The B2B digital marketer’s guide to publishing

Before the advent of digital marketing, bylines used to be the only way a B2B executive could receive exposure as a thought leader with potential prospects and customers. This made traditional public relations a key driver to getting messaging and new ideas in the B2B space out in the open.

Now, blogging has created an alternative opportunity for businesses to talk about themselves without needing a third-party media vehicle. However, at the outset blogging posed challenges of its own. For instance, having basic web development skills such as HTML/CSS or graphic design knowledge provided a significant advantage in getting a blog up and new articles posted.

Today, those challenges have largely diminished thanks to third-party platforms. These sites already have the design and coding configured for you so all that’s required is writing and perhaps an image or two.

For marketers, there are opportunities and drawbacks depending on the digital platform you choose to publish on. Here is a guide to understanding the differences between blogging and some of these newer platforms.

Blog

Blogging is no longer optional for any business looking to survive today. In fact, it needs to be a central part of your marketing campaign.

According to HubSpot, 82 percent of companies who blog daily have acquired a customer because of it. This figure is only going to go up as brands further embrace blogging. While the task may seem daunting, the frequency is important as is the quality.

While one blog post won’t sell your next six-figure piece of software, you need to care about blogging if your search results matter to you. Google seemingly strips every shortcut imaginable on a weekly basis.

If you’re stuck and need examples of what brands like yours are writing about, read this post on B2B blogs we like to read.

At best, blogging should be a team effort with multiple opinions across the company creating a brand publication of some sort. At worst, it should be left up to a team of really good writers either in-house or outsourced to develop that content for you.

Regardless of the approach, I can’t stress the importance of blogging enough today. It’s not going to get you results tomorrow, but it will get you results long-term. Understanding your customers and doing a bit of keyword research will go a long way towards making blogging work for you.

Most marketers go after long-tail keywords, a term of art for longer, more specific searches that are likely to have less competition. For instance, if you sell biometric scanners, rather than trying to rank for “biometrics” you would go for a long tail version like “are biometrics more secure than card readers?” While the first search is definitely going to have more search traffic, most of it won’t be relevant for your business. On the other hand, the people who search the second query are more likely to be prospective customers for biometric security.

The main benefit with blogging is that you have complete control of your content and receive the SEO benefit that comes along with it. However, if you’re starting a blog from scratch, it will take some time to get the results you’re looking for. For one, Google doesn’t index content as soon as it’s published. Depending on your site, it can take as little as a few days or as long as several months.

While we recommend having a consistent blog with quality content, consider using this as a home base for your publishing efforts rather than your only source.

LinkedIn Pulse

Once reserved for the cream of the crop in thought leadership, the publishing platform is now available to all users. As a result, executives and marketers across every industry are using it for a variety of strategic purposes. For a more in-depth look at LinkedIn’s platform, check out my post on why B2B execs should publish on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is going to be a bit different than your blog from a publishing perspective. First, your audience really depends on who you are already connected to within your network. If you have a strong network of prospects or industry peers, it’s certainly beneficial. But if you’ve only connected with old college classmates or previous co-workers, the likelihood of your posts being effective is slim.

You should also plan to be extremely specific on LinkedIn – both in the title and the content itself. Since a notification goes out to your followers every time you publish on LinkedIn, this is especially important. Rather than sharing a broad, sweeping industry trend, it’s better to talk about a specific trend or idea that directly speaks to the audience you’re trying to reach.

In general, how-to posts or lists perform best. You can see post ideas and tips from LinkedIn by checking out its help section. Daniel Roth, one of LinkedIn’s editors, wrote a great post about writing on LinkedIn and is a great resource for those trying to figure out how to get started.

LinkedIn can be extremely valuable, but is best used as either a complimentary piece to your blog or a syndication outlet. If you’ve written something that works within LinkedIn best practices, go ahead and take that blog post with perhaps a few tweaks and publish away. Or, if you want to post something that doesn’t quite fit your blog’s target or is perhaps a little off-brand, LinkedIn Pulse is also perfect for these thoughts.

