Laura Fitton: Making Social Media Work in B2B

Once upon a time dubbed a “Queen” of Twitter, Laura “@Pistachio” Fitton co-authored Twitter for Dummies and founded (acquired by HubSpot) in 2009 when she recognised that software built on Twitter’s API was going to change the world.

As an Inbound Marketing Evangelist, she’s excited about showing companies how to grow by helping people buy instead of cramming marketing messages down their throats.

In this talk from BoS USA 2011, Laura explains her belief that everyone can benefit – dramatically – from realtime technologies like Twitter because of their power to overcome isolation.

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Thanks. How you guys doing? Great, thank you Mark. Sorry I filled your chair. Um, so I’m here to talk about how you can do a better job selling your software through social media, but a lot of you look like engineers. I employed software engineers for the last 32 months and they always made me nervous because they were very skeptical about social media. So I’m going to start right out with who here is using social media and feels really confident that it is helping their marketing?

OK. Who here is using social media and is like “yeah this isn’t helping at all”? OK. And then who’s kind of like in the middle, like “I still have my mind open; I want to learn more about what can be done”. Alright great, so we’ve got basically 33, 33, and, well, 40, 40 and 10, 20, whatever. Uh [laughter] so math, not my strong point. Also clickers, not always my strong point too. OK no worries, I can make up more questions to ask you guys while we’re uh, waiting.

Everybody here, your business has a Twitter account, right? Anybody here who’s business doesn’t have a Twitter account yet? Oh, some rebels. We had a, so I don’t know if all of you all are from here, or most of you traveled in, but you may not know this, but Boston is now the most innovative city in the world. Just like magic because someone said so, it’s kind of fun. Last night up at the convention center, there were like 700 people in an audience watching all of these start-ups from the latest batch of the mass challenge presents. It was really, really cool and exciting to be in Boston and think about all of this. One of the things that conference did that I thought was awesome, was put up a huge board that said “Here’s the Twitter guide to the event tonight”, and it had the Twitter handle to every single company there. And whether you are a skeptic about Twitter marketing, or enthusiastic about Twitter marketing, you cannot deny that an event where one of 40 start-ups can get so lost with a crowd of 700 people, having that single point of contact where someone could lock in and follow and go back to it later, is a very, very efficient way to keep in touch with someone after an event.

Oh yay! How we doing? Great! Um, one last question, because the title, subtitle reminds me. Most of you are B2B right? How many B2C? OK great. I’m going to talk about a lot of stuff here, and I know from other audiences that it’s, eh not easy for, but common shall we say for the B2B types to kind of lean back going “Yeah, all that applies to the, the consumer side, but that doesn’t apply to my side, because I’m selling to businesses”, and I kind of, I try to bring up this idea of H2H, cause whether you’re selling to a giant corporation, or you know, to a teenager, you know, you’re selling to a human being, there is a human being making that decision somewhere. So a lot of the relationship building, the trust building, the confidence building, and the sense of being of service to people, is super important whether you are B2B or B2C. Please don’t block it out.

Now, Mark asked me to start out with a little bit of my personal story, I thought that was odd for this conference, but since I’m talking about how social media marketing can be successful, and since my whole personal story kind of hinges on that fulcrum of “Wow, this person came out of completely nowhere on social media marketing alone” I will go ahead and indulge Mark, and hopefully not indulge myself too much and tell it.

This is Laura now, this was Laura then. I honest to God in March 2007 did not know what the term web 2.0 referred to, and I even tried blogging but I looked at my then developer husband and said “right web 2.0 um, so I upgrade the browser somewhere and I’m going to see new things on the page, right? Where do I upgrade my browser?”. Honest story. Uh, two months later, started to get into Twitter, was blogging on my own, and uh, boy, some really crazy things started happening. From Shell Israel, the author of Naked Conversations identifying me for a research project, to, and, and here’s a tip, if you ever want to evangelize something, convince an evangelist first. Because one of the first things that happened to me was I had the audacity to email Guy Kawasaki a blog post I wrote about Twitter as a serious business tool, which was insane in August 2007, and God love the man he listened, and he kind of told everyone else, and uh, next thing I knew someone was DMing me saying “How do you know Scott Boden, you’re in his book, Seth Boden, you’re in his book”. Someone asked to present on Twitter for business at HBS which scared the out of me, because I wouldn’t have gotten into HBS.

Any fans of Elle Woods here? This is like the least likely audience to even know who that is, the film, Legally Blonde. This woman just decides to go to legal school, law school, and she’s this like little Barbie doll, at one point the professor goes “Do you think she just woke up one morning and said ‘I think I’ll go to Harvard Law School’?” I kind of just woke up one morning and said “I think I’ll become a tech CEO’. So with my great marketing background and no experience with software, I did one forty, and yes, fortunately, three of the speakers are not Hubspot, which weren’t before. I’ve now joined hub spot, and David Cancels, Perform at Will team, over in Cambridge.

Well how the heck did that happen? Well I don’t know how this piece of metal ruined the tree, but I do know a little bit about how the craziness happened for me, and it boils down to this concept that Hub Spot talks about a lot. This is in fact full disclosure; my job now is to talk about the concept of inbound marketing. But it was really inbound marketing, it was putting ideas out there that I thought were useful and the world being a path to my door, because they wanted to hear more. Something I challenge to you in your marketing materials, I’ll bring this up again later, but I want to start with it right now.

Your company solves problems right? Raise your hand if your company doesn’t solve problems. Good. And it provides value. Raise your hand if your product doesn’t solve a problem and provide value. Now, and be honest on this one. Raise your hand if your marketing doesn’t solve a problem and provide value. Do you think people in this audience would pay you money for your marketing materials? Honest? Well they should. Right? That was a great no up there, whoever said that thank you. It was such a natural no, right?

