August 19, 2017

Is ghost writing in social media right or wrong?

This week, I posted the first of what may prove to be a series of controversial blog posts on the SAP community network (known to members as SCN).

The posts won’t be controversial so much for the content itself (although I hope that that happens eventually) as for the way I’m presenting it.

I’m going to channel other people’s ideas, not my own. You can read the entire post here. It introduces me to the community and explains what I’m planning to do.

They may not like it and you may not either.

But I think what I’m proposing is a necessary blend of realism and good ideas. Others call it ghost writing.

As I say in the SCN post and as I’ve mentioned here plenty of times, I think we are kidding ourselves if we think that many of our best SMEs are going to take the time to blog. And many who do would be better off getting some help.

I wanted to present the core arguments here to see what you think. I think that if we limit the discussion only to those subject matter experts who have the time and skills to blog, we’re missing out.

Here my arguments for letting me present others’ ideas from the SCN post and adapted for your consideration here:

  • Most people—even really smart people—can’t write worth a damn. Why do we assume that anyone can channel passion into his or her writing?
  • Social media is biased toward English. Most of the people I speak to at SAP are German and while most Germans are amazingly skilled at English, that skill rarely translates to the written word.
  • It’s not about the style, it’s about the ideas. One of the best aspects of social media is the opportunity to put ideas to the community and gather feedback. I’m excited about the prospect of not just presenting ideas to the SCN community but also in building ideas with this community. As I interview SMEs around SAP and external influencers like analysts and customers, I want to be able to share the raw ideas in their earliest stages so that I can inform people and get their feedback.
  • Transparency is the “hidden” problem. I think what people object to most about ghost writing is that the real people behind the prose are hidden. I will always blog as myself, introduce the ideas myself, and will always reveal whose ideas I’m channeling. I will attempt to respond to all comments myself, based on the work I’m doing with the SMEs. If I don’t have an answer, I’ll go to them and get the answer and come back with it. I’ll also name the writers that I have working with the SMEs as we are doing interviews and working towards the “final” products: white papers, videos, etc.

What are your arguments (for and against)?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Post to Twitter

How to write blog posts from a white paper

If you’re a corporate marketer like me, no doubt you’ve been put in the situation I faced this week: you have a white paper that an external content person created for the company and now you need to make that content social. It’s an important part of social media management.

Let’s face it, there are some B2B executives who wouldn’t read a white paper even if you threatened them with lima beans (what, you like lima beans? Eeewww!). ITSMA research shows that buyers want the whole menu of content—not just a white paper here or a video there.

So this week I went back to the white paper writer and asked for a series of short blog posts based on the content in the white paper. This person responded with a good question: How would you like it to read and sound?

I decided to write down the ways. After circulating it with colleagues on my idea marketing team (who came up with good additions), we came up with this list. What would you add (or take away)?

  • New point of view. The white paper has one big idea. Each post should have its own strong point of view.
  • Conversational. Blogs need to take the tone down quite a bit from the formality of a white paper.
  • Humorous. White papers are serious. Too serious, in my mind. I’m trying to bring a lighter touch. But you need to try to make the blog post downright fun if possible. Need to poke fun at ourselves and our readers (without getting personal).
  • Challenging. Good white papers challenge, too, but blog posts can (and should) get away with grabbing a bigger fistful of shirt collar.
  • Passionate. Missing in a lot of white papers, this is the lifeblood of a good blog post. Readers have to feel your commitment.
  • Easy. Blogs are the comfort food of idea marketing: quick, tasty, and not great for your long-term health. That means lists and top tens and bullet points and lots of informative subheads. No long narratives. Unlike white papers, the posts shouldn’t pretend to be all readers need for their long-term thinking on a subject. We invite them to taste the healthier stuff by linking to the full menu through the blog posts.

What would you add to this list?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Post to Twitter

3 factors in winning the social media horse race

Seems everyone has an opinion about Google’s G+. And as usual in a situation where little data exists (yet) to support fact-based opinions, most of them are extreme. Some say G+ is dead in the water because it hasn’t generated the mad rush that Facebook did and that growth and use is already starting to slow. Others say that G+ will rule because of its integration with Google’s other tools like Android, Gmail, Docs, and its media properties like YouTube and Google Music—in other words, the colossus effect that we’ve been waiting (for so long) to take effect.