Regardless of how you use LinkedIn, don’t ever build your house on rented property by abandoning your blog. Even the best writers on LinkedIn Pulse ensure that their owned blog is their main priority. LinkedIn views don’t translate into web traffic or improved SEO for your website so if it ever came down to picking one, your best bet is the blog.

Medium

No other publishing platform has been as disruptive to blogging and online media as Medium has. With its functionality and sharing abilities, the platform is meant for individuals to tell their stories online.

Medium is a publishing platform and social network combined into one. For users, instead of worrying about having the right code or design they get an easy-to-edit platform that takes every aspect of blogging and simply provides it. It strips down the infrastructure, sharing integration, analytics tracking and audience building to allow its users to focus on writing.

In the last two years, brands are starting to play around with Medium and for good reason. The platform makes it easy for writers to share their writing with a large audience. The process of increasing your exposure is more about having something impactful to say than rewarding those who have large followings or are well-connected.

There is tremendous marketing potential for those who wish to engage on Medium as outlined in this blog post by KissMetrics. If you want to just write good content, but not worry about the distribution aspect, Medium is perfect for you. However, the same caveat with LinkedIn holds true here. Medium works best when you repurpose or syndicate rather than simply creating original content for it.

If you don’t have the resources to create a blog, Medium might be a good place to start until you can make blogging a priority (as you should). In the ideal world, Medium is a second audience you can leverage to reach those who aren’t subscribed to your blog posts.

While posting on Medium exposes you to an audience of over 600,000 people, marketers again need to keep in mind that they won’t receive any SEO benefit from posting there and you run the risk of pulling traffic away from your website. If you link back to your own website, it serves as a decent work-around, but not enough to completely replace your blog. Again, remember that you should never build your primary house on rented territory – your owned blog is the most important.

Finally, Medium is a special platform and requires special content. Brands need to tell real and impactful stories. Blatant self-promotion will quickly backfire as it’s the type of content nobody will recommend, share or interact with – which any Medium story needs to succeed. Consider this post Salesforce wrote on Medium.

This type of content is exactly what brands should be writing about if they want to utilize the platform. It’s genuine and it matters.

Huffington Post

Writing for the Huffington Post has been one of the most sought after opportunities available online. As it is arguably the most popular blog in the country, having a byline published in HuffPo today is as valuable as getting an Op-Ed in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal.

Until recently, the chances of your writing actually getting a shot at getting published on HuffPo were slim to none. Getting in required knowing someone who worked there or a compelling pitch that caught the editor’s eye.

Now, with its relatively new platform, the site is changing the way in which its writers publish.

Anyone can publish on the site and if enough people like it, you’ll reap the full benefits of getting published on the Huffington Post. But there’s a caveat.

Similar to LinkedIn and Medium’s platform, your post’s visibility depends on the engagement it gets on HuffPo. Unfortunately, there is no magic number for how many shares you need to get the editors to feature your post. The editors have to arbitrarily decide that yours is “trending” and specifically decides to feature it. Otherwise, publishing on this platform provides no distinct advantages.

This is why the site itself suggests syndicating content from your blog or other places you’ve published your content in the past and posting here should be considered a risk-reward play.

HuffPo de-indexes all content shared on its platform and automatically makes all links “no follow.” The only exception to that is when an editor features your article. This move down the number of bylines its editors actually read and instead allows the best content to filter to the top through a more democratized system.

If writing for HuffPo is a goal or you do a lot of writing anyway, then definitely take advantage. If your resources are limited or are looking to maximize the ROI of your content, then take a pass and consider one of the other platforms.

As publishing continues to grow, we can expect to see an emergence of new platforms and opportunities. Regardless of which platform you use, you need to understand where your audience is and what it takes to reach them effectively.

Before focusing on where, marketers first need to look at who and what it is they want to publish. Once those questions are answered, the rest will fall into place.

2017-05-02T10:53:57+00:00

About the Author:

Adam is the Social Media Manager at LRG Marketing Communications.