What’s the Difference Between a B2B Blog Post Topic and an Ebook Topic?

b2b-blog-post-ebookB2B marketers are trying to produce and publish more content than ever before. More social media channels mean more content. More followers mean more content. More content from others means more content. And ever increasing goals mean more content.

In this ongoing battle between more content and better content, B2B marketers sometimes choose the volume side of the fence. When your boss is looking for more leads for the sales team, one way to get there is by producing more ebooks. Even though this can sometimes create an unsustainable model of content that can spiral out of control, I have seen the result of heading down this path.

Blog posts masquerading as ebooks.

Since ebooks are often gated content hiding behind lead forms, it is easy to think that you should turn some of your blog posts straight into ebooks. But that is not the way to build trust in your content or your company. Blog posts drive traffic to your site and the ebook offer converts the visitor. They are not likely to fill out a lead form for lightweight content. The ebook offer needs to provide more depth to the blog post topic, not just be a blog post prettied up by a designer and converted to a PDF.

Here are 10 characteristics of a good B2B blog post topic (Tweet This)

  1. It is about one simple idea.
  2. It can be based on another blog post.
  3. It can be based on one product update.
  4. It can solve one customer problem.
  5. It can easily be divided up into several small sections.
  6. It can easily be presented as a short list.
  7. It doesn’t need complex graphs or charts to explain it.
  8. It doesn’t require more than one author.
  9. It can easily be read on a mobile device…
  10. in a short amount of time.

Here are 10 characteristics of a good B2B ebook topic (Tweet This)

  1. It is about a big or complex idea.
  2. it can be based on several blog posts.
  3. It can be about something one level more general than your product category.
  4. It can solve several customer problems, or one big problem with multiple steps.
  5. It can be divided into multiple chapters.
  6. It can contain lists as examples within chapters.
  7. It can use charts, graphs or graphical elements to better explain or divide it up.
  8. It can have multiple authors to bring multiple perspectives to it.
  9. It is substantial enough that it needs to be downloaded…
  10. and maybe even printed out to read it.

Have you considered creating a PDF of a single blog post idea just to get leads? Did the short term result of leads pay off in the long run with sales?

Photo Credit: Flickr

How to Create a B2B Content Culture

b2b-content-sales-lionB2B marketers know that content creation – and blogs in particular – is a critical part of the marketing arsenal. Yet many balk at the thought of creating new content on a consistent basis. How do you get enough ideas? How do you create content that keeps readers coming back? And how do you do it all when content isn’t the only thing you’re responsible for?

At MarketingProf’s B2B Marketing Forum, Marcus Sheridan (otherwise known as The Sales Lion provided some answers to those questions.

As a person who runs a blog or two and is a contributor to several others, I’m always on the lookout for new ideas on how to keep the content machine going. Here are some of the points that really resonated with me.

Learn to Teach

When I have a business decision to make, I start by doing my research online. I would guess that you do too. With that thought in mind, Sheridan advises that you begin to think of yourself as a teacher, with your blog posts being the classroom material.

Consider the questions your customers ask when they’re researching your products or solutions. Do they want to know about something that’s related to your industry but doesn’t directly have to do with your products? Write about that. Do they want to know about how you stack up vs the competition? Write a fair and honest comparison – without shying away about the pros and cons of everyone, including you. Do they want to know about pricing? Write about how much your offering costs. (Sheridan says it’s also OK to answer “it depends” on that one – as long as you explain why.)

Be the best and most honest teacher around and you’ll gain customer trust. Gain customer trust and you’re on your way to making a sale.

Be Honest and Transparent

I mentioned this in the section above, but it was something Sheridan stressed repeatedly and I heartily agree with him. You MUST be as honest and transparent as possible. The moment a customer feels like a business is hiding something, the trust is lost. And it’s not something you’re going to get back.

Don’t shy away from hard topics just because you’re worried about what the customer will think. Not talking about a subject as nearly as bad as being dishonest about it. For example, say on your website who might not be interested in being your customer and why that’s so. Sheridan even went so far as to say, “It’s more important to say on your website who you’re not a good match for than who you are a good match for.”

