Five Ways to Increase White Paper Exposure


Sure, Twitter is a great way to update your friends with updates on what you’re doing. But according to a recent survey from eMarketer.com, over 80% of all Twitter tweets of this nature are thought of as “pointless babble”.

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On the bright side, one statistic from this survey shows that approximately 8.7% of all Tweets have some form of “pass along value”. Considering that Twitter is the fastest growing Social Media site, and now enjoys over 7 million users (as of February 2009), that 8.7% is a big number. I believe that white papers hyperlinked within Twitter tweets constituted a fairly big chunk of that ‘pass along value’ number.

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(Source: InHouse Assist LLC: “The Sum of Social Media – Is It All Just Hype?”)

But how can you maximize the exposure and effectiveness of your white paper using Twitter along with other Social Media sites? Here’s my short list comprising five methods you can apply:

1. Create a Compelling Blog Post: Prominently feature your white paper in a blog post by telling your audience what they will gain by registering and reading your white paper.

2. Post that Blog with Re-Tweeting in Mind: Add a buttons and links to your blog post that makes it easy for readers to Re-tweet your white paper on Twitter.

3. Leverage Blog Sharing Sites: Add your blog post to blog sharing sites such as BizSugar.com, Sphinn.com, and Reddit.com. If readers like your white paper they will create their own Tweets for it. When you see that your white paper has been Re-Tweeted by others, Re-Tweet those posts so your followers can notice them as well.

4. Tweet Weekly RePosts: Change the title of your post and Re-Tweet your post weekly for the next month. For example, instead of saying “White Paper: Best Practices for Supply Chain Management”, post a new Tweet the following week entitled “Four Ways to Improve your Enterprise Supply Chain” and add the same link address to your blog post or PDf download representing that white paper. Stop after one month and give it a rest. You don’t want to overwhelm your audience.

5. Post to Free Publication Sites: Don’t forget free publication sites such as: Scribd, DocStoc, Slideshare, Gazhoo, Yudu, and WhitePapers.org. They may not have the following as other fee-based syndicators, but hey, they’re FREE!

If you keep up this routine on a regular basis, you’ll begin to gain a loyal following of readers that will increase the ‘pass-along’ audience for your white paper.

Oh, and by the way, don’t forget the Friday FREE White Paper List posted each Friday on this blog. It’s the only way to review all the white papers that have been posted on Twitter each week and learn new techniques that can improve your own white paper.

Hypothetical Question: White Papers or Blogs?

July 6, 2009 by · 10 Comments
Filed under: Blogging, WP Marketing, WP Opinions 

For many companies scaling back their marketing expenditures in today’s soft economy, the issue of getting the best “bang for the buck” is clearly on their radar screens. Now one blogger has asked a question that is on a lot of business minds, “Which is more Effective, White Papers or Blogs?”

With this hypothetical question, the Writer’s Block Blog, asks readers for their opinion by using the analogy of a startup company:

You are the marketing strategist of a start-up selling niche software to IT professionals. Your marketing plan already has all the basics. It has the web site, direct e-mail marketing, auto-responders and even free trials.

In this common start-up situation, there are two additional tools you can use to promote your product. However, cost, time and results are king, and you are restricted to only one. The choice is either publish a series of white papers or us a technical blog.

Which would you opt for? Why?

The answer: A white paper.

Now, my answer isn’t the result of any personal bias (even though it does exist), but rather a cost-effective and logical choice that takes into consideration both the time and monetary requirements to generate leads.

Think about it. The development of one leadership white paper that summarizes the startup’s view of their marketplace, their corporate philosophy and the strengths of their approach in solving them, can be much more effective than a series of blog posts. That finished white paper can be:

1. Posted to a website
2. Distributed via Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin
3. Used in an email or online campaign
4. Offered as an incentive to signup for a webinar
5. Printed for one-on-one sales meeting
6. Printed for a tradeshow or convention
7. Printed for a direct mail campaign
8. Handed out during a group presentation or seminar
9. Shared in a wiki or industry forum
10. Hyperlinked in an email signature

Now clearly each of these activities will certainly some additional marketing costs. On the other hand, the blog approach may have no initial costs, but it will require a much greater amount of time to gain a loyal following and generate a similar level of leads.

So if you’re a startup on a limited budget looking for the most effective way to promote your product, brand, or service, choose white papers first. Once that white paper has been completed, you can focus your subsequent attention on creating a corporate blog to promote that completed white paper for even greater marketing effectiveness.

What do you think? Which one would you opt for and why?

Ten Ways to Increase your White Paper Downloads


Now that you’ve spent your hard earned time and money to produce a white paper, what are you going to do to get it in the hands of the people that need to read it?

