Corporate Blogging is Dead, Long live Content Marketing! – 2013 survey results

book-new-largeI am not certain that Google will maintain Google alerts for very much longer. It seems, to put it in Forbes’s words, that it is broken. There is another cool innovation from the olden times which is still working though, I mean Google web trends. I still find it very interesting to see how things evolved through the use, or disuse, of certain keywords in the Google search engine. Lately, I went back to Google in order to check what was happening to corporate blogs. The only thing I was able to find out, was a 2005 report on corporate blogging. Does that mean that corporate blogging is over? Not at all! It is now part of a much broader subject, named content marketing. In essence, content marketing is bit different from just corporate blogging and it is a much better term. The replies of the interest for content marketing over the past few months is showing that something is happening in the web world again. Maybe it is a sign that companies are now more interested in what they get from the content which they produce rather than just spend time producing it. Let us review the 2013 content marketing survey report which gives us some interesting insight into the use of content marketing in 2013 (courtesy http://www.imninc.com/).

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Interest for corporate blogs has clearly shifted from blogs to content

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Key Survey Findings by IMN

  • Content marketing was a medium or high priority for 90%
    of respondents …”  however, one may point out  that comparisons with the 2012 survey my IMN (the first in the series) is showing that the realisation that content marketing is important is fairly recent, even in the US,
  • “31% of respondents have had a content strategy in place for more than a
    year, with 18% stating they put one in place within the last year and 33%
    working on implementing a strategy” … as stated above, all these content marketing programs are still fairly recent and there is still room for improvement,
  • “67% of respondents use a newsletter to distribute content to their
    customers and prospects” …  this is namely true with regard to newsletters for which a great number of users are sending  them once a year therefore showing little or no understanding of how the medium is used,
  • “78% of respondents curate content; 48% having run into permissions /
    attribution issues during the process” … But 15% of respondents are worried that they could use copyrighted content on their own resources,
  • 44% of respondents cited lead generation as the most important goal of
    content marketing programs; an increase from 16% last year.

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Awareness is widespread now. Content marketers are no longer regarded as zombies… well… I have a few recent counter examples but they are not American.

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Increasing leads is clearly what makes corporations tick. Yet, my personal experience in that area shows that few are able to go beyond buzz words and stick to their guns. Lead generation is a difficult trade, it requires a lot of fine tuning, and stamina. A trial and error mentality must be adopted; typically something that large companies have trouble coping with … long term thinking!

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Blogs are still here in that picture but they are not alone and part of an ecosystem. This makes perfect sense. An overarching strategy for marketing content must be adopted vs. piecemeal technical approaches which lead nowhere. Yet, if your blog is lousy, you are bound to go nowhere at all. The fundamentals must be remembered.

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Success is shifting away from readership to leads. Well… in the States maybe, in Europe, we still have a long way to go!

Download the 2005 blogger survey

my tips for social media management in Romania and elsewhere (5/5)

This is the script of an interview I gave for a Romania business journal “Business Review Romania” in June 2012. The interview is published in instalments. This is part 5 of 5

Name a few examples as to how social media management has helped Orange get more brand awareness?

In most markets in which it operates in the consumer space, Orange has a very good brand awareness not to say the best. So social media isn’t really used for this at Orange. We tend to use it more for image, co-creation (like with the http://sosh.fr entry level offer in France), brand and user experience (see http://pinterest.com/liveorange or http://pinterest.com/orangefrance to name but a few recent examples), charity (check the French Orange foundation blog http://www.blogfondation.orange.com), user relationship (like Orange helpers in the UK: http://oran.ge/KqyW3r) and brand nurturing (like Facebook Romania https://www.facebook.com/orangeromania for instance). These are only a few examples from different countries but there are many more than this.

The only counterexample I can think of is the one I’ve been involved in for 3 years between 2008 and 2011, and it is related to the b2b arm of Orange, that is to say Orange Business Services (http://orange-business.com) . It is understandable that being in 220 different countries and territories as Orange Business Services is, means that there are vastly different levels of brand awareness in each of those geographies. Social media can come be useful in the areas in which we are not operating in the consumer space in order to boost the knowledge of Orange Business as well as our skills. It has proven very successful in many instances, we have even been able to use the blogs to initiate sales at a later stage (this is ‘pre-commerce’ again).


