How to Leverage Social Media to Amplify Your B2B User Reviews

Why is it important to share user reviews on social media? What can existing and potential customers gain from reading peer reviews about your product on channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn?

Social Media and User Reviews: A B2B Marketing Power Couple

Forbes CMO Network contributor, Steve Olenski, hits the nail on the head with his answer for this very question: “It’s a fact. Your prospects are making up their minds about what to buy by reading social media content. Make use of this behavior. Integrate real reviews and ratings into your social media feeds to increase customer engagement and get more sales.”

Jeff Bullas adds another layer of brand value that social media can enable when used to distribute your user reviews:

“Sharing real-time experience of your buyers on your website, blogs, social media accounts, etc. will show how you deliver on your brand promise in the real world. Plus, your chance of drawing in more traffic to your site increases when customers write good reviews about your brand on social media platforms.”

Users would rather hear authentic feedback and read reviews written by real users, who have tried and tested the product themselves.

But how can you make sure that your user reviews are seen on social media, and that you’re tapping into your optimal target audience?

In this post, we share:

  1. Examples of vendors who have mastered the technique of sharing their products’ user reviews on social media channels.
  2. A Step-by-Step guide for how B2B tech marketers can expand the reach of their user reviews to a growing audience, all through social media.

Sharing your user reviews over Twitter

As of May 2017, Twitter’s social network boasts 313M active users on a monthly basis. A lucrative social engagement platform, Twitter allows us to generate more traffic to user reviews, so that as many tech professionals as possible can consume our valuable, peer-reviewed content.

user reviews

Viki Paige, a Senior Principal Product Marketing Manager at CA Technologies, tweeted this infographic that shows how CA Technologies Solutions rank as the #1 solution in various IT Central Station categories, such as APM, Network Management Applications, Network Troubleshooting, and others.

Viki’s tweet generated 91 Retweets and 18 Likes, engaging users in their peer-review content.

Sharing your user reviews over Facebook

With 1.13 billion daily active users, Facebook’s social network generates 36% of all social media-referred traffic to B2B websites.  

When Nagios shares review content that emphasizes their software’s ranking as the #1 network monitoring tool on IT Central Station, by means of a ‘thank-you post’ on their company Facebook page — they amplify their role as the industry leader for network monitoring.

nagios reviews

Sharing your user reviews over LinkedIn

When BMC Software’s Senior Technical Marketing Consultant for TrueSight ITOps, Patrick T Campbell, shared an insightful user review written by an IT Central Station user, it generated 13 likes, a significant amount of engagement for an enterprise technology company posting on LinkedIn.

bmc reviews

So how can B2B tech marketers leverage networks like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to generate traffic to their user reviews?


Step-by-Step Guide: How to Leverage Social Media to Amplify B2B Reviews

1. Share your User Reviews on Twitter

Example:

b2b reviews

  • Tweet valuable, engaging quotes from your user reviews.
  • When you can, add an engaging image to your tweet that’s relevant to the content. Users are much more likely to click when you’ve caught their eye.
  • Always add the relevant hashtags associated with the topic or industry of your product:

Hashtags that are relevant to your target audience will introduce you to online audiences that may never have met you before.

  • Check the rankings for every hashtag you want to use. These scores can be found on sites such as hashtagify.me or semrush.com:

b2b reviews

  • If your user review’s author has a Twitter account, mention their handle in the tweet!
2. Post user reviews on Facebook

Example:

it infrastructure monitoring reviews

 

  • When linking to your review content on Facebook, think of a catchy phrase that will encourage users to click.

Facebook users are more inclined to click on posts that ask questions they want answers for. Some ideas:

Some ideas:

  • “What do users really think?” about your solution?
  • “Who was ranked as a top solution?
  • “This user chose Solution X over Solution Y. Find out why in their review.”

Once you’ve identified the geographical location(s) of your target audience, schedule your posts according to their time zones.

If you can catch commuters on their morning train ride while they’re browsing their news feed, you’re much more likely to find engaged readers.

