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?

Presentation: 7 Online Video Tips Every B2B Marketer Should Know

Last week I got a lot of great feedback from my post about B2B online video marketing. In light of this interest, I put together a presentation of the seven video tips to make it easier for everyone to share. Please feel free to download and share with others in your organization who may find it helpful.

What else would you like to know when it comes to B2B Online Video?

7 Online Video Tips Every B2B Marketer Should Know

Making and distributing good B2B video content takes time. It isn’t a quick process to arrange a video shoot, edit video and then upload it to the social web. This work though can come with a substantial pay-off if as a B2B company you understand how to do the little things to maximize the effectiveness of online video.

When it comes to online video several issues exist. Search engines don’t index the content of video well. People can’t always watch video at work because of firewall issues and out of date software. Today’s tips are to help fix some of these issues and to make sure that ROI of online video is maximized.

7 Online Video Tips Every B2B Marketer Should Know

1. Always Include URL In A Video Description – This first tip is so simple but so many businesses don’t do it. Most video sharing sites including YouTube, allow the first 30 characters of a video description to be an active URL. Not only does it make it easy to generate leads back to your site from videos, but this links also count in Google’s PageRank system. Meaning if you publish a lot of video and put links in each of them your organic search ranking in Google will be improved.

2. When Blogging A Video Include A Text Summary – This is a tactic that may add a little more time to getting your video published, but is completely worth it. A good example of this is what the folks at HubSpot TV are doing. Under each of the video is a series a bullet points that summarize what the video covers. While this is great for people who can’t watch the video it also provides text for search engines to better index your video blog posts. Adding text with video is a valuable inbound marketing opportunity.

3. Three Short Videos Are Better Than one Long Video – People have short attention spans when it comes to the web. As marketers providing content it is important that we understand this. Online videos should be short, ideally around 3 minutes, or even shorter. If you have a 10 minute interview, then break it up into smaller interviews. Besides improving the chances that more people will watch it, it also provides the opportunity to focus headlines that fit with different messages within the video.

4. YouTube Can’t Be Ignored – More than 90 percent of the videos watched online are watched on YouTube. While Youtube may not have the best looking video player, it holds the audience. Many B2B corporations use proprietary video players for their web sites, while this isn’t a bad thing, video must still be distributed to other services including YouTube.

5. Use A Multi-Uploader Service To Ease Distribution – Uploading online video, especially if it is high quality or HD, takes a significant amount of time. Because of this, the thought of uploading a video to 10 or 15 sharing sites might seem daunting. This is where services that upload to multiple services at once come in handy. A service like Tubmogul will allow you to upload a video once to multiple sites and can additionally provide good analytic information. Like any other type of online content, distribution is critical.

6. The Smartest Person Isn’t Always The Best For Video – Being interesting on video is not as much about knowledge as it is tone and personality. When selecting employees or partners for B2B video don’t automatically select the smartest person. Think about who is the best at explaining things clearly and doing so in a compelling manner. These people are your video stars, not company experts.

7. Brand Video For Viewing Across The Web – It is easy to forget that people watch video all across the web, since video is embeddable. Don’t assume that you don’t have to brand your videos because people will be watching it on your web site or blog. Including brief branded intro and outro to B2B videos will make sure that whereever they are watched, they will be connected to to the brand and company.

Do you have other B2B video tips? Do you plan to make video a bigger part of your B2B inbound marketing?

10 B2B Social Media Videos Worth Watching

When it comes to B2B social media, online video has a special role. While many people online like to consume information quickly in the form of blog posts or tweets, video offers depth. In the way that a B2B product can be complex, so can understanding social media’s implications for B2B companies.

This post is for people in your organization who are just starting to learn about B2B social media. These 10 videos offer important perspective on the power of social media as it relates to B2B. While it takes longer to consumer information online via video, it does a better job at communicating emotion. I also find you will get people repeating soundbites from videos in meetings or when they are selling social media to executives.

10 B2B Social Media B2B Videos Worth Watching

1. Social Media Is a Must for B2B Too By Jay Bear
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2. B2B Marketers on Social Media By ReachForce
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3. How B2B Marketers Can Get Started With Social Media By HubSpot
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4. Creators of Will It Blend Talk about Social Media, Branding and B2B By Koroberi
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5. Colleen Cunningham uses Twitter as B2B tool By NatashaRuckel
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6. The 8 Social Media Commandments By CiscoChannels
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7. Steven B. Johnson at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum By MarketingProfs
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8. Money and Time Saving Tips for Creating Benchmarks in Social Media By MarketingProfs
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9. How to Get Started in Business Blogging with Andy Beal By WebMarketingToday
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10. Finding Content for your Business Blog By CompendiumBlogware
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Were these videos helpful? Do you know of others that should be listed?

Video: Basics of B2B Social Media Monitoring

Social media starts with listening or monitoring the social web, but before you can begin, you need to know what you are looking for. We caught up with Amber Naslund, Director of Community at Radian6, and asked her about the basics of social media monitoring for B2B companies. Watch the video as she discusses the following topics:

  • Three parts of monitoring: brand centric mentions, competitive intelligence, industry intelligence.
  • Build your own dashboard using iGoogle or Netvibes or other sites where you can aggregate multiple RSS feeds.
  • What is the tipping point to upgrade to higher-level, or paid solutions?
  • How do you begin to understand the sentiment of the data you find?