[1] Check my personal blog for this topic at http://visionarymarketing.wordpress.com/category/b2b-marketing/

[2] http://bitdefender.com

[3] http://ronewmedia.ro

[4] Small Office, Home Office, i.e. very small or independent companies

[5] Media Aces is the French association of enterprises involved in social media, of which I am the President. My work on the four different types of brand in social media is available at: http://bit.ly/4brandtypessm

[6] Oscar Wilde quotes at: http://oran.ge/owildetalk

[7] Check the ‘worldwide’ tab on the http://facebook.com/Orange page

[8] http://timeline.orange.com

[9] Re. Andy Sernocitz ‘Word of Mouth Marketing’ check http://oran.ge/asbooks on Amazon

my tips for social media management in Romania and elsewhere (4/5)

This is the script of an interview I gave for a Romania business journal “Business Review Romania” in June 2012. The interview is published in instalments. This is part 4 of 5

What do you think the ratio for the implementation of social media campaign should be in the entire media budget of the company? How was this situation at Orange?

To begin with, I do not like the term “campaign” which I find too military and aggressive. Eventually, social media marketing is a new form of marketing, more respectful, more centred on our customer’s interests and requirements, based on the principles of crowd sourcing and customer centricity. So I ban this kind of language as well as other terms like “targets” which are often times the staples of traditional marketing but are outdated and not applicable to social media marketing. Despite what most people think, social media marketing has to be thought of in the long-term, not in the short term.

using military analogies for communications? not a good idea … From bastille day

My second recommendation would be to build engagement and then spend money, not the other way round. First, I always start building the network using content. This is what takes the greatest part of our work and energy. Each time I am in charge of a new digital department, I start working on my content strategy and building the content, both externally and internally, which will fuel my digital strategy. Once I have done that, I can start crystallise communities around the content which we have created, as well as adapt the content to the liking of our audiences. The second step is to grow the network so that it reaches a critical mass. The third stage is to create synergies between the pages and the different platforms that we use: the Facebook hub on all Orange pages[7] is a good example of that, or Orange timeline[8] which groups or Twitter accounts around Orange. But it is also a matter of linking platforms and blogs to one another, both at Orange, and with Orange partners outside of the company.

Once I have sorted out all my budgets, and made considerable savings, then and only then can I invest my money, with great care, on advertising to promote this content and bring back traffic to my main platforms. This is a slightly more lengthy approach, but it pays in the long-term and is incredibly strong in terms of resilience.

My last recommendation would be to say to companies that they shouldn’t spend millions on word-of-mouth because word-of-mouth is supposed to be cost-effective; otherwise this is just advertising and advertising works best in traditional media[9].

My main frustration with regard to social advertising is to see that mainstream social media platforms have done very little to reinvent advertising so far. Innovation in that space is not on par with what we are supposed to expect. But this will probably change in the medium-term, hopefully.

As to Orange Group, this is how we work. I still haven’t spent a dime to grow the http://facebook.com/Orange page and yet we grew it from 40,000 people in May 2011 to over 215,000 a year later! Similarly, our Group Twitter account (http://twitter.com/orange) was brought from nothing to close to 9,500 followers in just a year, through sheer organic growth and content sharing.

Now that we have grown a critical mass, we might consider advertising to speed things up or bring them to the next level, but I do not expect those spends to grow out of proportion and much in excess of 10% of my overall budget, in the very long run.

 


[7] Check the ‘worldwide’ tab on the http://facebook.com/Orange page

my tips for social media management in Romania and elsewhere (3/5)

This is the script of an interview I gave for a Romania business journal “Business Review Romania” in June 2012. The interview is published in instalments. This is part 3 of 5

Can you give us 5 tips as to how company can manage a crisis through social media?