Keep It Simple, Stupid

The goal of great content is to keep it accessible. Don’t get caught up in technical speak. I find this often happens when I’m working with bloggers. They are super smart people, but they are so caught up in being experts in their space that they forget that the rest of us don’t know every acronym in the book.

This is not to say that you can never go into technical detail. However, be aware that many of your readers won’t understand you unless you explain what you’re saying in clear and straightforward language.

Don’t Go It Alone

Eliminate the barriers between sales, marketing, customer support, and any other group that talks to customers. These are the best people to get blog topics from, because they hear the questions your clients and prospects ask every day.

Get a group of customer-facing employees together in a room and take an hour to brainstorm a list of questions they hear on a consistent basis. Write them all down and you’ll likely have enough blog post topics to take you through the next few months, if not the next year.

There is power in using multiple employees to produce content and build the company brand. Develop a corporate culture of listening and teaching – these are powerful tools.

Moreover, understand that there are different personality types in your company. Some people are better for taking on certain jobs than others. For instance, there are writers who can produce text-based blog posts. But there are also actors who would do better with video, talkers who could create great podcasts, and questioners who are great for brainstorming about new topics. Each person is valuable. Use their strengths to your advantage.

A final, bonus tip: recognize that developing a content culture isn’t a one-time thing. Keep the content culture going through newsletters and trainings throughout the year. No doubt it adds to the workload, but persevere – it’s worth it!

What is Harder about B2B Blogging? Starting or Continuing?

b2b-blogging-getting-startedThere is no doubt that blogging for a B2B company is hard. Every day, or every week if you are getting started, you need to publish well-written, thoughtful posts that speak to your audience about their own business issues, while at the same time avoiding product-focused sales pitches and repurposed press releases. Seasoned content marketers don’t see this as a problem. They create content all day long. Night and day. With eyes opened and closed.

But for traditional marketers it is not that easy. And team-of-one marketers. And small business owners. It can be hard to find the time. Or the existing content. Or the creative ideas. But if you start dedicating a bit of time each day or week to focus on creating great blog content, it will become easier and more natural.

Trying to figure out how to get started? The links below provide different perspectives on blogging that are relevant for B2B marketers, and will get you thinking. But don’t just sit around reading blog posts on the internet. Talk to your salespeople. Talk to customer service. Learn what issues keep customers and prospects awake at night. Can you provide resources that can help? Not product pitches, but education. Use your blog to become a trusted resource.

Remember that B2B blogging is a long game. Whether you are looking at the ongoing search traffic or supporting a long sales cycle, both ideas should inspire you to keep blogging. Several of the posts below should provide some new inspiration to keep you going. And if you are the kind of person inspired by stats, according to Hubspot, 92% of companies who blogged multiple times a day acquired a customer through their blog.

Are there other recent resources that have inspired your B2B blogging? Share them below.

People Do Not Follow Blogs – They Read Articles
What do you do when you enter the URL of a highly established blog into your browser? Do you read every article you see on the front page? Likely, you don’t. Instead, you quickly skim through the headlines to see if there is something that actually interests you. You click on those headlines that seem relevant or intriguing, then you read the first several lines.
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Blogging best practices: 8 ideas for curated blog posts
The blog is a critical centerpiece to your content marketing efforts. And it is also the content platform that is most difficult for organizations to maintain the pacing and quality necessary to compete. One of the best things you can do is curate. My only warning is that curating done poorly and cheaply can turn people off. However, curating done well is a scalable way to create great content.
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Is Blogging Still Relevant in a World of Social Media?
I must hear this question – or a variation of it – at least once a week. So I thought I’d open it up for some discussion to the wider community. My feeling is that blogging is a very relevant option for developing a web presence but as the question states – there are other legitimate options too.
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13 Dumb Mistakes Making Your Business Blog Drab, Smelly, and Sleazy
Let’s be honest. Creating a blog is tough. Blogging requires writing skills; enthusiasm about your company; and industry expertise. It requires energy, creativity, and perseverance. You can’t expect your blog to produce results straightaway. Depending on your industry and online competition, it may take three to six months, or sometimes even longer to generate results.
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The Unremarked Death of Another Business Blog
The biggest issue with content marketing is, clearly, THE CONTENT. There are many great tools to solve the issue of how to promote and manage your content: Hootsuite, TweetDeck, and the social networks themselves. For most organizations though, as we can see, that is the least of their worries … as they have no content to manage and share.
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Photo credit: Flickr

