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What Makes Engaging B2B Social Content

Why do you login to your various social media accounts? Is it to be entertained by videos and images? Catch up on the latest news in your industry? Engage with colleagues? My hunch says you do all of the above.

Nobody has time to sift through every piece of content on social media though. We quickly scroll through our feeds, bypassing updates that do not grab our attention. So how do we as social marketers create content that is not ignored? Here are some absolute musts for creating engaging B2B social content.

The content must be a balance between entertainment and education

Let’s look at marketing content as a spectrum. On the left we have lengthy and boring technical data sheets and white papers. On the right, we have funny videos, memes, and other amusing pieces. While we all need to push the left content to our audiences, we need to incorporate aspects from the content on the right to grab our audience’s attention. The middle of the spectrum is where we as B2B social marketers need to be.

Gary Vaynerchuck writes in his book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, “If we want to talk to people while they consume their entertainment, we have to actually be their entertainment.” But not only is our B2B audience looking for entertainment, they are also seeking information and new insights so they can be ahead in their industry. Some examples of good content for this include infographics, informational short videos, and visual SlideShare decks of key highlights. We must strike a balance between informative and entertaining content, such as the examples below.

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3 Tips for Growing your Network with LinkedIn

In the social media world, Facebook and Twitter get a lot of time and attention. Both platforms have huge user bases and appeal to both businesses and consumers. However, LinkedIn is the go-to professional network for over 347 million members in over 200 countries worldwide.

When I originally started using LinkedIn it was generally more of a consumption model – meaning people looked at content but didn’t necessarily engage with that content. I know my personal habits were to post some things, update my profile as needed, and “just browse” what was going on with my connections. Over the past couple of years, LinkedIn has made significant changes to their user interface (UI) to encourage more content posting and engagement within the platform.

Here are three top tips to leverage LinkedIn’s feature to help expand your network.

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Networking Goes Social

As you probably know, networking can bring your career to a new level. Who you meet can open a variety of doors – you’re able to meet new clients, gain referrals, meet future peers, find a mentor, or begin a new partnership. The possibilities are endless.

Gone are the days where you would print out a stack of business cards and keep them in your wallet to hand out wherever you go. Now, with the digital age, your business card is your social presence. Interacting with someone digitally is the new norm; connecting with a colleague on LinkedIn, tweeting at your favorite brand or company, sharing your favorite articles on Facebook – these are all ways to network from right behind the keyboard.

Networking Goes Social

So, what’s the benefit of getting active on social networks? Here are my top three benefits for taking your networking skills to the computer:

Reach Brands Directly. Many brands are active on social media and are curious about how their customers and partners are using their products. Use this to your advantage and start a conversation about their latest launch, an article they posted, or good customer service. They’ll likely respond back with a follow-up question or a kind note as a way to thank you for reaching out.

Save Time and Money. While you should continue to go to live events when possible, you can network through social channels whenever and wherever you go. You can reach out to brands on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn through your phone or desktop without the hefty price tag that comes with traveling.

Interact with Industry Leaders. If you refer to an article written by an industry leader, tag them by using @[their handle]. On Twitter, for example, many company executives and brands will favorite or retweet your post as a way of engaging back. It’s a way of interacting with people you might otherwise not get the chance to.

Have you started networking online? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Cisco Focus: The Year in Review

Everyone loves “year in review” articles, slideshows and wraps, right? Well, I do. Cisco’s fiscal year ends July 26, so I thought it would be an appropriate time to give our fiscal year in review for the Cisco Social Media team and all the great content that we produce week-in and week-out.

We created and run “The Network: Cisco’s Technology News Site.” This is where we have great journalists writing stories about the impact that technology has on your life or your business. We also create short, informative videos that highlight Cisco Innovators, our Leadership team, and other video series like “My Networked Life” or “City of the Future: Songdo, Korea.” And, whether you are a customer or partner…or are just interested in technology, we invite you and encourage you to take our content for your own site and re-use it or share it.

Last August, we launched our monthly digital magazine entitled “Focus.” Each month we do a deep dive on technology topics that we care about and that the industry cares about. You can see all the issues here.

Our Top 3 Issues this year:
1.       Technology in Education
2.       Women in Tech, and Read More »

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Professional Social Media: From the Eyes of a College Kid

Social Media has been an integral part of my life ever since my Mom allowed me to create a Facebook page my freshman year of high school. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Webex Social, have completely changed the way I interact with others.