I’m positive, that to do this stuff right, and for those of you who say “eh social media, it doesn’t work”, you generate social media that would be worth paying money for, and I think it might start working. I’m just putting that out there. Um, again, another remark from Guy Kawaski, a particularly funny one, and uh, I don’t know about your marketing budget, I talk to start-ups a lot, and certainly they have tight marketing budgets. If you don’t feel like spraying a lot of money out there, you might want to find out what inbound and social media marketing can offer you. Obviously, pretty obnoxious, most marketing, this is how most people feel about most outbound marketing, most pushy sales calls, direct mail. This is what they are doing to respond to outbound marketing methods, stuff they don’t like. It’s not even working that well anymore, it’s not just that inbound is the right way to go, it’s just that the old way doesn’t really work.

So today, it’s about figuring out how to draw people in, how to get the world to beat a path to your company’s door, the way the world beat a path to my careers door if you will. Less of this, more stuff people actually want, people actually need, people actually love.

Your company solves a problem, your product solves a problem, that’s what you want to write about, create videos about, share with the world. Material that the person who needs to have that problem solved needs. Now, it’s not always materials about the problems itself. Right here in Boston, Grasshopper? Anybody know them? They built these virtualized phone systems. Their blog doesn’t say anything about phone systems. Their blog says everything about what a young entrepreneur needs to know, or what an up and coming entrepreneur needs to know. It’s a standby place where you can go as one of their potential clients, you can go there every day and find out the stuff you need to know to solve the problems you know you have.

That’s another thing, the content you put out there needs to be about problems people know they have. If you’re just throwing out content that’s really irrelevant to their lives, or that comes off as irrelevant, they’re going to call you on it. The problem is, you know, you used to have to look to authorities, whether it was the sales person, the news anchor, you had to look for authorities to mediate your information about products, and the reality is now that people are getting their information about products from one another. And you can’t really gain that, you have to do that honestly. This uh, these are a couple of slides I stole from someone, I hope he didn’t show them to you yesterday, if he did, they are worth, they’re worth looking at. Uh, so, you know just like this totally detached isolated mommy in South Boston, ends up being a book author and Tech CEO NBC funded in like, a two year period. The mere mortal has some power now, it’s not about you anymore.

The way to generate influence in this new world, is no longer the soapbox. Because frankly, the whole soapbox thing and super bowl commercials and all that, that was a temporary aberration in how people communicated anyway. The era of mass media was cool and great and big and exciting, but for tens of thousands of years before that humans worked out a lot of other networked ways of communicating, and we’re almost going back to that. So as much as people like to go, “Oh social media is new and freaky and I don’t know what to do with it”, it really is kind of a return to roots where you gain influence by being useful.

That is my two, I’m preempting one of my slides,

my two word guide to social media is just simply be useful,

  • provide some value to others,
  • provide attention to others.

You get a lot farther shining the light on a client’s success story than you do listing out a bunch of product features. Even listing out a bunch of product benefits, if you’ve mastered that aspect of features verses benefits. What’s really, really different in this world and one of the reasons I became so obsessed with Twitter in the first place. This world is so dynamic, um, we are still very fixated on influencers, uh, get to the tech blogger, get Scoval to write about my product, that kind of thing. But there’s a new emergent principal I call “the message is the influencer”, and I give the plane picture as a perfect example of this. The guy who took that picture had 29 followers on Twitter, but that picture made it to the entire world in less than 29 minutes. That man stepped off the ferry and cameras were in his face, “How does it feel to be an internationally published journalist because you Twitpic’ed something?”

Right? So what happened in this case, I have the back story, the plane, you know the plane part right. There’s a guy sitting in a skyscraper in Manhattan looking down and thinking “Holy expletive here, there’s a plane in the Hudson,” and his next thought was, “I bet there’s something on twitter about that”, and he went searching he found the photo, and then he was able to relay it. So there was still an influencer in the network somewhere, but it was the fact that that message was so good, right? Now I’m not going to set your sights so high to say that you are going to generate a piece of content about your company that is that good, but you get the idea. You get a lot further generating something awesome than you do spamming Brian Solice, and Guy Kawaski, and Robert Scoval, and trying to get them to blog about it. If you generate stuff that’s really really good, they’ll be bugging you to pull it out of you to blog about it. And that is the one, if I can impart one thing to you today that is the one, the message is the influencer in these different systems, in these different modes of communicating.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that it’s ‘any to many,’ ‘one to many’ is over right?

So the example before and the example I’m about give are both great examples of ‘any to many.’ It’s a little hard to predict where that next signal is going to come from, and that’s, you know, that’s the pebble on the fulcrum that I showed you earlier, you can upset the apple cart by having something truly great, and it can emerge from any part of the system. This isn’t a nebula this is a diagram of rumor tweets about Osama death breaking out. It’s noteworthy to point, out, that Keith Urbahn, the one who tipped it, and it’s kind of faded there, a little hard to read, could not have been, they’ve, they’ve analyzed all of this data, a company called Social Flood did the science on it. There’s no way you could mathematically predicted that he would be the influencer for this particularly event, it just happened right? They even found numerous examples of actual journalists who speculated on the rumour, within a similar time frame, and their rumour didn’t break out. It’s easy to go, well his Twitter bio said he was with x office, so that’s why it broke out. But numerous others, in fact the person who he had heard it from, was also a journalist who had Tweeted it, but his didn’t explode. So that aspect of unpredictability provides a really interesting uh, snare in this. And then, another Osama’s death, uh, Osama’s death  for example, this is the guy who live Tweeted the whole thing without having any idea he was live Tweeting the whole thing, and I use this to illustrate the principle, and I know this is very Twitter heavy, but you can extrapolate this to other platforms that Twitter means 5 billion people could be publishers right now. 5 Billion people have access to a telephone that can send text messages, and four or five text messages and you’ve published a tweet, and if you’ve published a tweet, you’ve actually put up a web page. Anybody here have to put up a websites in like 96/97? Right? Yeah that was easy, that wasn’t much work. You can now send four text messages and a page exists somewhere, it can be linked to it can be found later. So man when you talk ‘any to many’, I think this is one of the best examples we’ve ever had.