Make Your B2B Social Media Headlines Compelling and Clickable

Every B2B company wants their social media posts read, clicked and shared. These are not just tweets, Facebook posts and LinkedIn updates, but the blog posts, ebooks and webinar offers they lead to. A couple of the following articles focus on the art, science and data of writing the best headlines to make followers, and casual passersby click. Social media headline writing is part marketing, part journalism, part SEO and part sensationalism. And all of them need to pay off expectations with the article itself. That is how you build credibility, authority and ultimately, trust.

As you are creating content for your B2B company, especially blog posts, you need to know what kinds of posts to create. Move beyond company news and product announcements with the below guide to types of blog posts. And finally, we share a review of the next stage of storytelling called storydoing and how it elevates companies to be more productive and to drive business results.

These Five Astonishing Headline Writing Secrets Will Make You Cry, Or At Least Click
For most of us in the online journalism business, writing headlines basically amounts to guesswork. Will people click on this? Are there enough nouns in here for Google to find it? Does this line break look weird? Should I use a question mark? An exclamation point? For Upworthy, it’s more akin to a science — and not one of those mushy sciences like anthropology or psychology, either. We’re talking straight-up particle physics. For every article they publish, its writers come up with 25 headline options. They then A/B test the four most promising before settling on a winner.
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5 Data Insights into the Headlines Readers Click
With the growth of online marketing, both the channels and volumes of content competing for our readers’ attention has exploded, making it increasingly challenging to stand out. Given how significant a headline can be to click-through rate in both search and social online channels, here at Conductor we decided to test different headline types to determine those that resonate most with readers.
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Which Format Is Right for Your Next Blog Post?
When it comes to choosing the right format for your next blog post, there’s quite the smorgasbord to choose from. Perhaps how-to posts are your forte. Or maybe you just can’t resist the list. But just because you have a signature format, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily right for the topic you’re blogging about.
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Good Companies Are Storytellers. Great Companies Are Storydoers
Discussions about story and storytelling are pretty fashionable in marketing circles. I have ambivalent feelings about this. On the one hand, as a lifelong advocate for the power of story in business, I find this very encouraging. For all companies, having a story and knowing that story are crucial steps to achieving success. On the other hand, I’m worried that too many marketers think that telling their story through advertising is enough. It’s not.
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Photo credit: me

10 Ideas to Make Boring B2B Social Media Posts Captivating

Many B2B marketers are still trying to figure out social media for their companies. Years of product marketing driven writing, or content as we now call it, has honed their skills on features-based marketing. No matter how exciting your products and services are, this kind of marketing is boring. And it is not going to work in a social media context.

Prospects and customer want solutions to their problems. They don’t want to hear about your products in a blog post. Once you identify your target audience and their pain points, you can begin creating top-of-the-funnel content to connect with them by solving their problems. With the right content in mind, on paper and on screen, how do you make sure that your content is found, read and shared by your audience?

Start by making it remarkable!

And then here are 10 ideas for make it captivating:

1. Use Keywords in the Headline

No matter what you writing about, you have to include the words that your prospects and customers use when talking about your solutions, business and industry. These are used in the questions they are asking in search engines and of their social network connections. The most important keyword location is the headline. See the headline above (and most of the ones on this site) for an example. They always include B2B Social Media or B2B and relevant terms. That’s how B2B marketers find what they are looking for on this site. Posts without those obvious keywords are just not found by the audience.

