When Good Content is Better Than Great Content

A lot of content marketers will tell you that your content has to be perfect. Outstanding. It really has to hit the mark.

Trouble is sometimes companies spend so long tweaking the content, talking to focus groups, trying to second think through every possible permutation that by the time something’s published it’s lost its initial momentum.

Don’t Just Climb the Mountain

Let’s say you’re launching a business blog to help drive traffic to your site and bring a less corporate feel to your online communications. You can spend a long time deciding on the right software (WordPress, Movable Type, Blogger, ExpressionEngine, etc), the right design and, the right content but going with a simple self-hosted WordPress blog using a generic premium theme with a few tweaks to brand the blog can be enough to get you going and building page rank. Saving this extra time might just help you first to post compared to your competitors.

Climbing a mountain takes monumental effort but using the chair lift will usually get you pretty high up very quickly and with less effort. In business content marketing, sometimes getting ahead before the rest of the competition is a victory in itself and give you the edge over others.

Get it Out There

Look at Crisis Management. When a crisis hits a company they don’t waste time perfecting their response. They get a YouTube video with the CEO out in two hours, or a blog post up in minutes. The production quality is low because the content is needed quickly. In this way, good content actually becomes great because it gets the job done. It addresses the concerns and issues at hand in a timely fashion.
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Ghost blogging? Just Say No

Do you think ghost blogging is okay? Are you looking for a ghost-blogger for your corporate blog? Are you too busy to band out the text yourself?

Er… then maybe you shouldn’t have a blog!

Ghost blogging is a Tricky Business

The whole issue of ghost blogging for corporate clients is a tricky one (Cf The Ghost Speaks).

ghost blogging

Ghost blogger not for hire!

I’m the first to admit that I’ve done a bit of anonymous ghost blogging for major corporations here in Sweden because they’ve either been overloaded with work or needed someone to write in English.

I’ve ghost blogged in the past because like everyone I need to work and pay the bills and I haven’t always been able to pick and choose clients. Especially when the credit crunch really hit Sweden.

But no more. I’ve decided that if I’m going to blog for someone, like I regularly do for Internationella Engelska Gymnasiet, then I’m much more comfortable writing under my own name. In fact, I’m love writing blog posts. There’s something inherently conversational about the medium that allows for more freedom and variety than the more formulaic journalistic writing I do.

Ghost blogging lacks authenticity

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Is Your Business Social?

smug fellow

Are you smug about your social media efforts?

With all the talk of social media in recent months a lot of companies have jumped on the social media bandwagon in an attempt to kick their online marketing and communications into the twenty-first century.

Maybe your business is like this?

You know: you’ve got a Facebook Fan Page, a Twitter account; you’re maybe posting pictures to Flickr, and monitoring realtime streams for mentions of your brand.

Trouble is: Just having the gear, doesn’t make you the belle of the ball. The tools per se don’t make you social: it’s what you do with them.

Successful online marketing with social media is about your mindset, and the communications strategy you use!

10 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Business

Do you:

  • never answer questions on Twitter just to be helpful?
  • forget to respond to comments on your Facebook Fan Page the same day they’re posted?
  • find yourself erasing the comments that don’t make you look good?
  • conveniently forget to be honest when you mess up in public?
  • police every move your people make on social media?
  • always – bottom line – focus on selling more stuff
  • jump in with social media tools before thinking about your communication goals and desired outcomes?
  • forget to measure success and failure and fail to learn from it?
  • feel insecure when promoting other people’s services and products online?
  • never bother to look for new and emerging channels ?

Bonus Question?

  • Do you think you’ve got social media totally nailed?

So what about you?

If you’re answering YES to lots of these, you might want to think again about your online marketing and communications strategy.

Maybe you’re missing the point. Or maybe you’re not quite seeing the return on investment (ROI) you thought you’d be getting once your business went social.

Go on: take another look at your online marketing and how you’re using tools like Facebook, corporate blogs, Twitter and so on. Is your business really social ?

Image:FlickrCC

Social Media Fails to Inspire Norwegian Managers

A recent report suggests 6 out of 10 Norwegian managers don’t believe social media sites like Facebook are any use to their business.

Echoing Annika Lidne’s comments yesterday that Swedish businesses could learn from how international businesses are using social media, it seems our Norwegian neighbours aren’t exactly oozing enthusiasm for social media as part of their online communications strategy.

norge

Social media is a great way to engage people across a country


Manpower asked 750 senior Norwegian managers about their attitude towards social media.

  • 21 percent thought social media might benefit branding,
  • 14 percent reckoned it could help recruitment,

and only a mere 11 percent thought it would improve co-operation and communication in the workplace.

Start-ups Interested in New Media

After talking in Oslo a couple of weeks ago my impression was that there’s plenty of interest amongst small businesses and start-ups, but that businesses are unsure where to start. Several people asked me about where there were courses they could take or the kinds of books they should read.

Norway, like Sweden, has fabulous online framework and is incredibly reliant on the Net given that it can be so difficult getting around the country to meet customers face-to-face because of the landscape.

It surprises me, then, that there’s not more enthusiasm from senior managers about the way in which social media could benefit businesses.

As I’m booked to speak about online communications and how Facebook and Twitter are likely to impact businesses in the future in Oslo on June 3, I’m curious to know more about how things are in my neighbouring country.

If you have any experience or thoughts about where things are going in Norway, do get in touch either in the comments or please connect with me on Twitter.

