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This blog started as a directed email spawned by an individual blog post. I’m going to generalize it a bit to apply to a on overall trend I’ve been seeing across the internet, but it’ll be geared toward interactions on SCN. Please remember that this post is meant to help people and the community they make up to be stronger.

Dear Blogging Marketer,

Hi. My name is Jamie Oswald. I’m an SAP BusinessObjects customer, an SAP Mentor, an ASUG Volunteer, and I’m also the guy who wants to give you some unsolicited advice on your recent foray into blogging. As always, the views expressed here are my own and don’t really represent… well, anyone else. I’m really just a passionate internet community member with no agenda beyond making online communities into shiny, happy places for the free exchange of useful information for the betterment of all involved. These sorts of interventions aren’t easy, however, so it may get a little harsh below. Please feel free to ignore me, but know that I do still want you to blog here, but I want to make sure you are doing it better. 

I’m mostly really writing to you today to let you know that your blog came off as a little, well, spammy. I saw it, and assumed it was from a partner or other third-party vendor who was trying to sell me some add on product or expertise. SCN is not really the place for that, at least not in my humble opinion. It appeared so spammy, in fact, that I immediately reported it as spam. After digging into it a little bit I realized that you actually do work for SAP, and so it wasn’t spam — since SAP can’t really spam their own website — it was just written exactly like spam is written. Which is maybe not all that much better than just being spam.

To me the biggest gap here is the disconnect between your forum (which is technically a blog, but you get my meaning) and your material. You seem to be trying to push impersonal (or at least thinly personal, classical-type) marketing content through a social media channel. Social media, like a blog, especially one on a community network, demands authenticity, and that hasn’t really come through in your team’s posts to date. Without that personal connection, it just isn’t going to be very well received (and based on the lack of comments and page views, it doesn’t look like you’ve got a lot of connection going). 

Not wanting to talk to you about a problem without offering to provide some sort of solution, here are some things I think could really help you connect.

  • Give up the group or other faceless/nameless account. When I open up a post I see a smiling face at the top. On SCN, I’d also like to see a little SAP flag next to your name. That matters. 
  • Insert a picture or two. Let’s say your telling a story about how watching The Ref, my favorite holiday movie, made you suddenly realize that you just had to go buy some new enterprise software. Insert a clip or still from the movie (preferably one that is SFW). 
  • Don’t insert a bunch of stock images of really attractive people standing around being attractive and doing other things I don’t do every day. The entire internet isn’t Abercrombie and Fitch.
  • Make sure I get something out of your blog post even if I never spend a dime with you. Teach me how to layer sweaters or why my glucose levels matter or how to uninstall the Import Wizard or whatever. But give me SOMETHING in exchange for my time besides the promise of being able to follow up and get more slick selling.

Look, I really WANT you to blog. I want to receive important information regarding new products and services, but in this arena I want them to be free of pushy sales tactics and I want them to feel bloggy. I know it is hard to find your voice, but it being your voice is the most important thing. 

Good luck, 

Jamie Oswald

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14 Comments

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  1. Timo ELLIOTT
    I’m passionate about marketing, and hate it when it’s (deservedly) used as a slur.

    My advice to marketing people (1) be INTERESTING e.g. = useful, giving unique insight, etc (let’s face it, most of the time even the marketing author was bored with what he/she wrote — and it SHOWS) and (2) “if you can’t imagine a customer saying it, don’t write it” — which bizarre person came up with “marketing speak” anyway? Marketing is NOT about adding adjectives!

    Interestingly enough, though, I had exactly the opposite experience this morning — I complained about a hyperbolic post that was “obviously” written by a vendor, but turns out it was written by an actual customer (who was copying marketing speak as a model maybe?!)

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    1. James Oswald Post author
      Yes, this cuts both ways, but customers always get more slack since they have the spending power.

      I think your advice to marketing people should go well beyond social media.

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  2. Stephen Johannes
    Nice advice on how to write a blog that promotes something without spamming.  I think many people lose fact that a blog really does need that personal voice or it starts to become just a wiki or article.

    I also want to mention that producing something “awesome” is much better than quantity of blogs.  Contributing one key thing that you know will help/influence someone on a infrequent basis is much better than trying to generate a series of content just becuase you are trying to fill space/time.