2. Use Adjectives in the Headline

Even keyword-based headlines need to be interesting and compelling. Or captivating. As this one is. No matter where you prospects and customers see your headlines, they are looking for something that will be worth their time. As you are establishing your authority on your subject area, every post is an opportunity to draw in new visitors. Interesting and different descriptive words, like adjectives can do that.

3. Find a Compelling Image

In this post I used a recent Instagram photo I took of the San Francisco Bay Bridge. While not entirely relevant to this post, it is a captivating image, which relates back to the headline. Rather than use the same stock photography images of light bulbs or the diverse team around a conference room table, look for interesting images that set the tone for a post. Search Flickr for Creative Commons images and make sure you give credit back to the photographer. Hone your own skills as an Instagram photographer and use your own images. You want to use images that will draw someone in, make them click and make them keep reading.

4. Don’t Talk about Your Products

Successful blog posts are not about products. Your website already does that. Provide real value to prospects and customers by providing solutions to their business problems. Demonstrate your industry expertise by giving them something they cannot get elsewhere.

5. Solve Prospects’ Business Problems

One of the reasons “How To” posts are so popular in different industries is that they answer people’s questions. Search engines are designed to provide the most relevant results to every search. If B2B prospects are trying to find answers to their problems, your posts have a better chance of showing up if you are answering their questions. And using their terms.

6. Share Customer Stories

Leverage your existing customers to tell your story of how your solved their business problems with your products and solutions. These are not just case studies where your product helped your customer reach business nirvana, but a real, human story that is interesting, remarkable and captivating. Ask yourself if you would read the story before you hit publish.

7. Use Video

Video is a powerful way to tell a story, share an important detail or present a point of view. A post with embedded video can capture someone’s attention in a different way than a written post. This is an easy way to share the thoughts of an industry influencer you met at a trade show, but keep it short. Definitely under five minutes, and under three minutes if possible. Video viewing dropoff is pretty significant at two minutes.

8. Experiment with Different Formats

Every post should not always be 500-800 words on a subject. Try shorter posts if you have a simple comment about an industry news story. A link to the story and three takeaways work. Consider an occasional longer analytical post that really takes a point of view. What about an all image post where you show 20 examples of what others in your industry are doing well, where you only have a line or two of explanation. Mixing up your post format keeps things interesting and keeps you from writing the same post over and over.

9. Use Subheads to Make it Scannable

People on the web scan. Subheads make it easy to glean some information from your post without taking the time to read it. That’s why list posts do so well. They match the way people consume information. Scan this post as an example.

10. Remember Social Networks

And finally, getting found in search is just part of the equation. Getting found on social networks is also key. Keep headline length in mind for social networks. Know how images show up on Facebook and Google+. Make sure your post description is captivating, as that may be what shows up on networks.

Remember, all of these ideas will help remarkable content get found, read, shared and clicked, but if your content is not worth reading, none of this will help. And keep in mind that blog posts just to drive traffic are not enough. Include calls to action (CTAs) at the end of every post to bring your prospects into the sales funnel.

What are other ways that you have made your B2B social media posts more captivating?

10 Steps to Creating a Network of Guest Bloggers

Anyone running a B2B blog is always on the lookout for guest bloggers from outside their own organization. They provide much-needed interesting content, they offer support by sharing links with their networks and they widen the pool of expertise on offer to your readers. But how do you get those quality guest bloggers to contribute to your blog? Here are the ten steps to building a network of guest bloggers that I have followed for the B2B PR Blog and the B2B Social Media Guide.

1. Create a quality blog

Seems a bit obvious but, judging by the number of people who have invited me to guest post on their poorly managed blogs, it needs to be said. Ask any blogger – they will be more inclined to write for you if they feel it is worth their while – that means they need to feel they are contributing to something that, at a minimum, reflects the professional standards they adhere (or aspire) to. That means
great content and appealing design.

2. Optimize your blog for search engines

No matter how great your content or how beautiful your design, if Google (and other search engines) can’t read it in their preferred language, then you’re not going to rise up the search rankings and attract organic search traffic. The number of people willing to contribute to your blog is directly related to the number of readers it has, so if you’re not attracting search traffic you’re not going to be attracting the guest bloggers.

