Wednesday, May 14, 2014

FIR B2B #9: How Hitachi Data Systems Energizes its Brand Ambassador Network

FIR B2BPaul Gillin and Allan Schoenberg host the FIR B2B podcast. In this episode:

News & Trends

McKinsey Quarterly writes on global flows, pointing out that the flow of data, as well as goods and services, across geographic boundaries, is increasingly being tied to economic performance and business success. One-third of goods now cross borders and digital communications are increasingly essential to staying in business. Digital has also becoming a great leveler in the competition between small and large companies, making small firms into “micromultinationals.”

Is Twitter over? There’s been considerable debate over this topic recently but our hosts just aren’t buying it. Twitter still has great value as a listening tool, Allan says, but all social networks are struggling to find their next big act.

Text100 surveyed technology buyers and found that seven execs are involved in the average technology buying decision. Notably, buyers use the same information sources at every stage of the buying funnel, and vendor websites are among them. This makes a compelling argument for why B2B companies should be using digital channels to drive prospects to their websites.

While B2B publishers may not have made the Text100 list of buying influences, recent data from tech media publisher Folio shows that print remain strong as a revenue source. It appears that B2B media are still performing well in their traditional awareness-raising role, even if consideration and vendor selection have moved online.

Despite weak quarterly earnings, LinkedIn continues to show core strength as a research vehicle and a way to sustain business relationships, according to new research. LinkedIn has become a must-use for sales and recruitment professionals to build relationships and research job prospects. From a B2B sales perspective, LinkedIn is still an essential stop on the journey.

Special Guest: Sharon Crost from Hitachi Data Systems

Sharon Crost joins us for a discussion of what Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) is doing to energize its ambassadors, which include employees, partners and fans. HDS created a Social Media Ambassador Club several years ago to help mentor fans in their use of social tools. It’s now creating a steady stream of shareable content that it delivers to its ambassadors in a format that can be easily shared on their social networks of choice. A content, education and nurturing program ensures that ambassadors are comfortable with the tools and the content they share.

HDS wants 80% of the content that’s shared to be industry-related, rather than specific to the company. Everything is tagged by topic and appropriateness to the audience. One of the biggest obstacles the company confronted was fear - fear of saying the wrong thing, of running afoul of policy or of getting the facts wrong. Executive sponsorship, mentoring and an attitude of forgiveness has helped there.

HDS also created five outcome measurements - including buzz, share of voice and leads generated - to measure success. She discusses what the company does to track each critical metric.

Download a PowerPoint presentation that outlines HDS’ ambassador program here.

Follow @SharonHDS on Twitter

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About Your Hosts

Paul GillinPaul Gillin is a veteran technology journalist and a thought leader in new media. Since 2005, he has advised marketers and business executives on strategies to optimize their use of social media and online channels to reach buyers cost-effectively. He is the author or co-author of five books, including Social Marketing to the Business Customer (2011), the first book devoted entirely to B2B social media marketing. He is also a social media trainer and coach at Profitecture, a training firm for B2B companies and their channel partners.

Allan SchoenbergAllan Schoenberg is based in London and responsible for managing the international media relations, issues management and brand communications for CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse financial marketplace. He was instrumental in launching the company’s social media activity in 2007 and continues to lead its social strategy and online community engagement. He has more than 20 years of experience in B2B communications, including his work for Accenture, Edelman Worldwide and Fleishman Hillard.

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Posted by Paul Gillin on 05/14 at 11:27 AM
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