Natascha Thomson (@nathomson), a Judge for the 2010 B2BTOTY Program, is on the SAP Social Media Audience Marketing (SMAM) team. She is responsible for identifying best practices that enable SAP marketers to create solution awareness and demand through social media. Disclaimer: This a personal blogpost and only contains her personal views, thoughts and opinions. It is not endorsed by SAP nor does it constitute any official communication of SAP.”
As a B2B marketer, building your brand is essential. If you use Twitter, you will be taken more seriously and be more successful if you heed the follow do's and don'ts:
- Don’t constantly thank people who have retweeted (RT) you. Twitter etiquette is important but it is getting out of hand. Instead, if you feel the need and don’t want to DM, thank a group of people who RTed you in a single Tweet.
- Don’t excessively chit-chat about nothing. Why does a private conversation between two Tweeters have to be public? Instead, follow each other and DM. I’ll help you keep followers and others to cut through the information overload.
- Don’t leave the profile section in your Twitter account blank. I would never follow anybody who does not state their intention aka “brand”? Let people know what to expect from you and your Tweets. (Also, have a picture of you, to show that you are serious about Twitter, not a symbol).
- Don’t send automated messages thanking people for following you and asking them to click on URLs. It’s annoying and against the spirit of B2P = Business to People).
- Does your business really need its own paper.li, e.g. the “Peter Smith Daily”? There is an abundance of them on Twitter already, so please make sure you have a unique angle, and measure how your followers receive it.
- Think about why you are on Twitter (= your brand) and be somewhat consistent in your messages. You owe this to your followers so that they don’t have to pick out relevant content between your notifications that you just checked into “The Steak Pit”. I am not saying, don’t have a personality, but as Twitter is public, it’s good for you, your business, and the rest of us to see a relevant theme. It will help you build a consistent following and reduce noise.
- Participate in #FollowFriday or #FF. It’s a nice way to recommend somebody who sends good Tweets, so show them that their Tweets are not going unappreciated/unnoticed. Ideally, don’t just Tweet an @handle but explain why this person is worth following.
- Send some original Tweets (not just RTs) to convey opinions on relevant topics or engage with your followers, as opposed to just amplifying.
- Make it clear which part of a Tweet is your comment when RTing and adding insights, e.g., add a carrot and your initials at the end (^NT).
- RT relevant pieces of information and URLs to your followers. And if there are enough characters, add your own commentary to show that you are RTing for a reason. Lately, I’ve heard people complain about too much retweeting. I say, make sure the information is relevant for your followers and that the 140 characters you use to describe the URL are not misleading.
I am sure that I have at one time or the other broken all of the above rules. Follow the rules you like and ignore the rest! I believe that Twitter is a valuable tool to build your brand in B2B marketing, and if used right, Twitter can be a great referral tool to your own site.
Do you have your own list? Please share your own do's and don’ts for B2B and Twitter.
The initial buzz from announcing the 2010 B2BTOTY winners is subsiding, but we want to take this opportunity to recognize some high energy B2B Twitterers who got the most votes in their respective categories.
As we've stated, getting the most votes is not the determining factor of who wins; it's meant to be a way to spread the word and show the support of your audience. But these folks proved themselves to be winners too. We decided to add special “Most Votes” awards for those that successfully campaigned for votes via twitter and officially accepted their nominations via answers to our questionnaire. They did a tremendous job getting the word out about B2BTOTY.
Yes, we realize our system of nominating is not perfect; several people commented that the system could be gamed by someone and their friends using our app every day for the duration of the nomination phase to be in the lead.
Additionally, while we emphasized the initial importance of nominations we still looked at those nominees who were not as "popular" to see if any merited semi-final status and each of the leading nominees were scrutinized by our Judging panel of B2B professionals, and we stand behind the Winners and Runner Ups.
At this point, we are happy to give a w00t! to these B2Bers because their efforts helped virally spread the word about the B2BTOTY Program, and that helps us make this community more inclusive. It was clear that they had enthusiasm and so did the other Twitterers that kept on nominating them or retweeting them. Because of folks like them, we can count on the Program being remembered and looked forward to by more B2Bers in the future:
This was a great year for nominations, and the judges had their hands full with the great B2BTOTY nominees. They looked at several factors to determine the winner in each category, including the content of their tweets, the types of followers they have and others that they follow, and metrics from some leading Twitter analytics applications.
Some nominees were nominated into a category that may not have been optimal so we tweaked a few to make a more level playing ground within each category; that was minimal.
And while the main part of the program is over, we encourage you to participate for the remainder of the year in our blog, which focuses on the B2B use of Twitter.
