Twitter, but not Linkedin, which is, in my opinion, the most important network to B2B users. According to my discussion with the folks at Double Dutch, this is something they expect to offer very soon. In fact, some time has transpired since we spoke and I wrote this up, so it’s entirely possible they’ve got it up and running now.
In my book Social Marketing to the Business Customer with Paul Gillin, we deep dive into every aspect of B2B social media marketing, from winning buy-in from disengaged managers and clients to B2B search and social optimization, and it will be no surprise to readers of this blog that Linkedin is by far the most important social network for business professionals.
I hope my B2B mobile app list of features is helpful. What features did I miss and what B2B mobile apps do you think are most effective?
Which are the best B2B mobile apps from a user and a B2B social media marketer’s perspective. Please post your favorites here, and let’s see of we can get a list of the most important functional specs for event-focused B2B mobile apps ever assembled.
What features would you put in a mobile app designed for use at B2B events?
Company and industry events are a great way spark online community interaction.
Professionals with common interests and goals regularly invest time and money to attend B2B events where they can network with others in their trade.
And they’re all in the same place, listening to the same speakers and visiting the same exhibitors.
They’re all on the same page.
What better place to launch a digital initiative that extends the excitement and the knowledge shared via social media?
After the carpet’s rolled up, and the staging’s been struck, and the keynote speakers have all gone home, what do you have to show for your efforts but a stack of business cards? But if you could capture and archive what happened online, it could be discovered through search, shared on Facebook and Twitter and pay dividends in perpetuity.
Earlier this week, I conducted a B2B social media workshop for event planners at the Event Marketing Summit in Chicago (#emschi) organized by Dan Hanover. I showed plenty of examples of how B2B marketers can use social media to generate excitement before, during and after business-to-business events like trade shows, conferences and strategic corporate training events.
Here are some of the take-aways from my workshop:
Socialize Your Event Website – Make your hashtags easy to find. Include them in your logo, or in the banner of your event website. Don’t gang all of your sessions up on one page, or one page per day. Put each session at its own permalink, so people can tweet links to specific sessions. Include each speaker’s Twitter ID in their bio and make it clickable. Use Linkedin “Share” and Twitter “Tweet” buttons. Never mind that Facebook isn’t distinctly B2B. People spend time there, and there’s nothing more powerful the a personal recommendations from a friend. Install a Facebook “Like” button as well. And include an “add to calendar” widget that makes it easy to add sessions to your Outlook, iCal or Google Calendar with one click. Make sure the calendar item has all the pertinent info about the session including the Twitter IDs of the presenters and the hastag for the conference or session. For some ideas on event website best practices, check out the Event Bright and Cvent webpage templates.
Offer Social Sync on Your Website – How many times have you registered for a conference and wondered who you might know that’s attending? At SXSW 2011, Janrain built this feature into the SXSW website, so you could cross reference registered attendees list with your Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter contacts. This was an awesome feature, because it gave you the chance to schedule more meetings and network smarter.
Promote Your Call for Speakers – If you want to generate excitement before an event, promote your call for speakers harder than the event itself. Email market a call for speakers with a deadline and send two reminders as the date approaches. People are more responsive when there’s something in it for them. Blog your call for speakers as well. And share a link to your blog post on relevant Linkedin Groups and via Twitter.
Post Your Event to Linkedin and Facebook – Go to Linkedin > More > Events and select the “Add an Event” tab on Linkedin Events. Post your event and send out notifications to your Linkedin contacts who might genuinely be interested. You can also advertise your event on Linkedin, and the targeting options are very precise. Post the event to the Events area on your Facebook page. Ask an easy to answer question and rewrite your meta data to encourage engagement in the stream. The more “Likes” and comments you get, the higher the post will rank and the more people who will see it.
Post the Speaker PowerPoint Decks to SlideShare – Set up a channel and post the PowerPoint presentations directly following each session. Velocity here is key, because tyou want the session attendees to retweet the link, and they’ll be more inclined to do so right after the session, then a day of two later. Use your momentum wisely. Tweet out a link to the deck with the conference hashtag and the Twitter ID of the speaker and watch the ReTweets come in.
Register Your Event on Foursquare – Take the time register your event in advance, and ask your sponsors NOT to register the event themselves on Foursquare, so you don’t wind up with multiple registrations for the same event, which confuses attendees. If it’s an annual event, start the name of the event with the year, so people will be able to check in at the next event regardless of the location. If you can get your hashtag into the name that you register on Foursquare, all the better. And ask each speaker before the start of their session to remind everyone to check in on Foursquare.
