Beyond Blogging: How to Create a Vibrant Thought Leadership Community


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Instructed by Karri Carlson.

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  • My name is Karri Carlson, and I’m a founding marketer at Leadtail.

    We are a social marketing agency that works mostly with B2B companies to create and execute social marketing programs – everything from social customer care to social marketing to helping companies establish themselves as thought leaders in their industry.

    We also produce social media insights reports for B2B marketers. These reports help marketers understand their prospects and influencers on the social web, and give them the insights they need to create successful marketing and thought leadership programs.

    Prior to Leadtail, I spent several years working for venture backed startups in Silicon Valley, including online direct marketing innovators Quinstreet, pioneering social media platforms Friendster and Technorati, and established community giant AOL.
  • While business blogging has been widely accepted for years now, it’s still true that businesses that blog with a purpose attain outsized rewards for their efforts.

    Let’s look at just a few basic boosts companies can get from blogging:

    Companies that blog have many more pages listed in the Google search index: about 4 times as many as companies that don’t blog.
    More pages means Google can develop a better understanding of your target keywords and the queries where your site content might be relevant.

    Directly as a result of having more pages, companies that blog also enjoy 55% more website traffic. Blogging creates fresh content – which Google also favors.
    To put a dollar value on it – what do you pay for a click? Chances are it’s somewhere between $2 – 20 depending on your industry and keywords….
    So now imagine that for every 100 visitors to your site, you start generating 55 more through blogging. 55 “clicks” x $2 = $110 of “value” for every 100 visits to your site. Depending on how much traffic your site gets today, that can add up pretty quickly.

    The next benefit is what every marketer needs: leads. How does blogging result in more leads?
    More traffic = reaching more prospects
    Blog topics/keywords mean you’re increasingly reaching people who are looking for what you have to offer
    Creates opportunities for two way conversation via comments, tweets, shares, likes.
    Ask for the opportunity to connect with the visitor for an ongoing conversation via a channel of their choosing (FB, TW, LI, email)

    Lastly, consumers (prospects) overwhelmingly believe (around 78%) that companies that produce valuable branded content are interested in building good relationships. Imagine how that positive bias plays out over the course of your relationship with the customer. Blogging gets things off on the right foot by boosting the two drivers of online marketing success: search, and social.
  • So given all those stats - why are your results falling short?

    Well, if you’re like lots of companies we talk to… [next slide]
  • … your blog is not that easy to find. And I mean that in two ways:

    1. When a prospect visits your website: If your blog isn’t easy to find, then it’s obviously not a key value you provide to prospects and customers.
    If it’s not that important to your company, then it’s probably not that valuable to your target audience.

    2. When a prospect does a search: If your blog doesn’t rank highly for your critical keywords, your prospects may NEVER get the chance to see what you have to offer.
  • We’re not saying that no one cares about how great your user conference is going to be, or your latest customer wins, or even those new exec hires, it’s just that those topics are probably not keeping your prospects up at night.
  • Why don’t your posts list anyone as the author? This implies either: your company is filled to the brim with so many domain experts that you don’t want to give anyone special attention, or that nobody at your company wants to take credit for the post. Guess which one your buyers are more likely to think?
  • One way to gauge how a company is doing is to see how frequently their blog is updated. Has it been awhile? Hard to be a thought-leader if you don’t appear to have any thoughts to share!
  • Even if your company’s website doesn’t generate a ton of traffic, you should still get a few people (besides employees) tweeting out your posts and sharing them on LinkedIn, Google+, and Facebook. Not happening? Maybe your blog isn’t adding value – sorry!
  • At the minimum, have a blog link in your main navigation.
    Feature blog posts throughout your site.
    If thought leadership is a competitive differentiator, make your site MOSTLY about your content (Marketo, Eloqua, Hubspot).

  • What original perspective do you have based on your industry? Your customers? Your data? The expertise that results from these unique factors about your business are impossible to copy and lend themselves to insights that may not be available to others.

