Cisco Creates B2B Social Content in a Unique Place

Many B2B companies understand the need to create and curate content to connect with their customers and prospects, but Cisco has done it in a unique place, their newsroom. This very different approach to a social media newsroom was launched in June 2011. At its core, the newsroom, dubbed “The Network,” the winning name chosen by Facebook fans, is about extending the reach of Cisco’s content, whether it is a press release, feature story, video or third-party article, by making it sharable. The site also includes Twitter and Facebook feeds prominently featured in the sidebars.

Visitors Chose How to View Content
When a visitor arrives at the site, they land on a page with the featured news. As seen below, this can be sorted by latest news, most viewed or most shared. This adds the concepts of popularity and social proof to articles in the newsroom. And even though there is lots of additional content of various types, it seems that the press releases, or traditional news announcements, are the most viewed. Visitors can also click on the All News tab to filter the content and find what they are looking for. The robust filtering parameters include date, type of content, topic, Cisco Business Division, geography, technology and industry. This type of filtering is more like what people are used to in their online shopping experience, and it allows for greater affinity towards the site, rather than just an empty search box that usually returns press releases from 2006.

Content Follows Cisco’s Strategic Direction
Earlier this year, Cisco announced that is was streamlining operations “as it focuses on the five areas driving the growth of networks and the Internet: core – routing, switching, and services; collaboration; data center virtualization and cloud; video; and architectures for business transformation.” The Network newsroom is a way to organize and focus content in those areas as well. The content areas on the site are Data Center, Core Networks, Video, Collaboration, Cisco Culture and Social Media. The first four are exact matches for the key growth areas, while the last two, Cisco Culture and Social Media are two areas that are key to business transformation. Each topic area has a topic page manager. This not only provides a point person for curation of the topic, but humanizes that section and offers a Cisco expert for visitors to connect with on that topic. Each topic area also features a list of links of relevant Cisco products and communities.

Outside Writers Contribute Content
In additional to Cisco communications staff and subject matter experts, The Network features outside journalists who have covered business and technology for the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Forbes, Fortune and Business Week. This brings a new level of content to the site. Many B2B blogs feature guest posts, and some even feature outside experts writing on a regular basis, but to add this level of business and technology journalism to an online newsroom is beyond the realm of what anyone else is doing. This is providing value to customers, prospects and others in the Cisco ecosystem by creating top-notch content and spotlighting it along with company news.

Site Encourages Sharing at Many Levels
The site has many ways to share the content they are creating, published and curating. The top featured stories include a variety of social media sharing buttons in the scroll at the top of the page. The list of stories on each topic page includes sharing options in the list and on the articles themselves. And if you are inclined to share the whole site, there is a widget you can grab and put on your own blog or website. This is perfect for Cisco partners who want to easily share the latest in Cisco news with their networks.

What do you think of Cisco’s approach to the newsroom? Have you seen other B2B newsroom that have created content and shared it in different ways?