Monday Media Madness! Added Media and Other New Features in Microsoft Social Engagement

What we can't capture in words, we can sometimes convey through imagery. Now, in Microsoft Social Engagement (MSE), we can do both! Along with a slew of other product enhancements that have been introduced to the platform, the ability to include media with published posts on Twitter and Facebook has made engagement with customers all the more streamlined and centralized. In today's blog, we'll take a look at these enhancements in more detail!

In the last few major updates for MSE, we were given the ability to publish social posts straight from the application. This lent to a much more efficient model of engaging a customer base, but in this, the age of the meme, we were left wanting a little more in terms of what were able to publish. Now, with the last update (1.2), we can add a little visual flair to our posts. So, you and your users might now go from this:

Microsoft Social Engagement

To this:

 Microsoft Social Engagement

Microsoft Social Engagement will publish JPEG, PNG, and GIF files too, so you've got some options. All you need to do is navigate to a post somewhere in your instance (for this example, we'll use one in our Analytics area in the layout on the right). In the image below, we are doing the following:

Microsoft Social Engagement

1. Hitting Reply on the post to jump into a social post.

2. Adding in message content and any trends or hashtags.

3. Clicking on the new Add Media button to look for what we'd like to publish with our message.

From here, a file explorer will open and we can select our media (in this case, a PNG image), which will then be queued up to publish along with our post.

 Microsoft Social Engagement

Outside of adding media to posts, users can also do the following with Microsoft Social Engagement:

Put all this alongside some of the newly added functionalities like enhanced post filtering and routing, intention analysis (a step beyond the already-powerful sentiment values within MSE), and budding automation rules, and you've got a robust social platform that can help drive your channel marketing, customer service, and overall customer engagement strategies as well as provide top-notch social analytics and collaboration capabilities.

Microsoft Social Engagement

The best part about everything here is that with the newer linking ability to send information to Microsoft Dynamics CRM we get a vastly more integrated Social CRM system that's continually innovating and adding value to sales, marketing, and customer service teams of all flavors. Want to learn more about MSE? Check out this blog!

Happy CRM'ing!

The B2B Marketing Final Four

B2B marketing isn't easy, but it's also not impossible. When a company finds its groove, it can be fun! There are different things you can do to find that groove, however, there are certain pillars that every B2B organization must pay attention to. These four pillars are what we'll cover in today's blog with a perfectly timed "Final Four" reference.

Content: The #1 Seed

Content is king, but it is also a #1 seed in our B2B marketing Final Four. Content for B2B marketing shouldn't just be fliers or single-sheet case studies. Your content should explain why your service is important to potential buyers and should be written with SEO in mind so people searching for your product can find your content.

Your website should receive regular attention just like any other piece of content you create. Your website gives your visitors a sense of understanding, and when you're selling on a national or global level, a well-run website puts your visitor at ease. Make the time to consistently create good, relevant content and you'll receive a large return on your investment.

Some examples of B2B content every company should have include:

This list isn't comprehensive and it shouldn't be taken as gospel. What works for one company might not work for another. That's why it's important to monitor your ROI with individual pieces of content to find your own sweet spot. Ask yourself: what content is converting into leads? If you don't know the answer, make sure you find out as soon as possible to help make educated and time commitment decisions.

Social: The Underdog

Social is a beast…or in our B2B Final Four, it's the underdog. You can never trust an underdog because one day it could surprise you and without proper planning bite you in the butt. That's why as a B2B marketer you need to think long and hard about the pros and cons of your social activity. To put it plainly, you need a plan. You need to know what you'll say, when you'll say it, and have a contingency if someone doesn't like what you do or have to say. Also, just like Vegas loses big on an underdog's success, you will lose to social unless you pay to play. It's getting harder to win just on organic posts alone. But, because of the demographic data social media platforms collect, you can make it worth your while by targeting your personas with social ads. Social ads are also cheaper, on average, per click than AdWords.

