As a small business owner who utilizes Social Media for her own marketing efforts, I often think of how I can better assist my B2B clients more effectively manage their social media efforts. I start by clarifying what social media means to me; social media is not just Facebook & Twitter, those are just two components. Social Media is an all-encompassing effort that stretches into blogging, photo sharing, slide sharing, video, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – anything that helps you connect with your customers in a less traditional, or more social, way. This particular post will detail a few ways in which B2B marketers can utilize visual imagery and rich media to assist in social media marketing efforts.
While building my business as an event marketer, I started to use Flickr to host photos of client events. I would share these photos with clients post-event and reference the photos when pitching new clients or discussing my capabilities. Flickr is an affordable service, easy to use, and well known, so it made great sense to use it for business.
After a short time, I noticed that the photos I posted, when properly tagged and titled, were being searched and found by Google & Yahoo (and sometimes other search engines like Bing and Ask.com). I stumbled upon this inadvertently as I perused my Flickr analytics.
I produce B2B events – post tradeshow events, customer events, customer appreciation, etc. Eventually, I started to take photos at every event where a number of photos were specifically taken for the benefit of potential new clients. I post these photos to my Flickr stream in properly marked folders or sets. I then use the Google keyword tool – http://www.google.com/sktool to find relevant keywords to tag my pictures. I search the keywords as a customer would when searching the web to find an agency that provides the services that I provide. I can even search keywords used by my competitors.
The photos potentially show up in search results and individuals click and navigate to my Flickr stream. I say “potentially” because I don’t want to mislead, it is not a magic bullet, you don’t tag a photo and POOF your photo shows up at the top of the Google search. In addition to tagging, I make certain that each photo has my company URL in the “description” of the photo. Some people watermark their photos, I don’t and if you read on you will see why.
When possible, I allow my photos to be used by others in a non-commercial manner (check Flickr’s Creative Commons). This further exposes my photos when they’re added to other blogs and websites. According to the Creative Commons rules, when an individual uses my photo, they must link back to my Flickr stream or my website, this helps drive more traffic to my stream.
I could make this portion about “video” as opposed to YouTube because there are other services out there like Vimeo. I use both services, but for search purposes, YouTube is currently the best bet.
I personally do not use video much as I would like, so I reached out to colleagues for their personal best practices regarding marketing with video. A former client who is a corporate communications manager of a leading flexible packaging company gave me some great insight on how he employs video for social media marketing.
The company has produced a couple of short videos that were rolled out on YouTube. The videos were produced in-house on a shoestring budget and each video was no more than five minutes long. The content was product driven – showcasing new products and providing added information on existing products. The videos were then shared the on Twitter, YouTube and the company website. The goal was to inform their Twitter followers (mainly customers, potential customers and journalists) about current products and any new products in development.
Though there was an initial jump traffic to the company website, this spike was temporary. Unfortunately, their marketing department is not equipped with the manpower to take on the task of defining and executing a strong social media marketing campaign. They believe if they were able to dedicate the appropriate resources, the response would be more favorable.
The greatest obstacle the packaging company faced in regards to video was determining what content best suited their business objectives. With so many different product lines, determining what would generate the best results proved to be difficult.
In the first video, they promoted a new product in a way that unintentionally ghosted the deficiencies of another product line. They ended up pulling the video. But with all marketing, not excluding social media marketing, testing is imperative. The great advantage of social media is the simplicity of pulling a promotion.
The company found that the greatest benefit of the video campaign was that marketing did not have to rely on the sales team to visit a customer or to introduce new items. Social media can be used as an extension of the sales team, particularly when one may be dealing with an older sales team that is slower at introducing new concepts and products to customers. If your customer is following you on Twitter, they know what you are doing all the time. It can significantly increase your speed to market with a product or service and can cut costs of doing mass mailings.
When asked if he felt social media were right for the packaging industry, the answer was simple. “If the staff and support were in place to plan a good social media campaign, it would add great benefit.” Many trade publications, journalists, editors of industry publications and packaging designers are on Twitter. The individuals who work in the communications field of the packaging industry help the manufacturers get the word.