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January 2, 2013

6

The power of Twitter for B2B marketers – and what it must mean to you personally

by Tom De Baere

Wet_roller_coasterIf you are like many businesses around the world, and not working for a marketing department ;-), the idea of being active on Twitter is crazy.

Let’s face it: why on earth would you want to invest time in a “communication platform” that can only handle 140 characters, and has an average life time of 1 to 3 hours per message? Yep, indeed, crazy. What on earth would you make decide as B2B marketers to start using Twitter for B2B in for your marketing?

Let me tell you my story on how I started understanding Twitter, how I started using it, and what it means for every B2B company out there.

The initial spark

Like many B2B marketers out there, I knew about Twitter. But as I didn’t really see the value of the platform for my job, and for my company, I only shortly looked at it and dismissed it quite quickly. It wasn’t until I read “The Conversation Manager”, a book from Steven Van Belleghem, after which I started realizing that this social stuff is something I needed to investigate (yes, painful to admit it is).

new rulesSomehow, I can’t remember exactly how anymore, I ended up reading “The New Rules of Marketing & PR” of David Scott Meerman (@dmscott). This book literally blew me out of my comfy marketing chair ! It gave me insight into how to do modern digital and social media marketing. It is still one of the best books I ever read, and I can highly recommend it to anyone.

It was time to leave my comfort zone.

Soon thereafter my Twitter account was created @tomdebaere.  I had overcome the initial hurdle of starting something I wasn’t sure of. And I couldn’t care what other people where thinking. Because, let’s face it : if you mention to non-savvy people ‘I am on Twitter and I like it’, the’ll look at you as you’re from Mars.

I started following people that could learn me stuff about marketing like David did. These are the some of the first awesome people I started following on Twitter:

and many more. There are more awesome people out there, these where just the first.

The first disappointments

dino dogan twitterOnce I started   following some people that are for me ‘online celebrities’, and then expand to the lesser online gods and goddesses, I noticed that only about 15 to 20% would follow me back. So far the proclaimed reciprocity on Twitter. I also quickly realized that I was building a bad ‘Twitter ratio’ (see below), and that I needed to find a solution to solve that.

But by learning about the way these people behave on Twitter, and by visiting and really reading the online content they share, I soon learned how to be on Twitter.

I learned that the following things are important on Twitter :

  • Your bio needs to be good: I experimented by changing it to bio’s that seemed better. How did I know what was better? by looking to other bio’s from other Twitter members. I still need to improve it, but hey, it’s all in the learning process.
  • Your Follower / Following ratio must be good : if you are following lot’s of people, but only little people follow you, that’s not good in the eyes of people contemplating on following you. I guess this is what they think : “you only have little followers, so you most probably have little interesting to say”. To solve that you can start following people based on their bio, location or interests. Once you go over a certain ratio, let’s say 1:2 or 1:3, stop following extra people. And be patient until you reach a descent ratio again. Alternatively you can unfollow people, which you can do manually or automated with a tool like TweetAdder.
  • Your 3 latest Tweets must be ‘on topic’: when people decide if they want to follow you, the’ll not only check out your bio and your follower ratio, but also you latest tweets. Since most tweet tools will show your 3 latest tweets first, people will judge to follow you, or not, based on these last tweets.
  • Understand how to Tweet: just by watching others Tweet, I quickly learned about which Tweets catch attention, and which are suspect to be just crap. You also quickly figure out who’s got the better content, and who’s “trying” or copying.
  • Creating new content helps a lot: after reading David’s book, one of the things I started doing as well was blogging (yep, this blog). Sharing unique and new content makes people curious, and makes people wanna follow you, but only if you are creating good content.
  • You must share others contents: crucial to building online relations is sharing others content. Do it often, and do it way more than you share your own content. I create a new blog post every week, sometimes 2 weeks. I will share others content constantly, and my new post only a few times.
  • Really read the stuff you share: I actually read everything I share. I know some people that have ‘automated sharing’, because they say that they share stuff from people of which they know their content is good. I say that’s crap. Nobody is constantly producing great content. What’s more, what’s good content for one person, might be less good content for someone else because of their history, or of what they already know.
  • Building on-line relations: sometimes people really share great stuff, write great stuff, or just have a question the put out on Twitter. I started acknowledging that great stuff by simply quoting that tweet, mentioning the person, and adding something in the lines of ‘great post’, or ‘very useful’. (somebody even pointed that out to me online, thanks @kerstinroost). In case I saw a question floating by of which I knew the answer, I would just quickly answer through a tweet, or pointing the person to an online web-page with the answer.
  • Some say you need to use #hastag’s: Probably you should, but somehow that’s something I keep on forgetting to use correctly. My bad.

pocketSo after a few months I started to get the hang of it. (also check out this blog on Toprankblog)

I don’t spend more than 10 or 20 minutes per day on it. In the morning I usually check my feed at 8am, save interesting tweets to read later (with Pocket), and at noon, and in the evening I’ll read what I saved and schedule it for distribution using Buffer. High quality content I share that also on Linkedin, using Buffer at the same time when I schedule it to be tweeted. More recently I also started posting on Google+ (yeah, I know, I am what you could call a ‘late bloomer’).

