Posts Tagged blogging

The expectations of giving

GivingLately I’ve been feeling cynical. Several people I know have jumped on the bandwagon blogging, tweeting, attending digital events, etc all in the name of personal/professional growth. I think to myself, are these guys really interested in growing and putting ideas out there? Or are they just trying to get a piece of the action to promote themselves.

Then I wonder, is there a difference? At the end of the day aren’t we all here to promote ourselves? A business or consultant isn’t blogging in the interests of free information and the greater good. Would these people still give without the get?

I know that without you, the few and faithful readers, I’d have stopped writing a long time ago. If no one read my blog, I’d just be writing to a void. And yet, that’s what I see happening. People writing into a void, and while they hope people will talk to them – they don’t act like it. They don’t give expectantly.

Now let me say there’s a fine line to this argument. I don’t look at social media as some divine strategy to promote myself or business because it’s not. But the days of one way communication are over so there must be a corresponding change in mindset.

Put another way, the significance of social media is not in who follows you. It’s not how many people like your product or service. It’s the connection that’s made… And the number of followers or likes, which increases the probability of making a real connection, is not the metric that should matter to you.

It comes down to a very subtle change in expectations. If you expect to be hailed as a thought leader, if you expect a sale, if you expect a raise, if you expect world supremacy – you will fail. BUT if you give with the expectation that you will make a difference in someone’s day, with the expectation that you will connect with someone you wouldn’t have otherwise connected with – THAT’S SOMETHING!

If you’re putting something out there – it’s OK to expect something back. Just know what it is you’re expecting.

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Blogging and CRM – why they aren’t that different

RFM diagram

If you’ve ever done CRM or database marketing, you’ve used R-F-M to target customers. It stands for Recency, Frequency and Monetary. When evaluating customer value, you take into account the recency of the last transaction, the frequency in which they transact and the overall monetary value of that relationship. To the would-be corporate bloggers out there, I would submit that figuring how to write a blog isn’t that different.

The first two are pretty easy to grasp…

RECENCY – If I come to your blog and it hasn’t been updated in 6 months – I assume you’re not actively engaging anyone and that your thoughts in this dynamic environment are probably yesterday’s (or last year’s) news.

FREQUENCY – The best and most viewed blogs are updated regularly. They are indexed more often and probably getting better search traffic. A reader likes frequent content because that’s usually indicative of it’s relative freshness. It also tells me here’s someone who’s going to notice if I respond.

Now here’s where you might feel the urge to disagree…

MONETARY – This is probably the hardest concept to grasp for new bloggers. While a blog doesn’t exactly have a monetary value, consider the time spent reading as a cost to your customer; consider the opportunity cost of consuming content in a world of virtually infinite options. Don’t be fooled into thinking your content is  so compelling that viewers will read it at any [opportunity] cost.

If this is a struggle for you, remember this…

1) A blog is a not a case study or white paper. Tone down the academic speak. You have two minutes to impart the gist. If someone wants more they’ll download the case study or contact you (that’s the point after all, isn’t it?).

2) Stay on point and within a few hundred words. There shouldn’t be multiple disparate points. If you have more to say, break it into bite-sized nuggets to keep them coming back for more. Recall the very definition of LOG – to enter a record, singular.

3) A blog is not a corporate billboard. If people want ads, they’ll find the nearest woman’s fashion magazine. Blogs aren’t for hawking products or solutions – they should be focused on needs, problems or other resonant topic.

Even as I’m writing this I’m coming up on 400 words so I’ll end with this thought…

People choose blogs similar to the way marketers target. We can’t target everyone, just as customers can’t consume everything.

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The price of being a thought leader

Attending a recent social media “bootcamp”, the discussion of content sharing came up. Working with a collection of my organization’s thought leaders, we discussed content creation and strategy. And a question was raised that I feel is worth revisiting.

How much content do we give away? At what point are we showing too much under the hood, sharing too many of the ingredients in the secret sauce, giving away too many of those delicious CostCo food samplers… well you get the idea.

There’s no easy or 100% steadfast rule to this, but I believe that there’s a price to being a thought leader. That means putting something out there can be potentially mimicked or copied. In my business we see it all the time… where competitors suddenly find themselves spouting the same messaging and value proposition that we’ve been communicating for months. And to that I say “THANK YOU!”  Mimicry is the best compliment and only reaffirms our position as thought leaders.

Now obviously you don’t want to be giving away secret algorithms or confidential intellectual property, but there’s nothing wrong with a “how-to” that’s based on your own deep expertise.

I’ll use as an example a good friend who recently remodeled his bathroom. After reading up on all the right things, he decided he could tackle the DIY project himself. Half-way into ripping out the bathroom tiles, he realized that he was over his head. And then he called in the experts that originally advised him on his DIY endeavors.

Moral of the story is that delivering solutions is hard… and just because you have the playbook doesn’t mean you can execute. It requires expertise that can’t be stolen from a blog. It’s actually quite the opposite… that content can only serve to set you up as a thought leader.

So get out there and FREE YOUR CONTENT!

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Can Corporate Blogging be Taken Seriously?

Can corporate blogging be taken seriously?
Can big companies actually do social media right?

Whether tweeting or blogging, its very tough to find large companies publishing credible and genuine content on the web. It’s either a blatant form of self promotion, boring “educational” case studies (translation – more self promotion), or a completely diluted view of the world so as not to offend anyone… In a lot of ways its the political landscape of corporate America projecting itself onto the blogosphere.  Don’t get me wrong, I can understand to some degree the hesitancy of saying the wrong thing…

But not saying the wrong thing and trying to be everything to everyone are two entirely different things; a difference which bigco marketers needs to figure out.

This applies in both B2C and B2B environments, although I think a few consumer marketers have figured out that people buy genuine, they buy self expression (i.e.  see @comcastcares). What’s funny is that you’d think B2B would have this figured out first.

More than consumer marketing, B2B marketing has a lot to do with relationships. People buy from people. Yes reputation, scalability, needs, quality, etc are factors…but above all in B2B, we buy from people.

So why is it that I have yet to find a corporate blog that has really figured this out? Legal backlashes aside, people seem to be afraid of offending folks… NEWSFLASH – People like controversy! Obviously we don’t want to be insulting, but I also want to buy from companies who know who they are and are prepared to defend that position. Make an argument for crying out loud! Convince me! In reality, I don’t think bigcos will ever figure this out – they’re so tightly controlled by the legal and regulatory environments – which to some degree is why small companies are so much more nimble and why the biggest asset bigcos have is their reputation.

And if that’s the case, then I say why bother blogging at all. Because a diluted, vanilla, self-promoting blog can only serve to harm that greatest asset.

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