Category Archives: B2B

SlideShare vs Scribd

Quick Summary

SlideShare is best for hosting high-quality, business focused presentations and documents. The clear choice if you are willing to pay for a premium account that offers analytics and lead generation. 

Scribd is for best for bulk document uploads or high-quality imbedding options for your own site. You give up a strong branded experience for free analytics.

SlideShare vs Scribd A comparison of services which one is right for you

Why use either?

  • Another way to reach customers. Both of these sites have broad reach.
  • A way to host your presentation or document with the option of imbedding it on your own site.
  • Another way to capture share of search (i.e. more search results that have your content).

How SlideShare and Scribd make money influences their sites and should influence your decision on which to use.

While both sites have advertisement on them. Slideshare allows users to select a pay option to completely remove ads from your document and user page. Scribd doesn’t offer any premium package for the brand (i.e. the uploader) and instead runs ads against all upload document. If getting someone to download your document is a goal, Scribd likely isn’t the best service for you. See this from their advertising page:

[A]fter 6 weeks, a document uploaded to Scribd it is no longer freely available for download. The user must then either upload a document to get one in exchange, or create an archive membership for unlimited downloads.

Traffic and the kinds of traffic

Both sites get similar amounts of traffic with Slideshare increasing getting more, but I think the key is the kind of traffic each site get and how they brand themselves. Slideshare is focused on business information including presentations and reports, while Scribd seems to allow almost anything. If you have a look at the Scribd home page and featured sections, most of these pages focus on consumer oriented books and textbooks.

I rarely see Scribd rank for Google searches I do. It could be that I am not doing the right kind of searches, but I have done thousands of various industry, marketing and general searches in the past year and have seen one or two Scribd result from all of those. This could be because they lean toward books and government documents (thus why I don’t think they are the ideal fit for myself or many clients). So that gets them some serious volume.

On the other hand, I routinely see Slideshare in the first page of results for many searches.

High volume uploads favors Scribd

One advantage of Scribd is that their code for embedding provide a superior presentation of content. This has resulted in online publishers like TechCrunch and Mashable using Scribd to imbed documents on their own sites.

Scribd is also the best choice for bulk uploading and hosting of documents. When you have hundreds of documents that need to be shared, Scribd is a superior solution to Slideshare. This is reflected in Scribd being the official document share site for the U.S. Federal Goverment including the White House, Congress and FCC.

The Experience

Slideshare offers the ability to pay a premium to remove ads. Scribd does not.

In addition, Slideshare premium users can control their own pages look which allow brands to better control the user experience.

That said, if you don’t want to pay a premium for hosting or analytics, Scribd is a good choice since they provide analytics for all their accounts and don’t charge any fee.

As I mentioned earlier, if getting someone to download your document is a goal, Scribd likely isn’t the best service for you due to them forcing readers to pay for a premium service or upload a document in order to download.

Downloads can be particularly important for larger purchases in the B2B space where the researcher might not be the decision maker.

Summary

Both services do an exceptional job of doing what they do. If you are focused on lead generation, promoting thought leadership and are willing to pay a premium, SlideShare is the site you should choose.

 

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Making money on mobile. Multiple barriers but some success.

This piece on mobile advertising and marketing ended up running rather long, but it is broken up into three sections for easy viewing:

If you want to go right to the success cases, feel free, but I hope you will find some useful information in all the sections on things to consider before you jump into mobile advertising and marketing.

Creating monetizable events on phones is difficult.

Phones are not easy to make purchases on.

Amazon and Apple have solved this issue to some degree by getting you to enter your payment information via a computer when you setup an account or make purchases, and subsequently it only takes a click or two to make a purchase on your phone. But if you are coming to an entirely new site and are trying to enter all your personal and credit card information, you know how difficult it can be. Small screen size and less than precise input devices increase the friction in purchases to the point that many people give up.

Purchasing on phones is not a habit.

Difficulty alone stops most transactions, but there is also the issue of phones seeming less secure or at a minimum the process is just new. As humans we are creatures of habit.  Text messaging and social networks have allowed us to use our phones to communicate with friends and family as well as the broader world. But when we actually want to make a  purchase, most of us have the option of forgoing intense research and purchases until we are on a more familiar and capable device. If you want to purchase a new TV online, are you going to use your phone to research the options? Possibly, but most of us will do the research and especially the purchasing on a regular computer . This may change as tablets become more the norm, but mobile is still more of a social, entertaining experience vs the place you go to make purchases. Even when we start using tablets as our primary computer, the mobile element will not be the key element. If you make a purchase on your tablet while sitting on your couch, is that any different then making the same purchase on a notebook computer?

Display ads are not effective on mobile devices.

While many of us are using our phones to access the Internet more than we are using our computers, the ad industry has had considerable difficulty finding ways to effectively advertise on mobile. Take the example of games. Games have done incredibly well on mobile. It is easy for a person to just launch an app and play a game when they have a couple minutes of free time. Display ads are common in ad supported games, but a review of developers discussing mobile ad revenue shows that the money made on mobile ads in minimal. Even beyond games, consumer are used to simply ignoring display ads, and it is likely that the minimal clicks on mobile ads are often misclicks. We are talking about small screens here.

