Mesh Without Wires

May 17, 2011

Corporate Twitter for B2B: Who Should You Follow?

Filed under: Corporate Twitter,Social Media,Technology — kseniacoffman @ 9:48 am

I’ve been asked a few times on whom corporate accounts should follow. The post below shares my thinking on a “Follow Policy” – hope that it’s helpful.

Follow Firetide on Twitter!

Follow Firetide on Twitter!

Early on, you have to follow people and hope they follow you back. So start slowly, follow industry folks who look like they follow back. Engage with them. Participate in industry specific hashtags, such as around events or #WirelessWednesday. (See: How to Use #WirelessWednesday to Connect with Wireless Industry on Twitter.)

Once your corporate account starts getting traction, you will mostly be following people back to reciprocate a follow. But, you may ask, why should corporate accounts follow anyone? Simple: (1) it shows respect and appreciation for the follow; (2) more importantly, it allows your follower to send you a direct message if they want to communicate something privately.

Here is @firetide’s “follow policy”:

We follow back:

  • Customers, consultants, end-users who are involved with Firetide, use our products, or are researching our solutions
  • Analysts, media and other ‘influencers’ (well, in most cases we had to follow them first).
  • Folks in our industries/verticals, as evidenced by who they follow or their Twitter timeline.
  • Accounts of our technology partners, potential partners or corporate accounts in adjacent markets (who knows when our paths may cross).
  • We also give benefit of the doubt to accounts with small follower counts – they may be just starting out, and our follow will be a nice gesture.

When in doubt, I check to see which accounts they follow – for example, if they follow physical security or wireless accounts that I recognize, they get a follow back.

We don’t follow back:

  • Social media consultants, news aggregators and other folks who already follow 3,000, 5,000 or more people. They are clearly fishing for followers. They may also be using automated follow software, so technically they don’t ‘follow’ follow you; something you posted might have tripped up the software’s algorithm.
  • People with protected accounts – if they want their accounts private, no reason to follow them back.
  • Spam accounts and twitter bots, for obvious reason.
  • Competitors – if they wish to follow us, fine, but don’t expect a follow from us (we do maintain a private “competitors” list)
  • Accounts that are clearly unrelated to anything with do, or that use Twitter as broadcasting medium only (often evidenced by all tweets being from Twitterfeed or another automated method).

Whom to unfollow:

  • Accounts that don’t follow you back or that unfollowed you (“how could they!”) Hurt feelings aside, Twitter is a non-reciprocal social network, so if our tweets are not interesting to them, it stands to reason that we should part ways. If you really need to follow someone who is not following you back, put them on a private list and follow their tweets that way.
  • Optional: unfollow “twitter-quitters” – accounts that have not posted in 1, 2 or 3 months, whatever seems right to you.
  • Accounts that excessively tweet their Foursquare check-ins. This is a pet peeve of mine, so this may lead to an unfollow or being relegated to a less-frequently-checked list.

Twitter lists is another great topic for discussion; I will cover them in a future post.

For more posts on social media, see:

By Ksenia Coffman – Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

March 26, 2011

Making the Most of Conferences and Expos: #B2BChat Offers Advice and How-to’s

Filed under: B2B,Corporate Twitter,Social Media — kseniacoffman @ 10:08 am

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know that I am one of the moderators of #B2Bchat – a weekly conversation for B2B marketers. If you are not familiar with Twitter chats, please see my post: Primer on Twitter Chats.

Follow #B2Bchat on Twitter

Follow #B2Bchat on Twitter

With the spring season of conferences and trade shows in full swing, the last #B2Bchat tackled the best practices on how to manage them (and survive). Panels, business meetings, speaking sessions, trade show floor, dinners, parties (those I skip, I swear) – how do you balance them all? Below are the tips and how-to’s that #B2Bchat participants shared.

Starting with the basics – Q1. On the trade show floor – How can you be most effective, whether or not you have a booth?

  • tracibrowne: Show up with quantifiable objectives so you can measure success (or failure)
  • skylineexhibits: If you have a booth, promote ur presence aggressively to get right people into it. Have talented staffers who want to be there.
  • donseamons: Engage, focus your message, qualify quickly, then move on.
  • kseniacoffman: Pre-schedule meetings; don’t show up w/ out an agenda
  • NickBianchi: It’s good to set up contacts in advance, but don’t overplan. Many valuable things can be spur of the moment.
  • Brandspiration: Try to get a list of exhibitors before attending – research who you want to network with in advance & then approach.
  • MaureenB2B: Staffers should have great consultative sales questions around likely pain versus info about “stuff”
  • b2bento: Pre-event networking is the key! RT @vasanthgan: A1: Pre-schedule meetings, spread your key messages
  • DWesterberg: So many things to accomplish at a conference.  Think: press, alliance partners, buzz @ conference, leads

There was a side conversation on ‘disinterested staffers.’ I honestly have not seen this on our booth ever, but here are a few pointers:

  • tracibrowne: How do you know a staffer doesn’t want to be there? They usually make it pretty obvious…rolling eyes first clue ;-)
  • skylineexhibits: They either tell you, you ask them, or their performance is so bad at a previous show.
  • donseamons: I was just at HIMSS11, a large health B2B show. Many examples of disinterested staffers:

Q1 summary: objectives, preparation, key messages & questions, + enthusiastic staffers = success!

