RonAmok!

The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.

Last month I wrote a piece commenting on Jeramiah Owyang’s The Many Challenges of Corporate Blogging. As one of my most popular posts, I figured that you wanted to hear more on this topic. Therefore, when I read Sally Faulkow’s post reporting on Forrester’s most recent report How To Derive Value From B2B Blogging, I just had to add my own two cents.

Here are some of the reported findings and my comments:

70% write only about business or technical topics

I don’t see this as a bad thing. A corporate blog should talk about business. Why wouldn’t it? In my experience, most companies begin their B2B blogging adventure with an inferiority complex — derived from the “blogging is different than traditional marketing” theme. Newbies to B2B blogging frequently overcompensate and write less about business — that is until nobody reads their blog and they’re forced to go back to the drawing board.

74% rarely get comments

Reader comments are a demonstrable way to gauge audience involvement. Comments offer readers a way to talk back to the author, who has in some way stimulated (agitated?) them enough to grab their keyboard and share a thought. If 74% are not getting comments, it’s time to rethink 74% of the B2B blogs.

I always encourage my B2B bloggers to monitor their comments closely, using them as marketing feedback on their content. I have them review all of their comments, identifying those posts with the most comments and those with goose-eggs. By listening to reader comments, B2B bloggers can fine tune their content — and thus draw a more engaged audience.

55% simply regurgitated press releases or other already-public news

Every writer needs to know their audience. Press Releases are written for journalists, who in turn write for end readers. A blog is written directly for the end reader. Both forms of prose are different — which is the main reason why regurgitation doesn’t make sense.

But that doesn’t mean blogs can’t be used to report news. I recommend that companies experiment with releasing some of their news via a B2B blog. For example, if your company is releasing a new product, spearheading a new community outreach program, or entering into a new partnership, why not have one of your corporate bloggers mention it in a post instead of issuing a Press Release? (Warning: You may need to beat back the Regurgitation Specialists with a big stick!)


53% of B2B marketers say that blogging has marginal significance or is irrelevant to their strategies

This reminds me of the first time corporations started using the web. Hindsight is 20/20 but back then, very few companies understood the web. It’s the same thing with B2B blogging. In my experience, most corporate blogging programs go bad because the company ONLY looks to their PR and Marketing departments for bloggers. I’ve found that the best B2B bloggers won’t come from the ranks of the professional communicators. Rather, they’ll come from the rank and file who deal directly with customers on a day-to-day basis. Those on the front line understand what is “significant” and “relevant.”

This doesn’t mean that your company’s professional communicators are banned from blogging. Just don’t limit the search there. When looking for B2B bloggers, cast the net a little wider. You might be surprised at what you find.

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Filed under: Content Development
  • Ken Wetherell

    Nice post, Ron. To your point, it will be somewhat funny to look back one day at the early days of social media and how many companies were slow to get on with it. It amazes me to recall the early days of the web and how new and undefined it all seemed.

    I am finding more and more that a blog post would save a lot of effort over sending an “email blaset” for regular updates. Someday, this will be appreciated by our customers and they can laugh with us about the days when everything went out by email.

  • Ken Wetherell

    Nice post, Ron. To your point, it will be somewhat funny to look back one day at the early days of social media and how many companies were slow to get on with it. It amazes me to recall the early days of the web and how new and undefined it all seemed.

    I am finding more and more that a blog post would save a lot of effort over sending an “email blaset” for regular updates. Someday, this will be appreciated by our customers and they can laugh with us about the days when everything went out by email.

  • http://www.commbasics.typepad.com/ Lou covey

    Ron,

    Two things. First according to several analyst reports, include Forrester, 55 percent of tech sector decision makers use blogs and social media to make purchasing decisions. Yet only 22 per cent of tech sector marketers use the tools. So those that think they can ignore the tools are the ones who are going to lose their jobs within 3 years.

    Second: news releases. They are SUPPOSED to be written for journalists, but that practice ended years ago. Even David Scott encourages them to be written directly to the customer now. That’s the reason most news releases get ignored by the press.

    But then, most aren’t written with the customer in mind either. Most are written so executives can see their name on Google searches.

  • http://www.commbasics.typepad.com Lou covey

    Ron,

    Two things. First according to several analyst reports, include Forrester, 55 percent of tech sector decision makers use blogs and social media to make purchasing decisions. Yet only 22 per cent of tech sector marketers use the tools. So those that think they can ignore the tools are the ones who are going to lose their jobs within 3 years.

    Second: news releases. They are SUPPOSED to be written for journalists, but that practice ended years ago. Even David Scott encourages them to be written directly to the customer now. That’s the reason most news releases get ignored by the press.

    But then, most aren’t written with the customer in mind either. Most are written so executives can see their name on Google searches.

