B2B marketing survives and thrives on the steam engine of content. But it can be hard to fuel that engine with constant inspiration day after day, and week after week.
Nonetheless, you’ll still need to produce high-quality blog posts and articles on a regular basis to build credibility and visibility, with 91% of B2B marketers using content marketing and 84% using it to spread brand awareness.
How do you keep up? One good answer is crowdsourcing.
As a B2B marketer, you can leverage your online relationships to have content produced for you, whether it’s user-generated content (UGC) produced by customers, or commentary from industry thought leaders. In one study, 70% of U.S. consumers noted that they trust brand recommendations from friends, above and beyond a company’s own content marketing, which means, at least some of your content should come from people similar to your readers.
By crowdsourcing, you’ll get content that’s relevant, targeted, and full of new insights. What’s more, you’ll gain fodder for your own creativity, as well as more free time to put inspiration to work in your marketing endeavors. Here, we’ll share some best practices for crowdsourcing your next blog post.
Step 1: Determine Who Your “Crowd” Is, and Why You’re Crowdsourcing
The very first step in crowdsourcing is determining the makeup of the crowd itself. It might consist of your customers, employees, thought leaders, industry professionals you’re connected with on social media, or any number of other groups. The purpose of the eventual blog post will help guide the composition of the crowd.
Is the goal to increase customer engagement? If so, you might look through your CRM to get a sense of customers’ expressed opinions, and ask the enthusiastic ones to expound on the benefits of your products and services.
Are you looking to increase your company’s thought leadership gravitas? In that case, you might reach out to a few top bloggers and/or academics in your field to offer their informed opinions on a meaty topic.
Step 2: Develop a Plan for Reaching Out to Your Crowd
Once you’ve defined your crowd and the goals you want to achieve through your content marketing, it’s time to make contact.
Here’s three of the main things you need to do when creating an outreach plan:
Think about the length of the eventual post, and number of content pieces you’ll need. Perhaps you’ll need one long customer testimonial about a certain aspect of your product, or maybe you can gather 3 quick quips from industry insiders to construct an informative and impactful blog post. Or, if you gather a series of 5 or 10 tips from respected bloggers, you can put together an article that will help you connect with big audiences online.
Determine the best ways to reach out. You might find that your influencers engage a lot with commenters on their LinkedIn blog posts, or that your customers are highly interactive on social media with brands similar to yours. Depending on your crowd’s preferred means of interaction, send a private social message, shoot off an email, or make a phone call offering the prospective content creator an opportunity to gain more exposure through contributed thoughts or ideas. (With the most popular influencers online, you’ll get the best results by building up a relationship first.)
To engage customers, consider surveys and contests in exchange for content. Either method is a good way to show customers you care about their opinions and will reward their loyalty.
Step 3: Collect, Edit, and Promote Your Crowdsourced Content for Maximum Impact
Once you’ve sent out your requests for content, it’s time to sit back—of course, while you’re hard at work on other aspects of your campaigns—and let the material come to you. As it comes in, make sure to do the following:
- Put the content in context. Whether you have two short essays from influential bloggers presenting dissenting opinions or 10 short sentences from your customers emphasizing what they loved about recent projects, it’s up to you to contextualize everything. You’ll want to weave the content pieces into a purposeful whole, with a beginning, middle, and end. The end result: a thoughtful, engaging piece that will stand out in your digital ecosystem.
- Edit without changing the essence. Honesty is paramount in crowdsourcing content. Keep all the material true-to-life, even as you place your own spin on it. Once the piece is finished, not only will you maintain your integrity by presenting content creators’ views as they were originally expressed, you’ll keep your crowd happy and willing to work with you again.
- Promote your crowdsourced content everywhere. Whether it’s on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter, post on your social profiles with links to your crowdsourced blog post. If you have your customers on an email newsletter list—and you should be—invite them via the next issue to check out the post, especially if it’s relevant to their needs and interests.
- Finally, keep the content creators in the loop. Send out a friendly Tweet, email, or other type of message to let your crowd know that the blog is published. Encourage those who contributed to the blog post to respond to the eventual blog comments as well. The more engaged your crowd is with the finished product, the more exposure they’ll get—and your chances of repeat business with them increases.
And there you have our roadmap for crowdsourcing a blog post, a method which will add greater efficiency, variety, and engagement to your content marketing campaigns. Take this method out for a spin and reap the benefits of involving multiple, highly-interested content creators in your marketing efforts.
Interested in learning more from Penguin Strategies? Check out their whitepaper, The Quick and Dirty Guide to Curated Content.