And I think there’s some cool stuff to come in the future. So that’s a zoom in on the Keith Urbahn explosion, you can see the entire network, and this is within moments – it’s very very quick how it spreads. The message propagation is what got me obsessed early on. So, you know what this one’s going to be, ready, one, two, three, oh man you guys are tired. Someone needs to get them a lot more caffeine. We’re going to try that again, one, two, three… Audience Be Useful Thank you! Who wants to read that one. Right? I’ve been saying for years until I found this graphic, take your message and just turn it inside out, and then I found this and I’m like “Oh my God, that’s so much better than how I’ve been explaining it”.

What do I mean by take your message and turn it inside out?

Well, maybe you have a complicated product sheet, and it lists all the different features of the product. You’re going to have to adjust that a little bit and maybe filter it through the lens of what a customer would do with the product. And, and, create you know, whether it’s a blog post, a face book post, an eBook presentation on white paper, create a version of that complicated product sheet that you can read as a customer and think “Oh yeah this is me”. Um, even in the example of you know, you got your blog and you’re sharing your blog on Face book and Twitter, you could go, blog title, link, blog title, link, blog title, link, and, and, good luck to that cause it’s like a little press release page. Or, you know, without adding any conversation, engaging, fancy, touchy feely crap, you can do the same essential title feed, but instead of title, link, title, link, title, link, provocative question about the reader, link, interesting factoid from the article, link, compelling quote from the article, link, right? So I’ve taken the same piece of content, in the same stream, I’m just linking to like four or five blog posts. But I’ve turned it inside out, and I’ve made it more about the reader than it is about me. If you learn that one thing, cause that’s the key to generating really valuable messages. Cause you’re going like “Laura I can’t take a picture of the plane in the Hudson, how am I going to make a remarkable message?” make it about the user. Which by the way your products should be too, but that’s a whole different talk.

Um, so this is an example of one of the things that Dharmesh did, most of these little aps, his is our best, one of our best, sources of leads period. Most of these little aps are things that Dharmesh hacked on weekends and nights. Because God love the man, he’s a CTO of this huge fast growing, second fastest growing software business out there right now, and he still codes every day. Um and these are just like little hacks that companies can come along and grade and see how they are doing. It’s totally hands off for us, totally useful for our customers. Uh, we actually got written up in a case study of what we did at Dream Force this year, because instead of having booths made and trying to scan everybody’s badges, we didn’t scan any badges at all, we stood there with IPads and ran diagnostics and emailed them to people, and said “it was great to meet you”, and let them walk away. All we did was make it about them, provide some value and then like “hey we’re here”, because honestly, this is Dharemesh’s kid, and I totally stole this slide, you know nobody feels like that.

So, alright, a lot of generalities Laura, that’s fun, that great, can you give me some specifics? So I’ll give you four whole words, and I won’t make you read them because you don’t know what they are yet. If you master this four word rubric and whatever social media you are engaging in, whatever inbound marketing you’re engaging in just keep working through each of these points, cyclically. This is in order, but you have to keep cycling back. If you want to start with an effective monitoring strategy, not just to monitor your brand, but to monitor the types of key words around the problems you solve. Um, someone asked me years ago, I’ll give such and out of industry example, way before there was anyone mainstream on twitter, someone said “well yeah, what the heck’s John Deere going to do with a Twitter? There’s not John Deere customers on Twitter.” I said “Yeah, but there are a few million people who mow their lawns all the time so they can collect aggregate date about seasonality of mowing, frequency of mowing, patterns, concurrent activities that someone is doing while they mow and get product ideas from that. This is a phenomenal source of data.

Um, when I was doing the Osama’s death song and dance, I didn’t mention it, but there’s a company called Data Miner looking at the financial fire hose and serving the financial services industry, they gave a heads up to their customers 18 minutes ahead of the news cycle that it was likely Osama was dead. So considering how valuable real-time clock tickers are, can you imagine what an 18 minute head start was for those five financial services companies on responding to something of global importance? Data coming from I think mainly Twitter, may have had some facebook data in there is now being used by various health departments to trace outbreak of disease. This data is surprisingly predictable. So have a strong listening strategy that is not just CYA for the brand, but expansive to research and new things you can delve into.

Learn, man I’m so tired of brands that, they see the stuff but they don’t change anything about what they do. Learn and care, these two together, are why Dell is one of the best social media people out there, social media companies out there, sorry. People worry “oh what if I get onto social, what if I do something wrong?”, honestly the people who, the companies who are head and neck ahead of everybody else right now, are really only their cause they got attacked first. They had more time to work through the learn and care and learn and care and really try and do it right time. So don’t be afraid of messing up, and do put emphasis on learning what you’re doing and caring that you do well. Serve, honestly, we’ve been doing that one this whole morning, that’s being useful, so you already nailed that one.

  • Get found
  • Convert
  • Measure what matters

We break down inbound into three steps because one of the other big mistakes we see out in the world around social media marketing is focusing only on the top of your sales funnel. If all you do in social media is try and get people to come to the site in the first place, you’re going to get stuck, you need them to come down the sales funnel. You need to build the relationship, build the trust and build the understanding of what exactly it is that your product does. Again B2B or B2C, and you can do that with an effective inbound marketing strategy. I get asked a lot “what’s the difference between content marketing, inbound marketing, isn’t that just the just the branded HubSpot term?”, and it’s really not, cause content marketing is just that top skim layer of the funnel where you’re just, put out a great piece of content, people will come to the site and then profit. You know, it’s like the troll underwear cartoon, we all know the troll underwear cartoon right? Oh come on, you’re all so shy; you’re just nodding your head inside right? No one wants to admit they know the troll underwear cartoon but they do. Did someone ask what is it? OK, it’s um, is it original South Park? Audience South Park Speaker Thank you. It’s this business plan and it’s these troll, someone tell it better than I can. The underwear gnomes, that’s right, and they have a chalkboard that says “gather lots of underwear”, and then question mark, and then equals profit. Right?