Three examples of mobile struggles.

Newspapers

No industry is more desperate to find new ways to monetization in the digial world than the newspapers. Their monopoly on local coverage has been erroded by social networks and greater access to niche content. While most newspapers have maintained a substantial reach by having a comprehensive Internet pressence, digital ads and services produce less than 20% of what print ads do. Despite the desire to find new revenue models and more people accessing their content on phones, less than 1% of newspaper’s revenue is coming from mobile

Facebook

Facebook’s recent IPO filing indicated they have no revenue from mobile. Here you have one of the most successful social networks, that is valued at close to 100 billions dollars, and they get zero revenue from mobile. In the past two week Facebook has gotten agressive about mobile and advertising in general, but their slow movement into this area points to the fact that mobile doesn’t have an easy path to monetizing attention. Since Facebook revenue ultimately comes down to advertising, it is worth noting that while Google might not know as much about us, search usually signals intent in the moment. Intent is much more valuable for lead generation and sales then just knowing what I “Like”. Facebook might get into the search business, but without it, it will be tough for them to compete with Google for some of the most lucrative ad purchasing verticals including on mobile.

Social Ad Networks

My final example is from personal experience. Cross platform ad networks value mobile clicks significantly less than those made from a computer. I run MyLike ads on the @free Twitter account, so I have quite a bit of experience with their network. For several months, MyLikes was paying just 2 cents per mobile click while at the same time paying as high as 35 cents for a click made via a user on a computer. They did this because advertisers, particularly those who were looking for a specific action from their ads, like a sale or a sign-up on a lead form, were unhappy with the performance of mobile users. MyLikes has since stopped the payment differentiation and made all clicks equal. Their justification for changing back to equal pay was the branding benefits of ads.

Where mobile does work.

Local

The idea with mobile is that you can be reached anywhere. Many retail business and services have to get you to leave your house to visit them. If you can be reached while you are already out and about, these businesses have already overcome the first step. For mobile, very basic SMS texts tend to be a powerful way to reach people on their mobile devices. Local businessess, particuarlly restaurants, have had success running SMS text lists. The most effective campaigns combine mobile delivery of messages with discounts and free offers to get customers in the door, make them familiar with local businesses, and get them into new routines.

Audience Acquisition

You might not make the sale with mobile, but it is a good venue to start acquiring potential leads.  Sales funnels (how you get from first exposure to actual sale) vary greatly, but if you can get a potential customer to “Like” your Facebook page, follow on Twitter or signup with your email or SMS text list, you have started the process. That connection can lead to multiple touch points, build awareness and give you a venue for a call-to-action. In many cases, you are not going to get these connections with display ads. The “ad blindness” I talked about ealier still applies. There are effective ways to get these connections including providing compelling content, curating your industry, running contests or even paying for in-stream ads. In-stream ads can now be purchased on Twitter as well as Facebook, or if you are looking for a lower cost option, you can work with 3rd party brokers or even publishers. My startup @free has built both our audience as well as our own revenue model on in-stream advertising and sponsorships.

Phone Calls

Google continues to be on the cutting edge of what works in advertising, and they are doing it by going back to the future. While restaurants have been successful using SMS coupons and free offers to get people in the door via mobile, this approach doesn’t work as well for less universal services (i.e. everyone eats each day, we don’t need a plumber each day). For most industries, intent is extremely important. Google has solved the issue of actually creating leads and sales on mobile by allowing the call-to-action to be a phone call. Real sales are being generated by this method. Fortune has an excellent article on the subject. Here are a few of the businesses experiencing success with Google mobile ads:

Naturally, the approach has proved popular with firms that have long relied on call centers to generate new business. Take Esurance, the San Francisco-based auto insurance firm that provides services online. The company says that click-to-call ads have improved the efficacy of its marketing campaign some 25%. While it won’t release specifics, it says calls coming from such ads were more likely to result in sales than typical phone inquiries. “So many people want their final transactions to be over the phone,” says Esurance Director of Online Marketing Tolithia Kornweibel.

1-800-Flowers (FLWS) is another example. The company says it’s customers were two or three times more likely to click to make a phone call from a handset than to click on anadvertisement on a desktop computer. Cable provider Comcast (CMCSK) has found the same to be true. Since starting to use mobile ads in June last year, the company says it has seen a surge in mobile sales, with 270% greater click-through rates on mobile than desktop devices. Mobile advertising now drives more than 10% of the company’s online sales, up from virtually nothing last year.

While these examples are for businesses who have call centers, local businesses can also take advantage of the phone call option because the number of potential customers is much smaller and can easily be handled by your existing sales teams or even just taking the calls directly as a small business owner.

Mobile is obviously a substantial growth area, but knowing what technology to use to reach users in a meaningful way is a key consideration in actually making mobile work for your business and industry.

 

Scared, Shy and Misapplied – Three big problems for B2B on Twitter.

