Where is Your B2B Blog?

026
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?

Social media management

Do most online communities fail?

PR Week’s Power 2009 List — Where’s the B2B?

The great thing about lists and creating lists is not so much the result of what’s published, but the debate after (I’ve had my share of greatest soccer and hockey players over the course of time). While I’m not about to debate who should or should not be on the 2009 PR Week Power List, I am taking a position on the lack of respect for B2B communications and communicators.

There already has been some questions raised on Twitter in regards to social media and how many of the leaders on this list may not use it. I’m not going there. To keep this in context with the topic of our blog I want to keep this in context with B2B.

Yes, you could argue that firms such as Weber Shandwick and Edelman help B2B clients with important counsel (you can also make the distinction that every agency is a B2B company). And, yes, firms like Microsoft and JPMorgan do have B2B client bases to service. What surprises me is that only two companies primarily in the B2B space are listed (Jon Iwata, VP, marketing and communications, IBM; Gary Sheffer, executive director, comms and public affairs, GE). But in my reading of the list guess how often B2B was referenced? (I’ll give you a hint, it rhymes with hero.)

Why should this matter? Research group eMarketer recently looked at the timeframe of 2008 to 2012 and thinks that B2B spending in the U.S. on social networks alone will increase 500% to $210 million (Via @mashable). And this year, in the midst of a recession, B2B online marketing spending is expected to increase among large and small firms. B2B magazine also surveyed the industry in December and you may have been surprised at the results — 31.1% of B2B marketers said they planed to increase marketing budgets this year (43.5% said budgets would be flat).

Is it just that B2B communications is misunderstood? Is it a lack of respect? Or perhaps a lack of appeal? The money and budgets certainly are there to prove the point that B2B marketing and public relations is serious business. Or maybe I’m just splitting hairs? What do you think?