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(Read time = ~2 minutes) bloggingThis week, four big tech brands (IBM, Microsoft, LSI and Silicon Graphics) are experimenting w/a “mini-blog” while attending the Supercomputing Conference in Portland. Essentially, technology experts from each company agreed to blog “live” for four days only – a unique opportunity for the IT and data storage communities to join a dialogue w/business-critical technology providers.

The target audience was narrow, the High Performance Compute (Supercomputing) a subset of the IT and data storage, data center segment. Because of the tradeshow/conference, hashtags/keyword for Twitter were extensively used.

As fellow B2B marketers, Agency-types and otherwise Social Media communicators, would love  feedback – see the live blog and concept by going here. Please tweet, pass-along, blog about it, etc. Remember, only live from 11/16 – 11/20 noon PST. I’ll report on metrics and add further color in a future blog post here.  Great cooperation from all the companies/experts led to a successful launch.

The primary draw:  Big Tech Brands Blog Live for Four Days Only at www.ITdialogue.com

UPDATE: Day 1 traffic:  1000+ unique visitors;  Day 2 traffic: 2400+ unique visitors.

The runway to launch was ~6 weeks with most of the content load and functionality happening in the final 10 days. Nice custom admin screens support the site;  Google Analytics under it all.  Promotion happens at the venue from the various Partner booths as well as from Twitter accounts.  For various reasons, no promotion on the .com main company brand web sites, no PR on the advernture.  Facebook fan pages were considered but time limitations precluded using.

Mini-Blog Approach As An Answer to Start-Up Barriers

One barrier to blog participation is often the workload and commitment. By limiting participation, in this example, to four days only, the risk and pain was lowered with the result more willingness to participate. A multi-partner blog platform was developed using WordPress as a starting point, then customized.

Another barrier is can be Twitter copy approvals and therefore participation in real-time.  In this case, generic tweet samples were routed for review to gain pre-event blessings.  Click here for a more detailed look at the generic tweet concept.

Content, as always, was challenging but all the participating companies were able to re-purpose material otherwise available and public.  Bloggers were asked to contribute two posts per day (morning/afternoon) as well as respond to community questions.

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(Read time = 3-4 minutes)  In the B2B space, we’re fairly obsessed w/metrics and measurement. Impressions, click-thrus, awareness, brand -buildihjng, lead gen, incentive direct sales, et al.  But if you are a blogger (or a wanna be blogger), what are your benchmarks for progress… for success?  I’m not finding many roadmaps to measure  against.

tapemeasure flowerHaving worked on the Agency side and the Client side, I’ve both seen and sold the “smoke and mirror” aspect of advertising, creative initiatives and the typical outbound marketing campaigns.   Now, as lead voice and a newly minted blogger trying to engage with/understand the new social media landscape, I feel like it’s an Indiana Jones episode titled: “Search for the Missing Metrics”.

Some ScoopDog Blog data points, two months in: 

  1. This blog has a CTR (Click Thru Rate) similar to tech trade banner advertising
  2. We “circulate” to a ballpark 1 million impressions for each major posting
  3. Measurable site hits have grown to 1000+/week; 
  4. Posting cadence directly impacts traffic (yeah, duh…) 
  5. RSS and email subscriptions are growing, but slowly
  6. We have a SM promotion strategy that we’re evolving
  7. Our editorial calendar has a backlog of 50+ story ideas
  8. 25 post in the eight weeks (3x /wk cadence)
  9. Five core contributors: writing, editing
  10. 45 comments posted to the blog, 250+ comments outside the blog

Trouble is, there’s no standard benchmarking that I can find that helps me understand if what we’re seeing is good, below normal or what.

You can help.  My plea:  any bloggers, can you share data points from your own experience?  Email me direct.  No specifis will be shared, only aggregated data. Other just smart-thinking folx, can you share ideas on how to benchmark and measure for success – particularly for a blog that’s not out to sell any product or service.

Acronyms: B2B Marketing Is All About Acronyms  So We Made Up Our Own…

SWAG (Some Wild Ass Guess)…          KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)…         SWOT (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats)…        

The suggestion, use  “STUTTER”  as a way of thinking about the start/stop dance step that starting a B2B Marketing blog  requires (yeah, we made it up…).

