B2B marketers understand that one of the keys to their social media success is to create and host a blog on their corporate site. But even with this knowledge, they still have many questions about how to go about it. Below are some common questions that I have been asked about B2B blogging.
1. How Do We Get Started Blogging?
Blogging for B2B companies starts with personas. Who are you trying to reach with your marketing and what do you know about them? If you understand their pain points and the struggles they go through in their day, you can begin to think through the kind of content to create for your blog. It must be helpful, compelling and shareable. Once you have some content direction, you need to create and commit to a calendar. If you plan to blog once a week, start by writing four blog posts before publishing. This way you will be 4 weeks ahead. And keep an idea file (digital or analog) so you are never at a loss for specific blog post ideas that will resonate with your audience.
2. How Do We Get More People Blogging?
Many blogging efforts start as a solo activity. Getting more people blogging involves lowering the bar for entry for those you identify as potential bloggers. Have them send emails or word docs with their blog posts initially, rather then creating them in the blogging software. This alleviates the technical hurdles (which are pretty low already), but doesn’t deal with the lack of time required to blog. If your industry experts just don’t have time to write a separate post, use what they are already creating for other purposes, like powerpoint decks that can be uploaded to Slideshare or external articles. You can write an intro, summary and conclusion to bracket these. You can also do a series of one question videos that you post over time.
3. How Do We Get Less People Blogging?
As a blog gets more successful, or at least gets noticed, there are unqualified people who want to write for the blog. Let’s face it. Everyone is not a great writer. There are people who are not even good writers. If you need to turn people down, you should do so honestly. You can say that it’s not right for the audience. It’s off topic. The tone is just not right. But there will always be someone who is so earnest that they will keep trying. Some of these posts require a great deal of editing time to become publishable, and that is another way to move them along, by saying you just don’t have the time to edit their posts adequately. This conversation gets much harder when the person in question is an executive, or someone on the PR team who wants to publish company news on the blog. These issues must be solved on a one-off basis, but leave room for a future rejection. Say it’s not really right for the blog, but we can post it this time since it is part of our latest corporate initiative.
4. How Do We Simplify the Approval Process?
B2B marketers who are used to traditional marketing activities like print collateral, full featured websites and trade show booths are usually saddled with complex approval processes where a number of executives must sign off on the copy, the design and even the layout. Everyone operates in an environment where they are scared that the wrong thing will be produced, and in public companies the wrong thing affects the stock price. Blogging needs to be a lightweight process. While you are writing those early posts to get ahead is the time to establish this simple approval process. Share the plan with executives, which should include targets, topics, tone and even a sample article. And let them know that standard approval process will not be happening. It’s just not practical for a blogging program. And if you still need mutliple levels of approval, you are at least working 4 weeks ahead.
5. How Can We Drive More Traffic To Our Blog?
This is a huge question, because some B2B marketers get disappointed that social media is not an “if you build it they will come” activity. Once you start creating complelling content that your prospects and customers would respond to, you need to let them know about it. Social channels work for amplification, but so do internal newsletters, external newsletters and links in email signatures. You need to leverage all available channels and communication touchpoints to let people know about your blog in general and even specific relevant posts.
6. Is it Okay to Ghostblog for Our Executives?
There are many ways to ghostblog, but the most important thing is that these posts represent the thoughts and opinions of the executive. And they need to read them before they are published. The worst position you can put an executive in is to have someone ask them about a particular post and they are not familiar with the ideas.
7. Do We Need Calls-To-Action on Our Blog?
Yes. A blog that does not give a visitor the opportunity to raise their hand and let you know that they are interested in what you have to say is missing the point.
8. Should We Have a Separate Blog for Each of Our Target Industries?
From a managment of resources perspective, you should have one blog and separate the industries using different categories. Make sure visitors can subscribe to the blog by category. That means each one needs its own RSS feed.
9. How Do We Keep Blogging?
Once you get in the groove of blogging and you start to see some results, it is easier to keep going. With other writers on board, it is also easier to keep going. The only reason to ask this question is if your B2B company is not getting any results from your blogging efforts. That means you need to step back and examine what you are doing to make sure you understand the blog’s shortcomings so you can make some changes.
10. What Metrics Should We Track?
There two kinds of metrics you should look at: optimization metrics and success metrics. Optimization metrics are the ones that are only reported within your team, while the success metrics are the ones reported up to the executive level and are the metrics that others in the company care about. These are high level metrics like blog traffic, click-through rate of calls to action and form completes. But if your team wants to understand how your content resonates with your audience to improve on that, you can look at blog traffic as a percentage of overall website traffic; percent of traffic from search, social or other specific sources; and even social shares of specific posts as a relative number compared to other posts, not as an absolute number.
If you have more questions about B2B blogging, please ask them in the comments below.
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