Savvy Speaks: How to Really Engage Readers with Your Blog

Savvy Speaks: How to Really Engage Readers with Your Blog
Savvy Sisters @savvy_b2b - Wed Oct 13, 2010 @ 01:00AM
Comments: 3

Having a blog is an awesome way to reach out and connect with prospects, customers and partners. But what if you create (what you think is) the perfect blog and no one comes by to read it? What if you have nothing but lurkers?

According to a recent Forrester report, "...most B2B blogs are dull, drab, and don't stimulate discussion." More than 70% of the corporate blogs reviewed stick strictly to business or technical topics and don't share much personal insight or experience. They also found that 74% of B2B blogs receive a minimum of commentary or trackbacks because readers fail to find conversation worthy of their involvement.

This week the Savvy Sisters weigh in on how to encourage B2B blog engagement and keep the conversation going.

Wendy Thomas

Wendy

 There has to be a compelling reason for your readers to read. A good blog creates a modified story line complete with plot points, obstructions, and kick-butt life lessons not learned anywhere else.

The posts of mine that get the most responses are those that combine humor with a dash of personal insight universal enough for others to recognize.

It doesn't end there though; once written you now need to promote your message. If a blog post is left unread on the net, does it make a sound? Nope.

Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and commenting on others' blogs are all a necessary part of my blog marketing day.

Stephanie

Stephanie

Just as with any content you generate, a blog needs to start with an understanding of who you're trying to reach and what they're interested in. With that defined, you can brainstorm ideas for posts. One way to do that is by spending time where your target readers hang out -- whether that's in online forums and communities, or at conferences and networking events.

Once your posts are live, you need to drive traffic to them. That means you should embed keywords in your titles and posts, and then make others aware of your posts through social media and email.

To encourage comments, ask readers for their perspectives. If you spend time commenting on others' blogs and participating in online communities, you'll likely increase the odds of others interacting with you on your blog. And if folks do comment on your posts, be sure to respond. Otherwise, they'll feel their opinions and insights were either ignored or unappreciated.

That said, whether or not you receive comments may depend on who you're trying to attract with your blog. For example, a B2B company trying to reach prospects and customers might have a tough time getting its audience to engage. However, comments aren't the only measure of a blog's success. Keep track of visits and how many times your posts are shared by others via social-media channels. And consider interviewing people outside of your company, whether partners, customers, or industry experts. They just might help spark discussions!

Heather

Heather

I think some of the best B2B blogs start as "sneak peaks" to what is going on at the company. A place where existing customers can get information about an upcoming product release, users conference, industry event you are sponsoring, etc. Since many B2B relationships tend to be long term partnerships there is a chance to go to a deeper level with your customers than most B2C "retail" type transactions. In many cases a B2B companies' survival literally depends on their suppliers and partners, so that is a naturally deeper and more connected relationship.

Build on that history to shake up your blog and generate content. Periodically have a post where you interview a long standing customer about how they are using your product. Profile a partner, get an industry analyst to guest post or interview the new CEO at one of your customers.

Particularly in times of transition or change for your company having engaged and strengthened relationships through a blog can help weather the strorm. Building that raport in advance will be worth the time and effort many times over.

Michele

Michele

Creating engagement on a blog can be tough, especially in B2B. First things first, make sure that the content is relevant - and interesting - to your readers. If this is a corporate blog, your posts typically should not be about your products and services. Really think about what is on your reader's mind and answer those questions instead.

I think it's also important to be consistent - with when and what you publish. By sticking to a posting schedule, your readers will know what to expect. I also suggest generally sticking with a certain topic and/or tone (again, what's important to your readers?) Writing on whatever topics interest you generally won't engage readers and they won't know what to expect.

It's also important to be realistic and not get discouraged. For instance, as Mark Schaefer explains, tracking the number of comments may not be the best measure of success with B2B blogs.

Last point: rememeber that you need to be approachable and engage in conversation if you want someone to engage with you. It's great to do this outside of the confines of your blog to build relationships.

Kate

Kate

The most important thing is to be sure your blog posts are of interest to the reader, and cover topics that are likely to elicit some sort of reaction. "Bob got a promotion" is not going to cut it. The second is that you have to ask for people to join the conversation. It's easy to overlook the "call to action" but make it automatic and you'll see more responses.

Jamie

Jamie

First thing - stop thinking about your blog as a publishing platform. If you want to create a place where people gather to talk about what's important to them, think about your blog as just that - a gathering place. It's not your lecture podium.

Second thing - do more than just add a call-to-action question at the bottom of your post:

1. Promote your posts to your networks (through LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc ... wherever your audience might be).

2. Comment on relevant posts outside your blog. Don't constantly link back to your post, but join the general conversation.

3. Send personal invitations to comment. If you think there's someone in your circle who might have a valuable comment to add or be particularly interested in your post, email, tweet, or Facebook them.

4. When someone does comment, respond! Don't leave people hanging. Conversation only works when it goes two ways.

5. Install the plug-in that allows people to be notified by email of new comments - this will bring them back into the conversation and keep it going.

6. When you're planning topics, take inspiration from someone else's post, put your spin on it, and then link back to the original post AND let them know you've riffed on their idea.

... Those should get you started! :)

Join the conversation!

How do you get readers engaged?

Seen any remarkably great or extremely poor examples?

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