So what should your plan include? The first thing to look at as a B2B company is LinkedIn. LinkedIn provides companies a way to get in front of their potential customers easier than other platforms. Using a company page to post company news and other company culture material will allow you to brand your company properly. LinkedIn also provides the best capabilities to target your audience with advertising. Using job titles, location, skills, and business names allows you to make sure you're hitting your target market but also allows you to test different segments for the best ROI.

The second platform you should look to is Twitter. While the downfall of Twitter has been documented thoroughly (maybe prematurely) it is still a great tool to broadcast your business and show authority within your space. Twitter advertising can also pay dividends for your advertising ROI. Every post on Twitter should include a shortened link, text, and a related image (if you have one that makes sense). Using all three gives your post the best opportunity to be shared or, even better, clicked on. When creating a shortened link, make sure you use a tool that allows for click tracking like Bitly or Google. For an even better sense of how your campaigns are doing, use the Google URL Builder to add a campaign tracking code, then use the shortener to make it Twitter friendly. This extra step allows you to dig deeper into your social visitors' session in Google Analytics.

Following your social visitors' sessions within Google Analytics allows you to understand what is working not only with your social campaign, but also your website. Is your landing page working? Is your CTA (call to action)? What is the user experience (UX) these visitors are having? With these questions you can test and modify your website to gain conversions and a better overall ROI on all your B2B digital marketing campaigns.

With LinkedIn and Twitter in the fold, there are other social networks you can consider, but make sure you have time to manage them and that they make sense for your business. Some of the other top platforms include:

Email: The Cinderella

Every Cinderella has a great story to tell. From the bottom to the top. From the gutter to the penthouse. The same goes for email marketing. Email has taken the same type of path as digital marketing techniques have grown the past several years. I'm sure you've read posts that deny the benefit of email campaigns, but like eating eggs and personal health, email is good for your business, which is why it's our Final Four Cinderella.

Just like any Cinderella story, there is a lot of work that goes into winning. Before you can start sending emails to your leads and contacts, you need an email address. Email addresses are the glass slipper of B2B digital marketing. Hard to get, easy to lose, but in the end worth your time due to the potential benefits of it. Ways to collect email address from your website visitors include:

So you have the email, now what? Well, it's time to nurture this lead from pumpkin to carriage. When discussing email nurture or drip campaigns, you should remember that every customer base is different. The amount of emails sent by one company may be more tolerated than from another company. So finding your groove is important in creating a sequence for sending emails to your list. A great tool to use for understanding email nurture/drip campaigns is a guide called "How to Send Email Like a Startup" by SendWithUs.com. It provides a great breakdown of creating all kinds of emails and how/when to send them. They also update the guide regularly to keep you informed on new techniques.

The most important thing to remember about email is you need to provide value and use the activity of your lists to dictate the next email. Doing this can move your leads down the funnel faster and in turn shorten your sales cycle, which is what we should all want!

CRM: The Dynasty

With your to-do list a mile long and your digital marketing campaigns ready to go, how do you plan on tracking leads? Maintaining your email list? Sharing ROI with executives? All of these questions can be answered by implementing a customer relationship management system, or CRM. CRM can always be trusted to be there when you need it. That's why it's our dynasty in the B2B marketing Final Four. CRM helps the sales team manage their leads through the funnel but it can also help marketing track campaign success, nurture your marketing qualified leads down the funnel, and give you reports to share.

When doing research on CRM for your business, it's important you find one that allows you to implement workflows across departments and other tools. One near and dear to our heart is Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Dynamics CRM allows any sized company to implement a great process for tracking leads, customer service touch points, and successful marketing campaigns. But, just like any business decision to be made, make sure you're doing your homework on the customer support you'll receive. With proper support you can quickly resolve any issues that arise and educate yourself and your team on how to use CRM.

Takeaway

We hope you have found today's blog useful. Mainly, we hope we've given you motivation. Motivation to create something special for your company. Motivation to do research and testing to find the best ROI, but also motivation to increase your knowledge on B2B marketing in general. So with the end of the post near…what is your company's marketing groove? Sound off in the comments below!

Happy CRM'ing!