3. Distribute Review Content on LinkedIn

Example:

b2b reviews

  • Use industry-related terminology in your LinkedIn posts, that show users that your content discusses topics and questions they want to read about.
  • Search for (and join) LinkedIn groups where your target audience is most likely to be found. If you’re publishing user reviews that will interest storage professionals, for example, join active LinkedIn groups that are built for these users, such as:

b2b reviews

Interested in learning more about how IT Central Station can help you collect quality user reviews?Contact us here

 

SharePoint vs Yammer—Jousting on Social

We assume that Microsoft bought Yammer (for a lot of money) to joust as a complement to SharePoint and against other vendors.Yammer vs SharePoint

Over a year ago Kevin McLaughlin from the Business Insider had said about the acquisition: “It’s Been A Year Since Microsoft Bought Yammer And Ballmer’s Grand Vision Has Yet To Materialize.”

Any way you look at it, most big-time vendors are betting on the fact that enterprises need social apps and hosting them in the cloud or as a service is the way to go. No one wants to manage a homemade file-server system anymore or some patched together intranet that gets outdated quickly.

Here’s a nifty rundown from consultants featured on IT Central Station about the differences between Yammer and SharePoint as they go head to head against other vendors:

Choosing Between SharePoint and Yammer

Add_srichardson
Sharon Richardson

SharePoint vs Yammer. What’s the difference?

Add_chrisradcliffe

Chris Radcliffe

Checking out what others are saying about vendors can be critical to your success as a decision maker for your vendor solutions. Heck, just being informed about what “experts” are saying in the field might just give you enough oomph to your thought leadership credentials to help with whatever solutions you’re discussing. Keeping up with what’s going on is probably half the battle.

Read reviews of Sharepoint, Confluence, and Yammer!

CIOs and IT Decision Makers Need Specific Social Networking Sites

Wouldn’t it be helpful if CIOs and IT Decision Makers had a social networking site tailored specifically to their professional needs—where they speak the same language from the same framework of terms with real peers—and, find out more about a purchasing decision that ultimately adds value to their business bottom line?
[Yes]  Hint: Use a vertical social networking site!

Vertical Social Networking Article from BrainyardVertical Social Networking

Information Week’s Brainyard columnist, Debra Donston-Miller posted this last week, referring to IT Central Stationas a social networking site targeted at IT professionals,” and summarized the following:

“Businesses should take note of these kinds of specialized social networks for two reasons:

  • Your own employees may benefit from joining networks focused on your industry
  • Such networks provide a ready-made, targeted audience for content marketing and other branding and sales opportunities [. . .]
    Vertical Social Networks Focus Interactions

IT Central Station goes even further to define a trusted platform for its online social network that allows individuals to sign on anonymously when necessary and view the critical information they need from real users of their potential purchases. They can also work on branding, adding content, and emerging as leaders in their field by engaging in the online community with an identity. Either way works well in this platform.

As Russell Rothstein—founder and CEO of IT Central Station—posted in the Internet Evolution last month, “Technology pros need a way to exchange information with their peers without being hounded by vendors.

CIOs and IT Decision Makers need an alternative to traditional social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter, which often become vendor dominated in vertical niche markets instead of what would be more helpful such as having real users give their authentic opinions about how products work for them. When we’re suspicious of the marketingese,” we just want to click away. We know that most vendors can easily tell you how a product is supposed to work for you.

What’s more beneficial for most buyers is implementation-specific information that’s golden when making a purchasing decision.

For example, most IT vendors know how to avoid benchmarking discussions especially if they’re not that familiar with your specific enterprise needs. No fault to them—they do not want to over commit and under deliver.  You, as a CIO or IT Decision Maker, just want to engage with other real users of their products and services who might know more about the depth of your IT challenges. We all want to make successful decisions. You want to base your IT purchasing on multiple factors vetted beyond the more bias sales force emails, teleconferences, and demos.

Vertical Social Networking and Beyond

Debra concluded the following:

“Governance is especially important to users who work in highly regulated industries, which is why social networks are springing up all over in, for example, the finance, legal and healthcare spaces.”

