How to rescue a failing social campaign

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I've recently noticed that the questions I get from b-to-b marketers are changing. A year ago, most people were asking how to start a social marketing campaign. Today, they're increasingly asking how to rescue a dying one.

In many cases, these marketers have got the content equation right. They're producing plenty of useful information and optimizing for search engines. They're publishing, but they're not engaging.

Internet data are growing at more than 50% annually, and search engines aren't even close to keeping up. Simply publishing and waiting isn't enough. You have to create a dialogue with your audience. Here are six steps you can take:

Start a newsletter. Your existing audience is your most valuable source of repeat traffic and referrals. Offer a newsletter that alerts them to new content and delivers members-only benefits. Deliver monthly or more often if you can. Send them content, not advertisements.

Engage influencers. Chances are your market already has several bloggers or website owners who have the ear of your prospects. Reach out to these people with a personalized request for a call or meeting. Comment on their blogs, compliment their work, offer to republish some of their best stuff and give them a link. If necessary, pay a modest licensing fee or offer a free trial of your product or service. Get them turned on to what you're doing and they'll send others your way.

Tear down that wall. Marketers are addicted to registration forms, but these popular b-to-b lead-generation tools are increasingly irrelevant. It's bad enough that half of website visitors typically abandon pages when a registration wall appears. Today, each of those lost prospects is a potential referral. Here's a better idea: Think of ways to encourage people to volunteer an e-mail address instead of forcing them to surrender it at the door.

Invite comments. At least half of your blog entries should end with a sentence that invites feedback, ideas or questions. Use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for the same purpose.

Respond. When a request for input bears fruit, offer a response, a thank-you and a follow in return. If you can't address every comment, acknowledge threads of discussion and thank people by name. Tweet the best comments.

Repackage and reuse. Publish podcasts or video versions of your blog entries, or combine several posts into an e-book. Update older material and republish as new. Give people multiple ways to derive value from your expertise.

Paul Gillin's new book, co-authored with Eric Schwartzman and published by John Wiley & Sons, is “Social Marketing to the Business Customer.”

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