So, you know, we want to not only get found with our content marketing as step one of your inbound marketing plan, but you want to get found repeatedly, you want to work that middle of the funnel, and David Cancels speaking tomorrow, I’m sure he will talk much more about the middle of the funnel because he is a master of it. But it’s keeping people reengaged, it’s giving them the content once they’ve heard about you, giving them deeper and deeper content about what you do, and how they can solve their problems, because remember it’s not about you, until they convert. And maybe they only convert to a lead, so you want to go contact, err, visit, lead, customer, as you go down that funnel.

And then the third most important part of inbound marketing is making sure you’re measuring what matters, cause otherwise you’re not going to know whether you’re converting or not. Um, great example of this from 140’s launch itself we drove tons of traffic to that site, we had one of the luckiest launches I’ve ever seen. Part of it was a guy names Brian Selice, who was an advisor, he had great contacts, he kind of just called all the tech blogs and said here’s the story and they all took it. But we had drastic differences in numbers across tech blogs that were, and I won’t name names cause this is a very techy crowd, but two giant tech blogs that cover social media and start-ups all the time, you can just guess who, delivering the same exact amount of traffic which was tons, tens of thousands, one of them was converting at five times the rate of the other. If we hadn’t have been measuring that we would have just gone, you know, great twenty thousand hits from these two blogs together, instead we were able to see, wow, blog A, those people don’t just show up, they actually do something, they actually come further into our funnel. So you need to be measuring more important things than just followers, raw traffic, stuff like that, and you need to be measuring it throughout the cycle using measurable links, using, you know, A B testing, using whatever you can do to make sure the way you’re providing the content is effective, is solving the needs, and is moving the buyer forward in their thought process about whether or not to buy from you.

The basics on get found, and I’ll show this throughout a few times, this is sort of like a schematic of the types of tools you need whether you use our platform or not. The types of tools you need, the top row is your get found row, the middle row is what I mean by the middle of the funnel, that’s the convert row, and of course, um, the measure row on the bottom. Um, so just for the record, all of the things that are in orange are the things that our product does, the things in white are the things that we have third partners on the platform that come in and do. Getting found in the first place, if you are not blogging about your keywords that you want to be found for in Google, you’re throwing money away. It is not easy to get to the top of any SEO server, but there are strategic ways to do it, and intelligent ways to do it, and they amount to being useful. Go figure. So you want to actively be pursuing that, cause this could be hugely important.

I have a friend who is getting into this, he has a small business and he keeps saying “I need more backlinks, I’m going to hire a guy to get me a bunch of backlinks”, and I’m like “why don’t you just generate a lot of content that people want to link to and then you’ll just have the backlinks”. And he’s like “no no no, I’m going to go get backlinks”. So the get found layer, can be fun, it can be a little experimental. It needs to be that service thing, but don’t be afraid to polarize, you don’t want to get everybody, this is why things like raw traffic and follower count are so meaningless. You easily get, any Yahoo chick can get 86 thousand followers on Twitter, but what can she do with them? Intentionally trying to take the, take the, uh piss out of myself, is that OK to say here in front of everyone? Um, don’t be afraid to polarize, because it’s about finding your right people. It’s not about finding the most people, you won’t get a prize at the end for having the most Facebook fans or having more than your competition. You get a prize for growing a business. So take a point of view on the stuff that will filter down who you are attracting. It’s OK to attract fewer people if they are the right people. Make the customer absolutely the hero of your story. If you’re short on what to blog about, if you’re feeling uncreative, if you’re not sure what to write, send out a questionnaire to a bunch of customers, or better yet, pick up the phone, or Skype with them and record some videos, hear what they have to say, cause they know your product probably better than you do in many cases. And make it, you know, make it noteworthy, the more valuable and remarkable it is, the more pick-up it’s going to get and the less you’re going to have to push it out to the influencers.

Convert, again is this middle row, thinking about landing pages that actually get people to want to sign on and get more information. Thinking about lead nurturing, now, marketing automation is a bit of a controversial thing, because nobody likes getting spammed, and marketing automation is this concept that once someone takes a certain action on your site, you can follow up with a sequence of emails. In and of itself, it’s OK, as long as they know they opted in, but boy that sequence of emails better be valuable content, it better be in the category of stuff they would want to pay for otherwise. Because if it’s not, if it’s just self-serving, if it’s just me, me, me, me, me, man that’s the fastest way into someone’s spam filter. So that’s why we call it lead nurturing, to help convey to people the idea that you really want to just build up the relationship and build up the trust with that person, not treat them like a prospect who if you hit them ten times will eventually say “alright fine”, and give up. Um, and lead management, understanding alright, who are the types of people coming to the site, that’s great, 90% of them are never going to buy, but boy, these 10% these are the type of people we want to know, these are the type of people we think the software would be really good for. Um, and, again, falling back on the be useful, valuable content is the most important thing to have in the convert layer.

And measuring what matters, um, you want to be doing your overall analytics, but you also want to be AB testing different ways, even, I don’t mean just AB testing your products, I mean AB testing your marketing. See what works when you put it out there, and when you see something that really, really does a good job, generate more content around that, generate more engagement around that, proactively go out and search for people who are interested in that and try and draw them in. You don’t just want a following, you want a rock concert, you want people really excited about what it is that you do, because they will also tell others, and that’s going to get you a lot further than any kind of, again, influence or channel outreach are being done so poorly and it is so ineffective right now, but drawing influencers in because you really have something good, absolutely going to work.

