Blogging can be an extremely effective way to drive more traffic to your organization’s website while helping to establish your credibility on a trending topic. Finding a happy balance of content generated by marketing communications teams and business leaders or subject matter experts can ensure that your blog has a steady stream of interesting, relevant and timely content.
Unfortunately, recruiting subject matter experts (SMEs) outside of the marketing team can seem like pulling teeth. Sometimes it’s a bandwidth issue; sometimes it’s misconceptions about what is expected of an author. Ultimately, SME experience and knowledge can be an incredible resource – one that marketing shouldn’t pass up.
Here are some tips on how to encourage blogging internally and improve your content marketing.
1) Keep your eyes peeled for new business blogging candidates
Not everyone is a writer and it’s not fair to expect employees to take on responsibilities with which they will struggle. Don’t assume that being a successful sales person, an engineer or a VP of a business unit, for example, also means that he or she will be able to easily construct a concise and compelling entry.
Rather than exclusively recruiting authors based on job title, look to your past interactions and relationships across the company. Who is already a great public speaker? Who has a fantastic personal website or LinkedIn page? Who is your go-to person to work your booth at an event? These are the people to approach about blogging.
2) Don’t overwhelm them – start small and provide resources
Once you have someone interested in blogging, you don’t want to overwhelm them with logistics. Set up a personal kickoff call or meeting (one-on-one or two-on-one would be best). Brainstorm ideas with your would-be authors and encourage them to run with topics about which they are passionate – remember, the point of this is to leverage their unique voice and point of view.
Ideally, you should have resources available should they ask for it. I’ve found that some writers want a template to be sure they are delivering what they feel is expected of them while others work better writing free-form in a Word document. You can also send them one or two examples of great blogs you’ve already published.
3) Be up front about the target audience and SEO
I’ve seen it happen – marketers get so excited that the business is contributing to the blog that they offer free reign on the topic and content. Explain (or remind them of) the blog’s purpose and target audiences at the beginning of the process to confirm that the content you are going to be getting will be usable. Imagine how deflated a new blogger would feel to hear that his or her article won’t be published because it doesn’t fit the blog’s theme or speak to the right group – it might be the last time that person raises their hand to blog.
Regarding SEO, briefly speak to the benefits of SEO during your kickoff call and explain that you may change some of the draft copy in order to help the article rank better in a search engine. After deciding on a topic, the subject matter expert can write the content and the marketer can research trending SEO keywords and phrases and find ways to incorporate them accordingly.
4) Provide constructive feedback
We’re all proud of the work we do (or at least we should be). When you’re ready to publish on your company blog, be sure to provide plenty of positive feedback to encourage your authors to contribute more down the road. Look to your performance analytics – did their article bring a lot of unique visitors to the website or have the lowest bounce rate? Share that with them!
Speaking of share, at this stage in the process you should also be urging your authors to share their articles through their respective social media channels. Not only will this continue to reinforce them as thought leaders with their existing followers, but it will help drive more interested eyes (people who may be connected to the author but not yet to the company) to the blog and ultimately to the blog’s call-to-action.
5) Be patient, enforce accountability and know when to move on
It’s important to hold volunteers accountable to their commitments, especially if the drive to blog more is coming directly from a business unit. Still, remember that a lot of the times the reason that a subject matter expert or a business leader will need to back out of a blog commitment is because of bandwidth issues. If they aren’t able to take on this additional responsibility, then marketing will need to come up with a plan B. For many companies that can mean outsourcing blog content and utilizing a content creation service.
A full service marketing agency or a good blogger will be able to learn about your industry, products and services, target markets, etc., but it may help make the transition smoother if you look for an agency or author with experience within your unique industry or with your audiences.