Brian Solis writes about a new age for social media marketing. To me, static and often stale Web sites have been in dire need of evolution for a long time. Content formats shared in social media and networks suit the way we evaluate, talk, and socialize our decisions about products and services better, at this stage.
Although we all know that it's still very early days. We're trying to retrofit how we think and organize our knowledge, recombining and building on information, as well as out humanness, in a medium that has a long way to go on mapping to either one. Content comes close, but only when it's activated with engagement.
Just like TV didn't kill radio, the company Web site still plays an important role in the digital marketing mix. Razorfish highlighted the importance of Web content to provide experiences in their 2008 FEED report.
Instead of building a site around an organization chart, which in many ways mirrors the company's hierarchy, we should build the context around customer needs in two areas of browsing:
(1) search - for answers
(2) sharing - of stories
These two desires and functions are the bread and butter of blogs, where more recent, or shared trump content win. Plus, blogs help with the relationship thing in ways that Web sites don't - by humanizing the interaction with your company through conversation and relationship building.
As Brian writes, based upon MarketingSherpa benchmark survey, social media marketing has reached a level of maturity that allows us to focus our efforts more strategically in those areas that provide the greatest results to the business. One such area, especially for B2B companies, continues to be blogs.
This is both good and bad news. It's good news because B2B companies historically tend to have smaller marketing budgets, and blogs, from a purely monetary angle, tend to cost less than big media placements. It's bad news because B2Bs tend to have smaller marketing teams and fewer resources allocated to original content creation compared to lead generation for direct and indirect sales.
Time and resources are the most challenging parts in developing a blog and social media content strategy. This was also the consensus in a recent survey and post by Lee Odden at TopRankBlog. Among the challenges, as reported in the post, are:
- knowing what to write about
- maintaining a consistent flow of good content
- setting the right tone for the company and the readers
- figuring out how to overcome legal and regulatory constraints
- being able to rely on the security of a good hosting company and tool
- identifying a theme to focus on, given broad offerings or a complex brand
- having the technical knowledge to appeal to the readers/titles the company wants to attract
These are some of the issues agencies and internal teams bump into. To me, the content part is the responsibility of the company. For a blog to be effective, it needs to come across as genuine. It's easy to get sidetracked by a thousand commitments at work.
Knowing how to manage your time and where you want to go are helpful. The most helpful to all is a process to keep you on track and get you there.
Marketing strategy in hand, you need first to determine the role blogs will play within that - what's you blog's purpose? Your vision may change over time, however you need to make clarity on this point to get started.
Regardless of whether your business faces regulatory constraints, find a way to raise above the specific product or service view of the world internal teams usually have. Instead, look broader at industry challenges, issues, and conversations. What kind of leadership or guidance will you provide?
Other ideas to help you build your process:
- get in a room with legal, regulatory, and HR and iron worst case scenario: agree on the process you'll engage in that case, and remember to ask "how can we do this?" instead of "can we do this?" This needs to be part of your content process to formulate disclosures
- identify and enroll a roster of people passionate about their subject matter expertise: this could be writing about issues the industry faces, in the case of a communicator, all the way to getting into the technical aspects of service delivery, depending on your goals
- develop an editorial calendar based upon an observed need in your industry (that also pays off your expertise and value): this could be thinking about a new point of view not pursued by other companies that fits with your brand and knowledge and will help you gain visibility and establish tone and personality
- support your team of contributors by providing ongoing coaching and intelligence: this ranges from stats about the blogs, to topics and conversations they may have missed that are a fit, providing data, visuals, and integration with your other social media outposts
- find ways to socialize your content with internal teams: we're social animals and your teams are the most in the know about the issues and challenges of the day. Plus, they also read industry information as part of their jobs
- think a tiered content contribution if you can support one blog, but aim at attracting buyers in different roles/levels: high level and future trends to all the way in the technical weeds. As long as the dots are connected throughout, this approach may work well for you
- consider mixing it up once you establish a regular cadence of posting: the unexpected and novel continues to be a good attractor. Think things like guest posts, special video interviews, deeper dives on content, fun moments when appropriate
What have I missed or overlooked? What would you do differently? How do you go about your content strategy process?
© 2006-2010 Valeria Maltoni. All rights reserved.