July 24, 2013: Content fuels B2B SEO and social media initiatives. We need content for applying keyword strategy, differentiating brand communications, acquiring links, and improving social media visibility. But where do B2B marketers obtain great content?
My colleague Jim Schakenbach and I have had a few conversations in the past on how marketers need to adapt more of a journalistic mindset to the way they approach content development. Earlier this week Jim forwarded me the article 4 Newsroom Practices: Turn Your People into Better Brand Journalists, by John Miller.
The article delves into how patterns and processes in the newsroom can be adapted to content marketing initiatives in particular, in an effort to produce the most relevant material possible for a target audience every day.
Journalists have to consistently catch reader interest, build out their stories under tight deadlines, and remain true to a standard of ethics and responsibility to the reader. I recommend reviewing and considering points in this article for your own B2B organization’s content marketing structure.
As our organization builds out B2B SEO, content marketing, and social media initiatives for our clients, we seek to continually improve our process from start to finish. As I wrote in a recent column for Search Engine Watch, the content marketing process includes:
- A Method for Research & Information Aggregation
- A Content Development Repository
- A Method for Identifying Outreach Opportunities
- A Method for Evaluating Performance
The B2B SEO and contact marketing team can learn much from what the newsroom faces every day. Here are some comparisons I have drawn thus far.
The ABC’s of News Writing
In Ohlone Professor William Parks’s “Basic News Writing“, he starts with the ABC’s of news writing: accuracy, brevity, and clarity.
If you are going to write content for the B2B buyer, the most important element directly related to content is accuracy in execution and communication. Even if you have the greatest collection of resources for gathering information, failing to properly interpret or execute communication will set your team back significantly. It is all about trust.
Some ideas to consider:
- As discussed in Miller’s article, Regular meetings and discussions – formal and informal – need to be kept in place to ensure everyone on the writing team is on the same page with objectives and understanding.
- Peer review – Our organization has decided to move beyond single points of review to a team-wide effort, in order to increase speed in execution and scale across the group. Peer review also helps improve knowledge of our client markets across the team as well.
- Scrutiny of source – Don’t stop at one source. When finding a potential content marketing idea, review the source’s objectives, background, and perspective in their own execution to determine how viable it is for your target audience.
The Investigative Approach
B2B SEO’s and content marketers need access to a stream of quality resources in order to capture the most relevant information possible for their audiences. A combination of RSS feeds, Twitter lists, email newsletter subscriptions, and general site references should be at the foundation of this resource.
This resource should be accessible across team members so that everyone, experienced and new, has a solid baseline for obtaining information and news. Resources we use include:
- Feedly (now that Google Reader has been retired)
- Designated Twitter lists
- Shareist (for information organization)
- Google Drive (for shared resources)
- Basecamp (for messaging and communication)
This information repository only takes this component of strategy so far though. I would stress Miller’s point about getting out in the world. Good B2B SEO’s and content marketers need to develop their own connections and resources which ultimately complement and augment their initiatives.
On Building Relationships
And there is more to building one’s own connections than the benefit of timely and effective content development. As search engines, Google in particular, get better at scrutinizing inbound link quality, these connections matter even more for B2B SEO performance.
We’re no longer acquiring inbound links in isolation. For a B2B SEO strategy to truly have an impact, outreach has to be made to the right communities, industry influencers, and organizational circles. If your B2B organization is adopting a newsroom mentality for content development, content marketers and SEO strategists have to network in order to uncover the most relevant information.
Where should you be networking? Here are some ideas / places to consider:
- Twitter (via lists above or personal collections)
- LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ Groups
- Through blog commenting and conversation
- Industry forums and communities
- Websites and social media profiles associated with conferences, trade shows, and industry-specific events.
- PR / Agency connections
A Journalists Standard of Ethics
Journalists have (should have) a standard of ethics they abide by. For example, The Society of Professional Journalists has their standards which they indicate are “voluntarily embraced by thousands of journalists”. The Dow Jones & Company also has a code of conduct, and individual journalists on sites like AllThingsD provide individual ethics statements too (example).
What makes this interesting is that setting a standard of ethics establishes a baseline expectation of trust to an audience. We already know Google Authorship is becoming more important in differentiating the B2B organization and individual brands in search engine results. Could a standard of ethics become a differentiating factor as well? It’s worth considering, especially if your B2B organization is committed to the best of the best content for your audience.
My respect has grown considerably for the role journalist and the newsroom team have. There is a clear opportunity for B2B content marketers to differentiate themselves through the use of journalistic principles. And while I acknowledge the inherent issues with citizen journalism, I also think a balance can be made.
What are your thoughts on the integration of journalism and newsroom behaviors in your B2B SEO and content marketing strategies? Are you applying these principles already or starting the process? I would love to read your perspective and feedback via comments below.