Friday, November 27, 2009

Twitter, and Blogging and LinkedIn – Oh My! Why to leverage social networking tools for smarter, faster and cheaper B2G marketing.

The basic goal of marketing is to get attention from a targeted audience, then to influence that audience in some positive (positive for you) way. If your job includes growing your pipeline and growing your business, gaining and retaining customers, growing your overall influence in your niche, and do so in a cost effective way – you need to read on.

If your job is to make sure you keep pace with your competitors or set the pace for your niche, you need to read this.

If you could reach key people in your niche, at least in part, with readily available tools that you can use yourself, would you seriously consider using the tools?

Oh, and did I mention they have a minimal cost?

LinkedIn, blogging and Twitter each represent low-cost and no-cost tools that allow you to reach and interact with targeted audiences.

While there is no doubt that social media has changed the marketing landscape, there are still many doubters and very slow adopters. And even for many of those who have adopted one or more of the social networking tools do not use them to anywhere near the full capacity.

In fact, many sign up and then sit and wait for something to happen.

I still have conversations with people who still maintain that LinkedIn is only for those seeking work, that blogging is for those who have way too much extra time on the hands and that Twitter is for Twits. These people, and their companies, are way too busy for peripheral activities like LinkedIn, blogging and Twitter.

As other media venues stagnate or shrinking, each of us still needs to reach key audiences. The information gathering habits of many in our market have changed and we must change with them.

I am only highlighting 3 tools here but there are many others in use and some just coming along. Webinars, podcasting, web radio and video, FaceBook, GovLoop, TFCN and many others are out there offer good-to-great value for those who leverage them properly.

Being on LinkedIn is no longer simply a ‘nice to have’ activity. If you are not there, you are in a rapidly shrinking minority. LinkedIn is a great venue for identifying key government influencers and those trying to sell to them- resellers, SIs, manufacturers and others. The entire roster of the top 100 contractors (the Washington Technology list) is represented on LinkedIn, as are most of the top GSA Schedule contractors. Overall there are over 50,000,000 professionals on LinkedIn. While not all are overly active, there is enough activity to merit your active participation.

In order to begin to use LinkedIn properly, your profile needs to be filled with enough information to get the attention of those who view it. I will address this at my December 7 B2G Social media event – see the link at the end of this post.

As of today (11/27/09) there are exactly 3,100 groups that have something to do with ‘government’ on LinkedIn. Aside from those, there are niche groups covering all manner of subject matter from various technologies, products and services. When you identify the right groups to join, you can share your thoughts, do research and otherwise participate in the discussions germane to your niche. Participation here raises your overall visibility in your niche and display an area of expertise.

Cost of participating on LinkedIn? $0. While there are paid levels for those wishing to use more tools, basic participation is free.

According to blogging diva Debbie Weil, blogging is different from conventional web sites because blogs are interactive, conversational in nature, created via an instant publishing platform (no IT staff required), offer an involvement factor that web sites lack, and can create a thought leadership position for the blogger. Web 2.0 thought leaders David Meerman Scott and Chris Brogan lead with their blogs. They post regularly (and intelligently) and both have developed massive followings as a result.

Blogs also allow you to truly position yourself as a niche master or thought leader in a specific niche. This occurs not by regurgitating information from other sources but by evolving your own thoughts on the niche and commenting on the positions of others as necessary.

Cost for blogging? There are both free and paid blogging tools, but even the paid ones are not expensive. Select the one that best suits your needs.

The one I personally have the hardest time with – Twitter is becoming clearer to me all the time. Chris Brogan’s blog on Twitter is a great place to start: .

The first issue with Twitter for B2G is ‘are there really enough people in the government market using Twitter to make a difference?’ While open for debate, perhaps the best answer is the number continues to grow. The publications, service providers, many thought leaders and government contractors are officially tweeting on a regular basis, as are many government agencies.

Following some of the publications (WashTech and others) on Twitter allows you to get instant news updates, calendar reminders and more.

Twitter is becoming more and more widespread in B2G marketing and it can no longer be ignored.

Cost for tweeting? Twitter is free.

So why should you bother to engage in using these social networking tools? If your job includes growing your pipeline and growing your business, gaining and retaining customers, growing your overall influence in your niche, and do so in a cost effective way – you need to start using these tools on behalf of your company.

If your job is to make sure you keep pace with your competitors or set the pace for your niche, you need to be here.

If you need to know more, please consider attending our upcoming event on December 7 in Tysons Corner, Virginia:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Small Biz, Web 2.0 & B2G

Citibank commissioned a study, reported by Reuters, that concludes that most small businesses are not yet using social media. "Few U.S. small businesses have adopted social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter for business uses, according to research released Thursday" according to the beginning of the Reuters article.

The article continues: "Three-quarters of small businesses say they have not found sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn helpful for generating business leads or expanding business in the past year, according to a survey conducted for Citibank Small Business of 500 U.S. businesses with fewer than 100 employees....Also, 86 percent said they have not used social networking sites for information or business advice. Ten percent said they have sought business advice and information on expert blogs."

This is not an indictment of social media. This is a lack of understanding of the value of social media for businesses of any size. part of the blame lies with the social media, and a part of the blame lies with the businesses themselves. Education has to be a component, largely self education. Businesses need to try the various social media to see what it can do for them, and the platforms themselves have to create outreach and education programs to attract more businesses.

In order to attract more businesses to each social media platform, the value proposition has to be explained in terms that make sense to the businesses. For a platform like LinkedIn this should be easier than a platform like Facebook or Twitter.

Was I surprised at the findings of the Citibank study? No. Even in the B2G market the vast majority of contractors have a long way to go to maximize the value that social media platforms can bring to the table.

On December 7, there will be a seminar on how both government and the contracting community are using social media. Find out more at