Q2. If you have a speaking gig, how to best leverage it ? Pre-, post- and during the panel


  • tracibrowne: If the event has an online community be active in it
  • ASegar: On event community, let it be known you’ll be around pre & post your session to chat & answer questions
  • skylineexhibits: Speak early in the show, then have a booth on the show floor. Attendees will talk business in your booth. Can’t mandate, but you can ask. Networking with the other speakers is awesome, too: go to the speaker room, attend speaker dinner (if there’s one)
  • ASegar: Offer organizers short pieces, written or video, about your session
  • donseamons: Lots of pre-show pub in mailers, emails, social media, etc. Schedule time for the speaker to be in the booth, and promote that, too.

During the panel:

  • b2bento: Present agnostic, useful and good content. Don’t try to oversell. Network (online) pre and post events – answer questions
  • skylineexhibits: Don’t sell your product, sell your expertise through credibility by doing a great, informative presentation. Offer to email something of value (such as a white paper) for attendees that they can get by giving you a business card.
  • kseniacoffman: It’s appropriate to invite ppl to your booth after the panel (soft sell)
  • vasanthgan: During the panel, focus on the future trends/solutions and not on what the audience already know about.
  • itsjustjana: Post session Q&A is sooo important. Huge pet peeve when I book a speaker who talks and runs.
  • DWesterberg: At events I like to have the most giveaways for largest audience – Not at $200 item/drawing but a $10 item for 20.

After your panel:

  • ralaw33: Post show we’ve gotten the best response by using social media platforms to distribute slides and video. Extends use.
  • phylliskhare: I like that idea of creating a short video response right after the panel — that’s something to do right away!
  • ASegar: Try to get your session recorded; can use for post-conf PR

Q2 summary: Try to speak early; promote the session & booth presence; be active in online community pre-show; share your presentation socially.

Q3. If you blog or tweet from an event, what do you focus on?

Tweeting, live blogging, daily blog recaps and post-even long-form blogs are all useful, but immediacy is definitely with tweeting and live blogging:

  • cuferg: Focus on content: sessions of interest to your targets/audience, key messages coming out of the sessions, show floor happenings.
  • vasanthgan: Key Numbers (stats) of the business/market that is shared in events.
  • kseniacoffman: Think like a reporter – but put a company PoV on it (i.e. what you wish the press woud write about you) :-)
  • cuferg: I’ve noticed marketing presentations are providing easily “tweetable” content, key points in 140 or less lately. Any others doing this?
  • shotgunconcepts: @cuferg Just the new reality of an old axiom. You always need to leave audience with a few memorable points. They’re now 140 characters.
  • tricomb2b: Capturing the meaning behind the event and using information gained to educate and help others!
  • MarchellGillis: Interesting trends and sites from the event, I may reference folks that I meet
  • shotgunconcepts: Offer value in your event tweets & blog posts, don’t just be a self promoter
  • B2Bento: Good example of live blogging – @asuthosh did a great job of live blogging from SMWF –
  • asuthosh: Include relevant comments from the audience and reactions to those – that tends to be left out in conference material
  • skylineexhibits: I’ve shown a speaker after the event the Tweets I sent – they are grateful

Involving the on-line, virtual audience came up as a theme:

  • ralaw33: I focus on sessions so customers not attending can be part of discussion. I tweet before to find sessions they are interested in. I love soliciting questions from followers and asking during Q&A. Presenters like it since it means audience participation
  • itsjustjana: Key take aways from the conversation or sharing a problem identified and asking for more feedback or the agree/disagree
  • kseniacoffman: I had good feedback on live-tweeting tours – especially if a few go on simultaneously, or not all can attend. Take lots of photos – great for people following virtually

Daily recaps will be popular, both with virtual and live attendees:

  • kseniacoffman: Daily recaps are very popular – I get a lot of traffic to these; takes effort though
  • tricomb2b: Agreed! @itsjustjana Yes, when i can’t attend a daily recap is event gold!
  • CASUDI: I really like to see daily recaps ~ from others at a show ~ with good info clipped from all the noise

There were a few contrarians who do not do much live tweeting from the event:

  • tracibrowne: I have to sit this question out – I can’t tweet and pay attention to the event.  I take notes and blog later
  • ASegar: Frankly, the better the event (for me, that means the more I participate) the less I tweet. But If I’m at a presentation I’ll tweet more if there’s a backchannel conversation going on

Don’t forget your manners:

  • tracibrowne: If all you are tweeting is criticism you are going to look like a [not a very nice person]

And most importantly:

  • b2bento: Tweet with event hashtag – immediately creates a community around the event.

Q3 summary: Blog & tweet with key takeaways, buzz or audience reactions; Lots of photos; Solicit questions from followers; Don’t forget the virtual audience.

Q4. How do you ensure effective follow up?

  • MaureenB2B: Key is to define, before the event, what your follow-up goals are. Do we want names or warm leads or other?
  • cuferg: Based on pre-show goals, segment booth visitors, cold/warm/hot and have plan in place to address each group.
  • fearlesscomp: Agree on lead definition. Gently nurture. Score for handoff. And provide sale with content too.
  • skylineexhibits: Improved follow-up starts at the show: Write down what attendees said so sales know & are motivated to follow up. Plan in advance the fulfillment, the team, and who is responsible. Blog post on this:
  • itsjustjana: Document your conversations. Who, where, what, when, why. All of it. Remind me why I was engaged and then sell me
  • kseniacoffman: Note on the back of biz cards what you talked about, what follow up is needed
  • ralaw33: Never thought of using phone to scan. Awesome! @itsjustjana: With business cards i either scan with my phone or text the info
  • tricomb2b: Have a desired outcome in mind and steer the conversation towards the goal
  • tracibrowne: Ask the visitor how they prefer to be contacted…then honor that
  • shotgunconcepts: Event hashtag is not just for the time of the conference. Continuing using in the days afterward to follow up without clutter

Q4 summary: Document everything – follow-up needed, when & where you met, photo/scan card with your phone!