It’s way too early to make a call, so I’m not going to presume to know G+’s prospects for success (especially when it hasn’t even been officially launched), but there are a few things that the rise of a possible new giant in social networking points out:

  • Social networks are porous. One writer claims that the attraction of G+ is the opportunity to start over in social networking. The argument is essentially that we’ve screwed up everything in Facebook and G+ is our social media morning after pill. But as even the worst one-night stand movie comedy will tell you, starting over is tough to do. Erasing or simply stopping our lives on a social network is possible, but it’s much easier to just start sharing across many at once. For example, just when I was lamenting having to do over all the work I’ve done to build up a Twitter community with some true interaction and conversation in G+, along comes a browser extension called SGPlus that lets you post on G+ and share it across Twitter and Facebook at the same time. When and if Google releases an application programming interface for G+, no doubt one of the social dashboards such as Tweetdeck will build G+ in. It’s easier for tweets to flow across all the various social networks because of their short nature and the fact that they usually contain links to longer content that can show up on Facebook and G+.
  • There are only two types of relationships in social networking. G+ is touted as something new, but it’s really a combination of two elements that I’ve talked about here before: Permission-based and viral-based relationships. G+ combines the viral model pioneered by Twitter, in which you can follow someone you don’t know and hear what they have to say, and Facebook and LinkedIn’s permission-based models, in which you can only engage in relationships with those you know. All the social networks we’ve seen so far are based on one or both of these models. G+’s relationship model mix of the two is a little bit complicated. So much so that it takes a PhD. to explain it.
  • There are only two types of content in social media. Short or long. That’s it. One of the reasons that Twitter is compelling is because its content is so short. You have to come up with something really pithy and link to the deeper thinking. Twitter kills the long-winded entry about nothing. The reason that blogs are so popular (and the cornerstone for social media in B2B social media marketing) is that they are long. They satisfy our need for stories with a beginning, middle, and end, and give us room to support our arguments with facts and proof (the cornerstones of thought leadership). Gone are those annoying blogs from the early days that just posted links to other stuff. Twitter killed them all. G+ tries to split the difference. Most of the posts I’ve seen on G+ have been twitter posts that go on for too long—140 words instead of characters, with little in the way of deep thinking or factual evidence to justify the wordiness. In this sense, G+ looks more like the blogging platform Tumblr. And we all know how Tumblr has taken off, right?
  • Commenters rarely engage in conversation. All the social networks allow for various kinds of real-time, texting style conversation, but when it comes to commenting on content, there’s little true conversation. It’s rare to see threaded conversations (unless the discussion is political, in which case the conversation usually happens at the shouting level). G+ and Facebook allow comments to specific entries that are pretty easy to follow. Twitter has the re-tweet button, @replies, and hashtags. I don’t think any of them have a particular advantage in the conversation department, but I think that G+ is at a bit of a disadvantage here. Those 140-word entries don’t have much depth to them, which means that many of the comments are inane. There’s just not much to say about something that didn’t have much substance to begin with. I also think there’s a piling on factor in G+. Maybe I’m being too cynical, but when I read posts by the A-list bloggers, there are tons of people who seem to think that saying something—anything, even “So true, so true”—is good for their street cred and exposure. I just don’t want to wade through it all. I think longer blog posts inspire more thought and better comments, even if they don’t rise to the level of conversation.

What do you think?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Post to Twitter

Do too many cooks spoil the blog?

Scoble, Longhorn Evangelist
Image via Wikipedia

Companies who want to add their voices the blogosphere have a decision to make: Do we allow individual employees to be the dominant force in our efforts, or do we keep the focus on the company by creating group-authored blogs?

In part, this is an issue of control. Some companies have decided to let a thousand flowers bloom—i.e., individual employees can blog as long as they adhere to the company’s social media policy. The other is to take a more controlled approach and put a blog or a handful of blogs on the corporate website.