Dynamics Marketing Crash Course: Creating Job Templates and Social Media Management

Microsoft Dynamics Marketing is a great tool that helps you maximize your marketing efforts within Dynamics CRM. In today's blog, we are going to give you two handy tips for using MDM: how to create job templates within MDM and how to manage your social media with MDM. It's marketing madness today! Let's begin!

How to Create Job Templates in Dynamics Marketing

Organizations often need to manage routine jobs and the tasks associated with completing those jobs. The jobs and tasks are often the same, but the individual who is assigned to complete the task could be different based on their availability at the time.

You can manage these types of routine jobs and task assignments through Microsoft Dynamics Marketing by using Job Templates and Virtual Teams.

1. To create a new Job Template, first navigate to the Projects tile, then click on Job Templates.

This is the main page for Job Templates. Here you will find all of the Job Templates currently in the system.

2. Create a new Job Template by clicking the + button in the upper right hand corner of the page.


3. On the Job Template creation form, specify the required fields to get the Job Template started. Set the status to In Process, create a name for the Job, and select the Company, Start Date, Due Date, and any additional information to help identify the Job.


4. After you complete all of the required fields, click Save at the bottom of the screen. Notice that below the Specifications text box, there is a dotted line with the word Details underneath it. This is the entity selector dropdown. In the Details section, you can specify additional information about the Job. For example, if this Job is related to a marketing program, you can specify that here.

For now, click on the entity selector (Details dropdown) and select Tasks. To create a new Task, click on the + sign. A new screen will open and prompt you to set up the Task.


5. Specify a name for the Task. In this example, the Task is to create a brand logo for the website, so we created a name accordingly. Specify your required fields. Notice that in Assigned to, we've added the name of a Virtual Team called Graphic Design, rather than User. When we use this Job Template in the future, we'll be able to specify the User who is responsible for Tasks assigned to the Graphic Design Virtual Team.

Note: To set up Virtual Teams in Dynamics Marketing, navigate to Settings, My Company, and then Virtual Teams.

6. Now, save your Task and return to the Job Template form. Continue to add tasks until all of the required tasks to complete your job are entered into the Job Template.


Now that all of our tasks have been entered, we need to specify the teams that are involved in this job.

7. Click the entity selector and select Teams. Then we will add in the teams that we have included in our tasks and select Assigned to for each role, since we'll be assigning tasks to these teams. When the job is created, this is where we will go to select a specific contact to assign the tasks to for each team.

8. We are now ready to use the Job Template to create a job. Click Submit, then navigate to Projects and then Jobs. Click the + button to create a new job.

9. After clicking the + button to create a new job, Dynamics Marketing will prompt us to either create a new job or select from an existing Job Template. We're going to create the job using the Job Template that we just created. After selecting the Job Template, click Submit.

10. You will notice that the job form looks almost identical to the Job Template form. Edit the Start Date for the job and click Save. A pop-up notifies us that the job duration has changed. To adjust the dates for the tasks as well, click Shift job and task dates.


11. Now we're ready to assign the tasks to specific contacts in the system. Click the entity selector and select Teams.

12. Next, replace the Team Name with a Contact Name and click Save.

13. A message will ask whether we'd like to reassign all tasks to the new contact. Click OK.

14. Click the entity selector and select tasks. Notice that the tasks that were previously assigned to the Copywriting team are now assigned to a contact.

That's it! As you can see, using Job Templates and Virtual Teams can be very helpful when assigning tasks to get routine jobs done!

Managing Social Media Accounts with Dynamics Marketing

Setting up your social media account is the first step to managing social media in Dynamics Marketing.

1. First, navigate to the Assets & Media tile in the main navigation and select Media Outlets.

2. Add a new Media Outlet by selecting the + icon at the top right hand corner of the screen. Notice the different types of media that you can manage within Dynamics Marketing. To manage a social media account, select Social Media and click Submit.


3. Specify Twitter or Facebook and the Account/Login/URL for the account.

If you have Programs or Campaigns that have their own social media account, you can specify those here as well. When you look at your Programs or Campaigns, you'll be able to toggle through the Social Media outlets that are related to the Program or Campaign. You can also include an expense and billing account, events or jobs.

