There are as many ways to write a B2B blog as there are market niches, micro-niches, and nano-micro-niches (you know, the people who live and die producing all-organic swine feed, or Muzak versions of Beatles tunes).
These people may not be even on the periphery of mainstream media’s sideview mirror, but they are, as my car’s mirror reminds me, closer to what really matters than they might appear. These are your people, your tribe, your merry band of fellow freaks. Treat them well, and they’ll retweet your every word. Cross them, and they’ll turn on you like a swarm of killer bees. Or, worse yet, ignore you. Here are five ways to get your blog on their must-read list.
1. Check out their cyberhood. You know they read your magazine, but do you know where they go when they jump into their favorite 2D haunts? What bloggers are already out there feeding their cravings for obscure industry tidbits? Are they LinkedIn? Facebook fans? Twittering their thumbs off at #yourB2Bspace? Not really into all this social webworking whatachamacallit?
Do some searches on the major social networking sites and talk to your more connected readers to find out. Then start paying attention to what’s happening there. What gets them all hot and bothered? What falls flat? What can you bring to their party that they’re not already getting elsewhere?
Then start interacting with their favorite blogs or LinkedIn groups or Facebook fan pages. Write blog posts that reference and add to those conversations. Retweet their advice. Meet them on their turf and they’ll be more likely to check out yours.
2. Let them feel the love. You do love your tribespeople, right? Their foibles, their obsessions, their quirks, the snack that keeps them going on tough days—everything about them is just fascinating, hopefully to you, but definitely to themselves.
They like nothing more than to see all those little insider things about themselves and their business reflected in your observations. But do it with love. I don’t know why, but many B2B bloggers like to get snarky about the way their tribespeople do the things they do. Celebrate their traditions, superstitions, eccentricities, along with their efficiencies, brilliance, and dedication.
A quick example. My people are meeting planners. That means they obsess over details. They are the ultimate control freaks. One of my most popular posts ever was “10 ways to tell your child will grow up to be a meeting planner.” I laid out a few options (ex., Has a PowerPoint presentation called “Ways to Organize Your Toy Chest”) and let them run wild with it. Oh the fun we had…
3. Make bland your enemy. If you find yourself sounding even slightly like a press release, delete that post before it cross-contaminates your entire blog with paradigm shifts and walking talks. Be daring, be controversial, be silly, be someone who makes your boss slightly nervous—be anything but boring.
If you can’t think of anything interesting to write that day, go ahead and put in a pointer to another blogger whose post you wish you had written. Even if it’s the competition’s. Especially if it’s the competition’s. It’s OK not to be brilliant all the time, as long as your tribe knows that when your blog pops up in their RSS feeds, you’ll lead them to brilliance.
3a. Corollary to #3, but it has to be said. Be human. Don’t try to send down advice from the mountaintop—that’s annoying. Let your tribespeople know a little about what makes you tick, the aforementioned quirks, obsessions, foibles, snacks, et al, that you share with them. Depending on your niche, they might even be interested to know a little about the challenges you have writing about them, which, if you share, they might be able to actually help you out a bit with, too. I haven’t done it much yet, though I intend to now that I have a cool little Flip cam, but one fairly painless way to be human is to literally show your face via video posts.
4. Don’t be afraid to go off topic. Sometimes you’ll see an article or a YouTube video that, while it doesn’t really have anything to do with your market niche, would still be something your people would enjoy. Maybe you don’t want to go as far as LOLcats, but it’s OK to sneak outside your niche topic every now and then—I mean, is there anyone who doesn’t want to share a hug?
5. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know something, or if you are wrong, or just make a bad call. It happens to all us humans at some point, and your tribespeople will understand. I remember shortly after I launched my blog in 2003, someone pointed out that face2face was a pretty stupid name for something that only exists online. Point taken. So I asked them to send in their ideas for a better name.
We had fun tossing possibilities around, but no one could come up with one that wasn’t already being used elsewhere. So face2face it remains, but it was something we all worked on together, so it’s OK. I guess that’s really the only bottom line advice I have to give once you boil it all down: Have fun with it, love your tribe and interact with them liberally. As long as we’re all in this together, it will be OK.
P.S. Keep your posts a lot shorter than this one! You don’t want to wear your poor readers out, do you?