Sharing. It’s a fundamental principle of social interactions that harkens back to Kindergarten 101. And yet… companies can lose sight of this essential concept when it comes to creating, syndicating, or rebroadcasting content in the social stratosphere.
It’s one thing to showcase news, events, or other industry contributions of note on a company blog or a business Facebook page or trickle it in a corporate Twitter stream. But if branded content completely saturates social properties, the good-intentioned company runs the risk of boring, irritating, and even alienating its online community.
This is far from breaking news—it’s just another fundamental of social interactions: No one will like you if all you do is talk about yourself.
Map that to blogging and social media— broadcasting branded content 24/7 isn’t sharing, it’s blaring. It’s an ineffective way to connect with current or potential customers, and could result in lost sales or would-be brand evangelists. (Did your CEO’s ears just perk up?)
Despite these teachings, some exceptionally stubborn, self-centered, or simply buttoned-up B2B or B2C brands remain hard to convince, panicked at the suggestion to share content made by “some other company!” no matter how valuable the content or non-competitive the source may be.
Despite how beautifully social we know B2B companies can be, it seems they can also be the harder of the two to get on board. Perhaps resisting parties fail to see the point, or feel uncomfortable, discouraged, even threatened by the sudden shift in spotlight.
Whatever the reason, it’s the diligent B2B community manager’s duty to try her hardest to get her company on board. She knows a harmonious blend of branded and non-self-promotional content must be achieved to create and sustain an engaged audience.
So, what’s the compromise?
Here’s one solution: Re-share content shared by others but repurposed by you! In other words, become an industry conference blogging rockstar.
Providing coverage of industry conferences, expos, trade shows, conventions, seminars, and networking events is an extremely powerful way to:
- Contribute topical, valuable, authoritative content to your community…
- Without being obnoxiously and perpetually self-promotional…
- While remaining the author of the material you’re sharing.
You don’t have to be the luminary or thought-leader or undisputed master of your field – you just have to be there when those folks get together and dish their two cents on breaking news, developments, emerging technologies, trends, or other special techniques, tactics, and takeaways that apply to your specific B2B industry.
It’s a titillating trifecta!
- Boss is happy you’re posting content created by the company.
- Community is appreciative of the wealth of information
- Community manager’s glad to be learning new things while establishing the brand as a participating and knowledgeable force in the biz.
Now, onto tactics and best practices.
If you’ve got the bandwidth, it’s ideal to live-tweet events, much like an on-the-scene journalist, delivering immediate reporting and feedback to the readers at home (aka your online community), and support this on-the-fly coverage with comprehensive write-ups to be posted on a company blog, then syndicated across branded social channels.
The live-tweets are what help garner instant attention and popularity, while the blog posts provide long-lasting value as proprietary resources for the community that can have legs well beyond the event itself (not to mention draw traffic to the mothership and associated social assets).
Want to up the ante? Arm yourself with a flip cam or other portable recording device to capture rich multimedia content you can feed your community. This doesn’t have to be a Hollywood production – snag a few minutes of footage in the expo hall (if permitted!) or casual interviews with speakers and attendees. Embed in blog posts, post to YouTube, share on Facebook, the works.
Here are some more killer tips for optimal coverage:
- Create an Excel database or Google calendar that keeps track of industry events (and any corresponding event #hashtags) in your area (or around the world, if you have the budget!). From mainstream conventions to casual meet-ups (even online tweet-ups), be aware of what’s going on and attend when you can.
Don’t know where to start? Scope out Yahoo’s B2B directory, filtering down to get the skinny on Tradeshows and Conferences. Check out prominent industry publications, forums, and other online social circles to see where the cool kids hang out. Seriously lost? Go ahead and Google “[industry] conference” (add [city] for regional results). Do your homework. Get involved.
- Create keyword columns in TweetDeck or a Twitter client of choice that track hashtags specific to events of interest. Follow conversations ongoing – before, during, and after. Participating in conversations before the event can help pave the way for smoother social interactions IRL. Monitoring during certainly gives you a deep look at what’s going on real-time. Take note of what other companies are tweeting up a storm. Are they your competitors, or non-foes worth befriending? Are they doing anything differently, better, are they getting Retweeted more? Learn from them. (Then, either befriend them… or destroy them!) Keep tabs on conversations after to learn what’s happening next for a given event and its following.
- Create an Excel database of speakers for events you plan to follow. Include significant information such as name, current place of employment, job title, Twitter handle, follower count, and links to other social profiles. Get to know the conference participants before you show up to the party. Don’t be afraid to reach out before, during, or after a presentation with a friendly @mention thanking speakers for their insight. You may be surprised by the response.
- Use event hashtags as often as possible. This is not limited to tweets! Stick that hashtag in the title of a blog post that covers an event or conference session—just make it gel (ex: “25 Groundbreaking Takeaways from #B2BIndustryConferenceX 2012″). When you or any other interested community member rebroadcasts / retweets your post, it will milk the exposure of that hashtag in a non-spammy way (because hey, your post is about #B2BIndustryConferenceX, is it not?).
Don’t believe the serious value rockstar coverage of an industry event can deliver? Keep an eye on the #SMX hashtag and surrounding coverage for this week’s convention in San Jose… and try not to faint.