Quit Blogging And Go With…Facebook?

Blog Post Originally Published in BtoB Magazine

Wayne Usie (@waynejusie), SVP of Retail at JDA Software, recently shared a USA Today article with me titled, “More Companies Quite Blogging, Go With Facebook Instead,” by Roger Yu. According to the article, more companies are replacing blogs with nimbler tools requiring less time and resources, such as Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter.

Why? Nora Ganim Barnes, professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, stated in the article: “Blogging requires more investment. You need content regularly. And you need to think about the risk of blogging, accepting comments, liability issues, defamation.”

This article raises an interesting question: Should companies quit blogging and just go with a nimbler tool because it’s less risky and requires less time and resources? Anything related to social media is risky; it’s not just limited to blogs. That is why you should have social media and blogging policies in place.

Corporate blogs fail when companies don’t understand why the blog exists as part of their brand extension. They fail because their content is there solely to promote their products and services. Why would people read your blog if they can just visit your website for that kind of information? Blogs should be written for the reader – to educate and inform as well as to gather insight from the readers. Here are my recommendations for building a successful blog:

Establish Intent

Establish your intent first. Is it to build thought leadership and expertise in the industry? Is it to educate your customers and prospects and help them improve their performance? Is it to articulate industry issues and help your readers address fundamental challenges?

Then Go All-In

Commitment is key. When you start a corporate blog, you need a long-term strategy to carry out the intent in every piece of content you produce – but it takes commitment from the top down and dedicating proper resources to feed the content engine. Further, you should always have a plan to regularly promote your blog internally and externally – across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google +.

Unique Content is King

Companies invest a lot of time in whitepapers, webinars, videos, bylined articles and podcasts. When you create different content for all of these marketing initiatives, you spend a lot of time reinventing the wheel. Develop a content marketing strategy – and use the blog as a way to launch some of these topics to a more in-depth piece such as a whitepaper, webinar, etc. (Check out Altimeter Group’s blog for a great example.) Always be thinking: How can I create one piece of great content and optimize and repurpose?

Blogger Buddy Program

Develop a blogger buddy program where you identify your key bloggers who will be contributing content on a regular basis and pair them up with folks on your marketing or social media team. Establish goals and metrics for the bloggers so they understand the cadence for your blog and the frequency for posting content.

Bloggers should represent a wide spectrum of your business so that you can create content across a broad range of topics that will interest your readers. Then, educate them on blogging best practices, content strategy and ways to engage with the readers. This program is successful because you’re working closely with your bloggers to develop content strategy, plus you can feed them information on industry news and topics that people are talking about. Invite them to respond or comment on that topic to keep the conversation flowing.

Integrate

Your success also hinges on your ability to integrate your blog program with PR, marketing and communications. Silos don’t work in today’s world. It’s about integrating your blog content with what the rest of the marketing team is doing, campaigns they’re driving, webinars they are promoting. Work closely with your marketing team on the content development and strategy to support your key topics, campaigns, messages, etc.

Also, work closely with your PR team to help drive visibility and coverage. Remember, if you have the right content strategy, PR can pitch to the media and blogger communities to reuse that content or commentary to gain additional coverage. Why create a separate byline when reporters and bloggers can work off of the blog content?

Scott Monty, head of social media at Ford Motor Company said it best in the article when he stated, “Still, engaging blogs can serve crucial marketing goals – especially executives out to establish expertise in their industry.” I believe blogs can serve crucial marketing and corporate goals if done right. What do you think? Do you agree that blogging is dead and companies should move on?

All In! Betting On Your Content Marketing Strategy

Blog originally posted in BtoB Magazine – BtoB Blog: Defining Your Content Strategy

Where are you spending your marketing dollars? If it’s not in content marketing, then you should reconsider. Content marketing remains a top priority for marketers in 2012. This, according to a popular study published by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs titled “B2B Content Marketing: 2012 Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends.” The study reports that nine out of 10 organizations market with content marketing. However, content marketing strategy should not be developed in a vacuum. It must become a company-wide initiative—aligning content with corporate goals and key messaging and supporting your go-to-market strategic plans with key stakeholders.

Below are some key recommendations to get started.

Define Your Content Strategy Goal

What are your corporate goals for the next two to three years? How do you want to define and position your company in the market? The answers will serve as the compass to your content strategy and your brand story. In addition, you should also understand who your audience is, where they are in their buying journey, their pain points and key addressable markets.

