social media for business

The Culture of Social Media without the Platforms; Mind = Blown

By Communications, Public Relations, Social Media

It’s a very busy time for my business and yesterday included a marathon of meetings right in a row (six!). Right in the middle, we met with a prospective client.

Now, Jaggers Communications offers the full suite of communications services from public relations to brand positioning to social media strategy, but often client conversations begin with learning about social media (it is a specialty of our firm). One of the people we met with shared his complete lack of use and knowledge of social media. He’s not engaged in any way online and hasn’t had an interest in doing so personally, even though he understands it’s important for his business to begin to seriously look at digital communications and how they should be used.

Then, he went on about his business philosophy, about how he prefers to serve clients, to interact with partners, to collaborate and nurture a culture of transparency within his organization.

And then my brain exploded.

Everything he said is exactly the culture that social media has established and worked to grow. It’s precisely where bloggers hoped business would evolve when it became impossible to hide behind a curtain of complacency. But it wasn’t the culture online that drove this man’s business values; it’s how his company has done business since the 1970s, long before blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

It was so refreshing, and so very exciting for me to meet with someone who “got it” before the technical aspects were even brought into the discussion. In fact, the words we use to talk about the tactics of social media are almost irrelevant. They’re tools to get us to the goals we make. The framework and quality are there; the genuine stories and rich culture exist; we have the honor of helping the business share them online.

Sometimes my work makes me giddy.

5 Ways B2B Organizations Can Use Social Media

By Communications, Social Media

There are so many misconceptions about social media and its use in business — I don’t even know where to begin to address them.

Wait, no, yes I do! The assertion that there is no role for social media in business to business marketing is patently untrue. Consider the following relationships (because, in case you’re unaware, the core purpose of social media is relationship development):

  • Trade media
  • Potential employees
  • Potential investors
  • Existing team members (from employees to board members to investors and vendors)
  • Current customers

Are these individuals with whom your organization needs to communicate? Well, yes! Of course! Making it as easy as possible for all of these audiences to discover your company, to learn what makes you tick, to understand what it is you do and how you do it, to receive news and important information about your business is just good business. The way to do that is by publishing content on your website, making the information available through search and sharing it with networks you continue to build of the very people mentioned in the groups above.

That’s all B2B social media is. Seriously.

From the KoMarketing blog:

According to Accenture Global Marketing’s recent report, Embracing Social Media in a B2B Context, a mere 8 percent of B2B companies are heavily engaged in social media.

Furthermore, researchers found that 17 percent of respondents don’t feel social media will be important to them in the coming years.

However, contrary beliefs were also revealed. Despite the lack of overall involvement, 65 percent of those polled considered social media to be “very important,” while 30 percent believed it is “extremely” important and cant be ignored.”

So it is to the 65 percent (and the 30 percent) that I offer . . .

5 Ways B2B Organizations Can Use Social Media

  1. Publish your news release in a way that is searchable — and can be found by interested communities. New releases published with an option to subscribe via an RSS feed is the best practice in this area. Create a news room on your website and post your content there.
  2. Encourage leaders in the business to expand their industry network and business connections in a virtual way. It assists the whole team in relationship development when the leaders make their connections visible to others in the field. LinkedIn is a very useful tool in this area.
  3. Monitor the web for industry mentions and organization-specific references. When your brand is published about, it’s worth knowing, sometimes reacting to and often, requires a response.
  4. Blog. If you need lots of great reasons, you can start here.
  5. Be a facilitator of relationships in your industry. As business-oriented people, we appreciate the connection, the referral, the well-thought-out endorsement of another business. Connect others within your network and be remembered fondly and fortuitously for having done so. The rewards for you, and your business will come to fruition.

Business Blogging: Are you Overthinking it?

By Communications, Social Media

Blogging for and about your business is more important now than ever. And yet, businesses are still struggling not only with the execution, but the concept. 

Here are some of the hangups I hear from clients roadblocked by blogging fear or misunderstanding:

  • We don’t have a consumer project, so it doesn’t seem like anyone would be interested in reading what we have to share.
  • Doesn’t it have to be personal? We don’t really want to share our dirty laundry online.
  • What if we are boring?

Telling the story about your business and what you do is valuable to your community, no matter what that community is. They self-select into your content, so don’t pre-judge by saying that people who read blogs are only interested in consumer products. You may discover much more about your audience and your business by the community that emerges around the content you share.

Being personal doesn’t mean airing dirty laundry. Being personal means being a real person, using language that is down-to-earth and spin-free, sharing a bit of yourself that underscores the fact that you are a real human being behind the brand. (Someone just walked past me wearing swishy — snow?– pants and those awful Five Fingers shoes. Distracting! — See? I’m a real person with really distracting co-workers, just like you.)


You can’t be boring if you’re not boring yourself. If YOU find your business and what it offers exciting and you share your passion for your topics, that will be evident to your audience. Feel free to mix it up now and again — be creative — be funny — but above all, be yourself, and quit overthinking it.


Where do you blog? Please feel free to share your blog in the comments for the Change the Conversation audience to enjoy.

Social Media: Providing Valuable Content or Just Over-sharing?

