8 Ways to Improve Your B2B Content Marketing Video

b2b-content-marketing-videoA recent Animoto survey revealed that 73% of adult consumers are more likely to buy a product or service after seeing an online video that explains it. B2B companies should take note of this survey too, since online video can help support a business’s overall content marketing plan.

Here are tips for using online video the right way for your business:

1. Keep it short

Internet users are, by and large, an impatient group. They want to get in, consume your information and move on as quickly as possible. Keep your videos limited to three minutes or less in order to engage users right then and there. Research also shows that that users are apt to give up on an online video if it doesn’t load within two seconds. Shorter videos will take less time to load and keep eyeballs on your content.

2. Break up longer posts into multi-part series

Take a note from television: leave a cliffhanger at the end of each of your video installments. Breaking up your content into shorter pieces that form a larger series not only helps your content marketing plan by generating more pieces of content, but it also gives users a reason to come back to your site. You can promote your multi-part series just like an entertainment brand does by setting a launch date for your next installment and using your social media presence to promote it before it “airs.”

3. Use inserts

Cutting away from the main action (such as a speech or presentation) to show what the speaker is referring to is called adding an “insert” (because you’re “inserting” content into your scene). If the speaker in your video is referring to something that you can easily show (such as a slide from the presentation behind the podium or a reference to something that would be helpful for the viewer to see), use your software to include that image. The experience will flow more smoothly for your viewer and your video will appear to be seamless.

4. Use title cards

In your video editing software, create title cards that you use at the beginning and end of your video with your business name, logo, website and a call to action. Viewers who are interested in your content might want more, and a title card will help them remember your business name and your company’s visual branding.

5. Create uniformity

Continuity is part of building a strong brand. This extends to your video content marketing plan as well. Your videos should look similar in production value, open and close title cards or even use the same person to deliver information from video to video.

6. Share your contact information

Use your video as a filter to obtain your user’s contact information post play. Displaying company website, social media channels or even a toll free number will provide a way for interested viewers to contact you. The information you receive will be pre-associated with warm sales leads because these users are ones who are invested enough in what you have to offer to exchange their information for it. Use your video as a way to grow your mailing list, social networks and overall outreach.

7. Check audio issues

Don’t waste time creating video content that no one will want to watch. People will quickly abandon video with poor quality sound so invest in a good microphone system (with an additional clip-on mic). If your business doesn’t have a dedicated audio/video department, you’ll have to do a sound check yourself before you begin to record your content.

8. Edit out the mistakes

No one wants to watch video with dead air, a host who stumbles on their words or any other technical glitches. Using simple video editing software like iMovie, Pinnacle Studio Plus or Animoto, edit out any mistakes you’d rather the public didn’t see before you post it.

Quality online video can give an added boost to your B2B content marketing plan. Be sure to follow the steps above and you’ll soon see deeper engagement with your content that can lead to social shares and new business leads.

Photo credit: Flickr

How To Make B2B Video with @TimWasher

Tim Washer, Senior Marketing Manager at Cisco, sat down with me at MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston and shared his advice about making video for B2B companies. Tim had previously compiled a list of the 10 B2B Comedy Videos for this site, and these are good examples of what marketers can do when they stretch the bounds of their creativity.

Advice for Creating B2B Video:

  • Don’t talk about your product
  • Create or find an interesting story about your company
  • Focus on customers
  • Need someone who can write comedy for humorous video
  • Start with the pain point that your product solves

5 Ways for Your B2B Video to Compete with Hollywood

Doing B2B video? Congratulations. Your company is now in the entertainment business. Not only are you in the entertainment business, but you’re competing with professional directors like me, big companies like Time-Warner and the New York Times and CBS and Fox, and the millions of individuals who busily upload 48 hours of video every minute to YouTube.

Hollywood director provides B2B video tipsYou’re competing for attention — for the focused time to get your message across to a potential customer. It would be great if customers were sitting quietly in front of their laptops for your message to arrive, but they’re not. They’re drowning in the same tsunami of video that you are.