Q5. Tips for staying sane and avoiding burn-out?

  • shotgunconcepts: Two conference essentials that most people don’t get enough of: water and sleep
  • tricomb2b: Know your limits and what you need to recuperate before getting back into the heat of things!
  • tracibrowne: Stock protein bars in the booth for your staff for a quick pick-me-up
  • ASegar: Yoga too! RT @KseniaCoffman: If you can, find time to exercise!
  • kpainc: Hydrate well before show; limit parties; eat right; plan meetings & specific booths to see; don’t walk exhibit floor to explore
  • Brandspiration: Schedule breaks, know where to find coffee & water, keep a positive attitude & have fun meeting ppl.

But all this “healthy living” and “balance” discussion was countered by the “work hard, play hard” camp:

  • AitchesonS: Boring! :) RT @phylliskhare: No parties. Go back to room, drink good water, eat something healthy, blog, and sleep.
  • skylineexhibits: Tough to avoid all the parties when that’s when some of the best networking happens
  • Edgemon72: I would say get 7 hours sleep and keep attentive! Great data available at parties if your not drunk or tired.

I will leave you with these words of wisdom as a summary:

tracibrowne: I tell people the day starts when coffee shop opens and ends when the last attendee leaves the bar. There’s plenty of time for rest and sleep when you get home. Squeeze every second you can out of the three or four days.

Does #b2bchat sound interesting? Join us for a lively discussion on B2B topics every Thursday at 8pm Eastern. Follow @B2B_chat for updates.

For other posts on social media topics, see:

By Ksenia Coffman – Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

November 17, 2010

How to Use #WirelessWednesday to Connect with Wireless Industry on Twitter

#WirelessWednesday holds as special place in my Twitter experience since this was how @firetide got its first @ mention when the account was just starting out. We probably had a dozen followers at that time, so it was new and exciting to see the Firetide name mentioned (please excuse the sentimentality).

What is #WirelessWednesday?


WirelessWoman, founder of #WirelessWednesday - follow her!

#WirelessWednesday hash tag was started by @WirelessWoman, aka Kent Huffman, CMO of Bearcom. Bearcom is a long standing channel partner of Firetide’s; they are the integrator behind the Dallas PD video mesh project which I extensively covered on this blog. (See: Dallas Police Department Tour at ASIS 2010 and ASIS 2010 Dallas PD Tour Goes Mainstream, among others.) The hash tag is used much as #FollowFriday, but focuses on the wireless and mobile industry.

Why participate in #WirelessWednesday?

#WirelessWednesday is a great way to connect with other industry folks, see who is active on Twitter and find new people to follow who are interactive and are in the same industry that you are in. Firetide wireless list is up to 140 accounts, and that’s one of my core lists that I check on regular basis. You can find out interesting things that you might not pick up otherwise: who is getting acquired, what wireless events are going on, what interesting articles people are sharing, and more.

How to join in

Starting with #WirelessWednesday is easy: just recommend your favorite wireless accounts. I try to participate every Wednesday; occasionally I use both the corporate account @firetide and my personal account @kseniacoffman. I check the stream in the wireless list in my Tweetdeck client, and select the accounts which (1) tweeted recently (nobody wants to follow ‘twitter-quitters” who have not posted in weeks; (2) tweet predominantly on wireless topics; (3) are sharing useful information. Then I assemble my list of recommendations, which is very easy to do in Tweetdeck. Don’t forget to use add the #WirelessWednesday hash tag!

I also check on who I recently added to Firetide’s or my wireless list, pick a few most recent ones, and add a link to the lists themselves, as a way to offer more suggestions for people to follow.

Here’s the sampling of #WirelessWednesday tweets from today:

From @kseniacoffman:

From @firetide:

Recommendations from the personal account tend to me more ‘personal’ (wireless folks I know on twitter), while recommendations from the corporate account tend to include distributors, partners, media and analysts.

Convinced yet in the power of #WirelessWednesday? Join today!

For other posts on social media for B2B, see:

By Ksenia Coffman – Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

October 20, 2010

See How Video Mesh Helps Law Enforcement at IACP 2010

The conference season must be upon us, since right after ASIS 2010 in Dallas we are headed to IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police) 2010 in Orlando, October 24 – 26, 2010.

IACP’s host city no stranger to Firetide’s mesh


Firetide mesh node captured in a local news report on video system in Orlando

Many of the nations’ municipalities are using Firetide technology for wireless video surveillance including Orlando, the host city for this year’s IACP conference. The Orlando Police Department has used Firetide’s wireless mesh for several years, including during the 2008 Presidential election to provide video surveillance at an Obama/Clinton campaign rally in Orlando that drew a crowd of 60,000 people. The system evolved from a tactical, portable application, such as for special events or SWAT operations, to a fixed “city center surveillance” deployment. For a recent update on the system, see Muni Wireless Video Surveillance at Work in Orlando.

I hope to spend some time in downtown Orlando tracking down surveillance locations, so that I’ll have material for a “walking tour” similar to the Chicago tour from this summer (see Part 1 and Part 2 of Chicago).