Multi-author blog are easier for companies—but what about the audience?
It seems that most blogs that are on the corporate website are multi-author affairs. The advantage to multi-author blogs (though not necessarily to the audience’s advantage), is that the workload can be shared, reducing the dreaded gaps in posts if bloggers get really busy in their day jobs. There is also less disruption when a blogger leaves the fold. And the brand or the issue that the brand wants to promote (say cloud computing, for example) remains the focal point of the blog rather than a particular personality.

The downside to this approach is that the blog can seem muddled, with bloggers of varied interests and abilities going off in their own preferred directions, leaving the reader to wonder who’s in charge here. It’s also harder to avoid the perception that the blog is a corporate organ rather than a natural outgrowth of your employees’ passions.

Multi-author is part of traditional branding
The multi-author approach is more loyal to the traditional marketing approach that says that the brand comes before the individual. Yet there’s no question that blog readers are looking to connect with a person, much as people follow their favorite columnists in a newspaper or a favorite character on a TV show. They enjoy getting to know the blogger over time.

Increasingly, I think the multi-author approach will become old school. An interesting article this week, Brand Building, Beyond Marketing, essentially argues that the issue of brand has gotten beyond the control of marketing and is increasingly embodied in the actions of individual employees. (This is especially true for services companies, which don’t have concrete products that can do the branding for them.)

Individuals can burn out—or just leave
Now, it is possible to highlight individual contributors within a group-authored blog to give readers a better sense of connection, but for me it never works as well as when the individual takes responsibility for the whole enchilada. Individuals can’t afford to play it safe if they want to build and keep their audiences.

The downside to this approach is that individual bloggers can get burned out easily (most already have day jobs, right?). Another problem is that they may move on to another company, perhaps taking their audience and any brand cred they’ve helped you build with them (most people pick on Robert Scoble as an example of this).

I don’t think there’s a definitive answer to this question yet—at least I haven’t seen any good research comparing individual vs. multi-author blog performance.

What do you think?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Post to Twitter

How to establish a voice of authority in a blog

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how to get others to blog. But it’s not enough just to support bloggers. For them to be successful, we need to help them establish their voices in a blog.

The way that we establish trust and relationships with buyers is through authority. We want readers of our SMEs’ blogs to see them as experts. But you can’t establish that authority by putting a link to their LinkedIn profile on the blog. You have to establish authority through the writing voice that your SMEs use in their blogs.

It would be wonderful if your bloggers were the only experts writing about their fields. If that’s the case, great. Stop reading. But most likely, there are already other experts out there who are more expert and write better than your SMEs. In this case, just showing how smart they are won’t cut it. SMEs need an angle. Here are a few to consider:

  • Lead a niche. Pick a subject that few others have staked out. SMEs with deep expertise in a particular niche can build a strong and loyal following—if not necessarily huge blog traffic.
  • Show your age. A former colleague that I really admire managed to mention his 30 year experience in marketing into the first minute of conversation with anyone new. The voice of experience is powerful.
  • Be timely. Being the first with the latest news builds authority.
  • Have the data. This is how analysts (like me) establish their authority. They can make assertions based on what everyone is doing—not just what they themselves think.
  • Aggregator. If your SME is a person who loves to collect information, then becoming an aggregator is a route to trust. People know that they can count on this person to provide or link to the most insightful information in the topic area—no matter where it first appeared.
  • Futurist. Some SMEs are always looking to see what happens next. If they are focused on developing new offerings, for example, this is a natural voice for them.
  • Iconoclast. SMEs can construct a great voice around questioning existing practices and trends. But be careful; these SMEs need to have thick skins and handle negative comments constructively.

What suggestions do you have for establishing a voice of authority in a blog? Let’s get a conversation going.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Post to Twitter

How to get others to blog

One of the biggest challenges for B2B social media marketers isn’t creating content, it’s helping others create content.

Marketing is the default head of social media management in most companies. And while marketers can create some social media content, they can (and should) rely on their subject matter experts (SMEs) to create most of the stuff that’s going to build trust and relationships with customers.

