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

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?

10 Rules for Epic B2B Blogging

Blogging is a core component of a B2B company’s approach to social media. Not only does it show how the people at a company think and what is important to them, but it provides regularly updated, keyword-rich content that search engines like. Expanding reach by building followings on social media networks is important, but it is more important to drive those contacts back to your blog. This way they can respond to offers through calls-to-action and share your remarkable, and educational, content with their networks.

Follows these 10 rules to build an epic blog for your B2B company.

1. Blog on Your Own Domain
This cannot be said enough times. Do not create a standalone blog at a different domain, including blogger.com and wordpress.com. Your business blog should be located at blog.companydomain.com or companydomain.com/blog. This search engine-friendly approach provides regularly updated content for your website. This way you can get maximum benefit for your website from the traffic that you drive to your blog.

2. Create an Editorial Calendar
Planning is the key to any large, ongoing project, and blogging is no exception. An editorial calendar can help you determine how often to blog, what topics to cover and what kind of content to create. This can also be overlaid with upcoming marketing activities and industry events for maximum impact of your other initiatives.

3. Use Keywords in Your Titles
You want your blog posts to be found and read, and whether that is through search or on social media platforms, keywords help readers discover them. While search engine discovery may be automatic, social discovery happens when you use words that describe what people are looking for or topics they are interested in.

4. Be Human
Writing a blog post is different from writing a press release. While you should seek to educate your readers, you should also try to create a connection. An informal writing style, personal anecdotes and humor can start to make those connections. If they like you, you increase the possibility that they will come back to read another day or that they will share your posts.

5. Educate Your Readers
The difference between a good blog post and a great blog post is what the reader takes away from it. Build regular readerships, and potential customers, by providing quality educational content that helps your readers in their business. The more you can educate them, the better prepared they will be if they become a prospect for your products or services.

6. Break Up Your Posts With Headers
Scanning is the way people read on the web. Make it easy for readers to scan your blog posts by providing headers to break up the copy. Creating section headers will also help you organize your writing into appropriately-sized chunks. If you have a list (like this), make sure the headers have numbers.

7. Speak in Your Customer’s Language
Marketers frequently stick to company preferred terms in their communications, but a blog is a place to test alternate terms, especially those that your customers use. Be aware of how your customers describe your products or services and adopt some of that language in your posts. It is likely that company prospects use similar terms, so using them can make your blog posts more accessible and discoverable.

8. Make Posts Easy to Share
The nature of social media encourages sharing, even for B2B companies. Make sure to include sharing buttons so your readers can share your posts with others in their networks. Test which buttons work for your readers, and keep them to a minimum. Too many buttons could reduce how it’s shared. Also ask yourself if the content is worth sharing. Would you share it with your network? Is it helpful, valuable and educational?

9. Include a Call-To-Action
Blogging is the best method for generating leads using social media. Oh yeah, we did write a book about that (The B2B Social Media Book). But the only way to generate those leads is with a call-to-action at the end of every blog post, or at least in the side bar of the blog. What can you offer your readers to turn them from prospects into leads? Is there an ebook or webinar that extends the content of the blog post? What about a case study that shows how other companies dealt with industry situations? What would your prospects trade their contact information for? That’s what you should offer as a call to action.

10. Publish Consistently
Once you decide to start a business blog, the pressure to publish is on. The way to develop good habits and readers is to set a schedule and stick to it. Start with one day per week. Once you have worked that into your schedule, see what it takes to add a second day per week. Start looking for others in your company to blog to expand beyond what you can do on your own. Do not scale too quickly, as you want to maintain the schedule you set, not slide backwards.

What other rules of B2B blogging have you written on your whiteboard and followed?

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?

How To Handle B2B Content When It Is Not Worth Your Time

When talking about social media the word “content” is constantly thrown around because it is at the center of all forms of content. The Internet is filled with blog posts that tout content as king. Content is king, but what is it is not worth your time to create it.

For many B2B executives and professional service business their hourly rate is hundreds to thousands of dollars an hour. Is a blog post worth a thousand dollars to a lawyer? This is an issue many business are faced with currently. How do I participate in social media when I have already maxed out my time and my time is valuable?

Expediting Content Creation For Social Media

Option 1:

For the sake of an example let’s use a blog as the type of media that is being created and we will use a merger and acquisitions lawyer as the example author of the blog. In this example the B2B lawyer would have an extremely high hourly rate and very little free time. What does the lawyer have? Money.

Step 1: The lawyer buys a pocket video camera such as a Flip Camera or Kodak Zi8.

Step 2: Then he schedules one hour of his time each month.

Step 3:
During this hour he records himself blogging. He says post titles and then talks as if he were writing a blog post. Without having to type and account for typos he can likely get a month or an least a couple weeks of blog posts recorded in the hour long video.

Step 4: Then he pays to have the video transcribed and the blog posts separated.

Step 5: Finally someone in his office can help format and add any needed images or media and publish on the web.

This method saves the blogger time while still letting him blog in his own words and helps him communicate in his own tone.

Option 2:

Option number one in this post is all about saving time. Option number two is the opposite approach. If you make your money by billing hourly you are limited in the money you can make by the number of hours you can work. The only way to make more money is to increase your hourly rate, OR add revenue that isn’t tied to hours.

Let us take the lawyer from our first example. He has very specific knowledge and expertise, which is valuable to businesses in certain situations. However, it is also likely that some of those businesses cannot afford his hourly rate. The solution is for the lawyer to offer paid content in the form of documents, guides, tip sheets, etc. All of these materials only have to be created once and then can be sold thousands of times, unlike the lawyers time.