Half the battle in getting your white paper read by a wider audience has more to do with making some simple changes that increase its exposure with that target audience. Here is a list of ten things you can do that will result in a greater number of downloads and increase its potential for greater lead generation:

1. Title It – Create a catchy title that generates interest and curiosity. Titles such as “Four Things you Need to Know About_______”, or “Three Things You Didn’t Know About _________” are much more compelling than “__________ Best Practices“.

2. Cover It – Even if you may have an all text white paper, create a professionally designed cover for your document. It will engage your reader and create an incentive to review it. By adding other visual elements such as pull quotes, bullets, and shaded text boxes you can increase the chances that a greater portion of the document will be read.PRCOVER

3. Picture It – Create a small icon of your white paper cover to reference the document on your website (like the one to the right). It will make the document easier to find rather than a simple text hyper-link.

4. Twitter It - Twitter is a great way to get the word out on your white paper. See my previous post on how to tailor your Twitter message to maximize its description within 120 characters (not 140).

5. Sign It – Most business executives and B2B marketers send out thousands of emails and correspondence every day. Add your white paper as a hyper-linked item below your email signature. Over the course of a few months, a significant number of people will either download it, read it, or forward it to someone else they may know that has interest in the topic.

6. Link It – When you add a hyper-link to your white paper using Twitter or other social media sites, make sure it directly references the URL location for the PDF. Don’t link a landing page, home page, or library page that forces your reader to hunt for the link. Each additional page that you add to the process will decrease the chances that your reader WILL download or read that white paper.

7. Describe It – If you have a white paper library site that lists multiple white papers, add a brief two or three line description along with the title. This ensures your reader will have a better understanding of the content and if it meets their business needs. Don’t force them to download and read several pages before they realize it doesn’t meet their original expectations.

8. Label It – Visitors to your website gravitate to the most current white papers. Add the date the white paper was added to your website, and use a bright, visible label “NEW” when you post your most recent white papers so your reader will see it as soon as they land on your library page.

9. Reference It – Get others in your industry to discuss, reference, hyper-link, and forward your white paper. Sources such as Twitter, LinkedIn, industry forums, news sources, and wikis are great ways to increase exposure and the number of downloads.

10. Freely Distribute It – As mentioned previously on this blog, give your white paper away for free without registration requirements. While the general tendency is to leverage a white paper into email leads, you’ll get a significantly wider reading audience (and the potential for a higher number of leads) by giving it away without a registration requirement.

My Interview on Blog Talk Radio: White Paper Insider


I just completed an in-depth interview with Teresa Beeman and Apryl Parcher of White Paper Insider on Blog Talk Radio. During the course of the one hour interview we discussed:wpi1

The history of white papers.

How companies can best utilized white papers in their marketing programs.

How I got started writing white papers

My upcoming book, “Crafting White Paper 2.0: Next Generation Business Information For Today’s Time and Attention-Challenged Decision Makers

and much more.

You can hear this interview by following this link. I look forward to your feedback and questions.

Thanks!

jonathan-alone-signature

How Twitter will Transform the White Paper


Look around and you will see dramatic changes taking place in the way that we communicate and read information. For example:

  • We assimilate news stories based on headlines, not by reading an entire news article
  • Text messages among teens have replaced long-winded phone calls
  • Headline news and sound-bites have replaced the traditional TV news story
  • Brief snippets of information sent via sites as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn has replaced sending documents and sending long email messages

I’m certainly not the only one noticing this change. According to blogger, Kiley Austin-Young, in a post entitled, “Is Twitter Making us Stupid“, the repercussions with the explosive growth of Twitter is made clear:

Is our time so precious, are our lives so fast-paced, that we are unable to devote more than two minutes to a piece of writing? With such an attitude, it is no surprise that deep and complex works of literature, as well as long-form pieces in magazines and newspapers, are dying in popularity and prevalence.

We are witnessing a profoundly important transformation. In turning our backs on deep and undistracted reading, we torch the realm of self-actualization, the province of intellectual enlightenment; we trample the land of rich mental connections, wherein we weave a tapestry of concepts and ideas, form an interlocking web of mental association, through inference and analogy, by extended thought and contemplation—and in doing so, we are left with an inadequate map to navigate and reconcile the terrain of daily life. With shorter and shallower reading, we are lesser and shallower people. What is most valuable in our mental, emotional, and intellectual maturation cannot be had in 140 characters or less.

So as Twitter becomes an increasingly popular way to communicate, how will this transform the modern white paper?

The first aspect to change is the overall size of the white paper. Today the average white paper is around 4-8 pages, down from about 10 pages 10 years ago. But more importantly is the first two or three pages. With our attention growing shorter, future white paper readers will not have the patience to read an entire white paper in order to assimilate bottom line advantage messages. They will make that determination based on the first or second page.