The good news about the video glut? People only have to watch the good stuff. They’ve learned how to ID a lame video in under 10 seconds and click it off. The bad news? Your customers have this skill too.

Which brings us to why nobody watched your video: You bored them. They didn’t want to hear the VP of marketing talk insincerely about how people-oriented you are. They didn’t want to see charts and graphics. They didn’t want to take 10 minutes to appreciate your sales process. And let’s get really truthful here: You didn’t either.

Great video cuts through the clutter. People watch it all the way through. It gets tweeted, linked and passed around all by itself. Bad video gets turned off.

Yet boardrooms overflow with chatter with about how to shoot video economically, how to get more video posted, how to propagate video and SEO it to the world. They forget to talk about how to make B2B video that anyone will actually want to watch.

My advice? Stop worrying about equipment and SEO, and start worrying about what matters — shooting video that doesn’t suck. Here are my top 5 B2B tips for great video:

1. Entertain or Die

Watching your video is optional for your customers. To get them to do it, you need to reward them for their time. In the entertainment business (which you’re now in, remember?) the expected reward is actual entertainment.

Your job is to deliver enough intrigue, motion, emotion and story to keep customers glued to their seats. If you don’t, they’ll un-glue themselves as fast as they can and run to the nearest episode of “Family Guy.”

“But…but…but…” I can hear you whine from here. “But I have a revolutionary product! Our manufacturing process is second to none! We save customers money!” Yes, of course. You have a very important message. A very important message nobody will ever see if your video is boring.

Think it can’t be done? Check out this Corning video on the I-just-want-to-shoot-myself topic of “the future of glass.” You will see no charts, no interviews with the heads of R&D and no customers talking about cool new trends in glassware. And you will be entertained.

2. Say One Thing

Think of your video as a tight sentence with a noun and a verb. “Our Blenders Grind Anything” is a good, compact sentence you can build a whole video campaign around.

“We have great customer service and low prices and our customer service reps love their customers and we’ve been in business for 50 years” would cause Mrs. Zelermyer’s red pen to go into conniption fits on your third grade composition. Best to imagine her looking over your shoulder when you do video too.

3. Put One Person in Charge

In business, we tend to work in teams and committees. Teams and committees are about sharing ideas, which inevitably leads to compromise. Great to think about before you start your video project. But not while you’re doing it. You can’t design by committee.

Somebody — and perhaps it’s you — has to own the process. Make the choices. Love the good parts and cut the bad. To answer the question — forgetting colleagues and pressure from above: If you saw this video on your computer, would you watch the whole thing?

4. The Secret to Viral Video in Two Words

“Naked Celebrity.” If you have one, you’re viral. If not, it’s time to get real. “Viral” is not a kind of video — it’s a response by an audience that’s so excited by your video that they urgently and quickly share it with everyone they know.

A viral video is, in other words, a hit. Hits take skill, vision, artistry, marketing savvy and a huge amount of luck. You can hire all but the luck — but it’s expensive and still may not work. Rather than focusing your strategy on going viral, focus it on doing great, entertaining video. If you’re entertaining enough, viral has a chance to happen.

5. Hire Help

Do you assign accounting tasks to people who can barely count? Of course you don’t (I hope.) Don’t ask video know-nothings to do your video.

But have no fear. You may already have people in your company who love video and do it well. Odds are you’re paying them to do something else. You can often find these people by just by asking around.

If you’re a big company with a big product, hire big pros. If you have a fun creative challenge and a decent product, there are talented people out there who are dying to work with you. If you’re not that big, hire someone with experience to consult with you on video. They can guide you through the creative and economic pitfalls of the process until you grow your own in-house pros.

What has your experience been making B2B videos and sharing them online with your customers?

5 Ways to Salute Your B2B Employees Using Social Media

Yesterday was Memorial Day in the United States, when we honored those who defended our country. B2B companies have lots of opportunities with social media to honor their own employees. Customers and prospects prefer doing business with people that they know, and the following simple ideas can help share your employees with the world. Show employee photos with all these suggestions so people can begin to relate to your employees as people, not just an email address.