By Communications, Social Media

It’s a really fine line sometimes, the balance between over-sharing company news and content on social platforms and making sure you’re providing value to your audience. It’s the difference, I think, between selling and telling your company story. It’s hard for a lot of individuals representing organizations to make this distinction. One way to keep this practice in check is to constantly ask yourself what value you’re providing your audience with the information you choose to share.

Your content may be leaning to the “too self-promotional” side if every link you share is to content of your own creation. Try to share others’ content at least a third of the time. Another self-check is to see how often your tweets are @ replies or RTs. Ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Are you engaging in conversation with your readers by replying to comments or tweets?
  2. Are you commenting on others’ blog posts?
  3. Are you facilitating introductions within your network to help others build business or find opportunities?
  4. Are you teaching a skill or sharing information to others’ benefit?

It’s easy to slip into the habit of traditional marketing tactics and resort to selling . . . focus on providing value, instead and watch relationship development grow and improve.

(Thanks to Rusty Speidel for the inspiration for today’s post. Read Rusty’s thoughts on social media fatigue, and what communications professionals should do about it.)

What are some ways you keep your commitment to providing value, rather than just self-promotional content, to your audience?

The Truth About Social Media: Five Facts for Your Business

By Communications, Social Media

When it comes to social media the hardest part to swallow is the investment it takes.

It’s not about money, and what I have to share may make you question the way you’ve been engaging in social media for your business. The truth is this: it takes time. Not just time, but an investment of yourself as a person to be successful in using the tools of social media. It takes transparency and a willingness to share information. It takes (gulp!) being real, both for your customers and your potential customers.

Now just relax for a minute. I know you think you’ve got this handled for your business. You may be saying, “We’ve got a blog. We have a Facebook page. Our marketing person is using Twitter. We’re engaged!”

Are you?

I’m referring to businesses here, but a business engaged in social media is not a business engaged in social media.


A business engaged in social media is people, a.k.a. representatives, employees of or ambassadors for the business engaged in social media. I have never seen it work better than when said people have personal brands (i.e., are interesting). The people responsible for the reputation of your brand must live their lives with a significant portion of brain cells thinking, “I can’t wait to put this online” if they’re not already in the act of doing it, as we sit here, mulling over truths in social media.

These people blog about your products or services, they post photos on Flickr, they tweet, they comment on others’ blog posts, they rate books on Amazon and movies on Netflix, they Google everything. They’ve entered, edited or sourced an article on Wikipedia. They’ve used another wiki and/or Google Docs to collaborate with others. They have hundreds of contacts in LinkedIn and friends on Facebook that span ages, races, genders and socioeconomic statuses.

And yet … are you tapping into these people and their vast networks to promote your business? Do you know how?

Pour yourself a drink while I prepare to launch onto your consciousness five facts about social media engagement for your business. It’s going to hurt a little bit, but trust me, this post ends with a path to recovery.


Five Facts About Social Media Engagement for Business

  1. You must have a plan. Social media engagement should be looked at as an arm of your business. You have a business plan or at least know what your goals are, how much money you need to make this year and how that translates into sales of products or services. You need goals for social media engagement as well or else you simply won’t know when or if you’re achieving what you intended.
  2. You do not need to be everywhere. There are hundreds of tools. Choose to engage deeply in a few; not in a shallow, dipping in infrequently, many. Don’t be tempted to dive into them all; you’ll only drown.
  3. You must have passion. If you’re going to engage on behalf of your business, you have to really be enthusiastic about your brand. Not excited? Then perhaps someone else on your team is; and that’s OK — one of the most difficult truths for business leaders (the C-suite folks) to accept is that they aren’t necessarily the right people to be engaging in social media on behalf of the brand. Empower those in your organization who live it; deeply and constantly, and while they might do it differently than you would, Mr. CEO, that doesn’t mean it isn’t right.
  4. You must know who you are, and be OK with it. If you’re still struggling to define your business, if you can’t provide a profile of your “best” or ideal customer, if you’re going in five different directions and you aren’t sure WHAT your primary business offering is to your community, then that will come across in your online content. You’ll confuse your audience. Take a step back, figure out who you are, then come back and engage with focus.
  5. Engaging successfully in social media can take 20 hours a week* or more … if you don’t have time to engage, yet you have identified social media as important to your business development, look at prioritizing your current activities. What’s at the bottom of the list? Can it go completely, or be outsourced to someone else?

If your team cannot devote the resources to do it right and across a few key platforms, pick one and do it really well. Which one? That depends on your business, but for most B2B businesses, the online tool where you will find the majority of your contacts and prospects is LinkedIn. Too old school? Not when your whole team has fully gotten up to speed, fully loaded contacts and learned a few key ways to use LinkedIn to help your business grow. If you’ve gotten #2 and #4 figured out, spend some time identifying the strongest personal brands in your organization. Who are the people who can engage on your behalf, and make a difference? Finally, create a plan with goals (here’s a self-serving plug: Jaggers Communications can help you with that) and stick to it, evaluating your progress along the way. For those in your organization who don’t yet think that social media is important, you need to be able to demonstrate the return on the investment of all the time your team has spent engaging on your company’s behalf.

How are you doing? Are you ready to accept the truth about social media?

*20 hours is, of course, not continuous time. Blog posts can take an hour apiece; monitoring, updating social networks, engaging in online conversation using Facebook, Twitter, instant messaging, commenting on blog posts and more take only a few minutes at a time, but it adds up. This is an estimate of all the time above, combined.