Understand Your Target Audience

Who are your buyers, and what are their personas, roles, etc.? Where do they go to find information about products and services before making a purchasing decision? What are the most popular media they visit? How active are they in social media, blogs, discussion forums, etc.? What types of pain points are they faced with? Without understanding the fundamentals of your target audience—types of content they’re looking for in the various stages of the purchasing cycle—your content strategy will fall flat. For example, if your target audience is IT buyers but the decision makers are CIOs, then you must map your messaging and content strategy to meet the needs of your audience. Tailor your content with your audience in mind.

Prioritize Your Marketing Tactics

Marketers are resource-constrained, and it’s easy to focus on a bunch of tactics rather than smart marketing. By polling your target audience and understanding who they are and where they are in the various stages of the buying cycle, you can minimize the time spent and cycles focusing on the wrong tactics, wrong messaging and the wrong audience. Get laser-focused.

Find out what are the top five events your target audience attends every year, the top five publications they read, the top five blogs they subscribe to, the top five influencers they follow, top analyst firms they go to for referrals, etc. Information is the new currency, and by knowing where your audience turns to for information, you can prioritize your marketing tactics and align your content strategy accordingly.

Implement a Powerful Content Architecture

Now that you have all this information at your fingertips, you can create a powerful content strategy that aligns with your goals, tailor it for the right audience and execute across the right marketing channels using the tactics that will have the most impact. Build a brand story that has multiple levels of content to support your story and messaging. Then mobilize your marketing team to execute using the right content to educate, inform and build engagement with your audience. Brand storytelling through great content is the key ingredient and should be the focus for any marketer today.

Plan with the Right Execution in Mind

With the wealth of data at your fingertips, you can establish content that can meet the needs of your audience. Then look at the different methods of disseminating content across different marketing channels to tell your story and engage with your audience.

Additional Resources:

Content Marketing Institute & Marketing Profs – B2B Content Marketing: 2012 Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends

YouTube – Coca Cola Content 2020 Part Two

Jeff Bullas – 5 Lessons From Coca Cola Content Marketing Strategy

Altimeter Group – Content Marketing. Content Strategy. What’s the Difference?

The Marketing Journalist Blog – Why Content Alone Cannot Rule the Kingdom

Real People Doing Real Work in Social Media

Interview with Jason Baer of Convince and Convert I was asked to do a podcast interview at 2012 South by Southwest by the uber-talented and witty Jason Baer (@JayBaer). He needs no introduction – he’s the co-author of Revolution Now with Amber Naslund (@AmberNaslund), a book about the impact social media and the real-time Web has on every company, and a recipe for changing business from the inside out in response. I’d highly recommend you pick up a copy you haven’t done so already.

During my sit down interview with Jason, I also got a chance to meet another really cool guy – Eric Boggs (@EricBoggs), CEO of Argyle Social. The banter between the two before and during the podcast made it even that much more fun. Aside from spending time with these gentlemen, I got the chance to share my social media journey at JDA Software (@JDASoftware) in the Social Pros Podcast: Real People Doing Real Work in Social Media. As a digital strategist and practitioner, I know the pains that come with launching, and employing a social media program but more importantly getting executive buy-in.

The journey at JDA has been long…but the return on investment has been significant. In less than two years, we were able to develop a company-wide social media policy, education program, JDA Social Media Ambassador Program, Social Media Buddy Program, launch a corporate blog called Supply Chain Nation, establish JDA Blog Buddy Program, and integrate social media into the overall marketing mix on an ongoing basis.

The success story behind JDA is a case example of what a company can achieve with the right focus and approach, strategy and vision – and it all starts with changing the business from the inside out through executive sponsorship and ongoing education.  To gain a deeper insight into how we did it, take a listen to Social Pros Podcast: Series 7 where I share real world examples of how we do social media marketing well at JDA Software. Special thanks to Jason and Eric for the opportunity to share our story. Also, a special shout out to my team Stephen Phillips (@StevePhillipsPR), Ted Weismann (@TedWeismann), Linsey McNew (@LinseyMcNew) and Andi Narvaez (@AndiNarvaez).

I’d love to hear from you. What are some of the game-changing things you are doing with social media to move the needle within your company?