Without further ado, here are the B2BTOTY Winners and Runner Ups in each category for 2010:
National/International B2B Manufacturer
Runner Ups: @JuniperNetworks, @KronesAG
National/International B2B Services Company
Runner Ups: @GrowSocially, @AGSalesworks
B2B Small/Medium Size Business (SMB)
Winner: @StephanieTilton (Ten Ton Marketing)
Runner Ups: @GTKSolutions, @Sisarina
Business to Government/Government to Business (B2G) Organization
Runner Ups: @PositivelyMN, @GovTwit
Winner: @MJShores (UCLA Anderson School of Management)
Runner Ups: @SmithSchool, @KU_Business
B2B Trade/Professional Association
Runner Ups: @smcdc, @smckc
Runner Ups: @juntajoe, @btobmagazine
B2B Business Journalists
Runner Ups: @robpegoraro, @Pogue
B2B "Boss Tweet" Personality
Runner Ups: @johnfoleyjr, @Joani_BNI
B2B Twitter Application
Runner Ups: @TweetDeck @cotweet
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL!
The nominations are finally in for the 2010 B2B Twitterer of the Year (B2BTOTY) Awards, honoring the most active and influential Twitter users in the world of B2B marketing. The names of more than 350 businesses and individuals were submitted this year, across 10 categories.
Here is the full list of finalists:
National/International B2B Manufacturer
National/International B2B Services Companies
B2B Business Schools
B2B Trade Association
B2B Business Journalists
B2B “Boss Tweet” Personality
B2B Twitter App
Winners will be announced in early February 2011, but check back here for updates.
Andrew Spoeth @andrewspoeth
Sr. Marketing Manager at Marketo. Interested in B2B marketing, social media, PR and technology. Moderator for #B2Bchat
We're in the process of selecting our semi-finalists. Part of the qualification process includes answers a set of questions for the judges to review. Each nominee has a sub-page in this website where you can see what they were asked and how they answered.
However, some nominees as of today haven't answered the questions and we want to give them a couple more days to get to them. While they may have attracted a good number of votes from their followers, if they fail to answer the questions, we will pass them over for a nominee that has the next highest number of votes.
So if you voted for a nominee that hasn't answered the questions, let them know ASAP to address them.
We also want to get some feedback as to the categories, the navigation of our website, and anything else that can improve the program - you're the B2B Community, and we'd like to hear from you!
This past Friday was the deadline for nominating and voting for the 2010 B2B Twitterer of the Year Awards. I am extremely pleased to say that the since our start in September, the votes which were trickling in soon became a deluge, especially in the last two weeks.
With new categories this year adding up to a total of 10, we really have made a positive statement about the growing use of Twitter by organizations that are primarily Business-to-Business.
And you, the B2B Twitter Community, underscored this statement by submitting over 350 different nominations across the 10 categories! While some Tweeps took this Program to heart and lobbied vigorously for more vote others many did not. That does not mean we should think of them any less.
At this point in time, Twitter is still new to the B2B world and some people are getting used to it, but no matter what, any organization's attempt to use Twitter, no matter how small their following or infrequent their tweeting, should be applauded.
Our Judging Panel will certainly get to see some very interesting candidates as they mull through each set of answers, Tweets, and comments along with performing some analytics to gauge how to rank each nominee.
Let's all take a much needed rest over the holidays, but in the late January/early February timeframe we will announce our finalists.
But stay tuned to this blog, because this site is a place where B2B peers can share their best practices and experiences while utilizing Twitter for their selves or organization. We welcome your contribution and encourage you to stay as a part of this exciting community. Just tweet me @joezuc or email me at email@example.com if you want to add a blog post
B2B Twitterer of the Year Awards
If you’re a professional in business-to-business marketing, communications or sales with a passion for your job, it’s natural to find enjoyment in your day-to-day work.
For 30 years, I’ve found great satisfaction in growing my business by helping others grow theirs. In fact, I find B2B marketing to be great sport. It has elements of hunting, competitive performance, scoring, risk and reward. And maybe it means more to a creative type, but it also offers something else I really like – recognition. Acknowledgement of a job well done can come in many forms, from a pat on the back to a major endorsement or referral.
Most of us don’t do our jobs in search of trophies or specials awards, but if you’re like me, you enjoy knowing that your work is considered noteworthy, and that your efforts are being recognized as an example of best practices.
Recessions Aren’t Fun. Rethinking and Relearning Your Business Can Be.
