Wherever I go, I find companies are not happy with their blogs, and social media programs. They’re wondering why readers are not rushing in, engaging with them, becoming loyal fans, and in some cases, buying their products or services.
Usually, the problem is their content. It’s weak, weak, weak. Actually it boils down to two problems 1) lame content 2) and content that is consistently published.
Today it’s not enough to produce a blog as good as your competitors-it needs to be good enough to compete with any blog fighting for your readers’ (and customers’) attention, including the big guys (TechCrunch, etc) We’re competing with everybody for eyeballs.
Here’s a list of what I consider the top seven sins of poor corporate content (and blogs).It’s not exhaustive but a good starting “cheat sheet” for content creators.
1. You have no content strategy goals or program goals
You don’t have clear goals-or you’re all over the map with six or seven goals.
Where are you trying to go with your content? What statement do you want to make (stand for).
Get really clear on your program goals and specifically content strategy goals. Are you trying to build a brand, drive sales, build industry influence? Your choices will shape your strategy and direction. Outline a clear strategy and roadmap-and how you’ll communicate it internally.
2) You haven’t aligned your internal resources
Who will be writing, driving and managing your social media content? Do you have a team of bloggers, or you and an intern? Consider hiring free lance writers or a content agency to support you-every social media program needs editorial support. Create a solid team. Meeting resistance? Start small: test drive with a 6 month blog pilot, easier to sell.
Also don’t forget to line up your key advocates and key stakeholders for support. Build presentations, proof points, and case studies to assure corporate buy-in. Make sure stakeholders provide input so they feel some ownership in your final program.
3) You don’t have a clear niche
You may be all over the map or casting your net too broadly. We live in a specialized world that’s being sliced finer, so you need a clear niche. Think in terms of magazines: magazines for fly fishermen, regional gardeners, mountain bikers and so on. Think of your targeted audience first. How can you help solve their problems? Then niche down..
4) You’re not listening to your audience/customers
How can you position your company as an educator or customer problem solver if you don’t know what they are? Listening tools like Radian6 will help you stay on top of hot trends and story topics, which in turn will generate newsy, relevant blog material (there are also plenty of free, less sophisticated tools). Sit in on executive presentations with customers (if you can) and try to connect with your sales teams- they know the customer pain points.
5) You’re boring
The problem is corporate bloggers are not really writers, so bring in some editors to stimulate ideas, and interesting angles. Train your bloggers on writing/blogging techniques, how to spin a story.
Think like a journalist.” Look for stories under every crack (customer visits, exec presentations, your kid’s soccer game) . Tie into a news event or interesting industry development-and strike fast. The early bird gets the (social media) worm. Be sure to take on a strong, clear point of view–a contrarian view is even better. And last, write a great headline. Focus on a benefit, “how to” do something, ask a blatant question (”Is Your IT Security REALLY Secure?”) or make a very direct statement (like my headline).
6) You’re not authentic
Don’t populate your blog with thinly veiled press releases-it doesn’t work. Nor do “group personalities.” People want to talk to people, not robots. Try to speak from your personal experiences: “I just came out of a customer meeting and boy did I get an earful…here’s my takeaway…”
Even better, tell personal stories. Stories break down barriers and resistance, creating emotional bond. They’re memorable. For a great example, read Steve Job’s 2005 Stanford commencement speech, which is gritty, personal-and ends with a powerful message: you won’t live forever, so make every day count.
7) You don’t have a publishing system
A publishing system (”content engine”) provides a framework and best practices to assure a steadier content production and even quality, tying all this together. The system starts with monitoring trending topics and relevant discussions, includes aggregation (distilling down all the noise into relevant topics) and editorial support (identifying angles, light editing) and ends with measurement. You’ll also need an editorial calendar and regular blogger meetings to drive consistent content; think WSJ or Business Week (my old employer).
And one final bonus tip: End every blog post with a powerful ending- don’t leave your readers hanging. As the book Content Rules points out, you need to give them options on what to do next at the end of a post they’ve enjoyed, something to think about or call to action. Create momentum.
So don’t wait-the social media world moves fast, and every reader you turn off is another reader lost. Start with one of these problems, fix it, then move on to the next. Wash, rinse, repeat. Before you know it, your blog will be rocking.
(this blog is being redesigned and currently can not accept comments. Email me any comments. I’m sorry for any inconvenience and look forward to your feedback when the site is fixed).
note: this post originally ran on MarketingProfs Daily Fix