Representatives from Orlando PD will present a session on Sunday 1 to 3 pm on “Innovative Policing with Camera Technology from A to Z,” as part of the law enforcement technology track at IACP. I plan to attend the session: it will be interesting to see how OPD presents the system to an audience of their peers. If you are attending IACP, here’s the link to all sessions in the Technology Track.

Integrated video mesh demo

For IACP, we are partnering with Axis Communications and Milestone Systems for an integrated demo to showcase real-time video mesh, capable of supporting multiple streams of HD video.  The solution addresses challenges in providing real-time, forensic-quality video for city center surveillance, hostage/barricade situations, special events security, monitoring crime-prone neighborhoods, emergency preparedness and homeland security. Deployed in a matter of hours, the system is a real-world example of what public safety agencies can achieve in the field with the right combination of IP technologies, delivering evidence-grade video for officer safety, identification and investigation.

Video mesh demo at IACP 2010

Video mesh demo at IACP 2010 (click to enlarge)

Our in-booth live demonstration (booth 2825) will feature wireless capture, distribution and playback of high-resolution video over wireless. Real-time video from Axis high-definition network cameras will be streamed over Firetide wireless infrastructure mesh network. The video will be captured and displayed using the open-platform Milestone video management system, including remote viewing via Wi-Fi enabled PDAs.

Social media at #IACP2010

This year IACP 2010 has an official Twitter hash tag: #IACP2010, which is a big step up from last year when IACP’s Twitter account (@IACPOfficial) did not promote one. There was an unofficial one – #IACP – which also picked up tweets from a gathering of International Association of Culinary Professionals.

IACP staffers will tweet and blog from the conference this year. See the recap of their social media plans: Special Events at IACP 2010. So that’s quite a leap from last year, where I don’t think IACP used social media around the conference much.

If you are on twitter, follow @firetide and @kseniacoffman for updates from Orlando. Follow #IACP2010 hash tag for all tweets from the conference.

For the recap from ASIS 2010 in Dallas, see:

By: Ksenia Coffman – Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

October 18, 2010

ASIS 2010 Impressions: ASIS Accolades; Social Media at #ASIS10

ASIS 2010 was a good show for us, and judging by the overall sentiment from the conference attendees and the vendors alike, things are picking up. Our booth traffic was 50% up from a slow show in Anaheim. We were also strategically positioned on the way to the ASIS booth and the Accolades show case, so that helped out as well.

ASIS Accolades; “What’s new on the floor?” session

Highlight of the first day of the show for us was The ASIS Accolades awards luncheon, where our CEO accepted the award for Firetide IVS-100 MIMO in front of thousands of ASIS members. That same day, Firetide was also featured on the session “What’s New on the Floor” presented Ron Lander, CPP, CMAS of Ultrasafe Security Specialists.

In his session, Ron shed some light on the selection and judging process (You can listen to the entire presentation here: What’s New on the Floor – flv file, audio only.)

Ron Lander on the selection and judging process:

“Every year exhibitors are invited to participate in the Accolades competition. This  year we had 72 companies who submitted new technologies, new ideas and new products. Some of them were just recently released; some were released in the last 11 months, which is part of our criteria. 24 members of the ASIS Physical Security Council are tasked to review the written marketing material and specifications; they narrowed it down to around 40. Then a handful of judges, including myself, sat down and determined the top ten. And let me tell you, this was a tough year, there’s a lot of new technology within security and video surveillance, as you will see.”

Ron Lander on Firetide:

“Public safety is another vertical in security technology where you need forensic-quality video. You can have a good camera, you can have a good DVR, but if you don’t have a good way to transmit the video, your quality’s still going to be poor.

Firetide’s seized the lead of the market with good products, and as a consultant I’ve worked with them on different projects, among those the cities of Redland and Lynwood, California. They get forensic quality video to their customers; the sort that the DA likes: you can get a conviction with it. I also know of cities on the East coast that will not allow you to build a liquor store without cameras specified to meet their video surveillance requirements. They want to be able to look into your cameras first, to see what’s going on in the store, if there’s a hostile situation at that location.

And if you go downtown, you can see Firetide’s technology in the city of Dallas. The system is in a mesh configuration where one unit is connected to other units.”

ASIS Accolades Award Luncheon

Firetide CEO Bo Larrson accepts the Accolades award (click to enlarge)

Firetide team with the Accolades award

Firetide team with the Accolades award (click to enlarge)

Firetide IVS-100 MIMO - The Accolades award winner

Firetide IVS-100 MIMO - The Accolades award winner (click to enlarge)

Social Media at ASIS

On an interesting note, Ron Lander asked the audience about whether or not they participated in social media, and highlighted the #ASIS hash tag. I also saw ASIS signs throughout the convention center promoting the hash tag. @ASIS2010 account did a good job promoting the twitter stream and the blog, but it was mostly manufacturers and the media who were tweeting from ASIS. Still, there were 165 twitter accounts that used the hash tag; you can access the list here:

Social media, in my opinion, is a great add-on to any conference. I got a couple of comments on my picture-tweets from the Dallas PD tour thanking me, since they could not attend on Monday or flights were delayed. Brent Dirks live-tweeted many sessions, so you could follow the hash tag and virtually be in many places at once.

Tuesday was also the day of the Social Networking and Your Professional Development session, where I presented, alongside with Steve Surfaro and Shawn Flaugher. You can access the presentation and notes from the session here: Social Media For Crisis Communications, Presented at #ASIS10.

