Where is Your B2B Blog?

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A blog can help you focus and narrow your content for your brand.

In case you missed the news, the blog turned 20 years old this year. That’s pretty significant since many of us are still working on our Twitter and Instagram strategies and both of those platforms are less than ten years old. And the blog is far from dead as Neville Hobson points out, in fact, it’s future looks pretty good.

The challenge is that blogging can be a daunting effort and as I wrote before it is not supposed to be easy. It takes time. It takes resources. It takes creativity. It takes perseverance. But the long-term benefits of blogging far outweigh the short-term pains.

I don’t want to complicate this topic or oversimplify it either. There are a number of posts on this topic if you search Google. So, whether you are about to start a B2B blog (or digital magazine) or you want to sit down and review your existing one (always a good idea to step back), here are three reasons why blogging matters and should be central to your B2B communication efforts.

Show you are a leader. No matter what industry you work in, there will always be issues and hurdles for you and your customers. A blog can help take the mystery out of some of these issues — regulatory, complexity, cultural — and let you build a community around topics that matter to you. In a competitive world thought leadership does matter and make a difference in the sales cycle, and both your external and internal customers want to know your position and where you stand. Your blog platform allows you to showcase your opinions and views.

 

Show you are interesting. Blogs help you tell stories. Plain and simple. And that is a huge benefit as B2B companies need to demystify their operations and focus on being understood. Ultimately, a blog will help you build awareness and engage prospects. In addition, you can be more creative with your efforts by integrating graphics, photos and video. We often use newswire services to build a multi-media package for news, and now that can be done regulatory with your own resources. Your blog now allows you to become a brand newswire.

 

Show you are respected. There are two ways to do this both on the front end and in the back office. On the front end, you can leverage your blog for guest posts and views from outside of your organization. Using third-party endorsements has always been a key value point for communicators and organizations. Blogs allow you to tap into your global network and help not only draw readers into your content but also influence your audience. In addition, on the back office you can measure  the effectiveness of third-party content through your data. And data is an ever-increasing initiative to measure what’s working and what’s not working. In addition, other social data allows you to search and find influencers to connect with and contribute content.

What B2B companies fail to understand is that a blog can be extremely flexible. Whether you want it to be video or image intensive to explain how things operate or Q&A focused to make it conversational, a blog allows you the freedom to build on your culture and image. And because of this flexibility you and make it what you want and have it help you tell your story. Some B2B blog examples to follow for inspiration: AccentureCiscoCME GroupGEIntel and Manpower.

Call it brand journalismcontent marketing or blogging. It doesn’t matter in my opinion. What B2B companies need to grasp is that context matters. You can hardly get context from a tweet or an image.

Looking for more help? Here are 10 lessons learned from Hans Kullin from 10 years of blogging. And from Velocity Partners here are a number of ideas for blog content.

Additional content to read (added March 5, 2014):

Embrace the Executive Blog — CIO.com

What I’ve Learned as a Writer — Zen Habits

How to Write Faster — Hootsuite

If you enjoyed this post you may also want to read the following:

Can B2B brands inspire?

Craft work — what’s your B2B expertise?

Who are your content superheroes?

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Takeaways for B2B Companies from the PR Week Social Summit

Moderating at PR Week (photo credit: Stacey Strothard)
Moderating at PR Week (photo credit: Stacey Strothard)

Yesterday, I moderated a panel at PR Week’s Social Summit on social media management and where it fits within the public relations department. My panelists include Nicola Dodd, Cancer Research UK; Craig Hepburn from Nokia; and, Justin Hunt, Social Media Leadership Forum.

Some thoughts on where we are going this year and topics I planned to discuss based on my research included the following:

  • Big data meet content marketing. It’s no longer enough to have an editorial calendar, you need to better understand the content that works
  • Authenticity, trust continue to be critical. This is further highlighted in this year’s Edelman Trust Barometer.
  • Real-time marketing matters and not just for the Super Bowl. Today PR departments need to constantly monitor social channels for trends, issues and opportunities.
  • Where does social sit? Does anyone own it? How does is work across functional departments?  Altimeter found although 78% of companies have a dedicated social media team but only 26% of companies say they have a holistic approach to social.
  • Social media jobs are in abundance: SEO Specialist, Social Media Strategist, Online Community Manager, Social Media Marketing Manager, Social Media Marketing Coordinator, and Blogger or Social Media Copywriter are many of the job titles companies are looking to hire.

We didn’t talk about everything I wanted to ask the panel, but two things stood out to me from the panel discussion

Content: Everyone seems to be getting their arms around content and how to manage it. Both Nicola and Craig spoke in terms of their teams and how they have essentially formed news organizations. I continue to believe that content can be extremely useful to differentiate your B2B business, whether that’s through thought leadership, innovation, humor or customer service. Successful brands big and small recognize that content is an extraordinary piece of their strategy and planning, thinking and responding like a news organization makes a difference. This year, brand journalism remains a top priority for organizations and it’s something to embrace.

Culture: A topic that we kept coming back too during the panel, and one that seemed to be a theme of the event from other speakers, involved the importance of corporate culture in adopting social media. Has social media changed your culture forever? Does being a good place to work impact a company’s results? From my own experience and being involved with an innovative culture I firmly believe it matters. If you want to know more about the importance of culture this report from McKinsey — Givers Take All: The hidden dimension of corporate culture — is worth reading. You should also read this from Mitch Joel on social media and corporate culture.

As a side note, Nicola’s team worked on release of Play to Cure™: Genes in Space and it’s worth a look if you are interested in health sciences or gamification.

If you enjoyed this you may also want to read the following:

How to Think Like a Content Manager

Three Ways to Explore Big Ideas

Who are Your Content Superheroes?

Social media management