  • http://theASICguy.com/ harry the ASIC guy

    I think we need to rethink the term B2B. After all, it’s not a business writing the blog or reading the blog, it’s people. As a reader, that’s one way I can tell it’s a really good blog…when I feel like I’m having a conversation with the person on the other side and I forget that he represents a businesss.

  • http://theASICguy.com harry the ASIC guy

    I think we need to rethink the term B2B. After all, it’s not a business writing the blog or reading the blog, it’s people. As a reader, that’s one way I can tell it’s a really good blog…when I feel like I’m having a conversation with the person on the other side and I forget that he represents a businesss.

  • http://www.ronamok.com Ron

    Lou,

    Obviously everyone in EDA doesn’t read the same stuff that you do. I can think of some folks who don’t even know that they are “dead men walking.”

    And very interesting on the fact that Press Releases have changed. I’d love to see an “A/B” comparison of yesterday’s Press Release versus today’s to see what exactly has changed. If you have an old one for me to look at, I’d love to write about it.

    Lastly, David Meerman Scott’s premise is that it is more important to be on the front page of a Google search than the front page of the New York Times. I’m having a hard time coming up with an argument against the premise.

    Harry,

    I’m simply using the terms B2B and B2C to describe a type of business that a company is in — the same way as the the old Business-to-Business Yellow Pages catalog. I’ve found that the terms are very helpful when speaking with my customers, who identify their business one way or the other. I’m simply using their own language to better communicate with them.

    For example, one of the most common objections I get from the Traditionals is: “Blogging doesn’t work for a B2B businesses such as ours. That stuff is only for B2C companies.” Which of course is horse crap.

    Both B2B and B2C businesses do share a very important trait, though, and you mentioned it in your comment. They both sell to PEOPLE. As you stated, good bloggers, no matter whether they work for a B2B or a B2C, will engage with their audiences in a conversational manner. That’s all I’m trying to do, to help B2B corporations do exactly that.

  • http://ronamok.com ronploof

    Lou,

    Obviously everyone in EDA doesn’t read the same stuff that you do. I can think of some folks who don’t even know that they are “dead men walking.”

    And very interesting on the fact that Press Releases have changed. I’d love to see an “A/B” comparison of yesterday’s Press Release versus today’s to see what exactly has changed. If you have an old one for me to look at, I’d love to write about it.

    Lastly, David Meerman Scott’s premise is that it is more important to be on the front page of a Google search than the front page of the New York Times. I’m having a hard time coming up with an argument against the premise.

    Harry,

    I’m simply using the terms B2B and B2C to describe a type of business that a company is in — the same way as the the old Business-to-Business Yellow Pages catalog. I’ve found that the terms are very helpful when speaking with my customers, who identify their business one way or the other. I’m simply using their own language to better communicate with them.

    For example, one of the most common objections I get from the Traditionals is: “Blogging doesn’t work for a B2B businesses such as ours. That stuff is only for B2C companies.” Which of course is horse crap.

    Both B2B and B2C businesses do share a very important trait, though, and you mentioned it in your comment. They both sell to PEOPLE. As you stated, good bloggers, no matter whether they work for a B2B or a B2C, will engage with their audiences in a conversational manner. That’s all I’m trying to do, to help B2B corporations do exactly that.

  • http://www.cagedether.com/ Daryl Pereira

    Hey Ron,

    Thanks for the great post (and loving the refreshing design of the blog!)

    I couldn’t agree more with your last point that you can find bloggers in the most unlikely places. I work for a B2B tech firm and our original bloggers came out of product marketing.

    However, one product line opted to open up the blog to a development team. This has been by far our most successful blog and regularly garners a healthy number of comments.

    Originally, there was uncertainty about letting developers loose on our sacrosanct blogging platforms – most of them had no proven writing track record and a number couldn’t even cite English as their first language. Still, they are the ones that have had the best success at engaging their audience and giving them what they need.

    This case suggests to us that the role of marketers will change. Rather than being the mouthpieces for our company, we will be the facilitators that open up communication channels between company experts and our audience at large.

  • http://www.cagedether.com Daryl Pereira

    Hey Ron,

    Thanks for the great post (and loving the refreshing design of the blog!)

    I couldn’t agree more with your last point that you can find bloggers in the most unlikely places. I work for a B2B tech firm and our original bloggers came out of product marketing.

    However, one product line opted to open up the blog to a development team. This has been by far our most successful blog and regularly garners a healthy number of comments.

    Originally, there was uncertainty about letting developers loose on our sacrosanct blogging platforms – most of them had no proven writing track record and a number couldn’t even cite English as their first language. Still, they are the ones that have had the best success at engaging their audience and giving them what they need.

    This case suggests to us that the role of marketers will change. Rather than being the mouthpieces for our company, we will be the facilitators that open up communication channels between company experts and our audience at large.