The audio from the session was recorded, and you can access it on ASIS web site, along with select other sessions from ASIS (wish slides were available as well, I’m getting audio only): ASIS Sessions Video.

For more posts from ASIS in Dallas, see:

By: Ksenia Coffman – Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

October 13, 2010

Social Media For Crisis Communications, Presented at ASIS 2010

Filed under: B2B,Corporate Twitter,Physical Security,Social Media — kseniacoffman @ 9:11 am
Tags: ,

It was interesting to be at a physical security conference, but presenting on social media. As a brief background, we at Firetide started our social media efforts about a year ago around ASIS 2009, in part thanks to my co-presenters Shawn Flaugher (@shawnf on Twitter) and Steve Surfaro (@stevesurf), both physical security pros.) But I found out that in physical security space, we were the early adopters and are now considered social media experts!

I focused my part of the presentation on the business side of things, specifically deploying social media for crisis communications. Using three examples of recent events (PG&E’s social media communications in the aftermath of San Bruno Fire, “TSA took my son” incident, and University of Texas Austin active shooter response), I illustrate how to use social media to respond to emergencies, to address criticism and to supplement mass notification systems.

For any business, it’s important to be prepared for a crisis, and social media must be part of you crisis communication plans. Plus, it’s one of the ways to justify spending time and effort on social media, if the higher-ups don’t see the benefits (yet).

View the presentation on SlideShare:

(Hope you were following my tweets on Monday and Tue from the ASIS 2010 conference and the Dallas PD tour. Follow #ASIS10 hash tag for tweets from Dallas!)

For more posts on ASIS 2010, see:

For more posts on social media for business, see:

By: Ksenia Coffman – Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

October 6, 2010

#B2BChat: Analysts, Analyst Relations and Influencers in B2B

Filed under: B2B,Social Media — kseniacoffman @ 9:49 am
Tags: , , ,

(If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know that I am one of the moderators of #B2Bchat – a weekly conversation on all things B2B. This post also appears on web site, which serves as the content hub for #B2Bchat. For all posts on #B2Bchat, search for #b2bchat tag on B2Bbloggers, or visit

Follow #B2Bchat on Twitter

Follow #B2Bchat on Twitter

In a recent post “Buyers vs Influencers: Who really controls the deal?” Fred McClimans discussed the role of influencers in the B2B sector, and the role that analysts, consultants and analyst relations professionals can play in establishing a strong B2B strategy. Increasingly, analysts (along with consultants and strategic advisors) are playing a larger role in influencing purchasing decisions and partnerships in the vendor/B2B space, an expansion of their more traditional role as advisors to the end-user consumer community.

Much of this is as a result of the increased pace of technology development, as well as economic uncertainty and a desire on the part of both vendors and end-users alike to mitigate risk in purchasing/partnership decisions. As a result, the importance of Analyst Relations (AR), in terms of identifying key analysts and influencers, has increased considerably over the past few years.

On Thursday Oct 7, we’ll take a look at this topic a bit deeper with a joint #ARchat/#B2Bchat session. Specifically, what role can, or should, Analyst and Influencer Relations have in the B2B sector.

The questions we will discuss will include:

  • Q1. What role do analyst relations/analysts play in your B2B strategy today?
  • Q2. What’s the best approach to identify the key analyst/influencer in a particular business sector or deal?
  • Q3. How can analyst relations and marketing work more closely to identify market/customer/channel opportunities?
  • Q4. What are reasonable metrics and measures of success (i.e. tools) you use to value the impact of a B2B strategy or analyst relations strategy?
  • Q5. What role can social media play in expanding your reach into the analyst/influencer market?
  • Q6. Are bloggers “influencers”? Why or why not? What other categories of influencers do you track?

#ARchat was started and moderated by Fred (@fredmcclimans) and Steve Loudermilk (@loudyoutloud).  Fred is an Information, Technology and Business Analyst with over 20 years of experience, including starting several business ventures, and hardware/software product development, strategic marketing, company/product launch strategies, business partnerships, investment evaluations, fund-raising and acquisition strategies. Steve is the head of Industry Analyst Relations for Alcatel-Lucent’s Services group. He is also a leader of PRSA/GA and has over 20 years of experience in media and analyst relations.

Please use #b2bchat hash tag as your primary tag (for tracking purposes). If you wish, add #archat as a secondary hash tag to your tweets, but be aware that “double hash tagging” will decrease the amount of characters available to you. If you enjoy the discussion this coming Thursday, be sure to check out the #ARchat proper, which takes place on Tuesdays 12 pm ET.

Join us on Thursday October 7 at 8 pm Eastern, 5 pm Pacific! Be sure to follow @B2B_chat for updates.

For other posts on social media topics, see:

By: Ksenia Coffman – Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

August 22, 2010

Want to Build a B2B Community? Twitter Chat Offers Advice and How-to’s [#B2Bchat Recap]

Filed under: B2B,Social Media — kseniacoffman @ 9:42 am

(If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know that I am one of the moderators of #B2Bchat – a weekly conversation for B2B marketers. This post also appears on web site, which serves as the content hub for #B2Bchat. For all posts on #B2Bchat, search for #b2bchat tag on B2Bbloggers, or visit

Follow #B2Bchat on Twitter

Follow #B2Bchat on Twitter

Any company, including B2B, wants a strong community – to provide feedback, evangelize your brand, and stand up for you in times of crisis. But how do you build and nurture this community, where do you start with? In other words, how can B2B companies move towards being ‘social enterprises’? These were some of the questions we tackled on the last #B2Bchat.