Amber blogs at AltitudeBranding.com and tweets from @ambercadabra.

Video: Social Media B2B Panel at Social Fresh Nashville

Jeff moderated the Social Media B2B panel at the Social Fresh Nashville Conference on January 11, 2010. Panelists included Greg Cangialosi of Blue Sky Factory, Kipp Bodnar of Howard Merrell & Partners and Stephen Bolen of Gamma Ray Media.

The discussion included

  • how to get started in social media for B2B organizations
  • how to convince the boss to use social media
  • using social sites for lead generation
  • using social media for sales promotions
  • when is it time to hire a community manager
  • blogging for a B2B organization

There were lots of audience questions that really rounded out the session with good information.

Are there any follow up questions you have for us after watching the video?

Video: Top Stories of December in Social Media B2B

Having trouble watching the above video? Watch on YouTube.

This is the inaugural episode of Social Media B2B TV, where we review the top stories from the past month that are of interest to marketers and communicators using social media for B2B companies. Please let us know if you found this video helpful and would like to see more videos like this from Social Media B2B.

New FTC Guidelines for Bloggers
The Federal Trade Commission released new rules this fall regarding disclosure in testimonial advertising, including blogs and other word of mouth advertising. The new rules went into effect on December 1, 2009. Here’s a link to the Press Release concerning the issue and a PDF with the complete details of the ruling. If you work for a company or agency engaged in influencer marketing, make sure to share this document with your legal advisers so you don’t have any issues with this ruling.

Changes in Real Time Search
Kipp wrote a post called Google Will Force All B2B Companies To Tweet that discussed the changes Google made to its search results to now show real time search from Twitter, Facebook and other social sites. This affects B2B companies by increasing the importance of social media, as this content now trumps other types of result on the first page of Google.

Facebook Changes Privacy Defaults to Open Data to Public
Jeff wrote a post called Facebook Changes Privacy Policies, Impacts B2B Marketing to address the Facebook privacy issue from the company side, rather than the individual side. This affects how your employees interact on Facebook, and how your fans share your company content with their networks. All of this can now be indexed on Google to make it easier to find.

B2B Facebook Fan Page Examples
Jeff wrote a post called 10 Examples of B2B Facebook Fan Pages to provide social media B2B practitioners with much needed examples to share with their colleagues and clients. Jeff also created a slideshare presentation of the post for even easier sharing and discussion.

What social media topics had the most impact on your B2B company?

9 B2B Social Media SlideShare Presentations Worth Watching

In the world of business-to-business companies presentations with slides have become a staple for internal and external meetings. Because many of us rely on slides, we often need inspiration and help putting together the perfect deck. Recently I have become a fan of SlideShare.net, a site that allows users to upload and share their slide presentations with others. I have found it a great source for presentations on a wide variety of topics.

Today, I wanted to share with you some of the best B2B social media slide decks on SlideShare in hopes that they can be educational, and perhaps helpful, when you have to put together your own social media related presentations for management and other internal groups.

1. Dell B2B Social Media Huddle By Neville Hobson – This presentation mixes solid usage facts with larger strategic concepts that could be useful in selling social media internally, but also for creating a sound strategic framework.

2. B2B Social Media Marketing Techniques: Measuring the Impact from Creation to Closed Deal By Kyle Flaherty – Kyle outlines clear points for developing content that creates engagement that can lead to measurable results.

3. IBM Case B2B Social Media By Tim Washer – These slide walk through the IBM Mainframe case study and showcase the results created when B2B Social media is executed well.

4. LaPointe: B2B & Social Media: Performance, Measurements, and SEO Benefits By LIFT Summit 09 – Social media, tied to SEO and examples of good content, make this a useful presentation for helping to understand the bigger role of social media for inbound marketing.

5. B2B Social Media and Twitter – an Interview with Ann Handley of MarketingProfs By Andrew Spoeth – This presentation includes an audio interview that provides valuable insight from Ann Handley of Marketing Profs. Worth listening to to understand how Ann balances her time and uses social media for her business.

6. Community with Social Media and Web 2.0 – A Cisco Product Launch Case Study by LaSandra Brill – Cisco provides a great walk through of how they marketed a specific hardware product using social media. Often you see many examples of social media at the corporate level, it is helpful to see one that is product specific.

7. Building the B2B Business Case for Social Media By Christina Kerley – From influencer engagement to connecting social media to CRM, this presentations highlights the high-level B2B social media issues that companies will be dealing with in the coming years.

8. B2B Social Communications Case Studies – Intuit By Business Development Institute – I saw this case study presented live this past fall. It serves as a great example of leveraging social media to reach small business owners and the business results that can be translated from this type of program.

9. Social Media Strategy and Execution for Branding, Engagement and Recruiting By Polly Pearson of EMC – We can often forget that current and perspective employees are an important audience for social media. This presentation from EMC focuses on the employee relations aspects of social media.