    That being said, don’t get lost in your own story… Keep your posts focused on the pains, opportunities, and aspirations of everyone involved in the buying Ask yourself, “Why should my buyer or user care?”
  • The Price is Right is an iconic game show. Bob Barker is an iconic host. But how much of the experience of the Price is Right comes from Bob?

    Sure he has his catch phrases and his skinny microphone, but the real star of the show is the audience. They come in groups. They go bananas when the camera is panning over the crowd. They yell out advice to the contestants. They aren’t just watching the show; they’re a critical part of it. Sitting quietly on the sidelines is not allowed.

    That’s what we aspire to with a thought leadership blog. We want to create a place where everyone is part of the action. Yes, people can have different “roles” – the host, the announcer, the one-dollar-bidder… but we’re all in it together.
  • You can’t get around the fact that how often you post is important to generating visibility and audience for your company blog. Just make sure you don’t sacrifice quality for volume, as that’s what keeps your audience coming back plus gives them reasons to share.

    An editorial calendar will help you organize your content and maintain this balance. Usually we recommend to clients that two to three posts a week is good place to start.
  • Reach out to your community of employees, customers, prospects, and partners to recruit others with a relevant point of view that are interested in contributing. The result will be a bunch of helpful, interesting, and unbiased blog posts. Finding quality contributors will also help you generate more quality blog posts.

    Look for opportunities to make connections within the community (and then step back and let that connection flourish).
  • Alright. So now we understand what’s holding back our corporate blog, and we’ve got a pretty good idea of the important factors in approaching a thought leadership blog… but we’ve been talking at a pretty high level… let’s dig in and see some examples of companies that are doing thought leadership blogs out in the real world…
  • PunchTab is a leading provider of next generation multi-channel social loyalty and engagement marketing programs They help brands get more customers, keep more customers, and get those customers to take actions on behalf of the brand using sweepstakes, giveaways, and rewards. (full disclosure: they also happen to be a Leadtail client).

    When PunchTab’s marketing team wanted to open up a dialog with marketers at top brands and digital agencies, we all knew we wanted to come at things differently… just putting whitepapers and case studies up on the website wasn’t going to cut it.

    We talked a lot about how as marketers, we all struggle with having to spend time understanding the trends, tools, and techniques of modern marketing – that we’re starved for time to do what we do best: engage with our customers. We don’t have time to sit thru a webinar; we just want the deck. We don’t want to read the whole blog post; just tweet the takeaways. Thus, Get More Engagement was born – a way for us to involve the entire digital marketing community in sharing perspectives and tips around the areas that are key to PunchTab’s target customers: marketers concerned with loyalty programs, social marketing, the evolving multi-channel marketing landscape, and gamification. So against that backdrop, let’s look at how we’re doing through the thought leadership lens.
  • You’ll see we’ve also focused on the community aspect of digital marketing. Get More Engagement has a group of wonderful guest contributors, all of whom are marketing experts in their own right. On top of that, one of our recurring tactics is to interview influencers from the community as you can see here.
  • Segment IO has created a JavaScript library that allows website owners to put one set of tracking tags on their site and then use that to send tracking data to any number of popular marketing tools – things like email marketing automation, e commerce analytics, even customer support and CRM.

    Their target customers are people who do business on the web, and beieve that being data driven critical to their success. They’re probably also people who feel a bit overwhelmed or annoyed by the fact that to get the data they need, each analytics tool wants you to drop a specific piece of code onto the website – which, as any marketer can tell you, isn’t always as easy as it sounds!

    So in order to succeed, Segment IO needs marketers to think about analytics differently. What better way to school us (and make it sound fun!) than enrolling us in an ‘Academy’.

