You may have missed our workshop at Evans Data Corporation’s 14th Annual Developer Relations Conference in Palo Alto, CA. We got great feedback from those who attended (THANK YOU!!). Whether you missed it or made it, we thought we’d break down our Practitioner Content Marketing Playbook for you here. Feel free at any point to request your full copy of the playbook, including helpful exercises that you can use to launch your practitioner marketing strategy. Let’s start with practitioner marketing metrics.
What is practitioner content marketing?
Practitioner content marketing is an approach to building thought leadership by publishing content about important technical issues or problems in your market space, and the content is written by practitioners from outside your company. This content can be hosted on your company blog, an asset delivered via a developer-to-developer community, or even posted on Quora or Medium. The key elements of practitioner content are that it is:
- Written by an expert (hint: if your customers are developers, it may include code)
- Attributed (the value of the practitioner is they aren’t from your company)
- Not a product pitch (thought leadership speaks to the customer about their world, not your company)
Why use practitioner content marketing?
With skeptical technical audiences, practitioner content is more persuasive than the material produced by your company. Unless you are speaking to existing customers about the specific details of your product, your company has zero credibility about the issues your prospective customers face. But practitioners are JUST LIKE your customers. So when they speak, people listen. And if your company is smart enough to host their content, those skeptical prospects just might start to believe that you have something to offer them.
Start with metrics! We recommend using share of conversation (SoC), which is a subset of share of voice (SoV). To measure share of voice, you need to see what parts of the conversations in your market your company is participating in, or are being referenced. This includes industry news, regular news, social media, and blogs. From there, you can see what conversations your company appears in. The percentage of conversations your company appears in or your company’s content appears in is your share of conversation. You can do this yourself, or you can augment existing tools.
Hint #1. Don’t start with competitors in mind.
If our “Topic Facets” series teaches you nothing, at least take away this—Don’t come into the SoC calculation with competitors. The SoC/SoV calculation, done properly, will show you who competes for SoC. It may surprise you, as did the log analytics conversation for February 2018, where Logz.io was a surprise conversation-stealer. Normally, they don’t get any air time. This is the information you need, so don’t stack the deck against yourself with your assumptions.
Hint #2. Practitioners don’t need to be influencers.
Influencers are typically far away from your customers with a huge social media presence. They may be journalists in your field. Sure, they can sway opinion, and a mention of your company might get you eyeballs. But they aren’t necessarily very much like your customers, and they may not raise issues your customers see as relevant to them right now. Practitioners are more like your customers. They can become influencers, but they don’t have to start as influencers. They do have to have technical expertise that lends them credibility, timeliness and authority. And that is what translates to your brand. It’s not that you need one more than the other—You need them both. Influencers turn heads, but practitioners keep them there (and keep them coming back). Check out your bounce rates and you will see the difference.
Hint #3. Topics cascade from metrics.
Once you’ve done that SoV calculation, you should find your SoC as well. Those conversations point to topics practitioners can write about. That is what you want to use to generate your topic strategy and measure its effectiveness. The beginning, middle, and end of your practitioner content marketing campaign is metrics, my friend. Metrics.
We hope you will take a look at how you use existing tools for SoV and take our advice about letting the calculation show you your conversation competitors. If you check out the Practitioner Marketing Playbook, you can take a few steps toward figuring out how you can augment the tools available to make a good calculation for your company. If you do that, you are in a good position. We measure SoC for our customers monthly, and this influences the topics we recommend. By understanding who dominated the last month’s conversation and why, we make sure the content our practitioners produce is timely, influential, and above all, credible. With a little attention to refining your SoV calculation, we are confident you can start on the right path to credible and persuasive practitioner content.