What does it take for a B2B company to be ‘social’? What are some of the attributes?

Companies have to become more social, but whether they embrace it (yet)  is subject for debate. The suggestions on starting with your customers especially resonated with me – they know your product and company best, and can provide real-world feedback, rather than a second-hand opinion. It’s also important not to equate social media with being social; presence on “social media outposts” alone does not make you a social enterprise. Ability to engage in meaningful conversations is essential:

  • b2bento: Start being ‘social’ with your existing customers (Flip the funnel) and partners
  • misskatiemo: Break out of speaking like a corporate robot – have actual conversations with people (offline AND online!)
  • Ron_Hudson: Involve existing customers/clients in product/service improvement/development. Clients/customers want to be heard, acknowledged, and rewarded. Doing it in a public forum inspires repeat behavior.
  • EngageStrat: Social B2B = Openness, willingness to be responsive, tenacity and dependability . Willing to commit the resources to stay involved
  • pathwaypr: Must have a clear plan or agreement on how to approach. To be successful, need to be willing to commit to it for the long term.
  • Kinaxis: You must trust your employees to speak on your behalf and educate them accordingly
  • cpechayco: B2B companies have to be social to survive. Whether social media as we know it makes sense is another question.
  • briansrice: Openness, commitment to participate, ability to add in personality, support, ability to integrate with other mediums
  • CelsiusMI: Be a partner! A solid B2Brelationship should be beneficial for all parties involved. Also, put in the work to do GREAT things.
  • joellenroberts: Listening = *most* important thing. Can’t properly respond to community if you don’t listen to wants/needs.

What does it mean to have a community? Is community important, and why?

As expected, there were no suggestions that you should ignore your community. But the participants highlighted the fact that not all customers would want to interact online, some will require personalized attention. Also, don’t equate being on social media with having a community – it goes much deeper than that.

  • b2bento: SM or no SM – community is important. One evangelist of your brand is better than 100 salespeople.
  • kseniacoffman: Community to me means (1) customers & (2) partners – entities that contribute to/are vested in your success
  • marcseyon: Goes back to really knowing your business partners, not treating them as nameless faceless entities in a ledger
  • FSSimon: B2B community offers opportunity to build brand evangelists and WOM (word of mouth). Also new business development opportunities. Critical for long term growth.
  • kimgeralds: I really don’t get the point for B2B unless the company is listening. If you want to broadcast, use email.
  • jeffthesensei: Why customer communities? Foster stronger long term relationships, create champions and identify share of wallet opportunities for sales
  • Kinaxis: Community is about virtuous cycle of content and connecting. Community exists since dawn of time – only medium has changed.
  • asuthosh: Community is critical – but only if in it for the long term. Too often, communities are abandoned by their creators. Either disheartened by lack of initial interest, “no funding”, or shifting “strategic priorities”
  • joellenroberts: Some business customers have no interest in being part of a “community,” but do want personable communication beyond a sales pitch.
  • misskatiemo: Are prospects part of your community? Absolutely – partners, customers, prospects, fans… they’re all part of your community.
  • jeffthesensei: Prospects should be a part of it but have access to all. Customers need to feel “exclusive”. They paid to belong.

Do you have a designated community manager? How do they interface with PR, customer service, product development?

Community managers (or at least the titles) are not very common in B2B. On the chat, he had a few bona fide community managers, including misskatiemo and Kinaxis. Some insights shared on the chat into the role and responsibilities of a community manager: 

  • jeffthesensei: Community management should be done by the community ideally – company and customer mix. Create ground rules for all. Community is about inclusion and acceptance. If you exclude customer in managing it, you send a distinct message.
  • Kinaxis: Dedicated manager is critical; they bring super users into the mix through advocacy program
  • robbtrost: The community manager should be either: brand manager or marcom manager with strong social media experience
  • LoisMarketing: Idea from a conversation this week: in professional services firms, the administrator may be better social media/community manager than the marketing director, with insights into personalities
  • asuthosh: A community manager should almost be invisible, yet omnipresent… if that’s possible! A light touch works best. Something like a evening party host. Ensure everyone’s having fun & deriving benefit.

misskatiemo shared an interesting blog post (Community Roles & Players) on how her company set up its community engagement team, which includes close to a dozen people. Other companies are not so lucky, or have not yet defined the role with as much precision. Some tips and observations:

  • kimgeralds: Resource constraints make it difficult to have a dedicated person, until someone at the top makes it a priority.
  • joellenroberts: Having a dedicated community manager is one strategy. Not only one. Depends on the business objective you’re looking to fulfill.

How to move your company into ‘social’? Where to begin: forums, blogs, social outposts outposts (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook)?

  • bfr3nch: It’s best to build community sites where the community already resides – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Meetup, associations, forums, etc.
  • briansrice: 1st look to see if they are out there in an existing community. Then determine if you can leverage or need to build your own
  • kimgeralds: Start with a community that already exists ‘face-to-face,’ say a Users Group, or via the Online Support site,  Wiki’s, forums, etc.
  • trainingfactor: Consider blogging; a blog allows for call to action links which enable viewers to make choice to connect
  • 30lines: Integrate. Put those links in your email signature, document footers, brochures, business cards, etc.
  • robbtrost: To encourage moving into ‘social’, best bet method is to provide data from like-situations or competition. Show impact examples and provide solutions
  • AliciaSanera: I recommend starting with 1 tool (based on the comfort level & potential ROI) learn how to use it. Avoid the ‘intimidation factor.
  • Kinaxis: For companies: Make the business case. For example, some research suggests that that customers who are community members remain customers 50% longer than those who aren’t.