I love my job as a senior creative director and partner at a B2B marketing agency, but I hate some things about it – like when my brilliant ideas are not recognized for their genius. It’s even worse if they actually suck, so I do my best not to let that happen.
Business stopped being fun for me two years ago when the economy slowed to a crawl, dragging down with it what had been a long streak of steady work from a growing number of clients. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I knew things had to change.
I decided to invest all of our newly available time into rethinking everything I thought I knew about B2B marketing. Of the many business books I read, one of the shortest in page count and title made the biggest impact on my business. Tribes, by Seth Godin, changed everything for me, because it encouraged me to try Twitter.
That’s when I found my tribe. I call them the B2B Marketing Maniacs & Braniacs. I follow more than a thousand of them on Twitter, and most follow back. As a result, we all get smarter while still having fun in the ongoing, daily exchange of ideas, questions, answers, links, likes and dislikes. Thanks to social media in general, and Twitter specifically, I’ve learned more in the past two years than in the previous 28 combined.
I have hundreds of other B2B marketing professionals to thank via Twitter. How about you?
Recognition is Rewarding – And Fun.
The @B2BTOTY Awards are about both. It’s nice to be noticed, noted and nominated for a special award by your professional peers. Nominating, campaigning and voting for your favorites is a fun, friendly way to say thanks – even though it’s mostly about becoming better at your business. It is a social medium, after all.
Twitter tips are a popular topic, so here are a few simple tips on @B2BTOTY:
- It’s easy to nominate someone, even if it’s yourself. Simply go to www.B2BTOTY.com and either nominate or vote (it’s the same process) for any B2B marketing individual or company you follow on Twitter. It’s OK if it’s a client, a customer, a vendor or a friend. It’s even OK if it’s you! The person or company you vote for will be notified via mention on Twitter, and they will appreciate your show of support.
- It’s also easy to campaign and vote for them. Once an individual or company is nominated, they can “campaign” by encouraging their followers to vote for them. Votes are in the format of simple, Twitter-style posts. To help prevent robotic voting, there is a limit to the number of votes any one person can make. The popular vote count for any nominee is just one of the judges’ criteria, but having the most definitely won’t hurt your chances. The @B2BTOTY team loves to see people engaging in the process.
- If you’ve been nominated, here’s what to do next: Go to the site and fill out a simple questionnaire. (All answers are in the form of 140-character tweets, so it only takes a few minutes.) Once you’ve provided your answers, don’t be shy about encouraging your followers to vote for you! It’s intended to be fun, and it’s a great way to show you appreciate being nominated.
Billy Mitchell is the president and senior creative director of Atlanta-based B2B marketing firm MLT Creative. Located on the east side of Atlanta, GA, with a Northeast office in Rhode Island, Mitchell co-founded MLT Creative in 1984 along with partners Craig Lindberg and Glenn Taylor.
Known as the Idea Launch Pad for B-to-B marketers, MLT Creative's services include strategic planning, positioning, brand development, advertising and sales promotions for business-to-business clients.
Megan Heuer (@MeganHeuer) sits on the the B2BTOTY Steering Committee and works for SiriusDecisions, a leading source for business-to-business sales and marketing best practice research and data.
Once in a while, something in a movie really sticks with me, and I may be giving away my age when I describe this scene, but here goes: Debbie Allen plays an uber-tough dance instructor in the original “Fame.” Early on she tells a studio full of wanna-be stars that it’s not going to be easy: “You want fame, “ she says, “Well fame costs, and right here is where you start paying. In sweat.” The students go on to sing and dance their hearts out and by the end of the movie, in Hollywood style, some of them are on the way to being stars.
Twitter reminds me of that dance studio-to get the most out of it, you have to give a lot but what you get back is worth even more. Marketers can find and share an amazing amount of useful content on Twitter to help them do their jobs better. It’s also a listening post to see what’s top-of-mind for various communities of interest, from moderated discussions like #b2bchat to detailed posts from the group that shares under #dataquality to the ongoing contributions under good old #b2b. And it doesn’t stop there.
While it might seem fine to sit back and consume this great information without offering any in return, if you’re not sharing then you’re missing out on perhaps the most valuable aspect of Twitter for marketers. Twitter is all about interaction, but that only happens when you share to connect with others. Twitter allows people who might not otherwise meet to connect as colleagues with shared interests. By actively contributing to the conversation, marketers encourage the good things that happen when informed people collaborate on common challenges.
A lot like performing artists, content creators share their work on Twitter for many reasons. They may hope to give back to their b-to-b marketing community, or maybe they hope to encourage intelligent dialog around issues that matter. Maybe they want to get ideas out to see who can help push them further along, or who will use them to improve marketing execution. Even if the goal is business development, the bottom line is this: Twitter is a fantastic stage for content performers to showcase their art, and we’re all lucky they do.