In fact, despite what most people think, and despite the usual romantic stories told about Internet crises and rumours, managing crises is a long-term rather than short-term exercise. Crises in social media in fact, reflect what is bad with your company, not what is wrong with your community management or the way you handle it. Here are my 5 tips about managing crises:

picture cc 2012 Yann Gourvennec (abstract album)
  1. fix internal problems first: things that you do in your day-to-day business may be kept hidden, but not in social media. Eventually, social media tells more about the way that you are organised internally than about anything else,
  2. work on the process: if you are making things up as you go along when a crisis arises, and then build the process as it happens, it means that you have done something wrong. You should work on that process from day one, before a crisis takes place,
  3. make your PR go social: don’t put all your eggs in the same basket; your PR and social media departments should work hand-in-hand. There is nothing that the community management team should do without referring to PR when a crisis arises, and vice versa, there is nothing that PR is aware of that should not be communicated to the community management team, inclusive of the stances which have to be taken and displayed. Don’t take the Lone Ranger approach by letting community managers express themselves in the name of the company even though they haven’t received clearance for it. This applies to large companies and mostly listed companies, for which external communications are extremely critical, and may not be applicable to smaller enterprises,
  4. prepare for the worst to happen outside normal working hours: my experience of crises online has shown that the worst problem often occur on a Friday night from 8 pm onwards or during the weekend, or at night. Work with vendors in order to set up round-the-clock moderation when necessary, in multiple languages when you are a worldwide company namely,
  5. set up your alerting system: not to generate alerts in real time all the time, but mostly when something bad happens so that you know in real time when you have to do something when it is really necessary.

All these are applicable to companies with a strong brand awareness only. Listed companies rank high on the agenda with regard to crisis management issues and the need to industrialise the process around them. On the other side of the coin, other companies with weak brand awareness would gain from a negative crisis rather than lose. If your brand is entirely “under the radar”, and no one is talking about you at all, then having a crisis means that at least people will talk about you; even though the experience may be unpleasant. As Oscar Wilde once put it: “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about[6].”


[6] Oscar Wilde quotes at: http://oran.ge/owildetalk

my tips for social media management in Romania and elsewhere (2/5)

This is the script of an interview I gave for a Romania business journal “Business Review Romania” in June 2012. The interview is published in instalments. This is part 2 of 6

Give us 5 tips for a Romanian company (a corporation, and medium-size company) to build brand awareness with social media

At first sight, one may think that social media marketing is only devoted to large corporations which can afford to hire big enough teams to manage such new activities.

But I think it’s just the other way round.

One of the biggest beauties of social media is that it makes word-of-mouth marketing accessible even to those who have very little means. Hence, unless you are a small and medium-size enterprise with difficulties to cope with your own business and not enough time on your hands to visit your customers and do your everyday work, I would suggest on the contrary that you use social media to gain brand awareness and do business.

small is beautiful

In fact, with social media you don’t actually do business directly. You do what Bob Pearson would call “pre-commerce” (Jossey Bass, 2011), i.e. you create the conditions for people to buy your products or recommend them to one another.

As a rule, large corporations have already built brand awareness (this is why they are large, in essence); what such companies might seek in social media marketing may differ significantly from what small and medium-sized companies may be looking for.

SMEs and Soho[4] businesses are by definition lesser-known and  have to build their brand awareness in the first place.

Having said that, I can deliver 5 general tips for enterprises which are ready to jump on the bandwagon of social media marketing:

  1. first and foremost, know thyself and use social networks consistently with regard to your image, and your overall marketing strategy (for different types of brands and strategies, check the work the non-profit Media Aces[5] did with brand monitoring company Synthesio,
  2. don’t shift your focus from business to social media: obviously, social media should support your business by enhancing your brand experience, awareness and/or visibility. If it distracts you from doing business, then don’t do it,
  3. focus on content: if you are in b2b, it will have to be very professional (in-depth articles about your visions and technical prowess for instance); if you are in b2c, your content has to be essentially entertaining, mostly on Facebook, on which users rarely want to be bothered with serious stuff but are more interested in games, polls and interaction,
  4. be yourself: there is nothing worse than bombastic boasts (such as “we are the leaders!” mostly when it’s not true and that you are only a leader of a niche therefore not a leader) or salespeople trying to sell their wares on social media. Think of keeping your readers/users and customers happy first, and then think of yourself. Be simple and natural, and when you produce content make it interesting for them, and not for you!
  5. “socialise” your website: not by multiplying Facebook buttons, but by making your (interesting) content easier to share.

[4] Small Office, Home Office, i.e. very small or independent companies

[5] Media Aces is the French association of enterprises involved in social media, of which I am the President. My work on the four different types of brand in social media is available at: http://bit.ly/4brandtypessm