At our two ITSMA briefings this week in Boston and Washington on social media, (we have two more coming up in New York and Santa Clara, CA that you can attend), marketers offered up a common complaint: They have a hard time getting their SMEs to start contributing (and keep contributing) content.

It’s no surprise. Creating content such as blogs is hard. That’s why marketers have to step in and help out. Here are some ways to do it:

Send them what interests you. If you’re in tune with your SMEs, then what interests you should interest them (at least from a business perspective—no need to go nuts and take up golf). Set up an RSS feed of key news sources and bloggers and forward the good stuff to your SMEs.

Get ideas from customers. When blogger’s block sets in at IBM, bloggers can get inspiration through software that lets customers suggest the topics they’d like to see covered. (Okay, so you need to work for IBM to access it, but Skribit is available to the rest of us.)

Filter research. Customer research can provide tons of fodder for content, but you can’t just dump it on SMEs unfiltered. Pick some key themes and ask them to comment on them.

Incite them. If you see a controversial assertion or question somewhere, forward it to your SMEs and ask them to craft a thoughtful (not attacking) response and link to the original through their content.

Interview them. If your star SMEs are struggling to come up with ideas for starting a blog or for keeping one going, start thinking of yourself as a reporter. These people are your beat. You don’t have to write their posts for them, but you must interview them regularly to find out what they are hearing from customers and what trends they are seeing in the market. Just as reporters take the heat for missing a story or failing to file regularly, you have to take on the responsibility for making sure these people keep posting regularly by checking in with them regularly and getting them talking. Record the interviews and get them transcribed. Then take a look at the transcript and highlight the sections that you think would be interesting for them to write about.

Have regular pitch meetings. Very few writers are able to get their best thoughts out on paper without some help. That’s why magazines and newspapers have pitch meetings, where writers blurt out their rough ideas and get feedback from others on how to turn those ideas into cogent stories. This all happens before the writing begins. When you check in with your bloggers, ask them to talk through their ideas before they start writing. It will improve the quality of their posts and it will also help you keep them focused on the issues that matter most to your business.

Create an editorial calendar. Companies have strategies and goals. Marketers should use them to help inspire their content creators. Pick topics that matter to your customers and your business and ask your SMEs to create content for those topics. Create an editorial calendar with a new topic at least each quarter (e.g., sustainability or cloud computing). Then make a plan for hitting those topics in as many different types of content as possible (blog posts, conference presentations, videos, etc.) so that buyers can consume the information in any form they choose. And target that content to all of the stages of the buying process so that anyone encountering your content will find something that speaks to them personally.

Hire a content director. Have you noticed what’s been happening to the media lately? There are many unemployed journalists and editors out there. Hire one to help your SMEs develop and disseminate their ideas. Journalists are trained to separate the compelling ideas from the chaff and develop them with supporting evidence and case examples.

Buddy them up. If your SMEs refuse to go solo because they think it will be too much work, find them a partner or partners to share the load.

Write for them. If all else fails, you can interview them and use the transcript to write something yourself. Just don’t relieve the SMEs of the responsibility for feeding you the ideas and thinking.

What have I left out? How do you encourage your content creators?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Post to Twitter

How to use social media for B2B

Making Friends - Marketing Cartoon
Image by HubSpot via Flickr

I want to do something ambitious and I’m hoping you’ll help. I’d like to create a guide for how to use social media in B2B that does not involve talking about the specific tools—as least not in the top line.

I think it’s important to try to do this if we’re going to get social media integrated with the rest of marketing. It’s also important if we’re going to stop talking so much about the tools and start talking more about what to do with them.

I started trying to do this a year or so ago by talking about the four components of social media management. I wanted to focus the discussion on things that we differently in social media. Here they are:

  • Monitor. Find and track the relevant conversations in social media and online.
  • Engage. Take an active role in social media by engaging with customers and influencers in the various forums where conversations are taking place.
  • Manage. Take an active role in facilitating and managing conversations, such as creating a blog or community.

The next step is to categorize how we use social media in these different areas and how our actions hook back into the rest of marketing.

