For those who manage a company blog, there’s a certain level of despair that comes with trying to figure out what to say how to say it to say it and where to publish. The “content crush” — or the feeling that you must always be publishing content out — causes even the most stalwart brand marketer to publish content that’s not really up to snuff.
It could simply be bowing to the pressure from business unit to publish an article that’s boring. Or perhaps it’s ghostwriting a byline from an executive who is hard to work with, and so you publish something that you don’t think is right for the blog’s target audience. Or maybe it’s the “curse of the blinking cursor” staring back at you, reflecting the fact that you’re just not quite sure what to write about!
Whatever the situation, it’s a painful and frustrating one that’s all-too-familiar for those who manage company blogs.
We decided to compile our seven essential strategies for that elusive blog bliss: A blog that delivers strong editorial content with the brand’s voice, building an audience of prospects and engaged fans. From sales and enablement to internal communications to public relations, a healthy blog equals a healthy brand. Here’s a quick check-up for your company’s blog.
#1: Think like a journalist
JournalistAre always paying attention. The most annoying things about being one! The best journalists are always looking around for connections between things that others may not see, or finding interesting stories that might be unaddressed. Journalists are also really good at asking probing questions to get into the meat of the story. It’s this curiosity That separates an editorial approach from a commercial approach to content.
When it comes to B2B blogs, it’s especially important to focus on the why: Why is this important to the reader? How can this knowledge be applied in their everyday professional lives?
So be curious, persevere, and never forget the reader. Self-obsessed content has its place — but it most certainly isn’t (often) on the company blog!
#2: The strategy IS content
Now that you have the correct mindset, let’s pivot to strategy. Oftentimes, Brand marketers want to rush into the company blog just because they have a fear of missing out. However, without a strategy, execution is set up to fail. But one thing people forget is the actual content. In this rush to get it done, the content often becomes an afterthought. Either the content is terrible Because too much time was spent on strategy, or there was no strategy at all. At any point along the spectrum between these two endpoints, a content marketing initiative focus on the company blog is more likely to fail.
So even if you don’t have time to create a robust content marketing strategy, consider a basic framework that explains why you’re doing it (objectives), who you’re talking to (audience) and what you’re going to talk about (topic pillars). This ensures that the strategy IS the content.
Content for content’s sake never works — it’s a waste of time and resources, and rarely delivers enough return on investment to merit continuing.
Avoid ‘the set up to fail syndrome’ and be sure to leave plenty of time and resources in your plan to actually create a compelling content that builds audiences and creates a fantastic company blog.
#3: Plan ahead
You’d be shocked at how few brand marketers plan ahead. From business pressures to competing priorities for time and resources, Sometimes it seems like fine by the seat-of-the-pants is the best way to go. This is most definitely not the case for content. While it’s possible for an experienced journalist to turn around great quality content in a short window, there’s almost no point in trying without an understanding of why the content is being created or who it’s being targeted to.
When it comes to your company blog, an editorial content calendar is the way to go. Not only does it get you organized, but it offers a quick view of your content marketing program for any potential stakeholders.
And if you use the right tool to manage your calendar, it works as a collaboration tool to ensure that you have the most relevant perspectives from around the company included in your content.
#4: Be consistent
Select a publishing cadence and stick to it. This is by far the thing most brand marketers get wrong. They start off with a cadence that is too ambitious or unrealistic. And once they set an expectation for a certain number of articles each week, the audience can be disappointed or internal stakeholders can be demotivated. Momentum is a precious and delicate thing, and it’s important to not start out of the gate too strong.
Consistent brands are worth 20% more than those that aren’t consistent.
-Techipedia, Lucy Hunt
Make a sound assessment of the resources available to you — including your own time — and set a conservative publishing schedule at first. Start understanding how your audience is responding and growing, then you can adjust accordingly.
Especially if you are the one vetting and managing freelancers, as well as brainstorming new topics, there will be a lot more to do than you expect. The last thing you want to do is stress yourself out so much that you end up abandoning the project!