    Finally, if all that fails, then switch career tracks and invest in burger franchises that serve great fries cooked in peanut oil ;).

    Take care,

    Stephen

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  3. Gail Moody-Byrd
    Jamie – I have to comment on this because it touches a nerve – so I may ramble a bit…really good points in here about blogging as yourself, a warm blooded individual and making whatever you write appeal to the interests of the community – which first requires spending the time to get to know the tone and what’s normal and what’s  off key. I have to say being in marketing for this community has been like bootcamp – a really high standard is enforced so the blah blah of “social” won’t cut it. Especially as we get more and more kudos as a model “social business” community. So my pledge to you is to keep checking in on the quality of our work to attract and educate newbies on what’s beneficial about being active, and to capture and play back what members tell us is working for them, so the community “marketing” is generated with your authentic voices. I am going to blog to summarize the best of what we heard on 2011 – reading your blog made me pause and check myself before I started drafting that – so thanks.
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    1. James Oswald Post author
      Gail,

      I consider it a great honor if my blog made you think — even if you come to find you disagree with everything I’ve said, the exercise itself is worth it. Can’t wait to read what you come up with.

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  4. Paul Hawking
    Yes Jamie I read the same blog after you commented and I was also confused as whether it was spam.  I am increasingly noticing that content I would expect to appear on http://www.sap.com is appearing in SCN.  I think the marketers might be seeing SCN as an alternate channel for pushing product. 
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    1. James Oswald Post author
      And I think that there is a place for that here. I’d like to be able to get new product info in here.

      I just also want it to be a blog, and not a marketing slick.

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  5. Michelle Crapo
    It is all about personal connection.  I sit here thinking about the various types of blogs that appeal to me.  I actually love the ranting blogs, can you believe it?  They have so much feeling behind them.  How you actually used a product – now that is another fun one.

    I guess that’s what is missing from most marketing blogs.  The feeling behind the blog.  We all market – just a little – when we write blogs.  If I am writing about ABAP, I am marketing it.  If I write about why I like RPM.  AGAIN a bit of marketing.  What about writing that you love SCN?  Marketing SCN?  Silly Examples.  I know that. 

    Another type of blog I love to read are those with a good message.  Want to get the word out about a charity project?  How about social media? 

    Learning blogs.  Want to learn about a new technology?  I love those too. 

    I always love a good debate, and so blogs with a lot of debate are great!  (But that means they did something right like you have written above.)

    I know I like a lot of blogs, a lot of different subjects, and a lot of diversity.  That is what is great about SCN.  That is what makes it THE place to go.  (FUN!)

    So if you are reading this, and think – OH NO, my blog is a marketing blog.  Do a quick check.  Does it have any of the elements that Jamie listed?  If it does, even if it is a marketing blog, people will probably like it.

    I think your “Dear John” letter was perfect.  It conveyed your message, and was very respectful.  Plus it gave some constructive criticism, and it encouraged blogging at the same time.  How cool is that?

    Yes, another long response.  I loved this blog, and the message it has in it.  (Another reason for a blog, having a message?  They don’t all need that of course.)

    Michelle

    BTW – Oh how I wish I could disagree with you.  I would love to read your response.  :0

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  6. Scott Wallask
    Your bulleted points are all very good. I would just caution everyone about inserting clips or images that they don’t own. Many people believe if it’s “on the web,” it’s free to use, but that is not the case due to copyright laws. Companies and individuals have paid heavy penalties for using photos and videos that they don’t own, so use caution. It’s a tough situation, because stock photos are not very appealing, as Jamie says. The times I’ve used photos in my blogs, I’ve personally taken the pictures or posted them from my company’s photo library.
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  7. Kuhan Milroy
    I (being an SAP employee of sound mind and body) must say I am impressed with how conscious many a marketing folk at SAP are to the audience not wanting spam. The community’s voice is definitely heard and causing change. With that said, a well written, genuine ‘reminder’ from the customer is good to ‘make it better’.

    On another note, I know the term Gobbledygook is a getting on but it is a term I love and will never forget. Here’s a site that grades content for Gobbledygook.
    http://gobbledygook.grader.com/

    BTW Jamie, your blog got a grade of 100! I think that is pretty much unheard of.
    (I just had to check) 🙂

    Cheers

    Kuhan

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