Many 2011 social media predictions include the emergence of Business to Business (B2B).  Some predictions have gone beyond just B2B to focus on corporate B2B social media. I agree this is a huge growth area, but there are several significant barriers that may push the realization of this prediction to 2012 or beyond.

Social media’s most powerful use is the ability to converse.  I don’t see many conversations happening on corporate or even mid-sized business Twitter accounts, and that spells big issues with making B2B a growth area.

Three problem areas to consider:

  • Fear that brands are too valuable to link them to a social media account.
  • Conversations aren’t happening (pretty much the death of any value to social media).
  • Any connections made, aren’t between decision makers.

These are three considerable barriers to corporate and mid-size B2B growth, so let’s consider each issue.

They are scared.

When a company has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars (or in many cases millions depending on scale) building up a brand, they don’t want any missteps. They don’t want the wrong wording used.  They don’t want the wrong affiliation made.  All of those things can happen in social media.  Just like in real life, mistakes are made in conversations. Something as small as calling another company a partner instead of a strategic alliance is worthy of a week of back-and-forth with legal.  To boil it down: there are too many perceived risk to their company speaking.  To get over this fear . . .

They don’t converse.

If a corporate brand is brave enough to speak, they likely are just Tweeting about something they have already posted or got approved via another venue.  They might link to a new white paper or blog post, but they don’t comment on or post something that is unique to Twitter.

It is just another channel to push content that the corporation would be creating otherwise.  Treating social media as just another channel to promote your own products and services can be valuable, but with a pure push mentality, these accounts are only achieving 10-20% of what makes social media effective.

If you are lucky enough to get some conversation going . . .

The people running the accounts aren’t decision makers.

Many B2B Twitter accounts are now run by marketing, PR and media relations people.  If you put all those people in a room for a discussion, what is going to happen?  The first thing is that they are going to tell you about their company and its product.  But they are telling other marketers and PR people, not decision makers. The second thing is that any connections that are made are largely going to be between marketing and PR departments.  How do those connections help your brand?  They don’t.

I love marketers, PR people and those in media relations; after all, I wear all of those same hats at times.  But if I want to converse with them, I follow their personal and agency accounts.  Putting someone in charge of your Twitter account who doesn’t have deep subject matter or product knowledge and/or the ability to interact with other people on the subject matter, is a disservice to the brand.  These individuals and agencies do their best, but they aren’t tasked or empowered to interact on behalf of the brand.

If your organization is looking for a quick solution it makes intuitive sense to rely on already existing departments or use an agency.  But what makes sense in terms of dollars and effort spent, doesn’t always prove to be the right solution long term.

Meaningful connections happen when decision makers converse.  If the majority of account holders are in departments that are only about company promotion, then meaningful conversations don’t happen.  This will likely be the largest barrier to rapid use and success with B2B social media.

My perspective is not entirely negative.

Each of these barriers also point to huge opportunities.

Many corporate B2B brands have social media accounts. Some are dormant, some just push press releases, and others have started to try to interact, but the first mover advantage is open for those who are actually willing to converse.  If you start now on a real engagement approach, your company will stand out.  If you are the first to engage and converse, you will set yourself apart from competitors and establish real value with your social media efforts.  Your company’s account will become the center of your industry’s network, and what you promote and discuss (including your own content) will set the tone for industry discussions.  That tone will not only lead to a powerful social media channel, but will also help establish the agenda for what print and other traditional media choose to write about.

The barrier to entry is significant.  It goes beyond just having a PR or marketing person on your account.  It requires real commitment from your decisions makers (at least one or two) to get active in social media and understand its advantages.  You need subject matter specialists who also can act on connections that are made.

If you aren’t ready to put your whole brand on the line, consider encouraging select decision makers, who are good conversationalists, to start Twitter accounts.  Provide adequate training and basic guidelines. This takes the voice away from a company focus, but allows for connections to be made.  As a company becomes more comfortable with what they see, have the corporate account re-tweet some of the more interesting tweets from these individuals.  To take even more pressure off the brand . . .

Let (almost) everyone speak.

IBM has famously allowed almost everyone in their organization to have Twitter accounts and blogs that have an affiliation with the company.  It naturally follows that every individual is not the brand, but is part of the process. The more individuals in your company that are using social media, the more interactions occur and less pressure is put on small mistakes or affiliations.  The future is bringing the power of an entire organization to social media.  It doesn’t have to be every person, but it has to start somewhere.  Setting up the right people and practices early in a company’s social media progression will allow for meaningful engagement, quick successes and lay the ground work for powerful integration of social media into the organization.

One of my biggest fears for B2B in the coming year is that because everyone says social media is important, money will be thrown at it.  Looking at budgets, it is clear that money is being put behind social media efforts.  Accounts will be created, but conversation won’t happen.  The value of social media won’t be seen and that will lead to some backlash.  I have no doubt that at all levels, including corporate, social media is going to be important.  If you have some input into the process, make your voice heard now, or expect many setbacks before meaningful B2B social media happens.

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Do you have examples of industries or companies were B2B conversations are happening?  Or do you have comments on B2B or effective conversation in general?  I would love to hear about them.