    Again – good call to action right away to sign up via email. Keep in mind it is HARD to build an audience. They have to choose between reading your stuff, and everything else on the internet. And in their office. And in their life. Anything you can do to stay top of mind and help make visiting your site a habit is critically important to growing your community.
  • If you’ve got brand name customers, talk about them! Part of being a thought leader is being recognized as such – and associations with things people already know and respect (brands, people, schools, etc.) help build your credibility.
  • Ever have a conversation with a customer or colleague and think “Gosh that woulda made a great blog post!”

    Most conference calling systems (even the free ones!) have a recording feature. Ask the other party if it would be ok to have a quick recorded call to recap the discussion. You can then get the conversation transcribed for a blog post or post the audio as a podcast.
  • Blogging for business is totally worth it! It will boost your SEO, drive more traffic, and ultimately help you generate more and better quality leads.
    Do the tune up
    Get your ducks in a row to start transitioning to thought leadership: that starts with understanding your audience, and the topics that resonate with them. (We can help)
  • Beyond Blogging: How to Create a Vibrant Thought Leadership Community

    1. 1. Beyond Corporate Blogging How to Create Vibrant Thought Leadership Karri Carlson Founding Marketer Leadtail
    2. 2. Today You Will Learn • What blogging can do for your business • Why most blogs fail to achieve their potential • What thought leadership blogs do differently • How to start building thought leadership
    3. 3. • Founding Marketer at Leadtail • B2B Social Marketing Agency • We also produce social media insights reports for and about B2B decision makers Hi, I’m Karri. Karri Carlson, Founding Marketer Twitter: @heykarri
    4. 4. Agenda • What can blogging do for your business? • Why your corporate blog (probably) sucks • How thought leadership blogs are different • Some examples of thought leadership content • How to start building your thought leadership
    6. 6. Absolutely… positively… YES! 55% 67% 4x More website traffic More leads generated More pages indexed
    8. 8. 1. Your Corporate Blog is Hard to Find
    9. 9. 2. Your Corporate Blog is All About You
    10. 10. 3. Your Corporate Blog is Anonymous
    11. 11. 4. Your Corporate Blog is Out of Date
    12. 12. 5. Your Corporate Blog is Not Engaging
    14. 14. 1. Put Thought Leadership Front & Center
    15. 15. 2. Have an Original Point of View
    16. 16. 3. Encourage Audience Participation
    17. 17. 4. Balance Quality & Quantity of Content
    18. 18. 5. Connect Members of the Community
    20. 20. PunchTab: Get More Engagement Blog Topics covered are clear, relevant to the target audience Prominent calls-to-action to connect via email and social Content is engaging and being shared via social media
    21. 21. PunchTab: Get More Engagement Blog Interviews and Q&A sessions with other thought leaders and influencers Dynamic and engaged guest blogger community adds variety and perspective
    22. 22. Analytics Academy by Link to this special section is prominently displayed in the site’s main navigation Clear and compelling statements about why prospects should care about this info Call to action to connect via email
    23. 23. Analytics Academy by Case studies are told from the customers’ point of view and focus on customer results (not product features) Brand name customers provide “social proof” around thought leadership ideas & practices
    24. 24. Urban Airship: Summer of Push All about context: mobile, mobile, mobile. Explicit focus on best practices, customer stories You guessed it – email opt-in!
    25. 25. Urban Airship: Summer of Push Variety of media types, not just short form text In keeping with the theme and format, posts are short, light, and to the point.
    26. 26. Not Just for Software Companies More examples:
    27. 27. Move The Needle
    28. 28. Move The Needle Give your corporate blog a tune up:  Link to your blog from main site navigation  Focus posts on customers and prospects  Show the author’s name for each post  Update the blog at least once a week  Share your blog content via social media  Encourage visitors to opt-in via email & social (Re)Start Your Thought Leadership Blog
    29. 29. Key Takeaways 1. Blogging for business is totally worth it! 2. Just having a blog isn’t enough 3. You have to share your unique perspective 4. Start building your community now 5. Have fun (others will want to join in!)
    30. 30. Follow us @Leadtail Thank You! Learn more at