The “Stutter Steps ” and Rationale

(S)ubscriptions:  I monitor RSS feed requests as well as subscriptions by email. All these I highly value but the ramp is very slow compared to site traffic itself. There’s also recent discussion about a decline overall in RSS feed importance, as well as some inconsistencies in Google Feedburner reporting. Still, subscription growth seems a very good metric to monitor as it’s purely an opt-in and therefore readers that clearly value the blog content and discussion. Again, not finding any solid benchmarks for “growth over time” so I’m just measuring this blog’s progress against itself until I can gather multiple case studies to generalize.

 
(T)raffic:  Ultimately, this is what it’s all about. End of the day if no one visits/reads, the blog may still have value as a writing exercise or means to clarify thinking, but most of us will blog as an opportunity to connect to a larger community and dialogue on shared topics. W/out traffic, the dialogue is one-way. Metrics in the beginning are straight-forward: unique visitors, page views, referrals, avg. pages viewed, time on the site, etc. WordPress free blog sites handle most of this; if the blog has a unique domain that you own, many analytic packages can be installed to further dive deep. Think both about volume/quantity as well as quality.

 
(U)nique and/or Useful:  A catch-all for paying attention to the blog’s positioning, messaging and voice. Here’s where I want to be monitoring the content and quality as well as the posting cadence. For this blog, we started out posting 1x/wk (seemed scary to do more); now, we post 3x/wk and have 50+ story ideas in our editorial que. Because we’re a collaboration blog (ie multiple regular contributors) we use an editorial board/magazine approach. Discussions both pre-post and post-publication are robustly critical. We routinely monitor other similar sites for hot topics/trends as well as gaps.

 
(T)witter:  Presuming that any blogger or blogger-wanna be is also a Twitter player, at least on the “listen/look” side, if not actively tweeting. Specifically here for measurement, I’m focused on re-tweets. Am I getting any? When you tweet to promote your topics/blog, is anyone out there connecting to the value enough to re-tweet the post and your blog site? Tracking this, establishing internal benchmarks seems useful to consider. Retweets are a multiplier for blog promotion. While I might have X# Twitter followers, any re-tweet pushes my content well beyond my limited boundaries.

 
(T)raction:  To what degree are you successful with cross-links? By agreeing to link/cross-promote, other blog owners are validating your content and approach. Measure this by pure numbers, and by whether well-known, well-respected other sites are willing to connect. Within your own trusted communities, are thought-leaders providing positive feedback and reaction? Prior to this blog’s launch, the team spent 3-months evolving a point-of-view, testing content ideas and positioning to identify a platform niche. We still do this and view the willingness of respected voices to provide feedback as a valuable measure for the traction our blog is gaining.

 
(E)ngagement:  Extremely important, particularly as this blog is not attempting to find ways to monetize itself. This is where I think about “comment” tracking, on the blog site itself… on Twitter… within those other social networks (Ning, LinkedIn, Socialmedian, Facebook, etc.). For this blog, I receive more comments via direct email or on the social networks than w/in the blog itself. Other blog owners report a different experience. Again, I’m not finding any benchmarks over time so am measuring this blog against itself.

 
(R)elationships:  For me, this (along w/the Engagement piece) is perhaps the most important (and most difficult) metric. Does the blog (and various promotional outreach) provide opportunities for new relationships. Could be via LinkedIn… could be direct from the blog itself, could be quality Twitter and/or Facebook followers. I then reach out periodically to these various networks for information, content insights, etc. It’s a qualitative measure more than quantitative. A bit squishy, yes. But to the degree that the blog is successful as a means for relationship growth and dialogue, I value it as a means to judge successful progress.

Steps:  Our not so subtle reminder that it’s a one-step-at-a-time process, and many steps required.  Most are small, some are backtracks, all are important.

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So, there you have it – one blogger’s attempt at beginning to put benchmarks into place to measure success. Certainly there are others. Would love to hear other start-ups w/r/t ramp metrics if anyone would care to share.   Again, all data received will be aggregated, specifics kept confidential. Hoping to publish something with more specific numbers/examples toward the end of the year.

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