According to the B2B Content Marketing Report, thought leadership was one of the top three content marketing goals, with 43 percent of respondents indicating that it was a priority.
Not too long ago, someone on Inbound asked what blogs people follow. Interestingly enough, most people replied with the names of solo bloggers rather than company blogs.
When it comes to influence, individuals sometimes seem to outperform company bloggers even though companies can have much larger marketing budgets and staff.
So how are individual influencers able to grow their audience and effectively compete and even outperform company bloggers despite having fewer resources and more limited marketing budgets? And what can companies do to increase their influence? Here are a few suggestions and insights.
1. Solo Bloggers are Entrepreneurial
Many individual influencers are entrepreneurial and are driven by their own ambitions. Being able to generate more income and freedom for themselves and their families motivates entrepreneurs to work longer and harder than their employed counterparts.
Company bloggers work for a predictable income and don’t have to work as hard as an entrepreneurial solo blogger. The motivations that drive a solo blogger are fundamentally different from an employed company blogger.
Solo bloggers also spend a lot of time “doing” whereas a company blogger’s primary job responsibility is writing content. Therefore, solo bloggers have the additional advantage of being able to share their experience and results whereas company bloggers are more focused on simply creating content to meet their quota.
So how can companies compete with entrepreneurial influencers?
Company bloggers will struggle to compete with individuals that are willing to work harder and longer to grow their own businesses.
A few things that companies can do to compete are:
- Focusing on hiring people that are self-motivated to master their craft.
- Encouraging content writers to keep learning by investing in educational materials.
- Improving communication between content writers and the rest of the company so that the writers can share the company’s growth story.
2. Successful Solo Influencers Are More Relationship-Focused on Average
Another advantage that solo influencers have is that they are more relationship focused on average. Many company employees don’t see the importance of networking and connecting with other people.
Forming relationships and collaborating helps individual bloggers succeed, whereas company bloggers don’t need to network with others to succeed at their job. I even read a Glassdoor review where a company blogger complained about being required to respond to blog comments without getting additional compensation.
To alleviate this issue, companies can educate their marketers about the importance of relationships and create training to instruct their employees how to engage other bloggers and influencers. Find people that want to grow their own personal brand and network with other people.
3. Company Bloggers Don’t Self Disclose as Frequently
Individual influencers are often better at self-disclosing personal information about themselves than company bloggers. According to Dr. Matthew McKay in his book Messages, self-disclosure is an important factor that builds trust and empathy.
Personal self-disclosure is rarely encouraged and often not required for bloggers working for a company and many company blogs instead focus strictly on providing information and problem solving. While openness and telling stories are not required for success with content marketing, self disclosure can be a powerful way to connect with readers.
When hiring, look for bloggers that are comfortable with self disclosure and have self disclosed stories or emotional content on their own blogs if you want to form a more personal connection with your own audience. While you may not be able to require self-disclosure from your content writers, some writers will be more naturally inclined to self-disclose when they write than others.
4. Solo Bloggers & Company Bloggers Have Different Compensation Structures
Solo bloggers and company bloggers are rewarded and compensated differently. Entrepreneurial solo bloggers are willing to work harder and spend more time on content because they know that their content needs to stand out for them to get noticed. And creating content that stands out will generate more leads and ultimately more sales.
Company bloggers, however, are often salaried employees. Unlike the self-employed solo blogger, a company blogger’s salary is capped. Due to this compensation structure, a solo blogger just needs to produce enough content to meet their writing quota.
So how can companies motivate their bloggers to produce better content?
Figure out ways to reward and compensate content that outperforms. Compensation doesn’t have to come from additional payment.
Sometimes recognition and praise are good motivators. Find out what motivates your employees and reward them accordingly.
5. Successful Solo Bloggers are Long-Term Minded
Many content marketing tactics are long-term and many bloggers will quit before results are realized. Company executives like to track metrics and ROI, but sometimes the pay off for marketing activities isn’t immediate.
Successful solo bloggers will keep blogging and improving until they succeed.
To compete with solo bloggers, companies should ask themselves if they are ready to pursue content marketing as a long-term strategy. Using metrics isn’t a bad practice, but companies need to understand that influence and traffic will grow and accelerate over time rather than produce an immediate return.
Businesses should commit resources to help their bloggers succeed and adapt a long term mindset.
6. Solo Bloggers Often Start off with No Experience
Another reason that companies fail with influence is that most company executives like to hire someone that already has experience and influence. However, once an individual figures out how to excel at blogging, they can often launch their own business or they are often difficult to hire as other companies are pursuing them.
One of the best ways to hire an influencer is to hire them before they become influential.
To do this, identify the traits that make an influencer successful and find someone that has taken steps toward achieving their goal.
For example, to hire a good digital marketing blogger, look for someone who has read a lot about digital marketing and experimented with marketing on their own. Then give them the resources and support they need to succeed.
It is definitely possible to hire someone before they are well known and help them become influential while they grow your company through content marketing at the same time.
7. Many Company Blogs Don’t Encourage Personal Branding
Personal branding can help company blogs grow their influence because the company’s name becomes associated with the blogger’s name brand. For this reason, companies like hiring bloggers that are already influential.
The Moz blog is well known as a thought leader for SEO and online marketing and Rand Fishkin is their most recognizable content creator. He publishes Whiteboard Friday videos, which allows people to see his personality and form a more personal connection.
He also creates written content and also speaks at conferences. These activities have built up his personal influence and name recognition.
When hiring, look for a content marketer that is already building their own personal brand and encourage them to grow their own blog. The growth of their personal brand will also help your company grow its influence by association.
Developing influence and creating engaging content on an ongoing basis are struggles that many companies will face when they do content marketing. Pay close attention to what influential solo bloggers in your niche are doing and keep the above tips in mind so that you can grow your influence more effectively.
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