Monitor

First, here’s what we do as part of monitoring:

  • Track conversations about your company. You need to know what’s being said about your company online. Pretty obvious, right? Trouble is, we’re finding in our research that most companies stop here. There’s much more that we should and could be doing with monitoring.
  • Develop a target audience. Monitoring can be used to discover customers and prospects that are most relevant for your offerings by observing the patterns and topics of their conversations. All of the major social media tools have search capabilities, and there are specialized monitoring tools that have more powerful searching abilities. Offline research and segmentation are important pieces of this effort.
  • Discover influencers. By monitoring conversations online, we can find the people inside and outside our companies that say smart things. Monitoring tools help determine how much impact these smart things are having on our target audiences. For example, the number of RSS subscribers bloggers have, the number of comments to the blog post, the number of page views, etc.
  • Gather research. Social media are repositories for discussions and content on every possible topic. Search tools can help you mine that data.
  • See the distribution of conversation. Some monitoring tools let you segment the different types of social media to determine where conversations are happening—such as blogs vs. Facebook.
  • Trend the conversation. Some of the tools let you analyze the direction and popularity of conversations over time. This is helpful during important periods like new offering launches or in the aftermath of a crisis.
  • Determine share of attention. You can track the amount of conversation about you versus your competitors.
  • Identify influential sources. The tools can determine the popularity of conversations and the sources of those conversations. This helps you decide which blogs you’d like to do outreach with, for example.
  • Locate the conversations. Some of the tools let you see the geographic locations of people involved in the conversation.
  • Track propagation. Track a comment from a blog post all the way through to mainstream media.

Engage

Here are the things that we do to get our companies involved in the social media conversation:

  • Identify subject matter experts (SMEs). It’s up to marketing to find SMEs who can engage in the conversations that are most important to your target audience.
  • Assign SMEs to engage with key influencers and/or topic areas. Think of this like the old beat system in newspapers. You want to have someone knowledgeable get involved in the most important and relevant conversations. Marketers and PR people can help by monitoring conversations and alerting SMEs to the topics and conversations they should get involved in.
  • Create social media policies for engagement—and support them. One of the things that’s new about the social media conversation is that engagement can’t be vetted by PR. We have to trust employees and SMEs to engage on their own, otherwise our conversations become stilted, one-way messages. Social media policies help the organization understand how to engage without getting in trouble. Some organizations have created support channels for employees to ask questions about the guidelines. Others have set up training programs for employees who will engage in social media.
  • Gather information by asking questions. Asking for information helps deepen social media relationships. Taking a poll in a LinkedIn or Facebook group, asking for input from Twitter followers, or asking for information through comments on blogs are some of the ways to gather information. If you can link to a survey and promise respondents some level of access to your findings, you can create a powerful source of information.
  • Build influence by answering questions. Social media is all about sharing—whether that be pointing to good content (yours and others’), or sharing expertise and experience. By pushing SMEs to engage with the target audience in these ways, you help them build up trust and loyalty among customers and prospects.
  • Create continuity. As we start showing up regularly in social media, we build up a sense of regular connection with our target audiences. That, in and of itself, helps build trust and stronger relationships with audiences. This sense of continuity helps fill in the gaps in communication that we have with the traditional campaign style of marketing. For example, when SMEs speak at conferences, they can engage conference attendees before, during, and after the event to follow threads of conversation through to their conclusion.
  • Promote other types of marketing. By engaging, we can share links to the various other forms of marketing content that we produce, such as white papers, events, Webinars, etc.
  • Seed discussions. Using social media, we can drive interest in other forms of marketing by posting provocative questions or information. For example, posting a link to a survey that you reference in a white paper or will discuss in an upcoming event helps drive interest—and may even provide valuable research.
  • Get people together. B2B buyers value peer connections above all else. By having your influential SMEs help introduce them to one another, you can help build a stronger relationship.
  • Locate others. Using mobile applications to engage with others is going to become important in B2B in the coming years. Knowing where others are at any given moment will give marketers opportunities to link peers at conferences or to have real-time conversations, for example.
  • Build loyalty be being timely. SMEs that can be counted on to contribute to conversations quickly will become very popular among their social media followers.