Of course one of the challenges here, is you need so many different tools to manage it, luckily a lot of them are free, luckily companies like Hub Spot, and you know, our competition, have assembled a few together to make it simpler. This is our particular constellation of how we look at it and how we think you need to pull it together and have it all in one place because let’s face it, you also have software to go build, you don’t want to be stuck spending all of your time marketing when you have customers to service. Um, but, whatever you do to solve for this kind of mess problem, think about integrating it so your platforms work well together. Think about you know, whatever is in, and it’s not the same as everything I share on Facebook is also on Twitter and also on Linkedin and also on my blog, its thinking about what works well with the different platforms and yet compliments what you’re doing on the other platforms

Um, this is my sort of thank you and good bye slide, because I wanted to get right into questions early on. Um, that’s Hubspot, you’re going to hear much more about it, you know, yesterday, with Dharemsh, and tomorrow is David Cancel, it’s a very fun place to be, uh, it’s not just how excited our employees are, cause our employees, I will admit, we look like a cult, it’s how excited our customers are. You know, to have 5,400 companies all of which are more or less growing in a down economy has been just an amazing experience for me coming over a start-up right? Um, I also though, if you guys don’t have any questions, I’m going to parade a bunch of unicorns by you, so I’m threatening you with that now in fact. We’ve put together a huge deck on slide share of marketing fantasy verses fact, um, I pulled out some of the ones that most pertinent to this audience so we can fly through those if we don’t get to those, this deck, and all the kind of bonus content will be up on But I really want this to be more a Q and A forum so.

Also, cause we’re all learning how to market here, even those of you who are not in marketing per say, say who you are and what your product is, and say it in a way that shows how excited you are about what you do.

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Audience: My name is Shane, I suck ass at marketing. We are HubSpot customers, and we are Admin Arsenal, we sell software to Windows administrators, so they can deploy software. Basically, our customers are geeks, the forty year old virgins that live at home in the basement with their mom, Anyway, where I’ve had a difficult – sorry to have offended the 33, 33% of the people here that I have just described, I apologize. Anyway, I uh, I’ve had a difficult time in trying to separate, I mean I’ve got a Twitter account, and I want to post about, suggestions for, you know for how to use our software, I’m not sure whether to use, my, my business Twitter account, or the actual company’s Twitter account, I never use my personal Twitter account, and I don’t, uh, there are actually people in this room who shall remained unnamed that I stopped following because well they had some great insight, I also found out what color stool their kids laid that day, and it usually matched whatever the wife made for lunch which I also read about so where do I, where’s that balance? I want to be able to use it, do I use my professional account, you know, do I use the Admin Arsenal account, etc?

Laura Fitton: Um, yeah, people have a little trouble with business appropriate, and Twitter has some massive filtration problems, because you really do have to channel it on different accounts, you can’t just direct different individuals feeds. Quick clarifying question. You have a personal, a professional, and a company one, so professional is like, it’s still just you, it’s not an aggregate account but it’s where you Tweet about business stuff as opposed to your kids stools, cause that’s what you Tweet on your personal one right? Kidding. Um, that’s interesting, that’s a lot to manage, I actually honestly have a hard time even managing even two Twitter accounts when I have to, and I do kind of have the @Pistachio one which, God only know what to call that, it’s personal I guess, it’s not business or personal, it’s just me. Only it’s not me, cause it’s taken on a life of its own. Um, and then we always had a separate 140 account. So wait, I do espouse one for the individual and one for the brand and often the brand will segment out, like a huge brand like Wal-Mart has like 50 different ones towards different audiences. Even a tiny start-up like 140, we had one aimed at developers, because of the developer’s side of our apps marketplace, and one aimed at consumers and marketers for the other side of our market place. So it is okay to segment, as far as what’s on the personal one, you know they, Pistachio is kind of more personal than most people’s professional accounts, but it’s less professional than, you know, it’s, it’s, in between. Uh, I really think what matters most is what you are willing and able to maintain, and what’s effective, and I think a good way to know effectiveness are use clickable links, and see if people are clicking them, you know bitly or whatever link shortener of your choice, um, look for whether or not you’re being retweeted, most people don’t know how to find the page on Twitter that says “Your Tweets retweeted by others”. So they only see the retweets that appear as mentions, uh but look for both and see, and whether, you know, follower numbers don’t count, but the kind of overall growth trend does count, so if you see that that’s been growing like this and then it sort of falls off when you start producing a certain amount of content, then that probably wasn’t that workable with your audience.

Um, but so much of it is trial and error and experimentation, and so much of it is predicated on what you’re actually willing to sustain, cause what’s useless is when you have five different accounts, and they’re all perfectly targeted, and four of them haven’t updated in three months. That help? OK great. OK good lots of questions. I don’t have to unicorn you.

Audience: Hi Laura, I’m Kevin, Princeton Payment Solutions, we do payment to payment software a lot of our customers don’t actually use Twitter, in fact some of our customers, in their businesses, because these are larger businesses, are, I don’t know whether it’s banned, or whether it’s not allowed, most of what we do, most of what they do is email, and even there it’s hard to get response in email from them. I myself, I receive a lot of email, every day, it’s even hard for me to keep up with my email. Right? I don’t have any time to blog, I don’t have any time to read blogs, I’m just wondering, where do people get the time? I mean, it’s just absolutely amazing. Do people have no time, social life, other things to do, time for family? I mean, I’m just amazed you know. So I’m just wondering where the business value is for some of these things, because our customers you know, even when we sell to a customer, we have to beg them to use their name, if we said we were blogging or doing things, we would be out the door. You know what I mean?

Laura Fitton: OK so you can’t blog the customer’s names, but you can anonomize their type of success story. You know?

Audience: Maybe.