4. When you have completed entering the information, click Save, click Authorize Access, and follow the prompts by the social media network to access the account.


Now that we have authorized access on our social media account, we can begin posting to it from Dynamics Marketing.

5. To create a social media post, navigate to the Marketing Execution tile, select Social Media, and click Social Media.


6. On the main screen for Social Media Messages, click the New button in the upper right hand corner.


7. Now you're ready to compose your post or tweet. Select whether you want to send the post now or at a specified time in the future, and check which site you'd like to post to. Enter your post in the large text box and specify hashtags, tags and links within the message. You can also upload a photo or video by clicking the upload icon.

8. When you have finished composing your message, click Post, and then head over to your social media site to see your published post.

That's all for the blog today! You can learn more about Microsoft Dynamics Marketing on our website. And as always, happy CRM'ing!

Microsoft Social Engagement: New Look, New Feel, New Features

Whether you're the CMO of your organization, a customer service representative, or someone who needs to leverage social data, Microsoft Social Engagement equips users with a powerful, easy-to-use, and robust platform to gain an edge in the social media landscape. A lot has changed since Microsoft first introduced the tool (originally titled Microsoft Social Listening) and with the new updates in place, users will get to jump into a whole new social experience, rich with customization, collaboration, and automation. In today's blog, we will take a look at the new features and functionality!

1. Improved and Streamlined UI

Some of you may remember the Microsoft Social Listening of days past, with its default landing screen that had a unique, spherical design with various tools and data included. Now, Microsoft Social Engagement offers up an intuitive, modern feel that aims to reduce noise while simultaneously showcasing the added analytics enhancements. As an added bonus, there's the option of choosing between light and dark themes as you can see in the examples below.

Microsoft Social Engagement

Microsoft Social Engagement

Microsoft Social Engagement

2. Search

The search functionality has been simplified to create a better user experience all around. Create new search categories and get a breakdown of the topics included in each of those categories. The two-page redesign is paired with a handy Quota snapshot. This provides users with insight on how a new search will impact the monthly post quota allotted by the system.

Microsoft Social Engagement

Microsoft Social Engagement

3. Enhanced Analytics

The amount of data you can pull into Microsoft Social Engagement can be a bit overwhelming at times, but with the new features comes a more powerful analytics engine that allows users to pinpoint the valuable social data they're really after. With one click, users are able to transform and visualize social data through interactive widgets, filter and refine data streams on the fly, and navigate and drill down into new Conversations, Sentiment, Location, and Sources insights.

Conversations is a new addition to Microsoft Social Engagement, complete with key phrases, phrase source breakdowns, and trends.

Microsoft Social Engagement

Microsoft Social Engagement

Sentiment has been beefed up with improved location insights, a fans and critics breakdown, and the most frequently used phrases based on your search, including both positive and negative.

Microsoft Social Engagement

Microsoft Social Engagement

4. Social Center

Here's where the power of collaboration takes shape in Microsoft Social Engagement. Within the Social Center, users are able to see social data feeds based on defined filters; give specific posts a status label and assign them to users; and engage directly with any post:*

Microsoft Social Engagement

Microsoft Social Engagement

*Not all users have this functionality out-of-the-box. User roles can be defined in Settings --> User Management to assign different levels of Configuration and Interaction roles. Users must also have social profiles established for interactions.

5. Activity Maps

Activity Maps are one of the newest additions to Microsoft Social Engagement. With Activity Maps, users can create heat-map-like depictions of their social data across the globe. From there, it's easy to drill down into specific areas; parse that data by time, sentiment, or specific search topic, and navigate to the Analytics area with one click.

Microsoft Social Engagement

Microsoft Social Engagement

Microsoft Social Engagement

6. Message Center

Do you want to know whenever someone tweets about one of your products or services? Or maybe just when that tweet contains some positive or negative content? Alerts and alert frequency can be created in the Social Engagement Message Center. This automation is extremely useful for sales, marketing, and customer service teams looking to bolster their social media presence and customer or prospect engagement. With the ability to be notified of specific phrases, sentiment, or any other search parameters, teams will never be caught off guard if there's a developing social trend or negative sentiment being posted. On top of that, you can designate multiple recipients of the alerts, even if they're not an active user in the system.