3. Drive traffic to your blog

Do whatever it takes to get relevant people to read your blog. I’ve used social bookmarking, shared every post on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, guest blogged myself, and offered a weekly prize for the best comment to encourage engagement. The benefit for both my blogs has been a steadily rising readership.

4. Have a contributors page

Any would-be guest blogger should be able to easily establish whether you take contributed content, and if so, what kind of content you take and what form you want it in. Make this prominent so that there is never any confusion.

5. Follow other bloggers

Know a great blogger who you think would be a valuable addition to your network of contributors? Develop an understanding of who they are, their preferred subjects and the types of guest posts they offer by engaging with them on social networks. Armed with this information, you’ll be able to make a targeted pitch.

6. Give something back

Most guest bloggers are happy to be paid in backlinks (the currency of SEO), tweets, Facebook likes or comments. Whatever it is, make sure your offering to the blogosphere is appealing.

7. Find experts in your field

Approach experts or up and coming experts directly on LinkedIn. Look for people in positions of power or influence and invite them (use inmails) to share some of their knowledge with you. If they say no, then why not play the long game and go for their second in commands? They’ll ultimately probably be promoted into those positions of influence, and they might be more willing to share their stories on the way up.

8. Ask PR people

It’s their job to find good guest posting opportunities for their clients. The best way to get them? I send out enquiries asking for experts in certain fields on Gorkana and Response Source – it’s incredibly effective, but only if your blog meets certain minimum quality standards.

9. Ask for specific topics

When you make your approach, be specific – asking someone if they would be interested in contributing a guest blog on something to do with their industry is vague enough for them to say yes without actually having to commit. It also puts them in the difficult position of having to figure out what to write, which, for some people is more of a mission than writing the darn post. Asking them for their top ten tips on encouraging resellers to promote their product over a competitors’ (for example) and they will be less inclined to agree non-commitally, and more inclined to actually write it.

10. Join a blog network

There are a number of blogger networks out there that put guest bloggers in touch with blog editors. Take myblogguest.com for an example. You register your details, and outline the types of contribution you are after, and they come to you!

What are some steps you have tried to encourage guest bloggers to contribute?

6 Ways to Create and Share B2B Social Media Content Without a Blog

One of the best ways to use social media to drive traffic to your B2B website is to create a blog on your website and publish relevant articles to your prospects and customers. Rather than posting this content only on your social media channels, it is hosted on a site that you control. And you can use your social channels to share your content and bring visitors to your site.

For some organizations it is not currently possible to create a blog, but B2B marketers are still interested in creating and sharing content. In addition to the awareness benefit that sharing new content brings, marketers need to understand how to create remarkable content on a regular basis. Here are six ways to create and share content without a blog.

1. Email
This is the easiest one because you can do this now with no learning. The next time you attend a conference or industry event, make notes about the 5 most amazing things you saw. Whether you have an email program and customer distribution list or not, you can still write up your thoughts from the event. If you send regular emails, use this information in your next email. If you don’t communicate this way, provide your write-up to your salespeople, and they can use it as a reason to connect with prospects and customers.

2. YouTube
Shoot a short video on your phone with one of your product managers describing how one feature of your product solves a specific problem. Interview a customer telling a similar story and you have two different ways to showcase what your products do. Make sure you shoot the video in a quiet place so the audio is clear. Post these on YouTube and provide the links to your employees. They can share them on their social networks or include the links in an email as mentioned above.

3. LinkedIn
Companies can now post status updates on LinkedIn. While these often contain links to other content, it is also a good way to provide general company updates to those following you. You can also use it to curate news coverage about your company. Post links to stories and add a comment in the status update. Even though you may have a newsfeed on your LinkedIn company page, posting the most important ones as status updates will show them to your company’s network.

4. Twitter
Twitter has changed from a place where people post their thoughts to a site where many people and companies also share links. When building your B2B company Twitter account, you definitely want to share other industry content that is relevant, but you can also post thoughts from your employees. Interview your subject matter experts and post their responses over a series of tweets. This can be a fun way to get more employees involved in Twitter. Encourage employees to retweet these interview tweets.