She’s wants to know if you think vertical social networking is becoming the next big thing, and would like your comments [as we do too!]

Please take a moment to view the “Watch how it works” video on the  IT Central Station homepage.

Take a look at some reviews by category from this link and discover how IT Central Station can be the right fit for your vertical social networking needs.

 

IDC on B2B Social Marketing and Crowdsourcing

Leading analyst firms now pay more attention to the impact of crowdsourced reviews and social media marketing on B2B, tech-buying processes. Earlier in the year, Forrester cited our innovative crowdsourcing model, and yesterday IDC tackled the subject. IDC_Logo

A new article on the IDC website by Christine Dover, Research Director for Enterprise Applications and Digital Commerce at IDC, covers the impact of community sites such as IT Central Station where you can do your research before jumping into a more formal sales cycle with a vendor representative.

As Christine points out in her new post, we’re all familiar more than ever with Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, and other sites for information on restaurants, hotels, contractor services, and more in our personal lives.

What’s happening in the B2B world? The same thing. She highlights Proformative Exchange, focused on the CFO, and IT Central Station, focused on IT products.

Here are a few things she likes about IT Central Station:

  • Reviewers are validated based on their LinkedIn profile to ensure that they are a qualified to provide a review (meaning they are in an IT or professional role at a company using the product and not an employee of the software vendor). You will see consultants providing reviews of products they have implemented.
  • Reviews include links to other reviews written by the reviewer (always helpful to me when validating a credible resource), as well as the ability to add comments, identify the review as helpful or not, and so on.
  • Searching is easy by products, vendors, or categories. The standard searches always start with the most popular (meaning most often reviewed), but the search bar is accessible for specific searches. Plus you can click on the product categories and vendor names to see expanded lists.
  • Because CMOs are controlling more IT spend at many organizations, product categories such as e-commerce, lead management, enterprise social software, customer data analysis, and web analytics are available to help them find relevant products and services.

Here’s her advice to others:

  • Buyers – these sites provide useful information from your peers, so add them to your pool of resources when looking for a new product or service. If you can, and some companies don’t allow their employees to do this, add a review.
  • Software Companies – review your product information on the site and make sure it is current.  Consider encouraging your customers to provide a review. If there is a negative review, consider it an opportunity to engage with the customer and correct a problem or fix a misperception.
  • Analysts and Media – these are great tools to hear from customers who are actually using the products. These sites provide an invaluable research tool.

Read her complete post on the IDC website: Crowdsourcing and Social B2B Marketing for CFOs and CIOs: Proformative Exchange and IT Central Station

If you’re looking for enterprise-level software like business intelligence tools, check out these vendor pages and reviews. Write a comment, start a review and get involved in what the Wall Street Journal calls “The Yelp for Enterprise Tech.”

 

Cisco                   Ibm                  Vmware_logo

Quality Center   Enterprise Routers   QualityStage   VMware ESXi    Oracle Data Mining

 

 

Speak Softly and Carry Yourself to an UnWebinar on B2B

On Sep 16 2013, three B2B thought leaders from the hottest tech social marketing companies will be “hanging out” in—what we think is—the world’s 1st UnWebinar for user generated content marketing.

Are you in?

This Google+ Hangout for vendor marketing representatives will focus on:

The B2B marketing game field is changing dramatically. Social media and social marketing are at the vortex of the sweeping changes affecting B2B marketing professionals.

The lineup of marketing experts who plan to discuss the type of B2B marketing you need to hear includes:

                                      

Mike Weir                                   Russell Rothstein                Daniel Kushner
Global Head of Category         Founder and CEO of          Founder and CEO of
Development, Technology      IT Central Station                Oktopost
Industry at LinkedIn

Here’s what topics you can expect them to cover . . .

