Blogging is one of the easiest, cheapest and most effective ways to engage the New Breed of B2B Buyer, yet so many B2B blogs miss the mark. Here are ten “be’s” of the best b2b blogs. It isn’t the first top ten list of best B2B blog secrets, and no doubt it will not be the last. But, it is mine and it’s what I personally strive for Chaotic Flow to be.
B2B Blog Be #1 : Be Interesting
You would think that making your B2B blog interesting would go without saying…well, I’m saying it. Let’s face it, there is a lot of crap out there on the Internet. Don’t be that. Whether you are creating a community blog, a corporate blog, a support blog, or your own professional B2B blog, you are in the publishing business and all good publishing basics apply. You must understand your readers and you must connect with their interests. Not casually, but completely. I considered lots of runner-up best B2B blog be’s like “be funny”, “be visual”, “be concise”, etc., all good advice for the right B2B blog audience, but there is no single B2B blog tactic that will connect with every audience. You must know your audience and publish content that is inherently interesting to them.
B2B Blog Be #2 : Be Prolific
Maintaining a steady stream of interesting content is essential to building and maintaining readership. This blogging fundamental can be approached from many angles, but the conclusion is always the same: a successful B2B blog requires prolific authors. Building readership requires a strong Internet presence. How many Web pages exist on the Internet? What fraction of that is your B2B blog? How many keywords are your potential B2B blog readers searching? What is your keyword coverage? The chance of finding your B2B blog online is directly proportionate to your content-share. Once you have readers, you want to keep them. Publish sporadically and your readers get bored and wander off. Publish regularly and your B2B blog becomes part of their routine. No matter how you come at it, even the best B2B blogs must publish or perish.
B2B Blog Be #3 : Be True
As in “to thine own self be true.” Creating a great B2B blog is hard. It requires creativity, energy and persistence. If you can’t align your own personal interests and motivations with those of your B2B blog audience, you will fail. To create a great B2B blog, you have to blog about something you know and love or you won’t blog enough and what you do blog won’t be interesting, because your heart won’t be in it. If you need to create a B2B blog for a particular audience and you don’t know and love the topic, then find someone who does. Conversely, if you are creating your own professional B2B blog, write about what you personally know and love. Your right audience, big or small, will gravitate to you.
B2B Blog Be #4 : Be Useful
Whereas a great b2c blog might be useful, a great B2B blog MUST be useful. This is by definition. If the only value of your B2B blog is entertainment, then by definition you are only appealing to the personal interests of the reader, not the business interests. Appealing to business interests requires helping your B2B blog reader solve real business problems. That means being useful. The single greatest failure of most B2B corporate blogs is that they simply are not useful. They focus on the company instead of the customer. They go on about products instead of solving problems. They are marketing brochures masquerading as blogs.
B2B Blog Be #5 : Be Original
The new breed of B2B buyer is busy, impatient, impulsive and awash in a sea of online information competing for her attention. The best B2B blogs demand that attention by standing out from the crowd with original content. While it is smart to surround your B2B blog with lots of complementary feeds, tweets and friends to round things out, you must maintain a bright shiny kernel of creativity at the core or your site is just a mashup, not a blog. Moreover, if you want other B2B blogs to pick up your syndicated content to complement their sites, then you need to offer something that they can’t get anywhere else: expertise, insider information, humor, whatever. You gotta have schtick.
B2B Blog Be #6 : Be Consistent
Whether you know it or not, you are building a brand, and people like their brands consistent. If your B2B blog is all over the map in subject matter, content quality, and publishing frequency, then your readers will get frustrated. If your readers can’t figure it out, then they won’t remember your blog. If your readers can’t rely on it, then they won’t return to your blog. And, if your readers don’t remember and return to your B2B blog, then they certainly won’t share it with their colleagues.
B2B Blog Be #7 : Be Clear
You might be The Most Interesting Man in the World, but if you can’t write, you can’t blog. Stick to selling beer. Yes, your B2B blog should show some personality. Yes, your B2B blog should be written in plain language. Yes, your B2B blog doesn’t require perfect spelling or grammar. But, there are limits. Your blog posts can be long or short. Your blog posts can be text or video. But, your blog posts cannot be difficult to read. They must be clear. Poor focus, poor writing, and poor formatting all add up to a poor use of the busy B2B buyer’s time.
B2B Blog Be #8 : Be Found
If I did my job right, some of you are first time visitors to Chaotic Flow who were looking for advice on how to create a great B2B blog. Welcome! I hope you find this post interesting, useful and clear. However you got here, my guess is you clicked on a link: a link from a B2B-related search, a link from a B2B tweet, a link from B2B discussion group, a link from another B2B blog, or a link from an email sent by a B2B colleague. Well it didn’t get there by accident. This post is SEO-optimized up the B2B wazzu. And, I used every trick in the book to make sure this blog post was syndicated and shared as widely as possible. Creating interesting, original and useful content is only half the battle. A great B2B blog must get its content in front of its intended audience and that means mastering the tools and techniques for being found on the Internet.
B2B Blog Be #9 – Be Sticky
Your new B2B blog reader is so excited, because she just found the best B2B blog ever. It’s interesting, useful, original and clearly written for a change. Unfortunately, she is out of there after reading one post never to return. Why? She couldn’t search. She couldn’t comment. She couldn’t share. She couldn’t subscribe. Couldn’t subscribe??!!! The RSS button is huge! Well…she likes to subscribe by email, so she bounced. She’s the impatient new breed of B2B buyer and she demands efficient self-service. Being sticky is about maximizing the interaction between your B2B blog content and your B2B blog reader. If you don’t give her the tools she prefers, she won’t stick around.
B2B Blog Be #10 : Be Social
A great B2B blog is a focal point of a conversation that extends out to the rest of the Internet and beyond. You’ve learned all the tactics: encourage comments, comment on other popular B2B blogs, promote posts on social networks, publish a newsletter, create your own social group, build a badge for back-links, conduct surveys and reviews, make it easy for readers to like, retweet, plus and share, and so forth. However, it’s easy to lose yourself in this bewildering array of social media tactics and actually forget to be social. Being social means expanding the conversation beyond the brilliant insight of your latest B2B blog post to include your readers, thereby increasing the value and richness of the discussion while spreading the word to potential new subscribers. The best B2B blogs are reflections of their authors and the best B2B blog authors are socially accessible. They reply to emails. They don’t censor comments. They continue the conversation offline in coffee shops, meetups, panels, and presentations. Great B2B blog authors socialize with their readers.
(Cross-posted @ Chaotic Flow by Joel York)