#5: Be visual
If you’re anything like us, these sorts of ‘best practices’ articles become exhausting. It really just seems like more things to add to the to-do list! And yes, that is the case. That’s what we try to stay as organized as possible — with this point (‘be visual’), We recommend taking the time to think about what visuals accompany your blog articles.
First, you want to have a captivating featured image that fuels are authentic and not stock. There’re many resources out there, like Unsplash, that offer high-quality photographs for free. Ideally, you have access to a stock photo bank that would allow you to go deeper into imagery And avoid some of the tired tropes the role so used to seeing. If you’re on a budget, then go ahead and search for high-quality images online. Just be sure to source only images that are Creative Commons approved for commercial use.
Remember that the featured image is especially important because it is the image that shows up on social when someone shares your article.
Beyond the featured image, consider what other graphics and imagery can be used to support your perspectives. Most people are visual, and many readers skim through articles.
By providing visual anchors, you allow skimmers time to digest and understand your key points — even without reading the full article. This could be as simple as peppering your article with images, or as complicated as creating an infographic that covers the material you’ve written about. We like to use Canva for our graphic design needs.
These images also serve another purpose: They can extend the life of your article as individual social media posts. Once you’ve published your article a few times on social media, then you post the individual graphics as well. This can extend the life of your article from a few weeks to a few months — or more.
#6: Practice 4-1-1
The beauty of content marketing is that it not only gives you a great brand-building opportunity but offers a wellspring of things to share on social media. The content gives you an opportunity to contribute to the conversation on social media without seeming like a leech or a lurker. And you can never go wrong providing value to potential prospects, current customers, and employees.
In addition to posting your own content, we recommend that you follow the 411 rule. The best conversationalists ask questions rather than talk about themselves. The same is true about social media.
Brands that only post content about their own achievements are far less interesting to audiences. Most people would rather read compelling content that teaches them something or offers insights they otherwise wouldn’t get.
So when you’re planning your social postings schedule, definitely include your company blog’s articles. But also share links from third-party sources that are of interest to identify target audiences; This is called content curation. Out of every six posts, only one should be directly promotional. The others are a blend of your own original content and content written by others.
We recommend this weighting of original content because we believe that the most successful marketers brand through their blog. There are plenty of professional journalists and publishers that curate analysis and news, so it can be much harder to break through the noise and provide value through curation. You have the most control over your own original content, and that’s why we recommend the 4-1-1 ratio.
Even so, there are a variety of rules suggested by experts (we really love this breakdown from CoSchedule about the various approaches to social media and content curation). It’s about finding the blend that works best for your brand and the audience you’re targeting. Doing a quick audit of your competitors and others that are in your niche is a great place to start.
#7: Go live
This final tip is perhaps one of the easiest temperament. Thanks to the technologist site YouTube, Facebook/Instagram, and Twitter, it’s now possible to broadcast live video to your audience from anywhere in the world.
The beauty of this format is the lower production values are expected. In fact, slick broadcasts are distrusted by users. So rather than stress out about having high production values, focus on delivering compelling live video to your audiences.
The increased engagement was the number one reason why respondents continue to invest in my video, according to the 2018 BrandLive live streaming benchmark survey. Live streaming has now moved far beyond just social media, and has become an entire content channel on its own.
It could be as simple as interviewing a customer for LinkedIn, or as complicated as doing a team interview that showcases a remote sales team. There are many situations, such as trade shows or company events, that are well-suited to live video. Test a few, learn from the results, and integrate those learnings back into your live videos.
Each of these live videos not only offers direct engagement with whoever joins live but also offers an article opportunity down the line. You can write about the context of the video, pull out some relevant quotes, and then embed the video in the article.
This is called ‘content atomization’ and it is the backbone of any successful and efficient content marketing strategy for a company blog. As far as results, the BrandLive cohort saw a return on investment in the following categories, each of which provides ripple effects for a brand’s perception, revenues, and employee engagement.
Yes, there’s lots to do. We sympathize! Thankfully, it’s never been easier to create quality content and support that content with interesting graphics and intelligent perspectives.
Technologies are affordable and blogging is much easier than it used to be. Keep it up, because your brand will be stronger and more profitable than ever if you do!