Posts Tagged ‘twitter’

Social media has clearly made its way into mainstream marketing strategies for a wide range of companies, nonprofit organizations, personal brands, and everything in between (if you missed that, check out our Social Media 101 resources). What does that mean for business-to-business (B2B) companies selling green products? While social media plays a different role in mass consumer brands, this doesn’t mean you should count social media out! If your audience is online, chances are there is a role for social media channels to play in enhancing your marketing and sales process!

Take for example Kinaxis, a tech company specializing in supply-chain management, that has seen how social media can help B2B companies reach their goals. In this interview with the director of corporate marketing, Kirsten Watson discussed three main strategies that lend themselves to Kinaxis’s success in social media.

1) Connect with very targeted niches

As a business that’s not consumer oriented, it’s even more important for you to be really specific about the social niches that you want to build a presence in. As green products tend to fit very specific uses, such as materials within a green building project, you are likely selling to really specific customers in very targeted markets. Our advice: Maintain that laser focus and identify the specific communities that you want to connect with. Kinexis narrowed down their target audiences by the company’s industry classification (NAIC). Regardless of how specific, be sure to use criteria that works for you to define a market and make the social networking more manageable.

2) Choose the right channel for your tone, message, target audience, and goals.

After identifying the specific niches you are targeting, think about the goals that you have for connecting with each of those communities and the messages and tone that will best resonate. What channels are the best fit for what you are trying to accomplish and where your audience is listening? Sometimes it’s best to leverage more established channels like email or your website, while other times you need niche blogs, social media, or even mobile tools. How will you use each channel to achieve your goals? Kinaxis uses their email campaigns (which go out to the largest cross-section of customers) to let their community know about the range of content in their other communication channels. By planning which channels your message will go out to, you increase your chances of getting the attention of your prospects.

3) Integrate social media with marketing automation tools

Some companies post content on Facebook and Twitter and cross their fingers, hoping something will come of it. Kinexis got more proactive about their social ROI by integrating their social media with Salesforce in order to gain deeper insights about their leads. By keeping track of the quality of interaction between potential customers and your various vehicles of communication, you can easily identify who are the best prospects, get more insight into what would get their attention and engage them in the content your company is producing. Social media is useful, but paired with a strong CRM system like Salesforce, it can become a great tool for nurturing leads and closing sales.

While social media may be more common (especially in the news!) among consumer businesses, it needs to form a part of the marketing strategy for B2B companies as well. For green companies, it can be a key way of educating and engaging prospects. Just remember to limit your target audience so it doesn’t get unmanageable! If you are ready to take a deeper dive, consider using our Social Media Planning workbook or contact us to find out how to boost your business through more effective online marketing.


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This past month was the Dreamforce conference, salesforce.com’s annual massive event. This year attracted some 19,000 registrants apparently (fueled by the free access to Expo and keynotes). The keynotes seated 10,000, and the hall before arrival (see photo to right) was incredible – a vast sea of chairs. And the community is getting huge – there are now almost 70,000 paying customers on the platform.

This was my first Dreamforce and I was really impressed by the community. Everyone I met was very friendly, all about sharing knowledge, and passionate about salesforce. I spent a lot of time talking to people, went to a couple really good sessions, and saw a lot of new, cool stuff happening on the platform. I also came away from the event really excited about the work we are doing creating an integrated relationship management platform that includes an easy-to-use website with salesforce.com. I feared this would be blown away by the excitement of Sites and apps, but really it seems there is more of a need for that than I had anticipated (if you’d like to check out the demos we do of an open source platform integrated with salesforce, sign up for a free webinar offered monthly).

Strangely, I was 2,500 miles from home and the band that played for the Global Gala (Black Crows) went to my High School! Though it was a fun evening, I could count the number of people dancing on one hand…

I’ve still got a bunch of followup and processing of notes to do, so this is my first step at sharing what I saw, learned, and took away from the event.

New features:

It got kinda hard to tell the difference between what’s new-and-there-now and what’s new-and-coming-soon, but there was some cool stuff exposed at the conference. I was particularly excited to see that a new salesforce UI will be unveiled (in the future) and that social media is now more integrated natively. Here’s some more highlights:

  • Outlook integration: the Outlook integration finally got rewritten completely for salesforce. It’s a whole new world with this one. Currently it’s in beta, and you have to request to access it, but looks like leaps-and-bounds improvements (actually built on some of how the Google Apps integration works, so if you’re using Google instead, you’ve already got most of this). Something I would like to see for Google Apps is the “add to salesforce” button for emails that are in your inbox. Watch session video.
  • Content will be Free! One great announcement at the conference is that the Content product will be free! This looks like an amazing tool with pretty slick interface, and now it will be accessible to all! ETA still to be determined. Check out Content demo here.
  • Social Media Integation: There’s a great advance with integrating Twitter and Facebook with salesforce. In particular, the Facebook “Answers” app can be added to Company pages on Facebook and it ties right into the service/support activities in salesforce. The question and answer that happens with your community in Facebook can be incorporated into the salesforce knowledge base also (and then presented in other contexts!). Twitter messages can also be used to create cases in Salesforce (like @ask_dell), and you can reply from within salesforce! The Twitter app will be default in salesforce in near future, and can now be added for free. Another Twitter integration allows you to track conversations about your Accounts right on the account page!
  • Scheduling: Cloud Scheduler is a new tool coming soon. It’s basically the “evite for business meetings”. Ever had problems scheduling meetings, especially with multiple people? This looks awesome!
  • Drag and Drop Reports and Analytics: Customize reports with drag and drop! This will be a major improvement to usability of these vital features.


Now with over 7,000 nonprofits having received donated licenses to use salesforce.com, nonprofits are a serious part of the salesforce community! Over 800 attended Dreamforce and there was an entire track for Nonprofits. Many of the sessions emphasized how “do-able” salesforce is for nonprofits, even without tech skills or big budgets. So not as much wiz-bang, but some genuine stories of how salesforce is being used.

The Salesforce.com Foundation was also front and center during the keynotes (check out their much-improved, new website!). The company’s 1/1/1 model has led to:

  • 165,000 hours donated
  • 7,300 organizations getting donated licenses
  • $18 million in grants being awarded.

Some of the content highlights from the nonprofit sessions include:

  • Donor and Member Management 2.0: A “down to earth” session with a small nonprofit (3 people) up to a larger group. Also includes anouncement of a new, free app for taking donations on your website (with Amazon payments) and mapping them into your salesforce instance (as account, contact, and opportunity), called eGiving. Watch video here.
  • Nonprofit Starter Pack: Steve walks you through how to get the most out of the starter pack the foundation produces for nonprofits. Watch video here.


There are now 1,000+ apps available to extend salesforce! There is a lot of good stuff out there, but it can be hard to find with all that stuff…here are a few apps and things to check out to enhance your salesforce experience.

  • There’s an app for that! A session oriented at sales folks, but generally applicable for anyone. Many of apps featured are free. Also serves as a nice intro to AppExchange. Watch session here.

More to come…but that’s all for now!

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twitterIf you’ve involved in marketing for a small business or nonprofit, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the buzz around Twitter. Tech savvy social networking aficionados sing endless praises about the microblogging site, and cite case study after case study about how Twitter is changing the way businesses communicate with potential clients. Meanwhile, sceptics shrug and dismiss Twitter as a passing fad, or as the black hole of productivity — a thinly veiled time waster that has usurped the water cooler as the epicenter for mindless chitchat.

The truth, however, is that both can be true. Twitter can be a valuable marketing tool, but only if those using it (a) understand how the system works and (b) know how to manage their time. Small business and nonprofits must understand that tweeting is not a random process. It’s a calculated, strategic communications effort that involves meticulously tracking conversation threads and responding to posters when appropriate. The first step to using Twitter successfully is knowing how to find the conversations that are useful to you and then participating in those conversations.

In other words, it’s all about the hashtag.

What’s a Hashtag?

Hashtags (#) differentiate Twitter from other social networking sites. They are a simple way to catalog and connect tweets about specific topics. Perhaps most importantly, however, they help filter out unrelated tweets that might randomly contain a misleading keyword or two. Hashtags are inserted into the tweet itself, usually before or after the main message. A hashtag is a single word or phrase preceded by the pound sign (#).

It looks like this: #mozservice09.

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Recent posts with #mozservice09

This hashtag was created by Mozilla and used by the company and their partners to catalog tweets about their 2009 community service week.

Users can search for hashtags on Twitter and catalogue tweets based on particular hashtags.

You can use multiple hashtags for a single tweet. For instance, Mozilla Service Week is about helping nonprofits who need technology assistance. So it makes since to categorize a tweet about that event under both Mozilla Service Week (#mozservice09) and nonprofit technology (#nptech). Now, that single tweet appears in multiple conversation threads, and is viewed by more people as they track and participates in the conversations that interest them.

How Can Small Businesses Use Hashtags?

There are two main ways you can use hashtags.

1. Track existing hashtags, then respond to relevant tweets.

One of the main obstacles with Twitter is that many new users find it difficult to locate hashtags relevant to them. Trending sites track the most popular hashtags, but most small businesses and nonprofits don’t care about what someone was wearing on Larry King or which b-list celebrity was arrested last night.  You’re looking for the hashtags used in your niche, not necessarily the ones that are uber-popular.