As I make the transition from a collegiate environment to a more professional environment, many interesting points have been brought to mind. I have compiled a list of pointers that I have learned over time and thought I would share them with all of you!

 

Be Aware of Your Audience:

I like to think of a post on social media as an email to all of your following. Just like an email, a recipient may or may not read your post, and they may or may not be interested in the content of the post.

Generally, whatever someone posts on a social media channel will be available to ALL of their followers unless they specify against this. This means that they either have to only post material that is appropriate for all or monitor their following to ensure that whatever they post is acceptable. This is more applicable to personal accounts as the content on professional accounts will most likely be professional in nature. Sites like Facebook are getting better at giving you tools to provide contents to certain predetermined groups of followers only. For example: they could upload an album of pictures from their family reunion and then share the album only with their “immediate family” Facebook friends group.

 

Define Your Goals BEFORE Implementing a Social Media Campaign:

This point is something that was heavily stressed in the Cisco Social Media Training and Certification program and I think it is a really good idea.

Whenever someone uses social media, they should have some type of agenda. In high school, one might just be trying to pass the time or stay up to date with who is dating whom. In college, one may be trying to build a network with their peers or discuss plans for Friday night. At a professional level, one may be trying to spread the word about a new service that they are offering or requesting feedback about what the public thinks about certain ideas. Whatever the agenda is, it is quite valuable to identify this agenda prior to the implementation. You see this with most projects. Diving into a project head first without stepping back and looking at what you aim to accomplish first is often a dangerous practice.

The same goes for social media campaigns. By identifying what you aim to accomplish, you are able to for efficiently implement a strategy to accomplish your social media goals.

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The Weakest Link Analogy with Professionalism:

A chain is only as strong as the weakest link. I think this common saying applies to how a social media channel is viewed from a professional standpoint.

I believe that a channel is viewed at the level of professionalism as the least professional post. A Facebook page can turn out great weekly content about a company written at a high professional level, but as soon as an inappropriate post is made and someone sees it, that follower will associate the channel with that lower level of professionalism. This just means that, when in charge of a social media account, a professional reputation must be constantly upheld.

 

Social Media Representing a Something Bigger Than Yourself:

When dealing with social media, there is a huge difference between a personal account and a professional account. With a professional account, the creator is representing a company or a product (in some cases the product being the creator themselves i.e. Linkedin). Where as with a personal account, you have complete freedom over post content. We are seeing more and more incidents today dealing with social media snafus causing major problems.

When watching ESPN, we will often see that a player had impulsively tweeted that he wanted a trade or thought the coach was in violation of some rule which will often set off a chain reaction of events often resulting in disciplinary action all across the board and media backlash. Many companies experience their social media campaigns go horribly wrong due to a misinterpretation on how a specific tactic would be received (see this article for several of these breakdowns http://mashable.com/2012/11/25/social-media-business-disasters-2012/). Social media takes what used to be private interactions and puts them on a pedestal for the entire world to see if they so desire. This can be extremely helpful in some regards but also potentially dangerous.

The bottom line is that, when dealing with a professional social media account that is representative of something bigger than oneself, it is important to be aware of the magnitude and possible ramifications of ones decisions.

 

Identify a Posting Environment’s Style:

This final point has to deal with posting on an unfamiliar environment on a social media platform.

Not everyone online is interested in holding a professional conversation with you. In modern day internet slang, it is said that there are many trolls out there. A troll is basically someone who posts off topic, offensive, irrelevant, comical, or derogatory comments on a social media post essentially for fun. Some may be surprised that this exists but yes, it is definitely something to look out for. When first encountering an unknown social media environment, evaluating the landscape to see what type of activity is going on there. Say for example that someone searches: “Lawn Care” on Facebook looking to post a serious question about why you are having weeds grow in their lawn. There will probably be some results that consist of pages that are filled with trolls that will not be able to contribute constructive responses to their questions. A good rule of thumb is to look at a few of the past posts and responses and determine if the specific social landscape is appropriate for your needs. Also, if you are engaged by a troll, the best thing to do is just ignore them.

 

What differences have you noticed between utilizing social media in a professional manor vs. a personal manor? Do you anticipate social media becoming more prevalent in todays society? Do you have any additional observations?

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