  • Directly tie social marketing programs to lead generation, CRM and the sales process
  • Demonstrate ROI from social media
  • Tap into the huge potential of customer advocates within social media platforms
  • Evaluate if your investments in LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are bringing in sales
  • Utilize online review sites and community platforms to influence prospects early in the sales process

Ok, so what the heck is an UnWebinar? No slides, no boring presentations—just an open discussion via live video feed from a Google+ Hangout.UnWebinar

You can register for the Google+ Hangout by clicking here!

Retirement Party—for Microsoft or for CEO Steve Ballmer?

retirementMicrosoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, announced that he’s stepping down in a surprise announcement last Friday. The investors rallied. But why?

Have a look at what Wall Street Journal’s, Don Clark and Shira Ovide have to say:

Steve Ballmer’s Mixed Legacy
“Gates’s Successor Helped Build Behemoth, but Missteps Leave Microsoft Vulnerable”

Here’s a brief rundown from the WSJ post:

“Mr. Ballmer had some successes during his tenure, including the building of Microsoft’s Xbox videogame business, and such major acquisitions as its $8.5 billion acquisition of the Web communications service Skype. He failed in a hostile bid to acquire Yahoo Inc. YHOO +0.02%for $44.6 billion, a defeat now widely regarded as a good thing; Yahoo’s market value currently stands at about $28 billion.”

Although Ballmer has gotten a lot of criticism, during his tenure Microsoft’s penetration in the enterprise market has flourished—launching key, highly rated offerings including Microsoft BI, Azure, Hyper-V, and SQL Server. [I thought Ballmer had an awesome influence on the Xbox for consumers and his sales kickoff’s were fun to watch on YouTube].

These Microsoft products for the enterprise have received 4 star ratings or higher on IT Central and  are rated higher than competing products from other companies. Read the reviews…

Follow them and write reviews if you’re currently using them. Become a part of what the Wall Street Journal calls “The Yelp for Enterprise Tech.”

Forrester and Forbes Chime in on B2B Social Media

Forbes_Forrester_Logo_Last week Forrester wrote about  IT Central Station and B2B social media in its new report, “The Social Media Habits of B2B Customers.”

Forrester writes that, “…the most popular social communities tend to be niche ones focused on specific objectives, such as IT Central Station, Cisco Communities or SAP Community Network…”

Zachary Reiss-Davis, an analyst for Forrester who helps marketing leadership professionals, gives more insight to the report on his blogs posted on Forbes and Forrester. What’s clear is the evidence that B2B customers use social media for decision-making more now than ever. Check out this graphic from the report:

Forrester_Graph_Social_Media

Although the report provides “a B2B-focused analysis of the landscape for the social marketing playbook,” you don’t have to wait to execute your strategy.

B2B Social Media

You can get started right here on IT Central Station—for example, try this approach:

  1. Read one.
  2. Write one.
  3. Comment on two.

Reviews that is!

If you want to dive a little deeper, take a look at this face off: Microsoft BI vs SAP BI Comparison.

The Wall Street Journal calls IT Central Station the “Yelp for CIOs.” Whether you’re a vendor finding out what folks are saying about your products or you’re a real user—peers helping peers in online social media is where you can find the exact details that you might need to make a crucial decision for your organization.

At Last B2B is Getting Some of the Social Media Action!

This week’s guest post is by by Marie Wallace. She blogs at allthingsanalytics.com  and you can follow her on Twitter at @marie_wallace.  Contact us if you would like to be one of our guest bloggers. 

Marie Wallace

Marie Wallace

About 18 months ago I wrote a blog post entitled “Wake up Enterprise, the Internet is kicking our ass!” where I was bemoaning the lack of progress companies were making in really leveraging social networking within the enterprise; specifically when it comes to applying analytics on these networks in order to better inform business decisions. Today I’m glad to see that the focus has started to shift and at last we are starting to see a wide range of social solutions which are firmly targeted at the enterprise.