Manage

In our ITSMA research, we’re starting to see marketers manage conversations through social media, whether it is groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, blogs, or private communities. Managing the conversation takes more time and resources, but it can pay off in a number of ways:

  • Develop and test points of view. Managing the conversation through vehicles like blogs and communities gives you a ready test bed for getting help and feedback on ideas that you are trying to develop into thought leadership.
  • Extend conversations. Managing the conversation gives you a way to keep your target audience’s interest by bringing in conversations from other marketing channels and giving them a permanent home.
  • Closely observe behavior. By capturing a target audience within your own community, you can get much richer data on their actions, needs, and interests.
  • Reuse and re-purpose. Managing the conversation gives us ways to stretch our content further. Blog posts can riff on other marketing channels or revisit pieces of them. The episodic nature of blogs and communities lets us sprinkle content through them like bread crumbs in the forest.

Does this all make sense to you? What would you add? Please help with your comments.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Post to Twitter

Why the volume and quality of interactions with customers has to pass for social media ROI

Google Analytics - Number Nerd
Image by LollyKnit via Flickr

I wish I could say that social media leads to sales. I really do. But I can’t. And I haven’t encountered anyone else who can either, have you? So when we think about social media ROI, we need to make a leap of faith. We need to believe that more engagement between our companies and the people we want to reach is a good thing that ultimately leads to sales—but down a long, narrow, winding path with a few jumps between cliffs thrown in there.

To make ourselves feel a little more comfortable with this idea, we may need to categorize social media with something whose hazy ROI we’re more familiar and comfortable with: PR.

There have been research attempts made to uncover and evaluate methods for measuring the ROI of PR. But you’re not going to like them.

Jumping through ROI hoops
Techniques include measuring the:

  • Value of impressions. We track the marketing mix (including PR) over time against trends in sales. Lots of variables there.
  • Return on media impact. This is the number of articles or blog posts that mention the product or service measured against the trend in sales. Again, tough to isolate PR’s role.
  • Value of earned media. This is what it would cost to place an ad in a magazine vs. the cost of getting the story placement. The PR cost is usually less and the value is usually larger, but by how much? Old beliefs about the relative value of earned media vs. advertising are all over the map—and probably need to be revised in the age of social media.

But ROI has to be there, right?
Still, we know in our bones that positive word of mouth has a positive effect on sales. We just have a hard time proving it. The only effective argument I’ve heard recently is that we embed calls to action in social media that drive readers to a landing page where we capture their information and start nurturing them as leads. But without good systems for tracking those leads from social media all the way through a sale, it’s difficult and expensive to do. And it leads back to the problem we have with PR. Did the social media impression really lead to the sale?

As with PR, perhaps all we can do is establish that social media was at least a guidepost along that narrow rocky path to a sale.

Volume and quality of interactions
So if you buy that leap of logic, let’s say that blogs are another channel, like PR, in a marketing mix designed to familiarize customers and prospects with our companies and us. And if that’s true, then we should try to increase the volume and quality of interactions with have with customers and prospects through social media, no?

That’s when things start to get easier. We can more easily measure engagement in social media. Especially on blogs.

For this reason, I think we need to think about blogs as the center point of a social media strategy. Aside from the corporate, a blog is the mother ship of social media interaction and content. And blogs are really measurable. In fact, we can do a lot of it for free. Here are some metrics, mostly for blogs, that help build engagement with customers and prospects. Please tell me what I should add or take away. And if you have the magic sauce for social media ROI, please douse us with it!

(For much more on the social media ROI topic, see this terrific list of resources compiled by Robin Broitman at Interactive Insights Group called the Social Media Metrics Superlist.)

