Increase B2B Traffic and Reach with a LinkedIn Blog

b2b-LinkedIn-LogoLinkedIn has long been the place where B2B marketers could build a professional network, create an online resume and share compelling content with that network. As part of LinkedIn’s content marketing push, they launched the Influencer program to bring top quality content from thought leaders across multiple industries into the platform. And they picked who could participate. And they worked with editors.

Now that this program is well established, LinkedIn is opening their platform up to all members. This doesn’t mean you and I can become part of the Influencer program. It doesn’t mean that you will instantly become a thought leader. It does mean that you can now blog on the LinkedIn platform and have it associated with your profile. Following will now become part of the regular vocabulary on LinkedIn. Someone can follow your posts without asking your permission to connect.

Create a Plan to Drive Traffic

Now matter how starry-eyed you become about the potential, and I mean potential and not real, reach of these blog posts, you should create a plan that still drives readers back to a site you own, like a company blog or web site. LinkedIn is still a platform that you cannot control. As they roll out this platform, things will change.

Write Unique Content

Your plan needs to focus on great content. If you really want to make an impact on LinkedIn look at the popular Influencer articles and see what resonates with professionals. There are no cat videos or list-based articles. It’s a look of good, solid advice that appeals to a general audience, but with a focus on careers, business growth, technology and entrepreneurship. Don’t syndicate your content between your blog and LinkedIn. Create unique posts for LinkedIn and offer more on your own blog. If your LinkedIn posts are general, your content on your blog can be a bit more specific and focused on your prospects.

Include Calls-to-Action

Have you seen what many of the influencers do on their posts? Subscribe to my blog. Follow me on Twitter. Sign up for my newsletter. While this overload of actions can cause readers to do nothing, the idea is still sound. Blog posts need calls-to-action. A connection to stay informed about future posts or activities is fine. Connecting them to another post you have published is great. Driving them to a landing page to download additional content works too. View these posts as above the top of your funnel and think how can you convert them with content and identify those who are prospects.

Use the Platform to Grow Your Reach

Posts will show up on your personal profile, so make sure you share them on the company page and within any active groups. Ask your colleagues, partners and customers to share these posts on their LinkedIn profiles (and other social channels) to get more reach on LinkedIn. There may be a most popular posts, like the Influencers have, so it will be beneficial to get lots of views on your posts. And don’t forget that you can tag people in updates that include a link to the post to make them aware of it, but don’t go overboard. You can also follow others and they may see you followed them. Until this is fully rolled out, we don’t know the complete functionality.

Share Your Unique Posts on Other Platforms

Each LinkedIn post has its own URL, which means you can share these posts on Twitter, Facebook and any other platforms where your prospects spend their time. You can even include them in an email newsletter to drive more traffic to them.

What are you thinking about the new blogging platform embedded in LinkedIn? Are you working on that plan yet?

10 Posts That Re-Energize Your B2B Blog

Anyone who publishes a B2B blog for their company, their client, or even themselves, eventually reaches a point where they struggle to write the next post. While they may have many post ideas drafted, there’s just nothing there that’s especially inspiring. This assumes that you have been blogging for six months to a year and you generated enough traffic that you are committed to continuing publishing. Here are 10 ideas for blog posts that will not only get you over your lack of inspiration, but will re-energize you and remind you why you started blogging in the first place (besides driving traffic and increasing your business).

1. Update Your Most Viewed Post
It is very likely that your most viewed post is more than 4 months old and could use some updating. Many people are more interested in current content, but your most viewed post still drives search traffic. Update the post by adding current numbers or situations, as well as adding the word updated in the headline. Also include the word Update in bold in places where you have added new information. To make sure current readers know this post has been updated, write a new short post highlighting some of the new information, and provide a link to the old post. This will show up in your RSS feed, in the inbox of email subscribers and at the top of the home page.

2. Critique Your First Post
Most first posts are not very good. It always takes some time to get into the rhythm of a new blog and find yours or your company’s voice. It is instructive to review that first post and describe to readers what was good about it and what you wish you had done differently. There may be some good information buried in that post, and this new critique post will send some readers back to that post.

3. Compile Your Five Favorite Posts
This is similar to the first two ideas, and helps draw some readership to older posts, but this one is really for you, the writer of the blog. There are always some posts that we have a fondness for in our hearts, but readers just did take to them. List each post title with a link and describe why you like the post, in addition to a summary of the post. This will also help you understand why readers didn’t feel the same way you did about these gems.

4. Interview Yourself About the Success of Your Blog
As you continue to blog, you define your own measures of success. Describe these metrics to your readers in a question and answer format, which will help you refine your answers. Readers are not interested in the details of sales or other propriety information, but if they are regular readers of the blog, they would want to read what you think you do well. Comments on this post would be interesting, because you can see if your measures of success match the perception of your readers.