Podcast Your Sessions – At this point, the cost to record the audio from your sessions and make it available after the fact is pretty much just the cost of labor. Bottle up the knowledge and insights your speakers share on stage and make them available immediately. Draft a search engine optimized transcript, give the final MP3 file name that’s search friendly, upload it your blog, park your RSS feed at iTunes, social media optimize your feed and count the downloads. If you have the dates and location for next year’s event, include a brief, soft-sell announcement at the beginning of each recording to generate excitement for next year’s event. Don’t worry about losing registered attendees because you’re giving away the session recordings for free. People go to events to network and press the flesh. You can’t do that on a podcast.
Offer a Branded Mobile App – DoubleDutch, a San Francisco start-up that recently secured VC-funding, offers a ready to go, skinnable mobile app with all the features you’d want at a B2B event. Users can create profiles, connect with other profiles, use social sync to find Twitter and Facebook friends, share status updates, photos and links to an activity stream, like and comment on items, publish out to Facebook and Twitter, check in on the app and on Foursquare, unlock badges and watch video. Cisco Events is using the app very effectively to sustain the buzz they generate at their corporate events. They’ve even built in QR Code reader right into the app, which can be used for check-ins. Now you can use incentives to drive foot traffic to exhibitors and sessions by offering unique QR codes at different destinations.
By the way, I recorded the audio for the workshop which I’ll be releasing at On the Record…Online, so head on over now and subscribe if you want to make sure you don’t miss it.
How do you use social media for B2B events? Share your best tips for applying social to B2B events here as well. And if you attended the session, what you think of it, and how are you applying social media to B2B event marketing?
If your social media policy restricts employees from criticizing your company on social media, you definitely need to read this. And you need to read it carefully. Because it could save you a lot of money, and a lot of aggravation.
According to a story by Steve Greenhouse (@greenhousenyt) of the New York Times, the National Labor Relations Board threatened to sue Reuters last week for reprimanding an employee for using her Twitter account to publicly criticize the company.
The employee, Deborah Zabarenko (@dzabarenko), who is also the head of the Newspaper Guild at Reuters, posted the following tweet as an @reply to a Reuters corporate Twitter account:
“One way to make this the best place to work is to deal honestly with Guild members.”
She was reprimanded for the tweet by her direct supervisor, who said her public critic could damage Reuters reputation. But according to the National Labor Relations Board, which tipped off Greenhouse through an anonymous source, employees have a legal right to engage in public dialogue, however critical it may be, to improve their working conditions.
A Reuters spokesperson replied by saying that the company has a social media policy, but I couldn’t find anything that applies to how employees can use social for internal communications. Erin Kurtz (@eekurtz), Reuters Head of Publicity has not yet responded to my email asking for clarification, but if she does, I’ll definitely update this post.
No compliant has yet been filed, and according to Greenhouse, the National Labor Relations Board has been known to threaten legal action as a way of forcing out-of-court settlements. The National Labor Relations Board is a U.S. Government Agency.
The issue of whether or not employees can publicly criticize their employers via social media has never been tested in U.S. Federal Court. Greenhouse notes that in November 2010, a Connecticut ambulance company settled out of court with the NLRB for firing a worker who posted a Facebook status update critical of her supervisor.
And while the amount of that settlement was undisclosed, the two incidents may warrant revisiting your company’s social media policy to see of you’ve got any language in there that could be seen as restricting your employee’s rights to free speech.
External social media channels should not be used for internal business communications among fellow employees. It is fine for employees to disagree, but please don’t use your external blog or other online social media channels to air your differences publicly.
But given the risks that potentially restricting free speech may pose, you might consider asking your legal counsel about adding the following language:
Worker’s have the right to engage in conversations with co-workers to improve working conditions.
With the use of social networks in business becoming more pervasive, it’s going to get tougher for companies not just to avoid developing an official social media policy, but also to ensure those policies are constitutional.
As social media becomes a common channel of communications, corporations with policies need to make sure their legal staff has the social media literacy to keep them up to date.
We will be discussing this matter in depth in the next episode of the B2B Social Media podcast with Chris Boudreaux who specializes in corporate social media policy development.
What’s your view on this development? Will you update your social media policy as a result? And if so, how?