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We’ve found the best way to identify relevant hashtags is to start following people or companies in your industry and make a list of hashtags they use to categorize their tweets. After you find a hashtag that’s relevant to you, start tracking it with a third party site like Twitterfall. This site has a wide range of functionality, including:

  • easy-to-use interface
  • tracking of multiple hashtags simultaneously
  • color coding of tweets by hashtag for easy identification
  • Twitter login options so you can tweet within the application

Another similar site is Monitter.

When you experiment with either of these sites, you’ll find it’s easy to see what people are talking about and to respond to relevant tweets. Once you get the hang of this, you’ll start to see how Twitter connects you to conversations you wouldn’t be having outside the microblogging site — and allows you to network quickly and efficiently.

2. Create your own hashtag, then tweet with it

Once you’ve used Twitter for a while, the time will come when you’ll want to begin a conversation thread that doesn’t exist yet. This means creating a brand new hashtag, and using it in your tweets.

Say you’re heavily involved in NTEN’s upcoming 2010 Nonprofit Technology Conference. Right now it’s fall of 2009, so there’s not a lot of conversation on the subject. This is the perfect opportunity for you to start a conversation thread by creating a hashtag (like #nten10, for example).

However, before you create a new hashtag, make sure that another hashtag for the same conversation thread has not already been created. In the example above, it’s possible that someone has already created a hashtag such as #nten2010 or #ntenten. Paying attention to already created tags helps avoid duplicate conversations and makes it easier to track what’s being said about topics of interest.



There are a few ways you can search for these already existing hashtags. You can look on a site like hashtags.org, which is basically the wikipedia of hashtags. The problem with this site, however, is that users have to add entries themselves, so hashtags for more obscure topics are often missing. We’ve found the best way to find out whether a hashtag exists is to use advanced Twitter search or simply pay attention to your Twitter stream.

Does anyone else have suggestions about how to locate hashtags?

Final Words

If you’re interested in using Twitter as a marketing tool, start playing with hashtags — and let us know what you find.

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In a recent article, Mashable reviewed and compared 19 popular Twitter desktop applications. The reviews are informative, but mainly focus on how these applications can benefit individuals who tweet, not businesses. Does this mean that the Twitter apps best suited for individual users are the ones best suited for businesses or organizations? Not necessarily. If your business uses Twitter, here are five business-geared apps that will make your social media life a lot easier:


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In case you haven’t heard, the NTC, put on by the amazing folks at the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) was a raging success. With over 30% growth in attendence over last year, the organizers had to reorganize the space a couple times to be able to accommodate as many as possible. So what made it so hot? Well, in part, it’s kinda the only game in town that can address technology in the nonprofit on a comprehensive scale. And what’s more, NTEN does a smashing job at community organizing – it isn’t just a fly-in-and-out kinda event, it’s more like family.

Soft stuff aside, you say, what was hot on the technology front? Here’s a couple things I thought were innovative technology and knowledge showcased at the conference:

  • SMS text-based evaluations: rather than the typical carpeting of colored papers with rating scales and comment boxes, NTEN went paperless for session evaluations. To fill out an evaluation, all you did was text a code for the session to a number and then you were walked through a process to fill out evaluation. Not sure what overall uptake on this system was (last I heard was half way through event and about 400 had been filled out). I found it hard to have the info I need (ie code and number) when I had a spare moment to fill it out. Sweet idea though!
  • Google Moderator: Not revolutionary – and occassionally annoying (ie having to lug around laptop, finding working wifi, remember the address, log in…), but still a cool way to promote collaborative dialog/questions between an audience and speaker. We used it in our session (~60 people) and it was even used in the keynotes (1,000+ people).
  • Twitter everywhere! We were trending in Twitter for the #09ntc and there was an overwhelming amount of traffic and conversation! Was great to watch people from beginner-level Twitter through very experienced rockin during the conference (those without computers could jump on one of many laptop workstations around the conference).  You can follow me here 🙂
  • The Social Actions folks (an in particular @engagejoe) ran an awesome campaign that climaxed during NTC. Here’s the scoop: Social Actions has an API to all the big volunteer sites around the web (wicked!). They had a contest to give away $10k to the coolest app created that leverage their API. They got some amazing entries! Have a look at the 24 finalists here. Very cool stuff! Highlights include CauseSense, which replaces Google Ads with volunteer opportunities and the Take Action button (but it with your content and watch it suggest actions!). Nice job everyone – go crowdsourcing for a cause!

Clearly that’s not all, but that’s a taste. I’ll be going through notes a bit more thoroughly soon, so expect some more posts, including one on Eben Moglen’s talk!

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