We also touched upon what might incentivize customers to join a community:

  • cuferg: Incentives? How about content, best practices, engagement, networking?
  • AliciaSanera: Education, idea building, networking, exposure are the most common. Not so different from business communities ‘in the real world’
  • stsanto: Special offers, first to know, offline gathering to create opportunity for networking
  • cpechayco: I prefer incentives that add value to both businesses: white paper, consulting services, how-tos, etc.
  • ExoPoirier: Guide your customers in listening first, where what and whom to listen, and let them find their comfort zone by themselves
  • jeffthesensei: Another way to get people to join yours is to be part of their communities. Pay it forward!
  • robbtrost: Incentive = information about the brand. Make your community feel like they have the scoop to what’s happening with the company/products.
  • joellenroberts: But shouldn’t just be about the brand; should be about what insight you bring to the table. That builds repeat business. Provide actionable content they can’t get elsewhere. Don’t do gimmicky bribes and assume they’ll stay in the long run.

Some cautioned that the communities need to be managed and moderated; otherwise the community will lose value:

  • Ron_Hudson: Interaction without direction can lead to a free for all promotional community. Nobody wants more clutter.

Others had more faith in self-moderating communities:

  • asuthosh: Works wonders if harnessed well! RT @kimgeralds: Consider crowdsourcing opportunities in a b2b technology community of your customers
  • jeffthesensei: Maturity in B2b communities is high. You can recruit and train volunteers to moderate.
  • ExoPoirier: Agree but still ambitious. However, regarding B2b maturity, you bring up a good point.

What obstacles have you encountered in ‘social’ initiatives? Successes?

At this time me veered into challenges, with major themes being: companies trying to be social, while the culture does not encourage it; lack of patience and expectations for immediate results; lack of appropriate metrics to measure engagement and tie it to lead generation:

  • cuferg: Concerns about sharing publicly (competitor awareness/involvement), inability to see the value.
  • 30lines: Make sure the technology isn’t getting ahead of your audience. Make it as easy to participate as possible.
  • pprothe: Biggest obstacles is simply making time for engagement/content development. Making “Community” a habit, integrated in your day-to-day marketing.
  • AliciaSanera: Helping clients get over the formality they are used to in traditional communication. It’s hard for them to be “real.”
  • trainingfactor: #1 obstacle is antisocial companies attempting to be social (whole culture must change)
  • jeffthesensei: Biggest challenge is company’s focus on sales/themselves in social media. Biggest success happen when you make it about your customers, relevant to them.
  • fearlesscomp: Lack of patience is good point. Too many managers expect instant leads.
  • girlmeetsgeek: If companies do not have in-person, authentic networking down, that should be focus before social media. Social media leads to human connection.

Having a ‘Community’ is generally viewed as desirable, but there’s much work to be done before B2B companies can truly embrace social interactions. Company culture, marketing approaches, executive attitudes all need to change before we can be considered ‘social enterprises.’

As @support2point0, one of the chat participants, said:

Community in B2B requires personality

That will be a good start!

Many thanks to all who participated. Join us for next week’s #B2Bchat, Thursday, August 26, at 8pm Eastern (5pm Pacific, 8am Aug 27 in Singapore). Follow @B2B_chat for updates.

For other posts on social media topics, see:

May 5, 2010

Professional Development Paradox for B2B Marketers: Next #B2Bchat

Filed under: B2B,Social Media — kseniacoffman @ 9:50 pm

(This post will also appear on web site. For all posts on #B2Bchat, search for #b2bchat tag on B2Bbloggers, or visit

Follow #B2Bchat on TwitterAs B2B marketers, we often look for potential customers in various professional organizations: we exhibit at trade shows, submit speaking proposals, put together panels, and use association conference lists to target our direct mail. We consider conferences to be ‘captive audiences’ and go after the attendees with new product introductions, marketing messages, and (when budgets allow) lavish parties.

But do we – B2B marketers – see value in belonging to professional organizations? If we are not part of them, are we missing out on valuable networking, professional growth, and exchange of ideas? Can we (and should we) justify the expense and time out of the office to participate in industry organizations and related conferences?

Hence the “professional development paradox for B2B marketers” – we target those who attend industry events, but are not big on involvement ourselves.

In the next B2B chat we’ll discuss the role of industry organizations in B2B marketers’ professional development.

  • What professional organizations do you belong to? What have been your experiences?
  • Do you attend local or national events? Do you attend virtual events? What is the value?
  • Are there relevant certifications for B2B marketers, and what’s the practical value of said certifications?
  • How do you justify time/expense it takes to participate?
  • In addition/instead of in-person events, what resources do you utilize to keep up with industry developments?

Follow #B2Bchat on Twitter for more details and join us on Thursday May 6 at 8 pm Eastern!

Follow B2Bchat on Twitter

For other posts on social media topics, see:

April 25, 2010

Practical Social Measurement for B2B: #B2Bchat Recap

Filed under: B2B,Corporate Twitter,Social Media — kseniacoffman @ 8:05 am

#B2BChat Thursday 8 PM(This post originally appeared on web site. For all posts on #B2Bchat, search for #b2bchat tag on B2Bbloggers, or visit

B2B companies, especially those that are not web-based businesses, tend to be late adopters of social media. This has been my personal experience, as Firetide’s social media efforts started less than a year ago (although I had participated in LinkedIn groups for longer than that).

