What Bloggers Can Teach B2B
Blogs Aren't Dead on Social
Blogs were pronounced dead in Fast Company in December of 2012 and in New Republic in April of 2013. And just before the New Year, a Forbes article declared the blog dead once again.
But from what I'm seeing blogs are leading the way when it comes reader response and are worth learning from. Don't you get jealous when you read a blog and it has been tweeted 288 times, shared on LinkedIn 142 times, and so on? I do. Those sure are not numbers many B2B publishers see when it comes to their articles being shared.
Of course, we shouldn't confuse Forbes or Business Insider -- two business websites that enjoy a massive amount of social sharing -- with B2B publications. The fact they write about business just covers the first B. They have a much wider readership. Yet it could be argued their online approach is infused with a blogging sensibility.
Blogging thrives on Twitter. Half of you reading this are likely not active on Twitter. You may feel your readers are not either, but all the industry surveys say there is plenty of B2B business there. I lurked there months before becoming active recently (@andykowl). Twitter-users constantly share blogs with provocative or catchy heads, which become the raison d'etre of their tweet. The best headline-writing education I ever got was composing cover lines for newsstand sales. Watching the headlines that are shared on Twitter is second.
If you are not writing at least some of your heads and leads as Twitter-bait, you are missing the boat. They don't all need to be sexy or become "Top Six" lists, but why not pay attention to what gets shared most and see how you can apply it to your articles? The results are powerful. Every time someone shares an article on LinkedIn they are targeting a group of likely readers who may click over to your site.
Social Means More Points of Entry
There was a time when the home page was where most visitors entered your website. Now that is only true if you are not doing a great job with social media and SEO. I spoke to a business publisher recently who gets 2-3 million visitors to his sites per month. Just 7% start at the home page.
Getting your social numbers up can be like fool's gold if nobody sticks around your site once they get there. Many sites seeing high numbers via social sharing are getting one-page readers. Better than nothing; but nothing is not much of a benchmark.
That is where audience engagement comes in, especially with the use of contextual content. The most common suggestions I see for additional reading is the nearly ubiquitous "Most Popular." Many B2B sites offer this to readers, but this is not contextual. You need to suggest other articles about similar topics or covering similar geographic interests. If you have the ability to use metering, then perhaps the third or fifth time a reader links over to your site you will actually capture her email address.
Funny side-note about Most Popular: it becomes a snowball effect. People click on them when it's the only choice given making them even more popular! I have seen lists of "popular" stories years old.
Andy Kowl is a journalist and entrepreneurial publisher with more than 30 years developing, marketing and growing publishing companies. He is senior vice president of publishing strategy for ePublishing Inc., the leading enterprise publishing system (EPS) provider which manages content, audience data, workflow, newsletters and e-commerce for hundreds B2B online publications. He helps publishers increase reader engagement and response by integrating behavioral data with contextual content, and shows them direct ways to monetize the results. Andy writes the B2B Beat blog for Publishing Executive magazine. His background in B2B includes publishing, editing and/or owning magazines and information products covering specialty retail, horse breeding, real estate, credit unions, Wall Street compliance and wireless technology.