Create a Twitter List
A Twitter List of employees shows what employees are talking about, thinking about, reading, sharing and doing. Make sure you inform employees about their inclusion on the list, especially if you will be incorporating that feed into the company website or blog.

Write a Monthly Blog Post
While you already should encourage employees to blog on the company site, there are other ways to showcase employees on the blog. Many employees volunteer with organizations in the community. Each month write a blog highlighting an employee and their work with a local organization. This shows both the character of your employees as well as the companies connections to the community.

Highlight Accomplishments in Email Newsletter
Create a standard spot in the email newsletter to feature employee accomplishments, whether these are internal achievements or notable external events, like speaking at an industry event or publishing a guest blog post.

Video Interviews
Employees have knowledge and experience worth sharing with customers and prospects. Conduct short interviews with employees where they share one tip or one challenge that they have overcome. Keep each video short and tight so that it doesn’t need to be scripted. Many employees will come across better speaking with knowledge and authority than reciting scripted lines.

Facebook Feature Photo
If your B2B company has a Facebook Page, consider featuring an employee in the company profile photo. Many companies do this with customers, but this is an opportunity to showcase one of your own.

All of the above ideas can be coordinated to create a featured employee of the month across all social channels. This may work better with fewer employees, as those who work for larger companies may need all the channels to highlight more employees.

What are some ways you promote your B2B employees on company social profiles?

12 Tips to Produce Compelling B2B Video

B2B marketers need to add video to their arsenal of skills in today’s online world. Video can sometimes tell a story quicker and easier than a written post, can humanize a company and can turn marketers into brand journalists. And a keyword-titled video seems to be more likely to show up in higher search results than a written post. There are plenty of B2B companies making high production videos to share online, but this is more about getting started and producing videos alone or with minimal help.

Here are some basic tips to get you started on the path to becoming a Hollywood director.

1. Keep it Simple
Online video is more compelling if the idea is simple. People are distracted when watching video, so you can’t try to put too much into a video. Try to convey one or two ideas at the most. If you do a longer interview with someone, produce several shorter videos out of the footage, each about one thing.

2. Compose Like a Photographer
Video is a visual medium and your video will be me more compelling if it is shot well. Photographers often compose shots using the rule of thirds, which means the most important item in the shot is not centered. Pay attention to television and movie shot composition and imitate what you like.

3. Use a Tripod
Avoid shaky, hand-held video. The easiest way is to use a tripod. Simple full-sized tripods give you more flexibility in shooting, but table top tripods are more portable. Either way, securing the camera will help tremendously. If you are shooting with a smartphone, there are inexpensive mounts available to attach to a tripod.

4. Find a Clean, Well-Lighted Place
Shoot video in well-lit areas. Harsh shadows or uneven lighting can be distracting, especially if you are shooting an interview. Always think about the viewer, and can they see the subject matter in the shot.

5. Listen for the Quiet
Many common environments that you might consider shooting in are noisy. Try to find quiet areas off the tradeshow floor and the manufacturing area. While it is fine to shoot there to provide context to a video, do not try to shoot lengthy interviews where the most important thing is to hear the person. People will watch poorly shot video if the sound is good, but they will not suffer through bad sound.

6. Use Stills
Shoot still pictures to augment the video. Ken Burns made the style of movement on still images so common in his Civil War documentaries that Apple calls it the Ken Burns effect in its video editing program. They are a good way to set the scene or help with transitions.

7. Make It Branded
Create simple title slides that include your company logo. A black screen with words that includes your company name is not enough. Customers and prospects need to visually connect this video to your company, and opening with the company logo is the best way to do that.

8. Keep it Short
Unless you are using video to tell an involved story that must build out over several sections or creating a how to which requires many steps, keep the video under 5 minutes.

9. Cut it Together
Editing is key to improving the quality of your video. Don’t get wild and cut between multiple shots frequently, but use editing to tighten conversations and remove extra footage. Use simple transitions in your editing rather than fancy spins and wipes.

10. Music Makes the World Go Round
Simple music during title cards adds a level of professionalism to the video. Continue the music at a lower beneath the entire video to add a bit of aural texture. It really makes a subtle difference.