Microsoft Social Engagement

Microsoft Social Engagement

Of course, the true value of Microsoft Social Engagement comes from its pairing with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. When integrated, users open up a brand new way to analyze and manage leads, accounts, cases, and more. Not only that, but users can interact directly with the data being pulled into Dynamics CRM for another level of insight.

The inherent value is striking: social dashboards for sales, marketing, or customer service teams that provide up-to-date posts, trends, advanced analytics reviews, and more to be able to tailor sales, campaign, or service strategies on the fly; immediately available social insights on lead or account records to equip your sales team with knowledge on a potential customer's product trends; and the ability to jump to between Dynamics CRM and Social Engagement in one click and deep-dive into specific trends or sentiment indices. All of that can be done with Dynamics CRM and Social Engagement!

Given the gamut of the new and powerful features found within Microsoft Social Engagement, it's easy to see just how much value it brings to the table, especially when used with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Check out our webinar, What's New in Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, for more great marketing tips!

Happy CRM'ing!

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Yammer Integration

It was announced at YamJam'12 and made clear in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Statement of Direction that CRM will have a much deeper integration with Yammer. This is really exciting news on many fronts. But it's most important to realize that most organizations will likely replace the current Activity Feeds capability with the expanding Yammer integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

At PowerObjects, we've been using Yammer since 2011. Let us tell you a few reasons why we're so thrilled about the changes to come.

  1. Yammer attaches Microsoft Dynamics CRM supported processes to business conversations.

    At Yam Jam '12, Yammer announced the new Pages capability, which will allow for a Page to be created on any topic in Yammer (currently pages can be created only within Groups). Therefore the integration between Yammer and Microsoft Dynamics CRM will be able to create a page in Yammer when a record is created in CRM—whether it's an Opportunity, a Case, a Project, or something that is unique to your organization, you will be able to discuss it in Yammer. Conversations about that topic then have the possibility of occurring with people from all parts of the organization.

    Featured below is a screenshot from this great video on how all your business apps will work together for one social experience showing a customer service case created in another system and shown in the Yammer feed.
    CRM and yammer: activity feeds

  2. Yammer brings business conversations into Microsoft Dynamics CRM supported processes.

    Sending information from Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Yammer isn't just about notification—like, "there is a new opportunity". It's about an invitation to connect—do you know about this opportunity, case, event, or project? Do you have something to contribute to it? Do you have questions on it? Are there issues with it to discussion? You're invited to comment. Many organizations are finding this streamlines so many processes by allowing others to engage in unstructured conversation.

    And this gathered information then becomes a part of the structured and defined process when it is viewed in CRM within the CRM record. Even non-CRM users may comment on conversations Yammer, and that information will be viewable on the related CRM record.

    Featured below is a screenshot from the Statement of Direction showing the new process driven UI and how the Yammer conversation is embedded into the user experience.

    CRM and Yammer

  3. Yammer brings the focus back to people and teamwork.
    The common denominator of all this connecting, sharing, and collaborating is people. People help customers, people have valuable organizational information, and people share that information internally and externally. So posts to Yammer don't just say "a Case was opened". It says who opened the case--connecting the business process to the team member who is conducting it.

    The screenshots below also from the Statement of Direction feature the difference between a standard automated feed about and a people-focused feed.

    CRM and YammerCRM and Yammer

Yammer is a business application focused on the connecting and collaborating across teams and layers of an organization. Case study after case study shows how Yammer improves productivity and promotes company growth, saving time to resolve customer issues and bringing key people together to make decisions more quickly. By using Yammer integrated with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, organizations are bringing the power of structured processes into the power teamwork and collaboration.

Stay tuned in to the PowerObjects blog to gain more insights into the integration with Microsoft CRM and Yammer.

Happy CRM'ing!

