How many hours a week do you think your average executive works?
I’m talking about everyone from corporate leaders to the small business owner.
Depending on who you ask, you’ll hear anything from a 40-hour workweek to a staggering 130 hours (Marissa Mayer during her time at Google).
While we acknowledge just how busy they are, for how much longer can they put off engaging with potential customers, their executive peer group and other business owners?
Until a few years ago, only a few CEOs were actively blogging or even using social media. A joint report by business management software firm, Domo and CEO.com, found that 60% of Fortune 500 CEOs have no digital presence at all. While this is an improvement from IBM’s 2012 Global CEO study, which found that only 16% of CEOs were participating in social media, it’s still inadequate.
Corporate leaders are missing out on potential “big business” interactions and brand building opportunities. And contrary to popular belief, customer engagement isn’t the sole domain of the marketing or PR department any longer. These days, customers and shareholders are looking for “content that business leaders have created”.
How do you convince a business owner, who can’t find the time to write a blog post, get started with blogging (as a stepping stone), or develop a content publishing schedule?
It’s hard! But not impossible.
It’s not Why, It’s How
When polled about the benefits of engaging stakeholders through short- and long-form content, a large number of CXOs acknowledge its value. But when asked about their poor adoption of it, the most common responses are:
- “I just don’t have the time”.
- “If I’m blogging every day, what’s the ROI on my time?”
- “That’s the job of the marketing/PR department, isn’t it?”
- “Are there experienced writers out there who can think exactly like me?”
While it’s a big ask to expect business leaders to spend hours producing thought-leading blog content regularly, the rewards are enormous.
Small Effort, Big Rewards
Successful CXOs have a wealth of knowledge, experience and guidance that they can share.
Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin Group founder, is a notable example; he makes time to post regularly on LinkedIn’s Influencer platform and the Virgin Group blog. Sharing content as diverse as business advice, his vision, opinions on everything from health to travel, he keeps loyal fans hanging on his every word. His blog posts, across platforms, routinely generate thousands of comments and social shares.
Since most corporations are perceived as cold, inanimate and distant, a business leader that blogs regularly can help humanise the company. Just look at the Executive Chairman of Marriott International, Bill Marriott, who posts regularly on the corporate blog, "Marriott On The Move". He engages a large audience with occasional business-focused posts by sharing anecdotes, personal stories, employee wins and many other interesting tidbits. With posts like “Where’s Your Happy?” And “Family First”, the blog's tone is warm and feels like a personal letter from Marriott to the reader. Marriott further injects personality into each post by signing off with “I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move”.
When a CEO infuses their character and flair into the company blog like this, it goes a long way in communicating the company’s culture and values to customers.
Speaking of humanising a brand, one survey of executives by Weber Shandwick, showed that 52% of executives say their CEO’s social presence makes them feel inspired, while 41% said they felt proud. How amazing is that? It appears inspired leaders inspire employees to do better.
Think this only applies to top-level execs?
One business owner/co-founder that uses blogging to demonstrate thought leadership is Grace Leung Shing. The Co-founder and CEO of Startwise is a regular contributor to the Startwise blog, where she writes about crowdfunding, the intricacies of revenue share and how Startwise can help businesses get funded without taking out bank loans or giving up equity.
By publishing quality, informational content, she increases her chances of being recognised in the crowdfunding space and the wider financing industry as an expert.
Bottom Line — Lack of time, direction, or talent are no longer solid excuses in any CXO’s arsenal. If Barack Obama could take time off to play golf during the peak of his presidential tenure, then you have access to all the resources you need to publish influential and well-researched content out there. As simple as that!
1 Content Piece = Multiple Opportunities
To be clear, we think publishing your views, backed by your wealth of experience, on a platform you control, i.e. your blog is the best use of your already limited time. Whether it’s short blog posts of 500 words or longer editorial articles of 1,600 words, content creation on your platform offers the best bang for your buck.
