Want to get a lot of online attention — good and otherwise? Write about corporate blogging. Who’s doing it, how to do it, what works, and what to avoid generates tons of attention from the throngs who advise B2B marketers about blogging best practices. I’ve been watching B2B blogging for over 2 years now, and I have to say that I am not overwhelmed.
Corporate bloggers seem to miss out on one key fundamental — you have to know your audience inside and out to write interesting blogs that catch their attention. I often tell people that blogging is like raising a child — it may seem like a lot of fun to get one started, but afterwards you are committed for the long haul. And successfully raising a blog requires consistency, discipline, a willingness to listen, the ability to admit mistakes and move on and (above all) accepting criticism. As the mother of two teenagers, I think I know a bit about that last point!
In June 2008, I wrote a research report about the state of business-to-business blogging. Currently, I am reading Paul Gillin’s really good book, “Secrets of Social Media Marketing“, and found a citation (on page 71) to this research. I am flattered, even though Paul didn’t cite the source directly. Here’s what else I had to say about the report when the blogging community caught hold of it:
Last month Forrester published my latest report on B2B blogging, which has been picked up extensively by the business press and blogging community — the Wall Street Journal Business Technology blog, BtoB Magazine Online, and Marketing Pilgrim to name a few. As a long-time analyst, let me say there is nothing more satisfying that to see your research read and discussed. Thank you sincerely for your interest!
While the business media has been representing the details in the research accurately, I’ve run across a couple of blog posts that – and let me be very clear here – AGREE with the main message but do not establish some key facts up front. To make sure readers understand the scope and methodology behind this research, and to avoid confusion, I want to clarify a few things that some may have missed if not reading the whole report (or the endnotes and attached spreadsheets).
1) To look for trends, we reviewed blogging activity publicly available from 90 of the Fortune 500 and Computer Business Review 250 companies. Why 90 companies? Because we wanted a round number and could only find 44 B2B-focused companies with blogs in the Fortune 500 list. By the way, this is an increase from the 29 we found in late 2006, when we published our first report on this topic. We expanded our search to the CBR 250 because we are interested in how large, enterprises (who represent many of our clients) approach blogging. Endnote 1 in the report explains our sources and the spreadsheet behind Figure 2 lists the blogs we examined in detail.
2) This report focuses on B2B firms exclusively, and high technology companies primarily. I believe that blogging activity among B2C firms is experiencing a different set of trends and you can check with my colleagues Charlene Li, Josh Bernoff, and Jeremiah Owyang to find out more about this. For example, Charlene’s key research on the “ROI of Blogging” looks at the Total Economic Impact of GM’s Fastlane blog. Charlene and Josh revisit this example in the book Groundswell. The TEI model applies to B2B blogs, but B2B marketers must realize that their mileage may vary and the assumptions Charlene uses may or may not apply. Do your own math, folks, don’t just use our numbers….
3) This report does NOT try to put a number on total blogging in the B2B space. Regardless of your opinion about the validity blog counts running around out there, we all agree there are a lot of them. I don’t know this for a fact, but my experience tells me that sole proprietors and small business owners author the majority of B2B blogs. This report reviews what is happening at very big firms because, frankly, that’s who most of our customers are. So be careful when you read the percentages quoted by some bloggers because the percentages apply to either the 90 firms we examined or the 189 respondents to our survey. It’s a smaller universe than “all B2B blogging”, so take a moment to understand whether our data and analysis fits your situation.
B2B marketers are very interesting in blogging. I’ll have more to say on this subject in future posts. But feel free to post your thoughts on the best blogs — or blog advice sources — you’ve seen here. Also, take a look at my research on Marketing’s Role In B2B Blogging. Hint: B2B marketes should enlist blogs to support future sales processes and activities.