But I guess the most important thing…

that I learned is this…. Maybe I didn’t really learn it, but I guess it’s something I decided. I decided to FOCUS. I was going to be focusing on a niche that I know and like. That niche is to me ‘great marketing in todays digital and socially connected world’. Hurray !

That’s most probably the biggest thing you need to do on Twitter. Don’t go wide, because there’s already enough general crap out there. People these days are seeking information that nobody else has, and that information is found through people that are focusing.

Your network knows that. Your network is following you because of that.

Focusing doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally share ‘off topic’ or just plain stupid and fun stuff. But when I do, I mark the tweet with “(Off Topic) Tweet contents http://bit.ly/link”.

off topic

What my Twitter network learned me

I discovered some great tools:

  • Buffer allows me to Tweet on scheduled times. Each time I see something I want to share, I simple click a button in my browser, and bang, it’s scheduled.
  • Bitly allows me to track how many times people clicked on the links in the Tweets I am sharing. I linked Buffer and Bitly so automatically everything I share is tracked.
  • Pocket allows me to save interesting articles to read later. When I don’t have the time to read an article, I simply save it to pocket, and read it later when I do have the time.
  • Twitter for iPhone and Mac: no explanation needed.

I learned about some Great Marketing Concepts

I learned about some great companies and great marketing concepts:

  • Lead nurturing,
  • marketing automation,
  • e-mailing techniques,
  • landing page techniques,
  • SEO,
  • Content Marketing, yes with a big capital C and M ;-)
  • Youtube and Slideshare,
  • Blogging
  • Writing
  • ….

Following the future : Trends & Insights

Ahah, another great benefit. Just by investing  20 minutes a day, or through a little bit of more sophistication through the use of some tools that help you listen to social networks, you’ll know what’s going on in your network. You’ll know the new technologies, the new solutions, and the new challenges. You’ll get to meet people that think about those issues, ponder, reflects and give opinions.

All of this is gold in my eyes. And it’s free.

future of marketing

What does this has got to do with B2B marketing ? 

image source : http://damiencummings.blogspot.be

image source : http://damiencummings.blogspot.be

So Twitter has brought great knowledge to me. Well, not Twitter in itself, obviously, but the people that I like to follow on Twitter. And today I still learn a lot, and get to know great new people.

So, what does this has got to do with great B2B marketing ? If you ask that question, you didn’t get what I just wrote.

Let me repeat : I started understanding how to do DIGITAL marketing, SOCIAL media, CONTENT marketing, etc… I didn’t REALLY know about that before I started with Twitter.

How powerful is that !

This stuff, digital-social-content, is so important today in marketing. And I learned it through Twitter. Yes !

So if you are in B2B, and you need to know about what’s going on in a certain market, why not learn this through Twitter?

 

What do you think ? I basically only have 1 question for you : what did Twitter learn you ?

 

Warm regards,

Tom De Baere

 

  • Tom, This is a great post. I’m glad you somehow stumbled onto my book! Lots have changed since the 2nd edition you showed – I am now working on the 4th edition.

    I am now following you on Twitter. I have about 50 – 150 people who follow me each day and about 25 – 75 who unfollow me every day. Several years ago I stopped trying to keep up with it because the process was simply taking too long to manage each day. I hope you understand that not following you until now wasn’t a slight, it was a time management issue.

    Here’s to a great 2013. David

    • Tom De Baere

      Thanks for the compliment David. I might even have read the 3rd edition (the thumbnail in this post is probably wrong).

      Don’t worry, I fully understand. With the Twitter follow rates you are getting, it’s impossible to keep up. I didn’t mean to “nudge” you with this post about you not following me. This post is just about my Twitter journey, and how you and your book have helped me through this “rollercoaster-year” which 2012 was for me.

      Thanks for the comment. Indeed, have a great 2013, your and your family ! Tom.

  • Really nice post Tom. I actually found this because I follow David Meerman Scott. (The power of Twitter indeed!) As you mentioned Twitter is a fantastic tool for staying on top of trends, news, and connecting, but it is also a very powerful tool for B2B lead generation as well with the right strategy. Twitter is one of our top lead gen tools and many times outperforms Linkedin in regards to our overall content strategy.

    Happy New Year!
    Jason Miller – Marketo

    • Tom De Baere

      Hi Jason. Thank you for mentioning B2B lead generation. Yes, absolutely. But isn’t that somewhat related to the type of business you are in? Marketers are a bit quicker to jump on Twitter in the marketing automation industry than let’s say decision makers in the pipe fitting industry. Now with that being said, it does draw quite some traffic from the platform to your site, where the rest of the content does it’s job to move the buyer through the buying cycle.

      With your comment you remind me of what I learned, through Twitter, from great companies like Marketo, on lead scoring, progressive profiling, lead nurturing, drip campaigns, etc… thank you for that !

      Happy New Year to you and your family as well.

  • Hi Tom,

    Great post! I agree with the need to keep your last three tweets relevant. If I spend time responding to friends and mentions, I try to end by posting links to valuable pieces of content. That way, people can always find something useful at the top of my stream.

    Sincerely,
    Rachel

    • tomdebaere

      Hi Rachel. I guess it’s a difficult mix. As you say when you are answering to friends and mentions, it’s difficult. When you have an important announcement which is bound to attract a lot of attention, then I wouldn’t be responding to friends or something similar.

      Thanks for the comment and compliment !

      Tom