11. What’s the Call to Action?
The end of a video should end with a company URL or a landing page. What action should people take after watching the video? Many video platforms include the ability to embed links in the video. Take advantage of that with your calls to action.

12. Post and Share
After editing the video, post it on a variety of social channels, including YouTube and Facebook. Embed the video on your company blog and drive traffic back to it with updates on Twitter and LinkedIn. Add a screenshot to an email newsletter for extra viewers. Depending on the content, others may want to embed the video on their sites, so make sure that’s possible. It is with all common video platforms.

Bonus: Think Mobile
Make sure the video makes sense on a mobile device, as more than 23 million Americans watch mobile video. This means more medium shots and close-ups than long shots, as well as clear audio.

What tips would you add for making compelling B2B video?

Photo credit: Maxymedia

Why the IBM Watson Jeopardy Challenge Is the Greatest B2B Campaign Ever

Nearly 10 million Americans tuned in to the venerable Jeopardy quiz show on February 14, forsaking their Valentine Day activities for a half-hour to watch a computer battle to a standoff with the two greatest Jeopardy champions of all time. Nearly as many tuned in the ensuing nights to see the IBM machine, called Watson, soundly thrash Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter at the game they have dominated for the last decade.

Back at IBM, marketers were all smiles. What had started as an evolution on the 1997 contest between a computer named Deep Blue and world champion Garry Kasparov had become a cultural phenomenon, one that will be paying dividends for IBM for years to come. Thanks to a group of anonymous computer scientists, and a marketing organization that understood the power of their grassroots appeal, IBM had just pulled off the greatest B2B marketing coup of all time.

The Watson Jeopardy challenge wasn’t strictly a social media campaign, not by a long shot. IBM paid dearly for the chance to align itself with the Jeopardy brand and even footed the bill to create a television studio in its Yorktown, NY labs so that its computer could compete in climate-controlled environs. But many of the principles that IBM embraced in its grassroots promotion for the campaign represent the best of what social media has to offer.

Full disclosure: I’m a contractor to IBM on the project that is unrelated to the Watson Jeopardy challenge. I have no financial interest in the program’s success, but my role did permit me a bit of an insider’s view on the social activities that led up to the contest.

Beyond the Golf Course
Make no mistake about the fact that this was a B2B campaign. IBM has no consumer business, and its choice of Jeopardy was meant to find a crossover between mass-market and business constituents. Jeopardy was a gateway to selling computers to the Fortune 1000.

B2B companies have always struggled to find mainstream media channels to a business audience. Mostly they’ve settled for golf tournaments and news programs. The genius of the Jeopardy challenge is that the program combines highbrow content with mass appeal. It was also the perfect place to showcase state-of-the-art artificial intelligence technology in a context that makes sense to ordinary humans.

The 1997 chess match, in which an IBM computer beat the reigning world champion, received international coverage, but the game itself excited little interest in the US. In contrast, every American has watched Jeopardy and respects it for the mind-bending challenge it can be.

Scheduling the show during the frigid winter months following the Super Bowl was smart. Even smarter was that production schedules gave IBMers a month between the taping of the three-show series and their airing. While everyone who witnessed the taping was bound to draconian nondisclosure terms, there was nothing to stop the Watson marketers from putting the promotional wheels in motion, fully aware of the favorable outcome.

This is where the social component came in. IBM did relatively little mainstream media advertising for the event. Instead, it leveraged “owned” and “earned” channels at modest cost. A dedicated website featured background and video interviews with Watson’s creators, as well as an aggregation of social media buzz. The PBS program Nova was enlisted to air a documentary a week before the contest. IBM even cooperated with former BusinessWeek editor Stephen Baker on a book about the contest, with the final chapter set to be released immediately after the third program. IBM was able to piggyback not only on promotion for the book, but also on Baker’s popular writings on Huffington Post. A series of viewing parties and informal tweetups brought key customers into the fold.

Watson’s frequently updated Facebook page has more than 17,000 “likes” and its Twitter account has more than 6,000 followers as of this writing. On YouTube, IBM posted more than 30 short videos in the months leading up to the event, racking up more than 1 million views. It chose to feature the researchers and engineers who built the computer rather than the corporate suits.