Did you find these presentations helpful? Are there others that you have found helpful or provided inspiration?

Livestreaming Will Be Critical To B2B Marketing In 2010

I recently wrote a post stating that video blogging wasn’t ready to be the sole solution for a B2B blogging. Another form of video that I believe will see an increase in B2B usage is livestreaming. With livestreaming people or companies can stream video in real-time on the Internet and interact with viewers through a chat or Twitter. The most popular live streaming services are Ustream.tv and LiveStream.com.

At this point you are probably wondering why I am going to advocate for livestreaming when I was down on video blogs only last week. The fact is that live streaming video has many advantages over recorded video:

1. Livestreaming video takes preparation time, but no back end editing and production is needed.
2. Live video is embeddable in real-time so that it can be spread across the web as it happens.
3. It creates a stronger emotional connection between the viewer and the host, because the viewer has in put.
4. It can better support lead generation.

How Does Livestreaming Apply To B2B Relationships?

In the patchwork that is B2B content marketing, livestreaming is the missing piece needed to make employees the star. Most B2B companies will say that their employees are the true key to being successful. If you look at most B2B social media right now, the biggest element missing is employees. Social media for the most part is still controlled by public relations and marketing. The problem with this is, if your employee is a leading expert in your industry, then why are you not showcasing his knowledge directly to your customers.

Potential Uses of Livestreaming for B2B

1. Customer Training
2. Press Conferences
3. Customer Interviews
4. Video Q & A About New Products
5. Weekly Briefings From Executives

While there are many more opportunities to leveraging livestreaming video for B2B than the ones listed below I hope that they will give you some ideas. This is a medium that will see growth of use by B2B companies in 2010, partly because the platforms are maturing. Recently Ustream.tv announced you can now stream video live from your iPhone which is the beginning of a trend in mobile live streaming.

Is LiveStreaming Better Than Webinars?

One reason that I think B2B companies will start adopting livestreaming video platforms, is because they will realize that it is often a better presentation than some of the slides and voice over webinars that they are currently doing. Sure some are doing webinars with live video and I would argue that most of the time the live video webinars have better participation and engagement. In the coming years we will continue to see and increase in webinars, but I further believe that companies will switch to showcasing engaging employees through livestreaming video.

Livestreaming isn’t without its issues. The software platforms are still early in development and we need improvements in Internet bandwidth speeds to improve quality and reduce lag times. That being said it is a big sector of opportunity for companies who really care about connecting directly with their customers.

Do you plan on using livestreaming in your communications mix in 2010?

4 Reasons Vlogging Isn’t Better Than Blogging For B2B

Reminder: Take The 2010 B2B Social Media Marketing Survey!

I have talked about the value of video blogging before on Social Media B2B and while I think it is important, heck I even have a video blog, I don’t think they are better than text-based blogging for B2B marketing and communications. I recently read a blog post about Cisco advocating that video blogging is better than blogging. They provide valid reasons like credibility and authenticity, however, they are wrong…for now.

Here is the head blogger for Cisco discussing their take on video blogging:

He has many good points, but the problem is that video blogging still has many issues that stop it from being the best way to blog:

1. Video Doesn’t Work With Most Mobile Devices – It can’t be denied that smart phones are becoming an increasingly growing platform to consume information from the web. The problem is that most web-based video players don’t work on mobile devices. When I click on the Cisco post above and view it on my iPhone half of the content is gone because I can’t see it on my phone. The majority of B2B users have BlackBerry’s and video is the same way on those devices. Because of this issue video blogs reduce possible exposure and reach to target audiences.

2. Video Search Is a Work In Progress – Most search platforms like Google and Bing are still heavily rooted in text and do a poor job integrating video. While uploading video to multiple sharing sites can be used for search engine optimization, a video-only blog would have difficulty ranking well for a diverse set a keywords, unless the content was so compelling that it could drive an abundance of back links. Transcripts of video can also help solve the search problem, but this in not an ideal or quick solution.

3. Video Takes Longer To Consume – The Internet has shortened attention spans and business-to-business users have more information than ever fighting for their attention. To solve this, most people try to get through information faster by skimming or reading only the first few paragraphs of an article. The issue with video is that it takes longer to consume it then to read text, so for many users, it doesn’t fit into their tight schedules. Sure, you can fast forward web video, but it is still a different experience trying to watch a 5 minute video in 30 seconds than quickly skimming an article.

4. Connection/Quality – In addition to taking longer to consume for users who have slow Internet connections, watching video can be an even slower experience. Also, the quality of most online video is still much lower than many people are used to on their TVs and other video devices. The overall experience of online video still needs improvement. If users have to wait for your video to load, they aren’t going to watch it. It doesn’t matter that the speed of their connection is out of your control.

Am I suggesting that you don’t video blog? No. I am suggesting that a video only blog TODAY is not the best idea for a B2B marketing tactic. I believe that the best opportunity when publishing on the web is to have a mix of all forms of media: text, audio, images and video. Different forms of media bring different types of engagement and bring out different emotions.

Do you use video blogging in your B2B blog?