You’ve heard it before: everyone is a publisher-including companies. We’re all media, competing with the WSJ and the big name bloggers for eyeballs. Content is a core part of any corporate social media strategy. Yet years into the new revolution, enterprise companies are coming up short.
Think about it: is your company’s social media content engaging? Relevant? Compelling? Do your blogs draw comments or stimulate industry-wide conversations?
The answer is probably no. Weak content is killing us, and oddly, we don’t seem to get it.
(I’m talking about B2B social media content but it could apply to most of the business world) .
The answer may be right in front of our faces: bring in the editors (you could start with all those laid off journalists). Consider a publishing model to drive your social media efforts.
Social media purists resist this notion. But I think we can adapt some of the traditional publishing practices without losing the unique voices (which often aren’t being heard anyway). The benefits include a steady flow of higher quality content at a consistent cost. You’ll also sleep better at night knowing you’re not just throwing content over the wall.
The publishing model will address what I consider the five key hurdles or social media “gotchas” with enterprise companies:
- Most employees aren’t bloggers/writers: they lack writing skills to make their material sing. One manager told me he hated starting a post- “if you could just help me get started…”
- Most employees don’t know how to engage with social media audiences. They don’t know how to be conversational, and many are leery about posting on other blogs (what if my boss doesn’t like it?). It’s hard to be engaging when you don’t engage
- Corporate bloggers don’t have time to blog. Many of these people are working 10-12 hrs a day just covering their day jobs.
- B2B content lacks a framework and best practices- this means erratic production, and uneven quality.
- Corporate b2b content isn’t inherently interesting.
The goal is to provide your bloggers and other social media types with the framework and resources that make it easier to blog, tweet, and so on-and do it well.
Start out by sitting down with the bloggers and social media manager to understand their goals. Are they trying to build a brand or awareness, drive sales, or something else? Conduct an audit to determine their level of skills. This will shape your program, starting with these two groups:
· Motivated bloggers: These are people who can and want to blog but just aren’t up to it for one or more of the reasons above. They often just need some editorial support and hand-holding; you’re not writing the blog; they are.
Support would include basic research and marketing intelligence, using listening tools like Google Alerts and Radian6 to identify related blogs and conversations so they’re well versed; story angles and suggestions; and light editing (you’re serving as another set of eyes to catch major mistakes or tweak a thought or two, not heavy duty editing). They may also want to bounce ideas off of you (your editors).
More advanced support services (we’ll discuss later) might includes strategies for marketing the blog, along with commenting and SEO tips and strategies.
· Those who can’t or won’t blog: This might be senior management or top subject matter experts who don’t have the time or inclination. You treat this group differently, and employ more of an executive communications model. That means sitting down with them as you would if you were developing a speech-what do they want to say? In this case you’ll be actually doing more of the actual writing-though you want the final post in their voice (more on this later, dealing with execs)
Developing a Framework (that works)
You also need to develop a framework that will keep the trains rolling, starting with an editorial calendar. Deadlines, schedules and structure force bloggers to work with you to crank our copy systematically. You might set a schedule for starters of simply one blog per blogger per week, and build from there. I’d suggest an editorial meeting weekly initially, and then bimonthly as you develop a cadence (With execs, you might be meeting with their communications manager)
You should be able to slash the blogger’s invested time at least 50%- 70% in some cases-with a publishing model-and still retain their voice (that’s the goal, remember?). That takes care of three of the five gotchas. Your editors (if they’re good and trained in social media) will make the blogs more interesting and more engaging.
My opinion is you’re better off having a handful of confident bloggers writing engaging blogs and making an impact than dozens of employee bloggers cranking out material that no one’s reading. Later your “super bloggers” can serve as models as you grow social media across the organization.
One caveat: I’ve worked on these programs for several companies, and it’s never fast or cheap. You’re taking stale writing and transforming it into something compelling. You want to create an “experience” for the reader.
You’ll have to balance this against budgets and resources and figure out how to make the program scale (tip from my exec comm days: there always seems to be budget money to support the execs so tap those budgets)
Structurally, companies will eventually have to come around and make even more serious investments in social media (including content development) across the corporation (ie,make it part of people’s jobs). Over time, the goal is to change the way people and companies think about content.
But that will take a long time.
Meantime a publishing model will help you get your bloggers on the map.
(This post also ran on MarketingProfs)
(note: this blog is being redesigned and currently can not accept comments. Email me any comments. I’m sorry for any inconvenience).