Laura Fitton: So you know a business in this type of industry, or you can just talk about what the experience was that improved. But let me, you had like four questions in there, let me reel back and address them. Number one, who the hell has time for this? Absolutely valid. I’m so tired of people coming to me who are like, hot shot digital natives and going “I’m trying to get this CEO to Tweet, and she’s so dumb, she doesn’t get it”, you know, and I’m like, “OK, you know, you’re right, but you’re wrong”. Um, how did I convince Guy Kawasaki? Well, he gave me just an absolute opening when he wrote back and said “that’s nice, I still think Twitter is stupid, and besides, I have to spend two and half hours a day in my RSS reader finding rumors for the sites rumors.” Hot damn, I knew I could solve that problem for him much faster using social media. So to find the time, you have to find the places where you have a problem that you’re already investing time and money in that can be done better with social media. And if you can’t find that, don’t do it, cause I don’t want to hear from you in three months and be like “you were so wrong”, you know? Like it’s not right for everybody, that said, if you are struggling to get customers to reply to email because they are so burned out on outbound messaging, you need to step back and say, “well, how do customers find us when they do find us? Is it Google search?” If it’s Google search you have time to blog, because you need to work your SEO. If it’s not Google search, and you don’t need SEO, and you don’t need to show up well in searches, okay great well, you’re off blogging. You know? It’s kind of that simple. Um, don’t do tactics just for tactics sake, be comfortable ruling out a tactic that you know doesn’t work for you. I didn’t do anything, personally I didn’t do anything on Facebook for like three years, cause I just didn’t get it, it just wasn’t my place. Luckily I was such a one trick pony with Twitter that everybody just kind of assumed that I wouldn’t do Facebook. But it’s okay, if it’s not working for you, especially if you’re one person as the marketer and you don’t have a marketing staff to draw on. Um, so as much of an evangelist fan of social media I am, I would never tell anybody to go out and try and do it all.

Um, and I think you had one more question at the end but we should probably give some time to others, follow up with me if I missed it. Uh, whoever has the mic, I’m going to let you sort of control…Yes, you’re next, great.

Audience: Thanks. Great presentation by the way, Um, my name is Des and I am the co-founder for what we call Intercom and our tool is to, for connecting web app owners to users. Um, my questions is..

Laura Fitton: Sorry what owners to other users?

Audience: It connects uh, software owners, web application owners, with their users so it helps to build relationship.

Laura Fitton: OK.

Audience: So my question is rooted in the fact that I think we have slightly similar jobs in that I do a lot of, what I would, up until now have called contact marketing, and my question is, so we have a very popular blog and in addition, I guest host sites and special magazines, stuff like that. What I was wondering is the, the legacies that you sort of build when you would do this like a lot of my blog posting would get like a hundred thousand readers one week and then the following week, you know, if I don’t post it goes back down to two thousand or whatever, and Tweets, you know, you can throw them out, they can be really insightful, they can get retweeted, and then they just disappear, what I’m wondering is that, do you see this just being everyday just producing awesome stuff all the time, or is there any way you can build up a repository. Because I’d hate to think that in five years’ time I’m still going to be pressed and trying to come up with new ideas and new talks, and new slide decks all the time, is there, have you seen any way of getting a lasting value out of the material that you produce?

Laura Fitton: So the annuity value of the social media? Really great question that ties very well into our analysis layer, why you want to be measuring stuff. So yes and no. Um, tweets are very ephemeral their just, their shelf life is ridiculous. So much so that Guy insists on Tweeting the same content four times in a 24 hour cycle, so that partly to hit different time zones, but partly because he knows, you know, people are just skimming, very few readers will actually notice that you linked to the same thing cause they are not clicking through every Tweet, and if they are, God love you, you’re doing a great job. So there is a very short half-life to the content you generate, but it’s not as short as pay per click ads you buy, right? So when you have traffic coming into your site, if you are relying on pay per click ads, the moment you stop handing Google money, that traffic is all gone. Whereas if you have a very strong content marketing strategy going, and you’re doing all the steps of inbound, you’re going to be able to see in your measurement tools that you get residual traffic to those blog posts as you rise in the cerps, so that’s why the SCO concept of putting all this content out there is so important, cause that does pay out like an annuity. It will send a degree of trickle traffic, and that’s where it’s your job to have the right analysis tools in place to know, which key words do I need to rank for, cause you can’t rank for them all, and you want to know, not just on which keywords drive a lot of traffic to your site, but which keywords drives traffic that converts. And that’s why pulling it all the way through the funnel is so incredibly important. Then you focus this, you know, you are kind of going to have to do a fountain of content all the time, but you can focus them on more prioritized keywords, because you have a good understanding of what you need to rank for to get the people who convert. And then the last thing you can do is recycle content in creative ways. Don’t just copy paste, you know, duplicate posts are a bad thing, but, if you’ve done a great eBook, or white paper, do a presentation version of that, or a video version of that or a blog post about it.

Um, I’ll take an example, when I first came to HubSpot, and I was going, “well great, how can I make the @Pistachio Twitter account useful to my awesome new employer?” I went to their blog and I just sorted it by the most effective blog posts ever, so we don’t, we don’t, we know inside looking at our blog, not just which one’s got the most traffic, but which one created the most leads and which ones of those leads created the most customers. And I just wrote interesting Tweets around the Cyber Green content, it was really old content, but I checked the post to make sure it wasn’t woefully out of date, and then I created some evergreen Tweets and Facebook posts and Linkedin posts, different for each one, cause they’re all a little different, and just recycled it, straight up recycled that stuff, and it worked out really well. So there’s a mix of stuff you can do, and this is why it’s so important in the first place, like it is so common for companies to just see the light, and just start blogging, and just rip it up for the first three months. Blog posts every single day, God love you, if the news reaches you that deeply, write all those blog posts, but don’t publish them all, you know. Figure out after that initial storm what you’re really going to be able to sustain and bank a bunch of stuff and pull it out later. And if you’re having trouble keeping up with flow, offer guest posting opportunities to your customers, uh, look for a blog post that has already run somewhere that you really liked and do a summary post around them. There are a lot of ways to sort of pace yourself and be able to sustain that, but yeah, it’s, a couple of issues there.

Next microphone person? Up there? If the people with the mics just want to find someone who had their hand up then, yeah plan to have it ready. Thanks

Audience: Um yeah, hi my name is Alex, I’m the Founder of jitbit software, I’m looking at your Twitter account, and I see that you follow 80,000 people, do you really have time,

Speaker: Almost 86, oh no that’s right.

Audience: Do you actually read them?