Crowd-sourcing of enterprise product reviews is just one example of this shift with specialized social networks like IT Central Station leveraging community and crowdsourcing to completely transform how companies make product licensing decisions. Making an enterprise decision is a completely different proposition to that of buying a consumer product. Frequently millions of dollars can be at stake since product decisions are not just about the purchasing or licensing costs; these decisions can impact business processes, organizational efficiency, legal, compliance, security, risk, finance, reporting, customer or employee sentiment, etc. So when companies look to get recommendations on enterprise products and services they need to ensure that these recommendations are based on accurate, reliable, and contextually relevant reviews from a review site that they trust.

Companies also need much more granular feedback about a product from many different perspectives in order to accurately align their decisions to the needs of their business; these needs may be characterized by their type of business (retail vs. financial), location (European legislation vs. US), size (SMB vs. multi-national), organizational culture, business processes, products, industry, etc. As crowdsourcing captures more characteristics of the products being reviewed, the people doing the reviewing, and the companies they come from, the knowledge graph becomes richer as does the type of analytics that you can apply.

Now I know you are probably asking yourself “How the heck is Marie going to bring this back around to social analysis?” I know I tend to sound like a scratched record, but I firmly believe that, to borrow a variation on James Carville’s 1992 Clinton campaign slogan, “It’s all about the people, stupid”. Unlike consumer product reviews you cannot consider a review in isolation of the person who gave it. The person may have a close affiliation to the product in question putting a review into question, they may be a competitor which means a negative review has to be taken with a pinch of salt, or they may come from an organization with a very different set of business objectives. For this reason the network (more of a knowledge graph than a pure social graph) is critical in order to capture all these connections and allow you to apply the appropriate analysis.

So we can all agree that individual reviews are totally inadequate and wading through masses of reviews painfully time-consuming; we need reviews to be analyzed and synthesized so that you can get the answer, “which product is best for me?”, without the pain. And since these types of social solutions are capturing a very diverse set of data it allows very personalized recommendations to be generated. I know privacy is a growing concern around social media these days, but that is in fact one of the reasons I really like enterprise (B2B) solutions in that they aren’t trying to grab your personal (non-business) information. They don’t care whether you were partying last night or just broke up with your boyfriend.

Just one final comment, or challenge, that I believe is worth posing is “How do we get people to want to share their data and feedback? This is where I believe community site like IT Central Station can help through providing reputation analysis and allowing this reputation to feed into Internet-level reputation systems. However should we also look to the product companies themselves to step up to the plate? Today most companies like to control customer feedback within their own systems; releasing success stories through Marketing and hiding failures within Customer Support. I think it’s fair to say that this model is crumbling and that social media is giving everyone a voice and incentivizing them to use it as often as possible.

Therefore, should companies be incentivizing clients & partners to share their thoughts on these external crowd-sourcing sites? As the song goes, “if you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were” 🙂

Read reviews of enterprise IT solutions from real users at IT Central Station. See reviews of Server Virtualization Software, BI Tools and other popular categories.

LinkedIn Meets IT Central Station and Oktopost for UnWebinar

On May 29th, The World’s First UnWebinar on B2B Tech Social Media takes place—are you in?

Ok, so what the heck is an UnWebinar? No slides, no boring presentations—just an open discussion via live video feed from a Google+ Hangout.UnWebinar

This Google+ Hangout for vendor marketing representatives will focus on:

The B2B marketing game field is changing dramatically. Social media and social marketing are at the vortex of the sweeping changes affecting B2B marketing professionals.

The lineup of “marketing ninjas” who plan to discuss the type of B2B marketing you need to hear includes:

                                      

Mike Weir                                   Russell Rothstein                Daniel Kushner
Global Head of Category          Founder and CEO of          Founder and CEO of
Development, Technology       IT Central Station                Oktopost
Industry at LinkedIn

Here’s what topics you can expect them to cover . . .

  • Directly tie social marketing programs to lead generation, CRM and the sales process
  • Demonstrate ROI from social media
  • Tap into the huge potential of customer advocates within social media platforms
  • Evaluate if your investments in LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are bringing in sales
  • Utilize online review sites and community platforms to influence prospects early in the sales process

You can register for the Google+ Hangout by clicking here!