  • Connect to your most important keywords. SEO is really a fancy term for constructing your sentences carefully—especially your headlines. If the intention of your blog is to drive traffic to your main website for lead generation, then you should be using the keywords on your blog that matter most on your website. To oversimplify it, if you want to sell more ERP software, you should use keywords like “enterprise software,” a lot on your blog so that Google associates your blog with your company’s area of expertise.
  • Grow the number of influential referral sites. “Owning” a keyword term in Google searches is nice, but building traffic to your blog through references on other blogs and websites is the key to sustained, long-term growth. Obviously, the more influential the referral site the better. But we’re not talking just sheer numbers here. For example, being listed on the blogroll of a highly respected blogger, analyst, or journalist not only generates traffic; it also establishes you as an authority among the people who care most about the subject you’re blogging about. That authority begins to have exponential effects over time. You and your posts are referred to more often as the network of referrals grows. The growth in traffic then confers its own authority—you get lots of visits so you must be smart. It becomes a virtuous cycle.
  • Don’t forget the outbound links. We all tend to obsess over the number of mentions with get in blog rolls or our influence rank in Technorati. But we often don’t stop to think about whether we’re linking to anyone else’s blog. One of the cornerstones of social media is sharing. Be generous with links to other blogs and websites and others will return the favor and build your traffic for you.
  • Understand the location of your audience. In Google analytics, you can drill down by country—even by city—to see where your traffic comes from. Comparing the geographical distribution of your blog to your company’s website should give you a sense of whether your blog is hitting with the same areas of the world as your website. It could also reveal potential new areas of focus for your salespeople.
  • Measure endurance. Good blogs hold people to the page they’re viewing. So time spent is metric to track to see if people spend more time reading over time. Bounce rate is a good metric for websites because it helps show whether people are finding what they’re looking for. But it’s not so good for blogs because blogs generally only have one or two pages—a page for the posts and a page for “about me” or “contact me—so the bounce rate is going to be higher for blogs by default. You read the post, you leave. Google analytics also has a metric for loyalty—the numbers of repeat visits over time—that shows whether people are sticking with you.
  • Find and nurture your VIPs. It’s hard to measure the number of people who care about and are really influenced by your blog. So I apply the old subscription model. If people care enough to want to know when your next post comes out, they are engaged. If they also comment on your blog, they are friends. Make a list of the people who subscribe to your blog through RSS and e-mail and match them up to your comments. Those who both subscribe and comment regularly are your VIPs. RSS+comments=VIP. These are the people who matter; they should receive responses to all their comments and an e-mail thanking them for being such a valuable collaborator. If they happen to also be customers, then all the better. But just don’t try to sell them. They know where to find you.
  • Use Twitter for blog PR. If Twitter isn’t one of your highest-ranking referral sites, you’re not using it properly. Twitter is the logical front end to a blog post. It’s where you distill the post down to a nugget and put a link next to it. There are even tools like Tweet This, that can be set up to send a tweet based on the title of your post automatically. Or a tweet can be the inspiration for a blog post later on. Regardless, blogs and Twitter accounts should be joined at the hip, because Twitter is a powerful traffic builder to blogs.
  • Use URL shorteners to gauge subject interest. By using a URL shortener like bit.ly within a Tweet, you can track how many people click on the content link you offer in your tweets. Sure, the language of your tweet counts in building interest, but if you link to content that is directly related to your tweet, it’s a good gauge of how popular the subject is among your followers.
  • Use social networks as water coolers and newsstands. LinkedIn and Facebook have groups where you can post elements of your blog post as a question, or post the entire thing as a news item. Track the number of comments and views to the things you post. The numbers aren’t too big here generally, as the group tools on these sites are crude and many group leaders don’t spend much time filtering out the self-promoting jerks that litter these things with spam. But it’s a way to expose your blog to new faces and engage in dialog away from the blog.
  • Build cross-referencing across social media tools. No social media tool is an island. All should cross-reference each other at every opportunity. So for example, your blog comments on other’s blogs should contain your Twitter handle and a link to your blog. The communities you belong to should all Your LinkedIn profile should display your most recent posts and tweets, and your blog should display all of the above. There’s no real way to measure all this from what I can tell, but it isn’t hard and it can’t hurt.
  • Embed and measure calls to action. If we can get people to a landing page, we should. Social media offer plenty of opportunities for doing that. And sometimes social media becomes the end in itself. For example, the landing page could be for a LinkedIn group you manage rather than the traditional white paper, newsletter, or Webinar. Social media gives us ways to build relationships with customers that white papers or newsletters can’t.

What do you think?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Post to Twitter

Get Adobe Flash player