Laura Fitton: Yeah, no I don’t. That’s such a great question, and whoever Tweeted me that this morning, if you want to send him an @reply and let him know too. Uh no, I’ve answered this one a bunch, I’ve got to just do a blog post on it. I’m just letting people DM me, and the only way Twitter has that will allow, cause I see, like someone who has taken the moment to follow my account, like wow, thank you, I’m glad to have you as a reader, I don’t think of people as followers actually, I’m glad to have you as a reader, thank you, and it would be sort of like putting up a website, and not having a contact us form, there’s no private way to get in touch with me. So, Twitter talked about doing business accounts that would let you let people privately DM you, but then they never did it. So the best solution I have in the meanwhile, the one Darmesh, and Chris Brogen used to also do, is just to follow everybody back.

Now, Chris and Darmesh have both cut the cord, and I can tell you, I’m teetering on the edge, cause with all the phishing and spam bots lately, I get like a hundred of “You’re in this great picture!”, and I’m like “Yeah I’m so not in that great picture”, delete. Um, but yeah, there’s no way, and it’s a problem because also when I want to try out different Twitter aps, which used to be my job, hello. I usually break them, because receiving follows at the number are just too much for the system to take. So, Twitter, please build that feature soon. I do have a separate account that’s read only, that’s following about 700 people, and I open that in a separate app, and that’s how I stay on top of Twitter. Whoever has the mic next. OK, one waiting, and then you.

Audience: Hi, um just a comment on the creating longevity for your social media stuff, something that some of my customers have found creates value, is, if you say something is a blog post or a news article, then people have a mental schema for “okay, its time dated content and after today it’s old news”, but if you take content, publish it on Monday, and after Tuesday you just take the day off, and instead of a blog post, call it you know, our enduring guide to the wonderfulness of X where X is something that won’t change in the next hundred years like elementary education, um, people will still cite it a year from now, and they won’t say, “oh it’s old news because we talked about math last year”.

Laura Fitton: That is such a great point, thank you for sharing that, I mean I have to confess, I did a white paper real early on, on tools like Yammah cause uh, my first idea on Twitter for business was that the internal communicating with each other would be the main thing, that web paper, the research was done in September of 2008, in came out in November, it was totally dated, obviously dated, everywhere, and it still had this like crazy reflux like nine months late when the rest of the world caught up to the fact that those technologies were going to be important. There was a conference going on and this guy was “look at this great white paper”, and it surprised even me that he still found that useful even though to me it was like, “Oh God that is so out of date.” So give your content the benefit of the doubt, that’s an awesome tip.

Audience: Hi, I’m Peldi, I wasn’t in your presentation so thank you for this.

Laura Fitton: Peldi has Balsamiq! His app is called Balsamiq and it…

Audience: Uh, it helps rid the world of bad software, one interface at a time. So uh, the one thing that you didn’t mention which I think is awesome about inbound marketing is that it’s making the world a better place. You know all of a sudden there is this amazing number of Ebooks and presentations, and all this content that sure was put there a little bit in an evil way to let you buy your stuff, you know, but it’s there and it’s free, and it’s available, and it’s amazing. So then the side effect of the inbound marketing is that the world is incredibly better and better every day. So that’s wonderful, the problem is; I have some friends in the uh, uh, advertising business and they have no idea, they don’t know who Seth Godin is, they definitely don’t know who Dharmesh is, we live in a world where, of course, we get it, this, this is the future, but are they delusional or like what is it? Are they going to die or are they going to continue?

Audience: Well, advertising has been really good at recruiting smart people, so I think eventually they’ll catch up, but yeah, um, you know, stepping outside of the tech industry all together into something as unsexy, although, I am a foodie, so I think they’re sexy but, as appliances, uh this company here in Boston; Yale Appliances, they had been doing lots of social media marketing before they even became a HubSpot customer, but when they became a Hubspot customer seven months ago, their advertising budget was $800,000 a year, it’s now $60, and they have grown 6.5% while their industry has declined 8%. So I got to figure that’s going to trickle down to Madison Avenue eventually. Which is cool because Boston is looking to be the Madison Avenue of marketing and you know, it’s all good for us.

Audience: Will it blend? – talking about appliances.

Laura Fitton: Oh yeah, another great social media marketing. You’ve all seen the ‘will it blend’ campaign? You know, again, appliances, he’s selling blenders, you know, but when he drops and Ipad into one of them aside from having gut pain because oh my God he dropped an iPad into one of them, um, it’s gotten him tons and tons and tons of attention and inbound.

Is the mic somewhere else? How are we doing on time? I know that timer didn’t start running until I had been going a while, so if you want to…ok great…and it’s very easy to ask me questions on Twitter you know, just @Pistachio me, and you know, I’ll do my best to catch up with them all.

Audience: Yeah, just, just, a comment to this gentleman who doesn’t have enough time, uh, I would love to hear your comments, uh, Dan Martell has an awesome blog post, just Google, content marketing for start-ups, and it will be the number one hit, but in that blog post uh, which started out as an online conversation, he addresses things like creating anchor content verses viral content, to address this gentleman’s point. But the most important thing for me, and uh, a couple of my businesses, is hire a content creator, like hire a copy writer for yourself, because I don’t have time to do it, but I pay, you know, let’s say a hundred, two hundred dollars per blog post, I sketch out just a list of bullet point, give them a list of people to talk to and they’re a professional writer, they know what to do, they create great content in our voice, and it uh, it gets the job done for you know, four thousand dollars a year. Maybe.

Laura Fitton: Aside from a visceral response, Dan Martel is one of my favorite human beings on earth, he started helping me way back in the days before that white paper on the white paper stuff I mentioned, and was an investor of Oneforty. So absolutely, go to Dan Martel’s blog and find his content marketing post and nobody does content marketing as well as Dan does, he’s amazing. Um, you’re saying the pay for blog posts reminded me, in the white section, the kind of market place section, there are companies Zeries is the one I remember off the top of my head, but there are a bunch of different companies you can access by going to them directly, or you know, once you’re a HubSpot customer, they’re there in your console, where you give them an outline, some key words, and they send back decent blog post content.

You know, be careful where you get it from you don’t want to trust some real real shady place, cause they will plagiarize and send you stuff and say it was theirs, but you know, yeah, that’s a great way to go. Such a good point, thank you.