Spotlight on the Little People
The company chose as its chief spokesman Dr. David Ferrucci, the attractive, articulate and disarmingly likable chief scientist on the project. Ferrucci’s ability to explain technology concepts in plain English without sounding arrogant was an asset to a project that was at constant risk of swamping its audience with technobabble. The final video in that series, which features the engineers speaking of the computer in the same way a parent speaks of a child, can almost move you to tears.

I can only imagine the restraint it took the suits at IBM not to hog the limelight, but letting Watson’s creators own the story. This lent an everyman tone to a project of incredible complexity.

About two weeks before the contest aired, IBM marketers began turning the conversation to business. It rolled out YouTube videos speculating on the technology’s applications to healthcare, customer service and finance. A week before the contest, press releases told of customers who were already lining up to apply the technology. As the media asked “What’s next?” In the wake of Watson’s victory, IBM had the answer ready.

IBMers were active in nooks and crannies of the Internet. The research team chose Reddit, a social news site with a small but enthusiastic membership, to answer the top 10 questions about Watson and the contest. Ferrucci and others used TED.com for a live webcast the day after the contest ended. They also live-blogged during the Nova program.

Finally, IBM tapped into its own social media resources, including more than 130 Twitter accounts and a hard core of IBM bloggers who have attracted their own followings over the years. There were no mandates from on high. IBM made it easy for its internal communicators to get the information they needed and its people blogged proudly and extensively about Watson in the weeks before the contest.

The Watson Jeopardy challenge was a huge financial bet for IBM, but the company will reap the rewards for years. Technology vendors compete fiercely for talent, and Jeopardy will keep IBM’s recruiting pipeline full of budding computer scientists. More importantly, the company’s B2B clients got a glimpse of technology in a context that sparked visions of possibilities in their own industries. Over the past week, IBM has been swamped with inquiries by corporations, universities and government agencies wanting to get their own taste of Watson.

Yes, it was a very good campaign.

Top 10 B2B Comedy Videos

This list of funny B2B videos includes two of my own projects, one each from Cisco and IBM, which seems both reasonable and in compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley. To keep the comparisons somewhat fair, I’m going to exclude videos for smaller ticket products (e.g. FedEx, Nextel, Staples) since their addressable markets are much closer in size to B2C, affording much larger production budgets. The opinions below are my own, as my company officially does not comment on rumor or comedies.

1. The Cart Whisperer takes an idea we recognize from a Redford film and applies an absurd context that’s only remotely relevant to its sponsor VeriSign.  If during the approval process someone in marketing gripes, “What in the heck does this have to do with our product?,” you’re off to a great start.   This enjoyable experience continues on the microsite NoMoreAbandonedCarts.com, where we’re invited to participate by uploading our own photos of abandoned carts.

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2. While august Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs don’t need to lean on comedy to build a global reputation, that’s not the case for some smaller businesses in the banking ecosystem, like the regional repo-man.

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3. I’m pretty sure Art of the Sale was the first B2B comedy on YouTube.  My partner Scott Teems and I created it in the summer of 2006, featuring  sales vp Bob Hoey as himself.  Hoey began his acting career in 2004 starring in a comedy short “Z On Demand”  which was released direct-to-DVD (we copied discs for each regional sales meeting) and on the company intranet.   Since I couldn’t get a comedy video approved initially, I kept the financial risk small by offering Scott $400 to direct/edit/film the spot.  I think his fees have gone up a bit since his feature film won SXSW.

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4. I don’t like potty humor, but David Meerman Scott showed me a completely new angle in this brilliant CWS ad.  I’m sure the production benefited from a TV broadcast budget, but I’m still including it in this list because its for a narrow industrial market.  For more background, see this previous Social Media B2B post.

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5. Microsoft chose the classic comedy approach of juxtaposition to sell to advertisers.  In this metaphor, the man and the woman characters in the relationship represent advertisers and consumers, and to be sure we’re not confused, the symbolism is spelled out — on their t-shirts.

