Strategic Questions for Proficient Business Blogging

The Business Process Management Life-Cycle
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There’s all sorts of advice on why and how to blog. Everything about blogging has already been blogged about. And yet, many businesses haven’t even scratched the surface to understand what blogging is actually about and what roles it may play in their overall strategy and presence – on and offline.

But all businesses have different going concerns and goals and strategies. Every media, communications and marketing strategy is different from the other.

While helping out a friend, I offered a bunch of questions for her to answer, figuring that the exercise of questioning may be more insightful and valuable than straight tips. I’m publishing an upgraded version of those questions here because there’s a ton of “expert” advice out there which you can find simply by Googling keywords related to blogging and business. The fact is, however, your business needs to do a deep self-assessment of its goals, culture, resources, tactics and strategies before just following a pre-fabricated set of instructions.

NOTE: when I use the word “blogging” I don’t just mean the publishing of content on a website. No, for me blogging is about proficiency in communications, ecosystem awareness, audience building and dialogue: from traditional to emerging media. Blogging involves a new set of skills which business should acquire and hone, to be overlayed on top of their bread-and-butter marketing and communication expertise. Blogging is a constant learning process. It’s also a way to reveal strengths and weaknesses inherent in organizations, their cultures and their processes – and thus the importance of questioning within the larger context of strategy.

With that in mind, here are the questions.

STRATEGIC QUESTIONS FOR PROFICIENT BUSINESS BLOGGING

  1. What’s the purpose? Biz development? Customer availability? A place to house your industrial expertise and knowledge? A place to create a community where ideas and questions can be explored openly? What value do you expect to provide or extract?
  2. Who is your audience(s)? Are you thinking that your only audience would be end-consumers? Or might they be industry influencers or vendors or the public? Will you be able to track the social footprint of your audience – who they are, where else on the Web they interact?
  3. What kinds of content are you delivering? Is it informational? Editorial? Inspirational? Industrially insightful? Action-calling? How might the kind(s) of content and information you publish influence your audience? Are you willing to let your audience help determine your content?
  4. What kinds of media will you provide on the blog? Text? Video? Audio? Slidedecks? Different media have different properties. Have you thought about the properties of traditional media and how they differ from emerging media? How much of your traditional marketing expertise evolved around the properties of print, radio and TV? Given that new media possess different properties, how might your marketing strategies need to adapt?
  5. Do you know what kinds of assets a blog can build? Leads? A small but relevant community of influencers? Street cred? Search engine ranking? Which do you need?
  6. How will you distribute your content? Have you developed other web real estate – outposts on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Slideshare? Which ones make the most sense to invest in? Can you build a visual map of your entire Web presence and how different Web and traditional presences relate to the bigger picture?
  7. If you successfully build your community, do you know how to leverage it? Will you be satisfied to just have visitors? Or will you engage with your community – not only on your blog but elsewhere? Will you continually monitor your efforts and make the best of the connections you make? Will you develop a system to reach your community beyond your blog – either via email or other media?
  8. Do you think blogging is just putting content on a website – or do you believe it is a spectrum of media skills? What’s your conception of blogging? Might there be more to blogging than what you think you know? What skills may you need to develop or build upon?
  9. Do you have a plan on how to distribute your blog content to traditional media (where else is your audience)? What are your overall communications and marketing strategies? How might emerging media not only play a part, but how might their proliferation impact your established strategies?
  10. How committed will you be? Is this going to be a chore “to be done” or will you intelligently integrate it into your business routine? Do you understand the skills and resources needed to become proficient? When thinking about resources, are you considering time and talent and networks?
  11. Do you have the stamina to sustain your efforts in the long-term? Investing in new media is about sustaining long-term capital. Given your resources, will you create the kind of working environment for your employees to enjoy the art of creating content, conversing across different networks and advancing the company’s objectives?
  12. Do you know how to make it easy (and enticing) for your audience to comment? Will you thank and comment back? Is sharing via email & other sources easy?
  13. Are you willing to fail? More importantly: how do you define failure? This is important to know because if you define failure appropriately, then you’re more likely to know what to do when you encounter it: in fact, you may see it as a huge opportunity.

There they are. Take your time answering these questions because they aren’t just about blogging: they’re about your understanding of how media and your business intertwine.

I listed 13 – which some believe is an unlucky number. So if you’re superstitious, you’ll have to come up with at least one more.

What questions do you think you need to ask yourself?

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17 Best Posts in 2009- A Year of Social Media and Health Care

2009 was an important year for getting healthcare more up-to-date with web technologies. We have a long way to go: healthcare marketers have begun the process of sorting out the meanings of internet media. 2009 was also a year of extreme noise and echo-chambering. But that’s OK: that happens all the time with novel technologies, especially when there’s little understanding of them nor clarity about their purposes and uses and limits.