5. Facebook
Posting photos and sharing non-work-related activities are great uses for a Facebook Business Page before you have ramped up your social media content machine. Once a week, share an employee photo. Make sure you are capturing photos of an community events. Include a brief story about the event and provide a link to the organization. These kinds of things show the human side of a company, especially on a platform that many people use personally.

6. Google Plus
Besides it’s benefit to search results, Google Plus is really good for having conversations. Ask leading questions. Provide insightful information. Reach out to people in your industry to engage them in conversations. Since these conversations are threaded, someone can join in and catch up just by scrolling.

If you start using these other ways to create and share content before you have a B2B blog, you will also start growing your networks on these platforms. This means that you will have an active community, and know where people are more likely to engage and share company content, when you do launch your blog.

If you have other favorite ways to share B2B company content without blog, please share in the comments below.

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?

4 Things to Know When Pitching B2B Bloggers

While hundreds of blog posts have been written on the topic of pitching bloggers by both bloggers and communication professionals such as Chris Brogan, Jason Falls and Arik Hanson, not much has been written about the unique requirements when approaching B2B bloggers.

Pitching a blogger is very similar to pitching a mainstream media journalist. Relevance and timeliness remain the two most importance factors in a pitch; in fact, these factors are even more important in the blogging world. Do it wrong and you could be made an example of and outed on the Bad Pitch Blog.

Bloggers tend to be much more specialized than their mainstream counterparts, who, as newsrooms around the world shrink, may cover crime, food and finance beats all in the same day. Bloggers, on the other hand, craft their content more carefully around their passions. This makes relevance even more key, as a blogger can’t e-mail your pitch to his or her co-worker who covers that beat. Similarly, the issue of timeliness in the 24/7, around-the-clock, insta-publish social space brings a new meaning to the news release term “For Immediate Release.”

Some points to consider:

  • Actually read the blog. Whether you subscribe to it in a news reader or do a quick scan once a month, get a handle for the blogger’s tone, writing and opinions.
  • Search for the term “pitch” and “pitching” among the blog posts. This may yield a post that details exactly how that blogger would like to be approached with ideas for content. Check the about page or other pages on the blog.
  • Establish a baseline relationship by following the blogger on Twitter and commenting on his or her blog.
  • Make sure the blogger has access to images, screenshots, link, etc. that will help him or her directly drop those into a post.
  • Personalize, personalize, personalize. Put yourself in the blogger’s shoes – if you received this e-mail, would you immediately drag, drop and delete?
  • Don’t attach a news release. If you can’t relate how your information is important to a blog’s readers in a paragraph or two, reconsider your angle.

What are some things that are different when you pitch a B2B blogger? When you have a story, product, person or example you think could provide great content for a B2B blog, here are some things to think about:

1. Ideas > Products

In the Mom Blogger space, many companies have garnered mentions on influential blogs by sending out products such as toys, food and clothing for review. It’s much harder to send a blogger the latest copy machine or tractor.

Instead, pitch guest posts about your experience in the B2B space. Many bloggers would be hesitant to publish a guest post from a company on one of its products. However, a guest post from a company on its experience with a specific marketing campaign, its social media strategy or its approach to direct mail will be valuable across the board.

“Products” B2B bloggers are interested in: books, upcoming events, software and mobile applications that will make life easier for B2B industry professionals.

2. Logistics

Like B2C bloggers, B2B bloggers probably aren’t blogging full-time. They have a day job, multiple part-time jobs, consultancies and a fast-paced travel schedule. In the B2B space, this is multiplied even further when you consider B2B relationships revolve around much longer sales cycles and much more expensive buying considerations.

Also, make sure you know if the blogger you’re targeting can actually write about your pitch. Is he or she writing for a company blog legally bound not to accept products for review? Does the blogger write a personal B2B blog, but works at a competing company? Investigate this by adhering to the bullets laid out above, or by e-mailing the blogger asking about his or her parameters and preferences.