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6. Kinaxis used the same dating/relationship storyline to poke fun at a supply chain management rival, but thankfully  Sally Ann Perkins is not wearing a monogrammed t-shirt.  This kind of humor is perfect for its target  – inside jokes are flattering to your audience, and can build rapport by making fun of a shared pain.   Clare McDermott told me when prospective customers meet Kinaxis’ representatives at trade shows, they say that watching the video has made them feel like they already know the company.   There’s your ROI.

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7. Also early to YouTube in October 2006, Dell jumps in on the JibJab genre.  It’s very well executed with sharp graphics/animation and music, and a script full if inside geek jokes.  I’m guessing they didn’t get script approval from Larry.

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8. My hard-and-fast rule of never including a rap video on a top 10 list was softened to more of a guideline thanks to intern Greg Justice. When  original music, clever lyrics and Chuck E. Cheese’s references blend into an artful production, the genre is timeless.  I love Woot’s rhyme, jokes and the honesty.

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9. Keeping product specifics out of a video is always a good idea, particularly when the video goes live a few weeks before the launch.  And those aren’t my words — that’s what my manager told me after reviewing an early draft of my script.  So, instead of mentioning details of Cisco’s Videoscape announcement at CES, we empathized with the lonely TV set.

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10. “People just didn’t seem to like me”  is one of the touching admissions in this beautiful example of personification.  This clever story resonates with us, because we’ve all experienced this feeling.  It creates curiosity and delivers surprise.  Hats off to Mr. W.

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Let me know in the comments if there are other B2B videos that have made you laugh your way to a call to action.

5 Tips for Business Blogging While Traveling

This week is BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas and a fair number of bloggers will be in attendance, myself included. Whether you are attending a conference, visiting clients or taking vacation, if you have a well-read B2B blog, you need to develop a plan for the time away. This is much easier to handle if it is just a couple days, but the following tips can be easily scaled if you are going to be away longer. It is possible to announce a vacation, and take some time off from the blog, but if you are writing a business blog for your B2B company, this is less of an option. Your readers and Google are expecting you to publish on your normal schedule, so you should try to keep to it.

1. Write Ahead
This one is the easiest to plan, the most obvious to do and the hardest to accomplish. If you plan to be away for the time that you would publish one or two posts, spend some time one or two weeks before and write an extra post. If your posts are based on current trends and need to be more timely, this would be a good chance to provide an industry overview and put the issues in context. Unless you will be completely off-line, if you write and schedule posts before you go, make sure you can check for and respond to comments.

2. Set Aside Work Time
If you normally blog at a certain time in a certain place (other than sitting at your desk), try to steal that same time away from your trip. If you always write in the morning, get up a half hour early and write at that same time. Since travel is already so disruptive, keeping some of the structure of your normal day helps on its own. If you can get some blog posts out it, all the better.

3. Guest Posts
If you can plan far in advance, solicit guest posts from colleagues or others in your industry. This is easier if it someone who already blogs, as they will better understand the time involved to write a post for you, but anyone with thoughts and opinions on your blog subject matter can create at least one post. While it is always good to have a few guest posts (or posters) lined up for a rainy day, the perfect time to publish these posts is when you are away.

4. Pull Out an Old Draft
A limited amount of time, whether preparing extra posts before you go, or trying find a bit of time while on the road, is the ideal opportunity to look back at your draft file for ideas and half-written posts. You might find some things that didn’t work at the time, but with a fresh eye and a compelling need for content quickly, can easily be turned into a worthwhile post. If you don’t have any posts lying around, either from ideas that you didn’t write or extra things that just didn’t get posted, you need to add some idea time to your process. While many business blogs are driven by an editorial calendar, you will be a more successful blogger if you have more ideas than you can use and can be more selective about which posts get written.

