Editorial strategy: Why do B2B customers need your information?

A new report from the always excellent Project for Excellence in Journalism got me thinking a bit differently about thought leadership and content marketing and marketing as media.

We all know that social media is increasingly central to how we get our news and information. The main finding in this new report is that Americans use different media for different types of information.

Analyzing a year of data on the top news stories discussed, linked to, and viewed on blogs, TwitterYouTube, and other social media, the Project found that, "the stories and issues that gain traction in social media differ substantially from those that lead in the mainstream press. But they also differ greatly from each other."

Topically, for example, there is much greater focus on technology-related news with social media. Further, Twitter has emerged as a key source for breaking news. YouTube is more about serendipitous surfing for randomly interesting content. Blogs tend toward more emotional stories and stronger partisan orientations (on all sides).

So what's the B2B marketing connection?

Several months ago, I wrote about Marketing as media: Are you in the top five? My suggestion then was that given the incredible time constraints under which our customers and prospects operate, we need to think about being a "top five" information source. They don't have time to pay attention to much more than that. So you're really competing for attention with sources like The Wall Street Journaland BusinessWeek along with leading trade publications, blogs, and social networks, regardless of what particular market niche we're in.

I still think this is true, but today's research makes me think more about how you carve out the right position in the broader business media landscape.

Of course you need to focus on the issues where you have expertise and the markets you serve. Of course you need to provide useful and interesting information. Those are table stakes. But beyond that, where do you fit more specifically for your customers? What do they expect from you? Most important, why do they need your information?

This is not a question about using different media channels for different types of information, although that's indeed important. And it's not about which format is best (white papers vs. videos vs. blog posts, etc.). It's really a question of editorial strategy.

  • Are you a source for breaking news? Possibly, but you better be really good at it!
  • Are you a "fun" source for diversionary moments, like YouTube? Doubtful, but certainly possible if you think it's worthwhile.
  • Are you the emotion-laden source for partisans on one side of some big industry debate? Maybe, especially if you're in a relatively new or fast-changing market, but you need to accept that you're turning off all the partisans on the other side.
  • Are you an aggregator of everyone else's best content? That's a great service, but does your own thinking and expertise get lost in the process?

I'm not suggesting that it's all or nothing, that you have to pick one thing. But trying to be all things to all customers is not likely a good route to success. Thinking more about the "why us?" question can only help in developing a more effective editorial strategy.

What do you think? What's your editorial strategy?

Photo credit: stevenharris

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