Starting all over again

As much as I try to fight it, I’m only human. Because I work hard and have a family, the wheels occasionally come off and things like this blog unfortunately go quiet for a few days. This time there hasn’t been any new content for nearly a fortnight. Sorry about that.

The greatest challenge with social media and the web is that the premise of today’s news being tomorrow’s chip paper is even more poignant. The traffic to this blog has totally (naturally) fallen off because of the lack of continued new content and promotion.

Building a content asset

I knew this would happen because I recognise the importance of building a content asset and working hard to maintain it. This means if you are going to commit to producing a blog, a series of white papers, webinars, podcasts, email newsletters – whatever it is – set yourself a manageable schedule and stick to it. People over time come to expect it without knowing it – you’ve gained their permission thus it isn’t an interruption any more. Unsubscription or worse, ambivalence is a disaster. And doing all this gives you the content to push your profile on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook meaning you are never short of something worthwhile to say.

Gaining permission again

I get frustrated because I have worked hard to build a profile and a credibility which has created an appetite for my content. This means well over 100 email subscribers, countless RSS subscribers, close on 2,000 Twitter followers, 350 Linkedin connections and 20 groups are primed for my latest musings – not to mention the traffic that comes from Linkedin, Stumble Upon, Digg, increasingly Facebook (soon to be YouTube) or any other aggregation site I use.

WordPress tells me 98,010 pages have been viewed since June 2009. I estimate the same again on syndication, so it know the content is relevant and engaging.

Learnings from ‘taking a break’

Before the automators suggest I could have scheduled content throughout this period, I personally prefer to keep that to a minimum. Keeps things personal. What this unplanned experiment has illustrated to me though is that sometimes you do have to take time out, take stock but then come back harder and more focused. Tell your friends, colleagues, family this blog is starting out all over again. Expect some interesting things over the coming weeks and months.

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So, other than Microsoft paying over the odds for Skype, footballers taking on Twitter in court, Linkedin being valued at $9billion despite only making $15million profit in 2010, the IMF looking for a new head, Manchester dominating English football, and Empire Avenue filling the minds of early adopters (and my Twitter stream) with nonsense, what’s new?

Image: Visualise.us

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Top Tweets of the Week (wc 15 Nov)

Here are some of this week’s links worthy of your attention. Have a great weekend when you get to it!

Tuesday: RT @AronStevenson: Management Is Not Leadership http://bit.ly/9RFkxy #businesstips

Wednesday: This is awesome: How marketers are utilising Social Media in 2010 http://bit.ly/aXQXFP [infographics]

Wednesday: MUST READ: How to Get Started in Content Marketing http://bit.ly/cULlB8

Thursday: Excellent RT @B2Bento: Five Social Media Trends To Watch in 2011 by @JasonFalls http://bit.ly/dfllaK

Thursday: Savvy on ‘What makes on ideal b2b marketing client?http://ow.ly/3bJBs

Friday: Useful…RT @sejournal 12 Tips For Using Twitter to Grow Your Business | Search Engine Journal http://bit.ly/9lFrXx

And finally, because its Friday…RT @GemmaCocker: Need a smile? …this is without a doubt the best vid I’ve seen all month: http://bit.ly/btXumX

Best b2b social media tools: white papers

White papers aren’t just for politicians and scientists looking to publish policies or complex findings from clinical studies. They are a great tool for helping businesses position as expert in a specific field of influence.

White papers are becoming ever more commonplace, being used as a way of trading some information for free in return for permission to make contact with the recipient. They are increasing used as a data collation tool, placed and promoted through carefully selected industry websites and portals. Adopting the free or ‘freemium’ model – where some content is offered for free, but more is available behind a paywall, subscription or data collection device – is a powerful way of engaging people with what you have to say, but also what you have to offer too.

Why?

White papers are great for b2b brands because they provide information and we know that most business professionals use the Internet as a way to improve their awareness, knowledge and understanding in respect to suppliers, products and services they are interested in procuring.

White papers work best when they are used to discuss the latest trends in a sector, offer solutions to a common problem or position a new idea or way of working.

What?

The best white papers act as a summary of information on a given topic. Think about any service you offer and rather than trying to sell it, think of a problem or myth related to it that might be in your customer’s mind. Maybe there is a barrier to engagement? How can your knowledge of what you do best be presented in a problem solving way?

If you are struggling for inspiration, check out the news, information and community portals in your sector. What are the big issues? What are the headaches? What are the things that keep getting talked about? What legislative challenges exist? If that doesn’t help, hit the blogs and the corporate sites of your competitors. What are they talking about? What opportunities exist to impact the industry discussion?

How to get started?

Designed specifically to inform and educate, white papers are usually 8-12 pages long, and are laid out in an easy-to-read format. This means succinctly presenting the objectives of the white paper and clearly navigating the reader through the content.

Thinking about the issue or problem you want to tackle often results in a white paper that is based around Best Practice, a ‘How-To’ guide, Top Five Best ways to achieve something or the Five Things to Avoid Most about something.

Style them so they look professional. This is important as the first download may go viral through an organization, with your material potentially seen by very senior management in target organisations. They are called white papers for a reason. Use page headers, titles and footers and break up the body copy on each page with high impact sub titles. In addition, they should not be overly promotional, but it is permissible to brand them and offer further contact details on the cover or at the end.

White papers are often provided in Adobe PDF (Portable Document Format) as this is a free to use format freely available to all computer platforms and Internet browsers. Documents set up in most word processing and design packages can be easily converted into PDF format. Using the PDF format also ensures that the document is compressed down to as small a size as possible to facilitate speedy download and sharing by email.

Examples

White papers (and webinars, which will be discussed in an upcoming post), are used to good effect by b2b companies in a range of sectors.

In the food trade for example, companies like Danisco, Brentag and Palsgaard host white papers on key food ingredient websites and within e-newsletters like Food Navigator to ensure targeted delivery and a high take up.

Brands like Mettler and Toledo are releasing white papers through sites like Packaging News to drive interest from packaging professionals.

Similarly, in the information technology sector, companies like SAP, Oracle, HP and Genesys use sites like ComputerWorld to build engagement with their brand by positioning their expertise.

And, Slipstream and Eloqua, demand generation specialists use the B2B Marketing Magazine website to promote their knowledge based services.

Summary

If you want to generate quality leads, position yourself as expert and distribute some free material by adding white papers to your marketing arsenal now.

Top Tweets of the Week (wc 8 Nov)

Some links I thought might be worthy of your click. All self explanatory. Enjoy.

Monday: RT @ThisIsSethsBlog Seth’s Blog: Do more vs. do better http://bit.ly/9pvn0N

Wednesday: RT @BtoBSocialMedia: 6 Social Media Marketing Goals You May Be Over-Looking http://bit.ly/aTqcX0

Wednesday: A must read: Six steps to thought leadership http://ow.ly/37i4R

Wednesday: RT @markwschaefer Ten reasons to blog even if nobody reads it http://bit.ly/dxAgcO

Thursday: How to Use StumbleUpon: Your Comprehensive Guide http://bit.ly/aFZZQC

Thursday: How to Explain the Value of Content Marketing http://bit.ly/9lJlHX

And finally: A candidate for the cheekiest touchdown ever? http://ow.ly/36nLQ