Image:Flickr

Annika Lidne talks Social Media and Online Communications

I wanted to go Swedish with this week’s Online Communications interview and I immediately thought of Annika Lidne, CEO of Disruptive Media.

annika-lidne

Annika Lidne (photo: Björn Falkevik)

Annika is one of the most well-known people in the social media industry in Stockholm / Sweden.

I first came across her when I attended one of the Disruptive Media events she organised last year.

As well as being a very knowledgeable and popular figure inside the industry, advising large companies and organisations about social media and digital business, she’s also a very passionate and eloquent speaker about social media and online communication.

Each month Annika also organises the Stockholm Social Media Club that meets for a Friday lunch and networking get-together.

The next Disruptive Media conference is on Social Cash and takes place on March 25 in Stockholm. I hope to see you there!

Jon: One of the courses you offer through Disruptive Media is “How to Create a Successful Blog”. What do you think makes a successful business blog ? And is there anything that Swedish business bloggers are doing differently that people can learn from? Examples?

Annika: Successful blogs are like any other successful content; interesting, relevant and entertaining. To be successful in a business setting, you also have to be useful, very up-to-date and on-topic. The problems many corporate bloggers face are over-selling and over-promotion. Instead of thinking what is interesting for your readers, you want to promote what is interesting for your company.

To make your company blog rise above the level of every other company blog you have to move from just writing about your company, to writing about the topic of your niche i.e. report news and user cases from the area your company works in (Well, unless you are Google. Then you can get away with being very company-centric!) .

I can’t really think of any advice gathered from Swedish business blogs, per se. It’s more the reverse: Swedish business bloggers can learn much from international business blogs on how to select a niche and promote your blog.

Jon: A lot of Swedish businesses are increasingly active on Twitter and Facebook. Some post in English, others Swedish. How would you describe how we’re using these channels in Sweden? or Stockholm? Any trends you’re seeing? Is this a possible route for Swedish businesses to make international connections ? And how do they best achieve this?

Annika: Right now, ordinary Swedes haven’t discovered Twitter. They are on Facebook. But, if you want to connect with journalists, politicians and other people involved in the media, Twitter is a good service. More and more companies and organisations are on Twitter so I think we will see an increased adaption from the general public, especially with the live Twingly channels from the Swedish semi-finals to the European Song Contest and the upcoming Swedish general election. Twitter is getting a lot of media attention right now.

I think that Twitter can be a great tool for Swedish businesses to make international contacts, especially for start-ups in the fields of IT, Web, and Media. If you’re selling industry production, however, I think it’s harder because the audience isn’t there in the same way. But to make worthwhile contacts, you have to start by reaching out through Twitter, reading that person’s or company’s blog, starting a dialogue and then perhaps meet up at a conference.
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5 Reasons Your Business Blog is Failing

failing business blog

Nope, Tia isn't impressed

Did you drink the business blog Kool-Aid and wake up wondering what’s gone wrong? Ever find yourself fretting: “Why’s my business blog not working?”

Just because you’ve jumped onboard the business blogging gravy train, doesn’t mean you’re on the road to guerilla marketing success.

In fact, the presence of an ailing blog on your company website could be doing more harm than good if it tells your readers, by your obvious failure, that you just don’t get how to communicate on the web.

The top five things I tell companies when they ask me for help with their failing blog are:

1. You forgot to be human

A blog, even a business blog, has to have a human voice. Dry press-release flavoured copy is not going to strike a chord with readers. Give your blogger(s) the freedom to be human. Don’t restrict them to being corporate mouth pieces. Companies need to create cool content if their content marketing is going to find an audience.

2. You aren’t original

There’s a billion blogs out there battling for traffic. SEO, a snazzy design, a stack of cool icons don’t make up for kick-ass copy that gives readers what they want or what they need. The blogosphere is a bit of an echo chamber so you need to work hard to find ways to make your copy and the topic(s) you blog about stand out. Seriously!

3. You haven’t got time to be original, human, oh, and blog regularly

Experience from my own blog and working with clients shows that the only way to keep build a blog and keep a blog, is to commit time and resources.

Bashing out a quality post (often) takes research, time and effort. Even if you can do this for 3, 6 or 12 weeks you often have to keep going for months before you start to see results. Even some of the most established blogs out there take a dip when post quality and frequency takes a dive so you need to factor in strategies to combat this. And resources!

My pet hate is coming across a well-designed, well-written business blog that hasn’t been updated for 6 weeks. It oozes complacency and a lack of understanding of how online communications work.

4. You didn’t allocate enough resources for your business blog

The bar for business blogging has risen in the last years; nowadays you pretty much need a skilled programmer to set it up, a professional designer to give it the right look and feel to match your corporate identity, and a talented and resourceful writer and communicator who excels at juggling social media networks like Twitter and Facebook alongside blogging to get you heard on a regular basis.

Business blogs are not a cheap alternative to traditional marketing. They’re an effective PR and marketing resource, but only if you invest in them just like any other.

They work best when integrated into a cogent marcom campaign that includes online and offline channels.

5. Your blog isn’t getting enough traffic

Just because you set up a blog, doesn’t mean readers will flock to you. No matter how big a company you are.That’s why creative content marketers can win an audience despite not being market leaders.

Do you have a strategy to drive people to your blog?

Advertising and online promotion might get you some traffic, but interruptive marketing is increasingly overlooked. Instead, you may find you need someone to build relationships one-person-at-a-time online with social media channels like Twitter, Facebook or Google Buzz. This isn’t cheap and can’t be done in a day. Building an effective business blog takes time, commitment and effort.
Think: long haul, rather than quick fix.