People nominated for B2BTOTY are those who take time to do the hard work of creating and sharing meaningful content on a regular basis. Return the favor by casting your vote. Just like the movie Fame, not everyone can get the prize, but let’s reward their hard work and remember what all the runners up say about the Academy Awards: It’s nice to be nominated.
@OPENForum, the 2009 B2BTOTY Runner Up in the National/International B2B Company category, is an online community designed by American Express to help businesses grow. Scott Roen, VP of Marketing at American Express, was kind enough to respond to our questions.
B2BOTY: Has your use of Twitter changed since you were awarded Runner Up? Why or why not?
@OPENForum: Our use of Twitter has definitely evolved. We’ve moved from a brand-published handle to one that’s authored by a more visible representative in order to offer an authentic voice and personal connection for our followers. We’ve also started tweeting from our events to give updates to those on site and for those off-site, an inside view from the event. And we continue to look for more ways to increase engagement with followers.
B2BOTY: What advice would you give a B2B company starting a Twitter account?
@OPENForum: First, think about your comfort level, and then your goals. If you’re not comfortable responding to questions and comments – good and bad – then Twitter may not the right tool for you. In examining your goals, be honest about where two-way dialogue is appropriate. Of course, there are exceptions, such as some content publishers. But, generally, if you are looking to broadcast information about your company, then there may be better channels for that.
B2BOTY: What would you like to see regarding Twitter in the future?
@OPENForum: As our following grows, I wonder if people would be willing to opt in to certain groups to receive special direct messages. I’d love to have more insight into what information they’re most interested in from us. Of course, they can always tell us via @openforum.
Tom Pick (@TomPick) is an online marketing executive with KC Associates, a marketing and PR firm in Minneapolis, Minnesota, focused on B2B technology clients. He's also the award-winning writer of the Webbiquity blog, which focuses on B2B lead generation and Web presence optimization -- the fusion of SEO, search marketing, social media, content marketing and interactive PR. Tom was on the Judging Panel of the 2009 B2BTOTY Awards and now sits as a member of the 2010 B2BTOTY Awards Steering Committee.
Thanks to celebrities jumping on board, awareness of Twitter has exploded in the past year; 87% of Americans said they were “familiar with” Twitter in a poll taken earlier this year, versus just 5% in 2008 and 26% in 2009. But Twitter isn’t just for Oprah and Ashton; the world’s most popular microblogging platform is also a valuable tool for B2B companies. Here are eight ways B2B firms can benefit from being active on Twitter.
1. Communicate with customers: whether by providing support, answering queries, sharing content or communicating reminder messages, Twitter is a quick and easy method for dialog that doesn’t need to be kept private.
2. Reach out to prospects: use tools like Twellow, Wefollow, Geofollow and your own CRM system to find prospective customers on Twitter and share thought-leadership content with them to provide value and set your company apart from competitors.
3. Answer questions: demonstrating your knowledge—rather than just promoting your products or services—is a much better way to build trust, and a following on Twitter.
4. Ask questions: Twitter is a great forum for getting hard-to-find factual answers (related to the expertise of your followers of course) as well as gauging sentiment on key issues.
5. Share interesting content: the key to building a (relevant) following on Twitter is to share content that is truly interesting to others, not just your marketing pages and case studies. Share blog posts, reports, resources like industry-specific glossaries and infographics. Share a mix of your own content and relevant content from other (non-competitive) sources like industry trade publications.
6. Promote others: follow the bloggers who write about your industry. Retweet their posts. Recommend them to others through #followfriday tweets. This builds relationships, and is far more likely to get them to some day write something nice about your company than is mass-emailing your press releases.
7. Increase brand awareness: Twitter isn’t great for direct response in the B2B world. It is, however, a potentially powerful tool for building your brand and enhancing your company’s image as experts in your marketplace. Make the most of your tweets; a company’s Twitter account is often one of the top four results on a Google search for the company name.
8. Promote events: going to a trade show? Speaking at an industry forum? Attending a networking event? Twitter is a great place to showcase these and make arrangements to meet some of your followers in person.
9. Gain competitive intelligence: Twitter is great for keeping tabs on competitors, particularly by looking at what others are saying about them. What kinds of questions do people ask? What kinds of problems do they report? How does the competitor respond?
Just because Twitter has been popularized by movie stars, TV show hosts, sports and music figures doesn’t mean it isn’t also a valuable tool for B2B commerce, if used wisely.