On this blog, I’ve always aimed to express my perspective on these technologies (which I believe is rather unique – and it’s this uniqueness which I hope provide you with something of value). Prior to 2009, it was a bit of a lonely place to discuss how health care could best adopt 21st Century technologies. But 2009 brought a first flood of attention. I believe Twitter may deserve credit: many hospital and other health care organizations never understood the Web much, and blogging must have seemed like a purely terrifying experience. But Twitter offered the uninitiated with a simple interface and connection.

As the year moved on, I decided to launch a Twitter chat for registered nurses – and the public in general. The hashtag is #RNchat and you can follow @RNchat on Twitter and subscribe to the blog which posts transcripts of the chats. Since most of the Twitter chats on Twitter are about how to talk about how to talk about talking about Twitter and other social media, I figured at least one of them should be about something that’s actually real. I’m kidding of course. No, I’m not. :)

At any rate, I’ve collected some of my best posts for the year. All of these posts are related to health care – although #3 only very indirectly (I had to include it because it serves as a release from all the social media hype I’ve been hearing for years). Scan the list and pick a few to read and share. Here are the 17 posts:

  1. 140 Health Care Uses for Twitter – I wrote this post because I wanted to start an open conversation about the opportunities we have with technologies and the cultural and regulatory limits stemming them. Years earlier, I had tired of paper medical records and bizarre bureaucratic rituals which slowed the pace and effectiveness of patient care. The idea of using micro-sharing communications as a way to “cut to the chase” in patient care had been working in my mind for some time. This post is the result.
  2. Pharma, Presence Marketing and You – Not having a marketing background – and yet fully understanding the importance of marketing in health care – I’m fascinated at the stumbling blocks beset before pharmaceutical and medical device companies: both from regulatory agencies and the companies’ own prejudices about what marketing means.
  3. Twitter & LSD – 25 Similarities – OK – is this a health care related post? Well, I consider humor a part of health care. And I do touch on the addictive qualities of Twitter in this post. I plan a series of posts in 2010 on Internet Addiction. So, go ahead – read this. And definitely tweet it out!
  4. The Social Capital Algorithm – A simple visual way to break down the utility of social media into simple concepts.
  5. Social Capital: An Accounting View of New Media – I started my career in accounting. As such, I don’t have much tolerance for vague references. And yet we use them all the time. This is just another way to look at the differences between financial capital and social capital.
  6. 1,001 Remarkable Pharma People to Follow on Twitter – A tease of a title. But I explain why you don’t need 1,001 people to follow to get value out of Twitter. Since this post was written, the FDA had a Public Hearing and you can follow the Twitter hashtag  #FDAsm for the latest.
  7. 66 Ominous Predictions About Twitter in Healthcare – This was my attempt at bringing some sanity (albeit humorously) into the social media echo-chamber. Those of us who are truly passionate about these technologies must challenge them. (Some of the Pharma predictions are interesting in light of the Public Hearing later on in the year.)
  8. Healthcare on Google Wave – Google Wave was one of those hyped Google products. I think it’s a powerful set of technologies, even though I don’t use it much myself (the API needs to be developed upon before it becomes truly usable). This is an embed of a Healthcare wave, demonstrating real-time embedding of content from Wave to blog.
  9. A Clinical Infusion of Google Wave -A hypothetical use case for Google Wave in the clinical setting.
  10. Healthcare’s Google-Facebook-Twitter Platform – Questioning the possibility of a gigantic healthcare social platform.
  11. Zen and the Art of the Tweet – Again, the theme of the health care effects of social technologies on our lives.
  12. An Interview with #hcsm Founder @danamlewis
  13. An Interview with @EndreJofoldi of HealthMash
  14. How to Make Health Care Remarkable – The @ePatientDave Interview
  15. Pharma & Social Media: Best Strategic Learning Investment for 2010 – Discussion of an eBook compiled by Ellen Hoenig about what things Pharma should focus on learning in 2010.
  16. Privacy Matters: Dirty Little Secrets Are Essential to Your Health – My attempt at resurrecting privacy from the social media rumors of its death.
  17. Can We Ever End Social Media Nonsense? – My concerns and hopes for the future of the so-called Social Web.

I’m anticipating 2010 to be a fast-paced year with many developments technologically, politically, economically and culturally. I’m hoping that the healthcare community not only continues to learn these technologies but also starts to think reasonably and productively about how to become better organizations.

Social Media won’t make a bad organization good, nor a good organization great. No, people do that. People with brains and creativity and chutzpah. People who have the courage to do what’s never been done before. Are you one of them? Or are you a cog in a machine that’s doomed to shut-down long before you retire? Either way, it’s never too late to change your part of the world.

I love you, my dear readers. Enjoy 2010!

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How I Blog

I’ve been re-thinking blogging lately and have realized how central blogs are to the online economy. I’ve been playing around with novel ways to integrate real-time social technologies (actually, they’re near-time, not real-time) because I think that’s the direction they’re headed. It’s my sense that there’s confusion out there about the direction of online presence and blogging is increasingly being ignored.

Anyway, here’s a video on what I do with blogging – the tools and methods I use. Your approach is different from mine and everyone else’s. I’m always learning, so share your approaches with me and my followers.