5. Video Posts
Whether you have a pocket video camera, like a Flip Cam or a Kodak ZI-8, or the latest smartphone, you are armed with great video-on-the go device. Capture your thoughts about an industry issue in a quick 2-3 minute video. If you are at a conference, conduct a few short video interviews with industry leaders. It is easier if you plan these ahead of time if there are certain people you want to talk to, but impromptu ones are fine too. Client testimonials work, but the quality of these needs to be a little better, even for a blog. Consider bringing a tabletop tripod, which greatly improves the shot. Make sure you test drive shooting video, uploading it and posting it to the blog. The point of this is to be able to do this from the road, and not wait until you return.

Please share other suggestions for how you have continued to post to your B2B blog while traveling.

Why your B2B CEO should be using YouTube

Google “CEOs and YouTube” and almost every result will center around some type of crisis. From Domino’s and KFC to Mattel and Motrin, most companies take a reactive approach to incorporating their CEOs onto their YouTube channels. Accordingly, most receive flak for the unnatural, delayed and – in some cases – unapologetic approaches to each situation.

While every organization must be ready to successfully react to crisis situations, any B2B PR pro worth his or her well-worn AP Style Book will agree on the importance of proactive messaging opportunities for the C-level suite. Traditionally, this has been achieved by drafting talking points, pitching CEO bios to trade reporters and securing keynote speaking opportunities in hopes of spreading the word about the B2B company, its products and its key messages.

Increasingly, social media has opened up new outlets for management to monitor and participate in consumer and media relations. CEOs using Twitter have received the most attention when it comes to social media for the C-level set, but what about YouTube?

If your B2B company is utilizing YouTube (and it should be), here are some reasons your CEO should be a regular contributor:

1. Addtional Media Training

While a B2B CEO’s main job isn’t media relations, he or she will come into contact with journalists (and bloggers) as a primary company spokesperson. The key to interacting under pressure with media is practice. However, mock interviews at a biannual media relations refresher held by the PR staff aren’t enough.

By becoming a regular part of the company YouTube channel, B2B CEOs will gain additional exposure to what works and what doesn’t work on camera, and how things like eye contact, nervous ticks and natural speech patterns can distract viewers from key messages. While a company YouTube video will probably be scripted and provide room for retakes and edits, additional face time in front of a camera will help prepare top management for “real” interviews with reporters and ease the canned and stilted feeling that often comes across in executive interviews.

2. Thought Leader

By joining the small ranks of B2B CEOs proactively using YouTube, your CEO will automatically become a thought leader in the social space. Beyond that, a regular YouTube feature can also help to showcase the expertise that carried your CEO to his or her top spot in the first place. Film shorts spots that allow him or her to talk about why your company is using social media; hit on two or three industry news items and have your CEO offer his or her opinions; or touch on new products or services and the value they will bring to customers.

3. Thinking Outside the Suit

For customers, potential customers, media and even internal employees, top management of B2B organizations can often seem elusive, elite and out of touch. A regular video post can go a long way to develop these relationships, especially when you consider that many of these people may never actually lay eyes on these busy men and women.

Consider a monthly Q&A with questions submitted from company stakeholders; a location-specific feature that discusses the different cities and events he or she has traveled to on business; or, depending on the manager’s comfort level, a simple “Catching up with…” spot that lets him or her give a quick update on the company, his or her job and even personal interests.

4. Crisis Credibility

Last week, Jeff wrote a post on the importance of a B2B social media crisis plan, and included a point about executive video responses to the situation. When a crisis does hit, a B2B CEO who has been participating on his or her company’s YouTube channel all along with have more credibility with online stakeholders, as well as more experience in talking with – instead of to – his or her company’s online followers.

How is your B2B company utilizing your top management on your organization’s YouTube channel?

5 Ways to Create Core Content for B2B Blogs

For all blogs, content is king. Between status meetings, financial reports, marketing planning and sales team ramp-ups, however, creating regular B2B blog content can be daunting.

“5 Types of Posts to Feed Your Business Blog” was a Hubspot blog post that compared five very different types of food to the different types of content that best populate a business blog. Author Rick Burnes maintains that between spinach posts (longer posts that showcase your expertise) and roast posts (in-depth posts that require research and showcase data and analysis), all bloggers need some raisin bran:

Raisin Bran – Useful, Everyday Posts

Most of your posts should be raisin bran. They’re very practical and usually framed as how-to advice. Serving dentists? How should they use new tools? Serving restaurants? What’s the most efficient reservation software?