Many companies only have perfunctory efforts – they have twitter accounts, for example, but update infrequently or don’t engage with their followers. Given that we are early adopters (funny to say that given that social media been the rage for years, it seems) we still have to justify the time and effort allocated to social media efforts.

So the Social Media Measurement #B2Bchat was in part exchange of tips and insights, and in part a venting session – which everyone needs every now and then.

Some highlights from the session.

As a B2B marketer, how do you justify time spent on social media? Are there any detractors within your organization?

I was surprised to hear from one participant that “Day of having to justify SM to anyone is over.” This has not been my experience. I suspect that in many B2B companies social media is still flying under the radar, and needs to “come out of the shadows.” So there will still be adjustments as social media gets fully integrated into marketing plans, and stops being a skunk works project. Many comments confirmed my impression:

  • I just make the time for it. There are a few detractors in my company, but most support our SM efforts.
  • Some are quick to be detractors: tend to be expecting too much, or not taking time to understand.
  • I view SM as an extension of ‘traditional’ communications – advertizing/PR, so weaving it into our regular mark. programs
  • I have spoken to some, who do see fear of unknown and lack on control to be concern.
  • B2B is all about relationship building during long sales cycle. Social media is a great way to build relationships.
  • I can link revenue directly back to my social media contacts/time. Dramatic increase year to year.

What are social media’s practical benefits, even for companies who do not monetize their web sites?

The responses varied from lead conversion metrics (from those lucky enough to have a closed-loop lead tracking system), to better understanding he industry landscape and listening to conversations, market intelligence and building personas.

  • SM gives the users a chance to interact with you as a business/product. It’s a big plus.
  • Looking at SM as extension of PR, I track mentions, engagement, as well as briefings & other PR opps secured through SM
  • Maintaining/monitoring brand perception in real time is an advantage, awareness of enthusiasts/critics comments = opportunity
  • A step above brand monitoring is establishing credibility as an industry expert.
  • Competitive/market intelligence is a huge advantage that SM brings; gets rid of ‘tunnel vision’
  • SM for a small biz helps to level the playing field; leads to interaction with industry pros – as long as you provide quality content

The last observation was especially interesting to me; you don’t need to have a huge PR or ad budget to know what is happening in the industry, and you can engage with the influencers directly. In addition, having the first-mover advantage, you can establish a position in social media and stand apart from the crowd.

Do you know the impact social media activities have on your brand awareness?

There was no easy answer to this question yet, so many of us have to rely on qualitative feedback.

  • You do if you set GSOT (goals, strategies, objectives & tactics) at start & keep scorecard two track progress.
  • Awareness is a measure of total reach and increase in reach online. So yes through analytics that can be determined
  • Brand awareness can be measured and tracked to some extent; but crucial to establish a baseline from which to measure
  • It can be difficult to measure, particularly for small businesses without resources and access to high powered apps or 3rd party software
  • Social Media ROI question is tough. BUT, what’s the ROI of having a telephone? Or email?
  • Without question, SM lets small companies and startups compete with vastly larger firms.

Do you generate leads with social media? If yes, how do you track them?

  • We track leads from SM by using Google Analytics and unique URLs.
  • We do a lot of content registration: Webinars + white papers through Facebook & Twitter. 5-10% of registrations come from SM.
  • SM for our company has been key for building awareness. Our web analytics show SM as top referrer.
  • We assign a unique URL to each tweet and then track inbound clicks all the way to a lead or other success event.

What are the tools that even companies without social media budgets can use to track impact of their social media presence?

  • Trackur; Google Alerts; even Tweetdeck are great measurement tools (or combination thereof)
  • For tracking twitter engagement over time: @twitalyzer & @klout
  • PostRank is a great way to tie social media with blog performance.
  • Great SM measurement tools being mentioned: PostRank, Twitalyzer, Klout, Rowfeeder, Trackur, Radian6 (although a later commenter said “Radian6 is a great sm product, but I don’t have $’s for it.”)
  • If you are using an existing web analytics package, you can use APIs like the Twitter search/REST API to grab data on buzz.

What are the objections you encounter regarding social media initiatives? Any tips for overcoming them?

This was more of a venting session as I mentioned early. It surely felt good!

  • Biggest obstacle I hear about is security and inertia
  • The age old challenge in B2B = tying SM to revenue. Yes, it’s a cliché at this point.
  • Do I have the resources in time, $ & people to make it work? It is a relevant concern.
  • Ah, the famous question: ‘What if they say something bad about us?’ Answer: ‘Then you have a prime opportunity for conversion.’
  • Internal objections when starting SM initiatives? “Our clients don’t use SM.” “It’s a time trap.”
  • I have a client that would love to tweet if they could do so to a controlled audience. [Classic!]
  • “We don’t have time to do SM right.” “Our B2B customers aren’t using SM.” “CEO won’t like negative feedback.”
  • Another challenge is the perception that social media is cheap and does not require any specific knowledge and expertise.

So, even as it may seem that social media is a given, many B2B companies are still in the early adoption phase, and are grappling with associated challenges. The dialog helped bring them to light.

As one of the participants said: “Social media is an amplification of the conversations that are happening anyway.” With social media you have the opportunity to participate, rather than staying on the sidelines. Jump right in!

For other posts on social media topics, see:

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