About Jason Baer

Jason heads up Convince & Convert and provides social media strategic planning and counsel to some of America’s largest companies. For more about the social media and content strategy services provided by Convince & Convert, see visit social media consulting.

Social Business Readiness: Are You There Yet?

How Companies Prepare InternallyAre we there yet? According to Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang) of Altimeter Group, while companies are quick to deploy the latest social media technology, most companies are not prepared for the threat of social media crises, or the long-term impacts to business.

Jeremiah states: “We found that social media crises are on the rise, even though most (76%) could have diminished or averted had companies invested internally.”

Whether you’re already doing social media or thinking about it, there are key considerations to be mindful of, especially if you want to avoid risks to your brand reputation.  Think about it. Your word or brand reputation is all you have. Once you tarnish it, you’ll have a tough time trying to reclaim that trust. Especially for companies already participating online, it’s not just the company (that can control and maintain their messages), it’s the people who are putting their hands on the keyboard and sharing information freely. This can be a great thing or a nightmare.

You can help make it a great experience for everyone in your company by looking at four key requirements to get your business ready for social media – whether you’re already there or starting from scratch.  This is outlined in a new report by Altimeter Group titled Social Business Ready: Advanced Companies Prepare Internally.

  • Baseline Governance and Reinforcement: An established and reinforced corporate social media policy that allows for employees to participate professionally
  • Enterprise-Wide Response Processes: Defined processes for rapid workflow and engagement with customers in social media
  • Ongoing Education Program and Best Practice Sharing: Foster a culture of learning through ongoing social media education
  • Leadership from a Dedicated and Shared Central Hub: Organized in a scalable formation, with a cross-functional “Center of Excellence” 

Policy First

According to the report, a social media policy helps to protect the company and employees by outlining acceptable employee behavior in social channels. This will help safeguard the company against legal risks raised when employees represent the brand in public. A policy should provide proper guidelines on disclosure and confidentiality – what employees can share publicly and what’s considered proprietary. It should also include industry best practices with examples on the dos and don’ts.

Triage Plan

Should a crisis break, how will your company respond? This is where a company-wide response plan or what’s known as a triage plan is absolutely necessary. By working with key stakeholders to define a process, workflow and response plan will help guide your teams to readiness. This should include 24-7 monitoring and listening by identified members (typically Corp Comm, Social Media, and PR teams). Identify levels of risks and the workflow for your response plan. Key activities you plan to take for each of level.  Be sure to communicate this to business leaders so they can play a role in the execution of the plan.

Education Program – Ignorance Is Not Bliss

By properly implementing an ongoing education program, your company can rest assure that every employee is armed with the right tools and information to properly engage and represent the brand. This should include the proper usage of social channels, best practices, and ways to optimize the use to promote their personal brand as well as the company’s brand. Make recording of the education program to share with your employees as another option.

 Take it a step further by creating a social media playbook similar to what Eloqua did but include business scenarios as well. This should include a checklist of things that each business unit can do to further their business goals using the proper tools. Another good tip is to create a social media hub for all things social media so that your employees can easily access these tools.

Social Media Leadership

Provide social media leadership company-wide on an ongoing basis to ensure your company uses social channels to their full potential. Bring them out of the dark by guiding them throughout this process. Meet with your leaders to understand their challenges and outline ways social media can help them build a more robust program through the integration of social media marketing initiatives.

Full report can be accessed HERE.

Adapt or Vanish: 5 Ways to Integrate PR and Social Media

I recently gave a talk at a Businesswire seminar here in Phoenix on Adapt or Vanish: 5 Killer Tips to Integrate PR and Social Media. The introduction of social media has changed the playing field for PR professionals. PR is no longer relegated to drafting press releases and bylined articles. Today, PR pros support business goals, connect and support customers, amplify demand-generation efforts, and take social listening to a whole new level to move the company’s brand forward.  This presentation is a call to arms to all PR pros out there to move outside their comfort zone and adopt more advanced techniques to help them strategize and execute successful, integrated campaigns that reach far beyond just PR.  

This presentation outlines key strategies to help PR pros make an impact and work across functional marketing areas to raise the profile of their company, brand, message and campaigns.

  • How to use social media to build and connect influencers
  • How to utilize social in your PR efforts in real time
  • How to integrate social into your demand-gen program and outreach
  • How to integrate social into your events to amplify voice and reach
  • How to build listening mechanisms to support and energize your community