You should work hard to make sure you’re good at these posts — that you can whip them out, and that your readers engage with them and like them.

No matter what industry you’re in, these types posts will serve as core content, round out monthly editorial calendars and allow more time for your staff to focus on “big picture” blog posts. These planned features, which could be included weekly, bi-monthly or monthly, provide readers with regular, expected content.

Here are five core content ideas to start with:

1. News roundups

B2B companies seek and receive news every day, whether it comes from a daily monitoring e-mail sent put together in PR, a Twitter stream, mobile news app or (gasp!) the newspaper. You’re always on the lookout for breaking news, feature stories, columns and opinion pieces that affect your company, your competitors, your customers and your industry. So why not share it?

Putting together a weekly news roundup post helps your readers (and potential customers) stay on top of of the same issues you are monitoring, and provides added value to them by putting all of the week’s important stories in one easily shared post.

Make it happen: Monday is a great day to post a news roundup, as many people are actively seeking news to start off their weeks. Pull together five to seven news articles or blog posts from the week and bullet each out, including the article title, source and a brief excerpt or summary.  Take it one step further by adding your own thoughts and engaging readers by asking a question about each article.

2. Twitter roundups

Similar to a news roundup, a Twitter roundup highlights the people and organizations you find valuable to follow. Memes like Follow Friday exist for a reason: Just like in the business world, it’s worthwhile to recognize and thank people who are valuable contributors.

Make it happen: Use the “favorite” option on Twitter to flag tweets that make you pause, think, disagree or set off a lightbulb in your head. Pull those tweets together at the end of each week and use the data in different ways: The first week of the month could be a list of key industry tweeters to follow; the next, a collection of linked screenshots that connect to interesting blog posts. Feeling extra adventurous? Post tweets that offer up advice, suggestions and opinions sans links – it’s hard enough to relay a worthwhile idea in an entire blog post, let alone in 140 characters or less.

3. Meet the team

Use what – or, this case, who – you’ve got.

Social media helps put a voice, face and name to organizations, making it easy to spotlight employees in your organization who make your business successful. Using an interactive medium such as video breaks up the usual text-heavy paragraphs of blog posts and makes an employee more than just a voice on the other end of a phone call.

Make it happen: Invest in a Flip Cam for less than $200 and use it to interview members of your staff. Blogs are about personality, so dig deeper than questions such as “Where did you go to college?” Use the opportunity to let employees show off their expertise, passions, hobbies and anecdotes. Let them deliver first-hand stories about their experience in the company, without relying on canned talking points. In the text of the post, offer up their contact information so readers can continue the conversation. If your organization is small, use subsequent weeks to check in with team members to see what they’re doing, their thoughts on industry news and predictions for coming months.

4. Mailbag

Think of this feature as an interactive version of the FAQ page on your Web site, and use it to point out features, services, Web site pages, contact information and facts about your organization that readers may not know.

Make it happen: Utilize your sales team – they’re on the ground, talking with customers everyday. What questions do they hear most often? What misconceptions do they run into about your product or services? Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are also good places to find out what kind of information people are searching for.  Invite people to leave their own questions for future Mailbag posts in the blog’s comment section.

5. Social media and (your industry here)

If readers are finding your blog (and using Twitter and Facebook to get there), chances are they’re interested in social media. Spotlight non-competitors, customers, researchers, educators, media and others in your industry who are engaging in social media. This builds relationships, gives the person you interview a reason to link to and promote your blog, and helps you learn something along the way.

Make it happen: Keep an eye out for good candidates and approach them with an interview request. If they’re from out of town, send them a few questions via e-mail, record a podcast over the phone or get extra mileage out of that Flip Camera and interview them in person. Focus on takeaways other could implement from their experience, and ask them how they feel the social space is impacting the industry. When you post the interview, send him or her the link so they can promote it on their sites, and tweet it out using their Twitter handle.

What other types of core content do you use to build out your B2B blog’s editorial calendar?