5. Compile Five Posts on a Topic to Show How it Has Changed
As you write about industry topics, details about those topics change. Since most blog posts reflect the time they were written, it is instructive to both you and your readers to review several blog posts on the same topic and describe how it has changed.

6. Contact People Who Left Comments
Comments are great inspiration for future blog posts, but they also help to reminder you about the importance of interaction and engagement around your blog. Pick a few people who left thoughtful comments and email them with one or two questions about a new or related topic. Their answers can become the core of a new blog post.

7. Publish an Editorial Calendar
Many successful blogs create an editorial calendar to help guide the content and avoid the “what do I write about” syndrome. Even if it is so obvious to you when you publish certain things, your readers may not know you always publish an industry round-up on Fridays. Publishing an editorial calendar is a great way to set reader expectations of what is on the way. They might even become more engaged if they understand your flow of posts.

8. Describe Your Best and Worst Calls To Action
Several of these ideas offer a behind the scenes look at your blog. While this may seem to be more illustrative on marketing blogs, if you are a successful blogger in any industry, other bloggers will be looking to you as a role model. Since you should be providing calls to action on every blog post, review and share the kinds of things that work. Are your readers more interested in downloading content or just asking to be contacted?

9. Highlight Other Blogs that Linked to You
If you use WordPress for your blog, the dashboard displays other blogs that link to you. In addition to leaving comments on these blogs to show that you care and are interested in building community in your industry, by highlighting some of these blogs on your blog helps promote them. Looking through these links can sometimes be surprising when you realize who has linked to you. It’s a good reminder that relevant industry people are interested in what you have to say.

10. Predict the Future
Everyone wants to be thought leader, and by predicting the future in your industry, you can be part of the inner circle. Make sure you give the post a headline that people will find when they are searching. Review other posts to see what last year’s posts were called. This post also gives you several opportunities throughout the year to review your predictions.

What are some other ways you can revisit old blog content, remind yourself how well you have been doing, and add value to your readers?

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?

6 Ways To Generate More B2B Blog Comments

Note: This Post Was Inspired By How to Handle Silence, the Worst Kind of Feedback

When it comes to social media a major concern for B2B companies is negative feedback and managing risk. While this is an important concern, it amazes me that more B2B companies aren’t concerned about something far worse: apathy. Apathy is the thing that will stall social media marketing success faster than anything else. Apathy is what gets executives and marketers fired. Apathy is what stops someone from being an effective leader. Apathy is the social web’s version of silence. It makes your company irrelevant.

Understanding from the beginning that you need to actively work to generate comments and interactions is important when starting a B2B blog. Comments and interactions drive sharing of content and will drive leads. The question everyone wants answered is how do companies get comments and avoid apathy?

6 Ways To Generate More B2B Blog Comments

1. Take A Side
– Being vanilla doesn’t get you comments. A major issue many companies have in social media is they are so worried about risk that they publish content that is not interesting and overly product centric. If you take 5 minutes and look at the business content on the web today that is generating the most comments, the common element of the posts would be that they all pick a side of a issue or debate. The content isn’t offensive and doesn’t generate unneeded risk. It is simply an interesting opinion and perspective. Have you picked a side in a blog post recently?

2. Ask Questions – People love to talk about themselves. Sometimes though they need to be prompted to do so. Asking questions in blog posts is a great way to generate comments. At Social Media B2B we often ask a few questions at the end of each post, but we also include some through out the post as well.

3. Answer Every Comment – Something that companies and blog authors sometimes do not to well is responding to comments. People want to believe that they have been heard and didn’t put a comment into the black hole that is the Internet. Answering comments provides affirmation and increases the chance that a reader will leave a comment again in the future.

4. Mention People In Posts – Bloggers have long understood that if you link to another person’s blog or mention their name, it will often lead to them leaving a comment on the post. This works especially well for B2B companies because more and more organizations are implementing social media monitoring systems that track these mentions, thus increasing the likelihood of a response.

5. Use Social Networks To Drive Comments – Sure you can ask questions in your blog posts, but additionally you can also leverage social networks to ask for comments and position blog posts in different ways that may lead to more interaction. When sharing a blog post on a social network like Twitter or Facebook, it is not an obligation to simply post the title of the entry and a link. Instead you can directly ask for comments or pull a sentence from the post that you feel may generate more conversation.

6. Have Coworkers Comment – The Internet is about momentum. A blog without comments doesn’t have momentum. Think of content on the social web, the same way you would think of how a mob of people acts. People like to gather around a hub of action and pile on to it. So how do you make this behavior happen when you don’t have any action? Generate some initial action yourself. Have employees, business partners and others close to the company leave comments to blog post to show that action exists around that idea.

Blog comments are valuable for many different reasons. They help ideas spread, provide valuable insight, generate offline conversations, etc. How do you generate blog comments for your B2B blog?