Audience: But you know who these authors are, you’re reading their blog posts already, so they’re actually kind of easy to find, you don’t have to really go through other users.

Laura Fitton: And especially the scrappy up and comers that are looking to make career you know, it’s not exploitive if it’s giving them more exposure, right? And I think most people are grown up enough to decide, do you want to blog for free on offhand post or do you want, you know? It’s like, it’s up to the person doing it. Other questions? Yup?

Audience: Hello. Uh, I am Lynn from the Russian company, and uh, we are B2B enterprise company, we sell software to large enterprises like, I don’t know one client is bank, and other large bank and financial institutions. My question was do, could you suggest some social media which could use companies and heavy B2B segment.

Laura Fitton: So suggest which social media tactics to use? To get customers in a heavy B2B segment?

Audience: Yes because I am, uh, listen to you, and uh, all those Twitter things and Facebook things uh, I don’t know how to apply them to IBM.

Laura Fitton: Um, well, things like blogging for SCO, like we were talking about with, uh, Kevin, um, if you think they’re using search tools to find information about their new (?) I mean it really comes down to who’s your customer and how do they find things out, Right? Start there, don’t start with things like “Oh my God, I know they’re not on Facebook and Twitter.” Right? Start with who are they and how are they finding stuff out? And then figure out how to get in front of how they are finding stuff out. Um, I was, I was, last minute substituting for Brian Haligan at mentoring some MMIT entrepreneurial teams, and one of them was like “yea we’re in the methane monitoring industry and landfill operators don’t even use the internet”, I’m like “Okay, you got me there, you can’t do much inbound marketing for them, unless you got a PDF thing you can print out and hand to other people in the industry”, right? So it starts with that, and that’s how you pick your tactics. Does that help?

Audience: Oh, I think so. And what do you think about press releases? Are they broke?

Laura Fitton: So we have a Webinar coming up on that. Um, press releases as a way to get press are completely broken, like you will almost never get press because of a press release, and press releases because they don’t take that it’s about you turn it inside out step most of the time, are completely useless to the human being who finds them, because who the hell wants to read, you know? Read it like you’re your mom or your kid or your brother like would you want to read that? Would you pay money for it? So if you can write press releases that people would pay money for, then the press release is a perfectly good tactic.

Now there is a third use of a press release and that is SEO, because it’s one more thing that gets published on various channels and exists and links into you and can be found, so that aspect of it is still relatively useful, we’ve actually done, our guy Dan Zarello, who does science of, has done some science of press releases research, if you feel like tuning into the webinar, you can get it there, uh, after the webinar it will be available for download, and uh, it was mainly the SEO value that he was able to find that press release is still vaguely worth doing. Thank you

Audience: Hi I’m Cory, I’m solo founder of the Birdie, uh, a personal finance tracker. I love the messaging behind be useful, big believer in it, and also be honest, as we heard about yesterday, which is crucial to all this stuff. Um, so, but in that vein of being useful, being in the personal finance space, um I find that, pretty much every idea that I can think of to write about has already been written about, about ten times. Um, so I actually have a, sort of a hard time, rewriting the same blog posts that have been written about in ten other places just because it feels a little irresponsible to keep publishing the same content, I was wondering if you have any thoughts on that or maybe how to utilize you know, other people’s content that’s already been written for my own gain and profits.

Laura Fitton: Wow, we are getting two very different questions. Um, so I used to do these things called start-up weekend, and uh, we had a rule during the brainstorming about what because, well start-up weekend you get a bunch of people together, in a room, and it used to be they would all come up with an idea for one company and spend 48 hours building the company, now its multiple ideas.

Audience: And they’re awesome, I actually mentored one about a week ago.

Laura Fitton: They’re so much fun and I, I got to say like, a ton of people I still know and really rely on were at the start-up weekend I went to four and a half years ago here in Boston, so it’s got the B school experience of its sort of the people you meet. But we had a rule during brainstorming that if someone threw up an idea and someone said “Oh it’s been done”, we would all kind of chime in and say “Simpson’s did it”, and you know kind of quelch that like get over yourself there can be two of a certain thing, I mean, God had anybody done search when Turday and, yeah, no there were like 12 search engines right? And they did it better? So try not to self-censor, we beat the crap out of ourselves on a daily basis, again that’s a whole other talk that I do. Um, try not to self-censor too much, because give yourself some credit, you probably do have a unique perspective on it or you wouldn’t be creating a software solution to whatever is unique about that.

Um, using other people’s content people loved to be linked to, people love to be invited to guest post, so if there is a great piece someone did but they did it a year ago, email them, I was going to say call them up, but who uses the phones right? Email them and say, “We love your post, would you be willing to do a reprise of it?”, and have them actually update it and change it a bit so you’re not going to get dinged on the search engines as duplicate content, but you’re actually going to do people a favor by like hey, new and improved, new points, new insights, whatever. Um, for the stuff you’re writing where you just simply know other people have covered it, um, so what? There are realtors on every block you know? I mean there does need to be some duplication of content for people to find the one that’s comfortable for them, and that’s why that slide with the sign post where it said, “don’t be afraid to polarize”, it’s easy to give lip service to this idea that yeah, you know you just need to find your right people, but that is so important from a competitive standpoint and being able to sustain your growth. Be real clear on who you are and who you aren’t, because you can cover the same topic for widely different audiences.

Audience: Great thank you.

Laura Fitton: Thank you. I think I probably better get off this stage, but thank you all so much. [Applause]

Laura Fitton
Laura Fitton

Laura Fitton

Once upon a time dubbed a “Queen” of Twitter, Laura “@Pistachio” Fitton co-authored Twitter for Dummies and founded (acquired by HubSpot) in 2009 when she recognised that software built on Twitter’s API was going to change the world.

As an Inbound Marketing Evangelist, she’s excited about showing companies how to grow by helping people buy instead of cramming marketing messages down their throats.

More from Laura.

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