This approach creates a direct stream of revenue that can be tied to blogging so the lawyer can make a determination how to best manage his time to maximize revenue.

Workflow Tied To Business Objectives

While both of these ideas can work together or a part, they may not be right for everyone. The larger issue here is that with little time and significant money at stake workflows have to be created to make time investment equal to the value of the content being produced.

How do you solve the problem of creating content when time is tight?

Blogging for the Future: The Long Tail of Search

Everyone talks about the real time web and the frantic pace of society just getting faster and faster. Instant gratification has become the expectation rather than the exception. Tech blogs try to scoop each other in the same way that news organization used to. The competitive nature of this matters to the publishers far more than to the readers.

Now look at your own blogging endeavor in this environment. You have started your blog for your B2B company several months ago and you are clicking along. You are following best practices, creating good content, paying attention to SEO and even starting to build a community around your organization. But you still feel like you can’t keep up. There are others in your industry that publish stories the moment they hit. Before you have even finished reading a story, someone else has posting and tweeted about it. How can you compete?

You must first find the right area of competition. If you do not have the ability, or the desire, to always be first with industry news, to always be the first to tweet, or even the first to retweet, then don’t bother. In each one of these instances, only one person, or blog, can be first. It takes resources to always be first. And once you establish that reputation, you must maintain it.

Very often, the frontrunner in scoop wars sacrifices content quality. That is part of where you can win. If you are not concerned with being first with a post, you can take your time. Many B2B organizations don’t operate on the hyper-speed of many web firms. Sometimes publishing the next day or even the next week is fine. Especially if it means providing some analysis, additional context, or even a quote from an industry expert. All these things make your content better.


But guess where the big win happens when you provide compelling content on a continuing basis? Search. The idea of the long tail absolutely applies to blogging. You can go for the big hit on a daily basis to drive lots of traffic, but you will ultimately be more successful by creating posts over time that answer the questions of your customers and prospects. Make sure your headlines are written in ways that answer the common questions, and the posts pay off that headline. These are the posts that continue to drive traffic. This is blogging for the future.

Let’s look at this site as an example. We certainly try to keep up with changes in social media on a daily basis, but we never try to scoop anyone. We put our own take on things and how they relate to the B2B space. And yes, we look for big hits on Twitter the day a post is published, but guess what. No matter what we do on a daily basis, we still get a significant amount of traffic from search. We are answering the questions people are asking. Good content, over time, builds traffic.

And remember, the beginning of every blogging journey begins with one post.

Business Blogging Isn’t Dead: 4 Reasons Blogs Are Critical To B2B Social Media Success

The coolest thing to do on the Internet, in case you haven’t noticed, is to “kill” something. You see articles each week that declare an application or online practice “dead” because some new shinier application has hit the street to grab all the attention. Most of the time these articles are pure hype designed to drive more traffic to the sites on which they appear. Over the past few months, I have seen too many of these articles, as well as messages on Twitter declaring that blogs are “dead”

I am here to tell you that I think all of those people are wrong, especially when it comes to B2B. In fact I think that the application and implications of blogging for B2B organizations is nearly limitless. However, for today, I am going limit myself to sharing four reasons why blogs are critical for business-to-business organizations.

For B2B organizations Blogs Can:

1. Create An Organization’s Public Hub On The Web
– To have any type of communication, either internal or external on the web, you need a hub of information. This means, one place where your thoughts, insights and expertise exists in its most complete form on the web. For many reasons this hub needs to be a blog. Ask your self these questions. where am I going to send people from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other networks who want more detailed information about an issue? The answer is your blog.

2. Allow Organizations To Have Ownership – In the world we live in, power and income is directly related to the things we own. The social web is no different. Having a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, a Twitter account etc is like renting an apartment. When you rent an apartment, you have a safe place that is worry-free and you get to spend time with people near by, but ultimately you end up paying for someone else’s building. That is what you are doing for those other services, helping them make money. You are giving up your control. You could be on Facebook for a year and then they could decide to remove your account. It is their right.

Having a blog on your company Web site is like owning a home. You have complete control of what it looks like, the features it has, and most importantly, the information posted to it. You own it and every day you are getting a direct return from your investment. You are seeing an increase in your search traffic and page rank because of the blog, seeing direct lead generation and you have complete control over the site’s analytics. So would you rather rent or own?

3. Make Your Company Human
– One of the things I hear most when it comes to social media for B2B is that organizations say: “we are a manufacturing company, we make X product. Nobody cares about us.” That statement can be perfectly true, but it has nothing to do with the products you make. People don’t care because you haven’t given them a reason to yet.

Part of the way to get people passionate about your company, is to get them involved and show that they have a stake in the final product. That they as customers have a role in making the product better. They want to be connected to your staff and get an inside look at what you do. A blog can be the window into this world. One that you customers may not even realize right now that they want.

4. Facilitate Direct Lead Generation – At the end of the day you have to move the needle and make sales. On the social web blogs provide the best opportunity for lead generation, again because they provide complete control. For example if someone subscribes to get updates from your Facebook fan page on their phone, you can’t send them a message outside of Facebook. This is because Facebook doesn’t give you their number, it sits in Facebook, but can be integrated into your lead generation funnel.

Do you want this? No. Through search traffic and control of actions available on a blog it is possible to generate better quality and more complete leads than through other social platforms.

Blogging isn’t right for all B2B organizations, but it is far from dead.

What are other reasons you blog?