However, you can’t produce a handful of blog posts and call it a day. You’re likely to lose traction quickly.
But you don’t have to; your content can be easily repurposed into different forms for consumption across different platforms. For example:
- Snip excerpts from your blog post and post them as tweets.
- Compile posts around a particular topic into a downloadable e-book.
- Create a SlideShare presentation from a series of blog posts.
- Turn the SlideShare presentation into a video for YouTube.
- Got data on how a particular solution helped your business (or a client)?
- Create a downloadable case study around it. Or go deep and write about the subject at length with a whitepaper.
One major benefit of repurposing and publishing content like this, is that it allows you reach new audiences. Think about the positive boost it could give your own profile. If truth be told, the difference between GREAT content and NO content is incomparable. Attractive promotions, company-wide perception of being a subject-matter expert, frequent citations by the media, keynote speaking opportunities at conferences, are just to name a few.
Less PR, More Help
Again, your writing doesn’t have to be stating cold, boring company data and facts. Look at how Adam Goldstein, the president and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises blogs on topics ranging from vacation stories to cruise ship design!
Content marketing isn’t about getting out there and proclaiming how awesome your brand is. While the occasional PR post can fly, a thought leadership survey by Grist, showed that great content succeeds when:
- It proves useful and focused.
- It demonstrates an understanding of the target audience.
- It has original insight or ideas.
- It is NOT simply promotional.
If your blog content can demonstrate knowledge and establish your credibility in the industry in a way that impresses prospects, you are not just blogging. This is valuable engagement, which is vastly different from PR that comes across as scripted, dull and inauthentic.
Here’s How to Get Started With Content
These days, business owners (and corporate leaders) blog more, whether on their personal blog or using platforms like LinkedIn’s Influencer programme.
But for maximum impact, I’d recommend a hybrid content production and marketing structure. For super-busy CEOs who don’t have the time to pen 500 words on a regular basis, delegation is the answer. Reach out to us! (apologies for the hard sell, but what the heck!)
Note that while some CEOs like Branson have found success using Twitter, it’s not the best platform for everyone. And while you may be tempted to grow your influence using just LinkedIn, it may not be the best strategy. One major reason is that blog posts on LinkedIn are quickly indexed by Google, and with its high domain authority, it will probably outrank your own blog across search engines, at least in the initial days.
There are ways around this but it’s best to publish content on your blog, first.
Don’t know where to start? We get it. Not everyone has the time to research for hours, not everyone is comfortable sitting in front of a camera, and not everyone has the patience to churn out formidable content consistently.
Start Small, then Get Help
Seriously, start small. As the adage goes: “Something is better than nothing at all”.
Write a short 500-word post on current events in your industry (you may find yourself easily going over that word limit). A word of advice: Don’t try to be controversial, heroic, or overbearing in an effort to score a few brownie points. Be authentic.
If you think you’ve run out of ideas, have an assistant do some industry research to find out the questions your peers and customers want answers to. Providing those answers in the form of blog posts, long-form articles, or even Quora responses will help cement your position as a credible thought leader.
That said, we know and understand that some business leaders don’t even have the time to draft those 500 words. That’s okay. A time-constrained CEO could record his or her thoughts on an issue using the “voice recorder” feature on their smartphone and then have an assistant transcribe their thoughts into a blog post. And edit their voice recording into a podcast as well.
Talk about easy content creation!
But what if you don’t have an assistant on hand to do that? Here’s where we can assist.
We work closely with business leaders (startup founders, small business owners, mid-senior executives and enterprise CXO’s) who know the value of content but are hampered by time and know-how. We understand the need to create content that stimulates dialogue, demonstrates thought leadership and builds engagement.
Corporate leaders must stop seeing content creation as a tedious chore and embrace it as the new normal.
Don’t let doubts and unanswered questions keep you from sharing your expertise. Reach out to us whenever you’re ready, and my team can show you how you can write more and share with the wider world.