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SES San Francisco: How to Take Your Blog to the Next Level
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Ses-san-francisco-2012-logo-370x229Whether you're into traditional- or micro-blogging or somewhere in between, blogging daily is essential for search, digital marketing and customer experience management (revenue creation) efforts.

Most people will likely agree that blogging and social media in general help businesses with content creation, reach, engagement, earned media, conversions and community building. Where things get a little fuzzy are … what exactly does blogging and social media success look like daily and how much should we continue to invest quarterly?  Join John Rampton, founder of Blogging.org, and I today at 1:30 in our Talkback session at SES SF. 

Take Social from Cool to Critical

One problem I continue to see in many businesses is they are stuck in their old, classic marketing mindsets. When quarterly lead generation and/or revenue goals are not being achieved, it’s often a time when “media” related budgets like PR and social are either trimmed or cut, and more emphasis is placed on outbound marketing. This is a mistake and counter-productive given:

  • Progress and work to date via social and engagement tactics
  • Where the world is headed with content and inbound marketing
  • Your top competitors probably aren’t cutting their media budgets

Businesses and marketers need to focus now and forever on taking social media from cool to critical. I recently talked with Nate Elliott, principal analyst at Forrester Research, Inc. about this (watch our video conversation; Web Innovation Now). According to Nate, social media spend is projected to be nearly $5 billion by 2016 – that’s a significant increase from 2012 and budget opportunity going forward.

I recommend all businesses/marketers double-down on their current blogging/social media spend to continue making progress and serving customers, partners and prospects via the web. How do you present and rationalize this with your executives?

Move from “B” to “C” thinking

Just like that natural flow of the alphabet, businesses and marketers should move Blogging to the next level by thinking Community instead. It becomes more about them and their success -- customers, partners and community members -- and less about you. POV publishing gives way to responsiveness, content/inbound marketing and service delivery via the web.

Further, the lines between traditional and social media are blurring so we should organize strategy and programs with the following media landscape in mind; all work together but the first two bullets are the focus:

  • Owned media
  • Earned media
  • Paid media

Here’s a simple model I’ve been using for a few years based on community and media strategy and execution:

  Community Practice Model from Erick Mott

Essentially, markets are communities and communities are markets. Since revenue and scalability comes from customers and partners, all community and media activities should revolve around customer and partner success.

If this model makes sense, one approach is to organize with (4) programs:

Customer Stories & Enablers

  • Create cohesive stories that help people experience and see the world you’re creating for them. Watch a video interview with Chris Brogan and I on the topic of storytelling
  • Use a wide variety of content types including video, white papers, blogs, infographics, etc. to enable understanding and success
  • Ensure your optimized for mobile content consumption and creation

Community Hub & Spokes

  • Community is all touch points, digital and in-person
  • Attract, mobilize and reward bloggers inside and outside your organization with advocacy and gamification (Influitive is a great tool)
  • Apply a community hub approach and continually develop and optimize you spokes to the hub. Be where your customers, partners and prospects are and apply appropriate segmentation
  • Work from personas when possible
  • Content (owned media), reach, engagement, earned media, conversions and revenue growth from collective efforts are key metrics / KPIs

Thought Leadership

  • Simplifying complex topics and provide some level of future casting as to what’s coming and what you should do now
  • Involve your community in all thought leadership efforts to create content, preview it, be included in it and share thought leadership from the community and not just the company
  • All businesses, from startups to major enterprises should cultivate and communicate with thought leadership

Command Centers & Reporting

  • It’s been said before many times but monitoring and listening to fully understand sentiment, issues and opportunities is now a business critical requirement for all organizations
  • Resource and staff appropriately with tools and intrapreneurs (creators) for strategic work and by time zone for tactical work; for digital and in-person events like conferences
  • Immediacy with quality content and response is a killer app – this requires budget and commitment

Why this Works

I stand behind this strategy and program approach based on ~5 years of execution with prior clients/companies. This is more of a B2B strategy but it can also be applied for B2C and even a startup in bootstrap mode.

Creatorstand_banner

Case in point, I’m currently working with a virtual team from the creatorbase community to launch a new, patented consumer product called creatorstand. It’s an easier and more meaningful way to learn, work, shop and be social with digital gadgets and the web.  Our lean team is applying the same strategy and tactics (model) mentioned above.

The creatorstand was announced on August 9th with help from Indiegogo.com, a crowdfunding platform, and Typepad a blogging platform. We’re also using Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, PR, email and word-of-mouth. Together, all these community channels and media tools are intended to:

  • Tell a story about a new, eco-friendly product and how it will help/enable customers who choose to pre-order our product as part of a crowdfunding effort
  • Typepad is serving as our community hub and Indiegogo is the crowdfunding platform that also enables us to make transactions and encourage social sharing. The various social channels are spokes to the community hub
  • Our Inner Circle is about 200 friends and family on Facebook and LinkedIn. I would use Influitive for our Inner Circle activation but it’s not setup yet for creatorbase; it's coming soon
  • Thought leaderships comes in by the way we describe how this new, eco-friendly and web-oriented product is better than many other similar products designed before the Internet and not in sync with a community and media strategy
  • We’re using Google Analytics, Indiegogo Dashboard, Typepad Dashboard and Facebook Page Insights to monitor, understand and report out results to the team and our contributors. I would use a pure monitoring/listening tool like Brand Monitor or Radian6 but have not implemented yet because we’re bootstrapping for now

Seven Community & Media Tips

  1. Move from a blogging mindset to a community practice (disciplined) mindset
  2. Create quality content daily for multiple channels based on customer and partner success (for current and prospective customers and partners) and share stories that matter and inform
  3. Double down on your community and media budget even under pressure from classic marketing thinkers
  4. Remember to make all your digital content mobile-first and equip staff with tools and freedom to publish content and engage in real-time from anywhere
  5. It’s all about taking blogging/social media from cool to critical because the opportunity to do so in a bigger way is both a customer requirement and will distinguish winners from losers
  6. Hire intrapreneurs to help you take social media (and community) to the next level – and stay there –  for customer experience and competitive advantages
  7. Help us bring creatorstand to market in Septmber with your pre-order  in August; Let's make a stand with crowdfunding (and blogging)
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