Can B2B Blogs Be Businesslike Without Being Boring?

Ann All

Back in December, I asked the question: Can SMBs benefit from blogging?


A recently published study from Forrester Research raises a new question: Are many businesses of any size benefiting from blogging? According to Forrester, 53 percent of business-to-business companies say blogging has marginal significance or is downright irrelevant to their marketing strategies. Among companies tracked by Forrester, the number of new blogs fell from 36 in 2006 to just three in 2008, notes Wall Street Journal blogger Ben Worthen.


Forrester implies the fault may lie with companies themselves, using words like "dull" and "drab" to describe B2B blogs. Among the knocks against B2B blogs noted by Forrester: not enough personality in posts, an irregular posting schedule, and bloggers who just don't stick with it. Fifty-six percent of such blogs feature mostly press releases or other well-known news, giving folks little incentive to read them.


I'll agree with Forrester on all of these points, but wonder why it mentions sticking to business and technical topics (something that 70 percent of B2B blogs do) as a negative.


If it's a B2B blog, shouldn't it be about business? Sure, there's nothing wrong with inserting an occasional personal anecdote to help illustrate a point or otherwise liven up a business topic, but I don't want to read about the hobbies, pets or personal lives of my vendors or business partners. I've seen business-oriented blogs that read like a particularly painful holiday newsletter, with the added annoying subtext of trying to sell me something.


Forrester also presents the lack of comments on most B2B blogs (58 percent receive no more than a single comment per post) as a sign that intended audiences aren't being engaged. However, I agree with a reader named Matt who left a comment (yesss!) on an itWorldCanada.com blog post about the Forrester study.


Just because folks don't leave comments doesn't mean they aren't engaged. Like me, they may see little reason to reiterate points already made in a post or give a blogger props for a job well done. And it often just takes too much time to leave more involved comments. I may mean to go back and respond later to a thought-provoking post, but I rarely do.


Matt notes that Forrester's own blogs, with the exception of one written by Forrester CEO George Colony, don't get a lot of comment action. Oh, snap.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jul 14, 2008 1:30 PM Rebekah Donaldson Rebekah Donaldson  says:
You make a great point about comments/activity on SMB blogs. So here's one for the team...You're probably already onto this, but Laura posted a useful blog entry (today? if not, very recently) stressing that since Forrester's sample was comprised of ginormous firms -> difficult to infer anything about ROI for SMBs. Reply
Jul 16, 2008 8:04 AM John Blackmore John Blackmore  says:
Agree with all of the above. There is ton of great value from interactive sources in Web 1.0. Blogs, etc., are of use to small companies, letting them hit above their weight. But, they require focus and dedication. Bad content in a new medium is still bad content. And no one wants to read that. Reply
Jul 16, 2008 9:48 AM Chris Baggott Chris Baggott  says:
Too funny. We just had a lunch & learn to discuss this paper.I put up a blog post on it the other day:http://blogging.compendiumblog.com/blog/blogging-best-practicesWhat people have to focus on with Corporate Blogging is the overall goal. How do they make money? Most organizations make money by attracting more customers and keeping them engaged (buying more)So the blogging goal should be to drive more traffic (acquisition) and then convert that traffic into relationships (conversion)In B2B most relationships happen through face to face, telephone or email. The odds that anyone is going to participate in a community for the vast majority is unrealistic and doesnt drive any real value anyway.Years ago when I was blogging the old fashioned way (C-level, thought leadership) Forbes magazine named me one of the best marketing blogs on the internet.http://www.forbes.com/bow/b2c/review.jhtml?id=7876Read the only negative they could come up with.....few comments.My goal had nothing to do with community (comments) and everything to do with traffic, credibitly and conversion...and on that front the blog was wildly successful.Please feel free to call me any time if you would like to discuss.Chris BaggottCEOCompendium Blogwarewww.compendiumblogware.com Reply
Jul 16, 2008 10:04 AM Chris Baggott Chris Baggott  says:
I should also add that there is nothing in this strategy that says you can't be human. Human content leads to higher conversions. We encourage our clients to lose the 'thought leadership' top-down mind set and free up blogging to your employees. an organizations has to remember that they employ smart people who like the customer, want them to succeed with the product or service, think they are doing important work and are passionate. Let them blog...you will generate a lot more content, win a lot more searches, drive a lot more traffic....and that traffic will be happy because they landed on a page that is written about exactly what they were searching for....which drives higher conversions.Richard Edelman said in this years Edelman Trust Barometer that employee bloggers are 5 times more credible than C-level bloggers.Best,Chris BaggottCEOCompendium Blogwarewww.compendiumblogware.com Reply
Jul 16, 2008 6:59 PM Ken Krause Ken Krause  says:
Blogging and corporate thinking are very opposite ends of the spectrum. Corporations like all of their messages to be cleaned, vetted by the attorneys, and approved by management. Blogs just don't operate that way. They are more unfiltered thoughts shared with others. It's hard to picture a large corporation allowing that to happen. I know some tech companies do it, but they're the exception.So what it comes down to is why would I want to read content on a blog that I can already get from a Web site? I think people still expect to be entertained in some way when they read a blog. Sanitized messaging isn't very entertaining. Reply
Jul 21, 2008 9:49 AM Elliot Ross Elliot Ross  says:
Think outside the box too!Depending on your industry - is there a customer **after** your B2B customer?Do you manufacture a product where your customer is a distributor? but there are then going to be retailers & final end users?A "human" but brand building blog can be of benefit to consumers further down the line - possibly leading to some demand marketing - Reply

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