4 Tips for ‘BuzzFeeding’ Your B2B Editorial Strategy (Part 2)
Why quality business content doesn't have to be as rigid as you think.
Part 2 of 2
It’s an exciting time to run an editorial team. There’s an abundance of highly-effective social content channels and availability of advanced data insights about reader behavior to help guide decision making.
But if you’re a small- or medium-sized B2B publisher, the tantalizing data capabilities and enormous traffic surges of a BuzzFeed or Upworthy can feel frustratingly out of reach. Plus, it seems so much easier when your goal is more squarely about creating entertaining mass-market content.
In B2B media, it’s not that simple. Fundamentally, our mission is to create high-quality, professionally-oriented content that advances the industries we serve. When it comes to our editorial content, we don’t get to be silly. But that doesn’t mean we have to be dry, boring and ignorant of use cases that may not be strictly professional in nature.
Here are some specific ways we at Praetorian have shifted our content model to capitalize on mass-market trends while retaining our B2B media integrity:
3. Finding the right metric mix
Without the luxury of a robust analytics department or director of data science, we need to glean what we can while making do with observations from someone who may be spending a quarter of their time on analytics.
As Mike Kisseberth recently covered in his article on use of data in publishing, “the transition from page views to more insightful metrics like ‘attention minutes,’ ‘click rate,’ ‘bounce rate,’ ‘time on page,’ ‘user satisfaction’ or ‘viewability’” has elevated publishers’ ability to identify content that performs by a broader variety of measures.
We’ve been able to better arm our editors with a robust range of segmented weekly and monthly reports. And slowly but surely, we’re weaning editors off of the tendency to rely on page views as the ultimate determination of effectiveness and look at deeper content analyses, like content efficiency.
4. Getting the messaging straight
Your readers and internal stakeholders will notice the increased prevalence of ‘This’, ‘How’, ‘Top’ and ‘Most’ articles, and some might assume you’re taking a turn toward the dark side of disposable content, with personality quizzes just around the corner.
It’s important to get in front of potential criticism and have a clearly articulated rationale about why certain content decisions have been made, including providing your team with guidance on how to respond to questions. For us, that has included the following:
Consider the channel: It’s important to understand that different content channels shape reader perspectives in different ways. A reader who interacts with us primarily via our Facebook page will see a higher ratio of light content, whereas a frequent visitor to our home page or readers of our email newsletters will see a greater balance of thoughtful analysis and training content. Tailoring the content mix for the medium is smart publishing, and most will understand the rationale when it’s explained.
Consider different “use cases”: There isn’t one type of reader within a given vertical; some come to our sites to train and learn, some come for expert insight, but many come for the comfort of an online environment where they’re surrounded by likeminded individuals. Many come for all three. First responders read BuzzFeed and Huffington Post as well as our sites, so providing similarly formatted content that is written specifically for them is a benefit—not a detriment—to our standing as a publisher of professional content. The strong traffic response tells us that it’s satisfying a distinct need.
Don’t condemn or disavow “fast” content: I’ve witnessed editors respond to reader complaints about “trivial” content by equating its existence to a business decision that is all about “keeping the lights on”. That belief—held internally or expressed outwardly—doesn’t reflect well on editorial integrity, and in our case it isn’t even true. The existence of lighter articles alongside substantial features and professional content is part of a calculated effort to provide a well-rounded reader experience for a diverse audience.
Editorial strategy is an ongoing and evolving challenge, and ours is still a work in progress—we occasionally cross the line with a listicle here and there (and sometimes get chided for it by our readers), and we’re still working to better harness a greater range of metrics to make decisions based more on data findings and less on inference and feedback from user comments.
But the results have been unquestionably positive and dramatic; last year, we doubled our cumulative website traffic from 90 million to 165 million page views—an 83 percent improvement—without any new site launches or major investments in traffic acquisition. And we feel confident the quality of our content has only improved—we have three 2014 Eddie Awards as proof.