3. It’s a small word, after all

There aren’t as many B2B bloggers as there are B2C bloggers, especially when you begin breaking things down by industry. While that limits the sheer number of bloggers out there who can create content, use this to your advantage.

Curate a manageable list of B2B bloggers that speak to you and your industry and develop relationships with them on a level beyond comments and retweets. Know the players, and know what topics spark their interests. By putting your name out there and delivering valuable information, you can get on the short(er) list of B2B bloggers’ short list of go-to individuals when they need content.

4. You’re probably talking to a marketer. Remember that.

Jason Falls wrote this post on things bloggers should know about PR and advertising, after noticing some bloggers confusing pitches with paid content. B2B bloggers don’t fall under that category.

While they may not have a strict PR, advertising or even journalism background, the simple fact that they’re talking about B2B on a blog shows that they’re in-the-know on the communication mix. Vista Consulting says the B2B buyer “is sophisticated, understands your product or service better than you do, and wants or needs to buy products or services to help their company stay profitable, competitive, and successful,” and the B2B blogger is no different.

Use this to your advantage: Skip the formalities and don’t be afraid to delve into details. He or she will appreciate that you recognize their expertise and experience, and you’ll get to the heart of your message faster.

If you’re a PR pro – do you have any success stories for what worked when pitching B2B bloggers?

Should B2B Social Media Profiles Feature Product or Company?

As B2B companies develop social media strategies, one question that comes up, usually late in the process, is should they focus on the company or individual products. This is one of those core social media questions that relates back to the marketing plan. Social media does not exist in a vacuum and must support the existing marketing initiatives. Are you looking to increase brand awareness, market share, drive leads, or respond to customers? Only you can answer that question, but here are some broad categories to choose one approach over another.

Plan your Social Media around the Company

1. Recognized Company Brand
If your B2B company is a recognized brand that already has a large amount of brand equity and customers talk more about the company providing solutions rather than their experiences with specific products, focus your social media efforts on the company. This is a sign that people already connect with the company offline and in their minds, so it is a natural conclusion that they will connect with it online. This is also true with large global brands. They should establish corporate presence that can aggregate content from other divisions and countries.
Example: Establish a Twitter account using the name of the company and the logo as its avatar.

2. Offer Related Products or Item Catalogs
Some companies produce a variety of related products that are not branded separately, so there is no reason to consider anything other than a company approach. Most OEMs fall in this category, as do companies that manufacture thousands of individual parts or configurable products. While new customers are looking for individual parts or solutions to common situations, product names may be nothing more than an item number.
Example: Provide a forum for customers and prospects to ask questions of each other and company reps.

3. Company is the Product
This is probably most true with startups, but if there is no difference between the company and the product, there is really no question. For example, if your B2B company has created a web app to serve your industry and the web site is also your company name, that is also the name that should be used for your social profiles.
Example: Create a Facebook page with the vanity URL of www.facebook.com/companyname.

Plan your Social Media around the Products

1. Large Product Community
Just like the example above where the company has an existing awareness, the same is true about individual products. If your B2B products have true brand equity to your customers and within your industry, consider the value of promoting those product separately using social media. If these products have built-in communities, your role is to discover those conversations online and learn from them.
Example: A monitoring campaign is the best way to understand if this is the best approach.

2. Diverse Product Line
If your B2B company has a diverse product line that crosses many verticals, you are a prime candidate to approach social media from a product standpoint. Your products may cross business-size lines or even pricing levels. If the customers, industries and online locations have little in common, there is not much point in trying to communicate with them in the same way, using the same content. Unique communities need unique content.
Example: Create a series of industry-specific blogs that are all housed on one central blog page

3. Distinct Product Functions
Maybe you make a variety of products for one industry, but the functions are so different that they warrant separate marketing, and by extension social media. A company approach makes sense to aggregate it all in one place, but a series of products that serve very different needs can each stand alone.
Example: Create a YouTube video channel for each product line demonstrating its function.

Have you focused any of your social media efforts on individual products? What did you learn from this approach?