The CRM Minute: It's Time to Get Excited About Microsoft Social Engagement [VIDEO]

Microsoft Social Engagement is a tool designed for listening, analysis, and engagement. All around social and all in one place. It provides customer service teams, marketing teams, and sales teams an ear to the ground and offers up a huge plate of really, really cool features. In today's episode of The CRM Minute, we'll get you up to speed on a couple of cool new features and applications of Microsoft Social Engagement.

With the right focus and approach to social monitoring, you can stay ahead of your market competition and on top of realtime social customer service.

Happy CRM'ing!

Q&A with PowerObjects SVP Jim Sheehan: All About the LinkedIn Acquisition

For today's blog, Joe CRM interviews Senior Vice President of PowerObjects, Jim Sheehan, about Microsoft's acquisition of LinkedIn and what it means for the business community.

What was your immediate reaction upon hearing the news that Microsoft acquired LinkedIn?

My first reaction is that I'm glad Microsoft is investing some of the cash that they're sitting on. As a Microsoft shareholder and a partner, I think it's good for large companies like Microsoft to look at ways of bolstering their offerings through acquisition. I didn't know LinkedIn was on their radar, but I'm happy about it because it directly impacts the business we're in, which is CRM.

This is Microsoft's largest acquisition ever. Did the number—26.2 billion—seem big to you?

Anytime they start putting a "b" after the number, yes, it's a lot of money. But when you think about it, it's not so much what LinkedIn is or does, it's the data and what it represents. If you're in the business of business to consumer (B to C), probably the most valuable company in the world is Facebook because they have the most information on individuals. For the business to business markets, LinkedIn is up there because businesses have more data about the organizations behind the individuals and how they interact.

I'm not an M&A expert by any stretch, but I'd rather have Microsoft spend their cash and buy something than sit on it.

What's your perspective on how this acquisition aligns with Microsoft's vision? Why did Microsoft do it?

When we think about Microsoft's cloud-first, mobile-first vision, that's an aggregation of things in the cloud that includes the front office applications with Office 365, as well as back-office products with Dynamics and Azure offerings. The LinkedIn acquisition gives Microsoft access to the most business relationship data in the cloud. That will play benefits through the whole cloud-first, mobile-first strategy that Satya has laid out with Office 365, Azure, and Dynamics.

What are the biggest benefits Microsoft partners will see from the acquisition?

From the perspective of the overall partner ecosystem, you want to be partnered with software publishers that are relevant in the marketplace and invest in the future. Microsoft going on to buy LinkedIn for 26 billion shows you that you are partnered with a powerhouse that's there to win and grow.

How it benefits PowerObjects as a company comes back to how it will impact the Dynamics CRM products specifically. I don't have any internal knowledge from Microsoft, but think about CRM and break it down into the three workloads—sales, marketing, and customer service.

For sales, it's a no brainer. Every salesperson will tell you that knowing your web of business connections and being able to connect the dots with who knows whom, is one of the most valuable things you can have in professional selling.

From a marketing perspective, when you take a look at the top of the marketing funnel, one of the ways that the LinkedIn data can help is to really identify the people to market to and do target marketing inside organizations. PowerObjects currently has significant spend on LinkedIn doing targeted marketing, because we know we can get connected to the right people and the right companies.

On the customer service side, it's often about connecting the dots on who knows who to make sure that you can provide the best service.

What's the timeline for when we could actually see some of the results of the acquisition, in terms of tying the technologies together?

If everything's approved, the acquisition won't close until the end of the year. But some of the immediate benefits that we'll see—similar to when Microsoft has made other big acquisitions like Nokia, Yammer, Skype—is that they immediately get some outside talent and big brains, plugged into Microsoft, helping to drive in an entrepreneurial way what's going on. The people from LinkedIn will be looking at the various assets Microsoft has and figure out where they can start adding value. And Microsoft will be doing the same thing when the different business groups look at the LinkedIn IP.

Is there anything you would like to see as a result of the acquisition, particularly for CRM?

I want to see a deep integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM—a complete social selling module that ties into the data into LinkedIn and the ability to surface that right from Dynamics CRM.

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For more on the acquisition, you can check out this video of Satya answering some basic questions about the integration.

Happy CRM'ing!