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?

B2B Social Media Newsroom Example: Scania

Note: I don’t like using the term “social media newsroom.”  All newsrooms should be social, but because it has become an industry term, I will use it in this post.

One of the big complaints I hear when discussing the topic of B2B companies and social media is “All of the examples people use are technology companies, of course they use social media.” Because of this common concern I like to use examples that are as industrial and non Internet technology focused as possible.  I will not be the 1,000th person to write on Cisco’s newsroom, instead I am going to examine the Scania Group’s social media newsroom.

scania-social-media-newsroom

Scania is a leading manufacturer of heavy trucks, buses and industrial engines. They are about as B2B as a company can get. In doing research I have found that they have one of the best B2B newsrooms I have seen.

It Starts With Content:
For B2B companies exploring the idea of a social media newsroom the first thing they have to determine if they have or can produce enough relevant content for the media and customers to justify the development of a newsroom. Content is clearly something that Scania has made a priority. You can tell that instantly, because they have relevant video headlining their newsroom page and 245 “real” product images accessible via a link or a Flickr widget. They have also created a categories and tagging system that help to organize their content. The only true content area that Scania falls short in is that of written content. The only written content on the site is traditional product releases. They have not included any white papers, case studies, or other written documents that could add additional value for a site visitor.

It Has To Look Good:
Whether a company wants to admit it or not, design matters.  Branding, design and user experience matter when you are creating a site that has the goal to provide information quickly to all relevant audiences.  How did Scania do this?

1. Scania aggregated their social content:

scania-social-links

2. Scania categorized and tagged its content:

scania-categories

3. Scania makes their information easy to find through search. For example they have a descriptive page title for the newsroom.

scania-seo

4. Scania set a priority by promoting a heavy truck as a main design element of the newsroom.

scania-p-series

What is the value of social media newsrooms?
Sure this looks cool, but should your organization do it? Think of a social media newsroom as an intermediate step in content marketing. The value lies in being able to aggregate information in one place that helps build search traffic while serving as a clearing house for information relevant to the media, customers, and employees. For social media newsrooms to have value you have to have more than news releases to post, you need other information such as images, video, and social links that provide an added layer of information and perspective about the organization.