This makes how you format the first page all the more important. If your white paper doesn’t have an Executive Summary and/or Concluding Summary (often read first with a skim reader), then you will not capture the frequent Twitter user. Twitter’s application of 140 characters will fundamentally transform ALL business communications so that future users will need similar ‘abbreviated’ communication techniques such as summaries and abstracts to deliver critical information to the short attention audience.

This is something that I see as fundamentally important in white paper marketing. If you’re not adapting your white paper for the Twitter user, you will lose them and the critical business messages that it contains.

If you’d like to find out more about how to apply essential Short Attention Marketing Tips to your white paper, you can subscribe to my newsletter which is distributed at the beginning of each month.

Is Scribd/iPaper the New White Paper Standard?


If you’ve been following my blog over the past several weeks, you’ve noticed a new weekly feature, “Free White Papers of the Week”. This is a synopsis of the free white papers that I have found and ReTweeted via Twitter over the course of a 7 day period.

Most of the white papers that I find are in PDF format and each are downloaded from the provider’s website, a practice that has been followed for distributing white papers for as long as I can remember. But now I am starting to see a trend that may represent a new direction for the distribution of white papers, and may replace the practice of downloading the single PDF file.

It is by a website called Scribd.com using a technology they call iPaper. Yes, this has been around for some time, but really hasn’t gained a lot of attention and widespread use until now. Could it be that Social Media is one of the factors driving the Scribd/iPaper phenomena? Perhaps.

Scribd.com is akin to an online document/ebook library. By signing up for the service, you are allowed to upload any document, whether that is in PDF, or other common formats such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OpenOffice, Postscript, etc. They also accept several additional formats that you can see from this list.

Once the document is uploaded, it is viewed with the iPaper viewer, an embedded viewer that is similar to embedding a YouTube or homemade video on your blog. It does involved a little technical knowledge to embed the viewer, but if you’re familiar with manipulating basic HTML code for your blog, this shouldn’t be a difficult practice. Once completed the document can be viewed from a website or blog and the viewer is provided with several additional features such as text enlargement, bookmarking, sharing, discussions, etc. For more information on the steps necessary to accomplish this, please visit this link.

Once a white paper has been embedded into your blog or website, it looks like this sample white paper below: (BTW-the size of the viewer window can be adjusted):

SEO for Recruiting White Paper

Publish at Scribd or explore others: Business & Law seo employment

The Scribd/iPaper combination solves several common problems that white paper marketers have faced for some time with the traditional practice of distributing PDF files:

1. Centrality – Scribd.com allows you to use an HTML link to redirect your reader to a central, frequently accessed area for both viewing and downloading the white paper.

2. Previewing – Scribd.com allows a reader to preview and white paper and see if the content meets their expectation before having to download the complete white paper.

3. Storing - Since the file has been uploaded to Scribd.com, it eliminates the need to storing and organize a vast number of white papers on your local hard drive. This is especially handy for smart phone users such as iPhone and Blackberry, that have very limited storage capacity on these devices.

4. Searching/Referencing – Scribd.com allows a reader to search for a title or content description to quickly find a particular white paper rather than at a local computer or server level. You can also accumulate your favorite white papers using their MyScribd tab. This is handy if you need to pass along a favorite or impressive white paper to a co-worker or client.

Is the combination of Scribd.com and iPaper the future of white paper distribution? No one can tell, but the site and technology is very easy to use and convenient.

One thing that Scribd may do is unseat the Adobe PDF format as the standard way of viewing and distributing white papers. Since the viewer can display a variety of common formats, marketers may not be the need to rely on the PDF format for their white paper needs. As we become increasingly tethered to the Internet on a 24×7 basis, options like Scribd/iPaper make a heck of a lot of sense.

What do you think? Is this the future way to distribute white papers?

Does Frequency Diminish Online Effectiveness?


youtube-small1For years, we have heard countless numbers of Internet experts tell us that frequency is the single most important factor for online marketing effectiveness. Getting “eyeballs” on your website, Blog, Facebook, or Twitter page, as they would say, was gained via the frequent posting of quality online content. Repeat your message over and over again, and you’ll get the eyeballs you need that can be leveraged into other profit-generating activities.

Now one perspective would have us believe that this concept has been a lot of “hooey”.

The article in question was posted to the TechnologyReview.com website entitled, “The depressing truth about web stardom“. Before I scare you away thinking that this is an article for guys in white lab coats with ink-stained pocket protectors, it actually has some thought-provoking points that you may find interesting.

The study is based on the findings of two researchers, Fang Wu and Bernardo Huberman, at HP Labs in Palo Alto, CA., that studied the hit rates of some 10 million videos uploaded by 600,000 users to YouTube before 30 April 2008. They classified ‘success’ as a video that was among the top 1 per cent of videos that had been viewed. Their findings suggest that “the more frequently an individual uploads content the less likely it is that it will reach a success threshold.”

What is less than clear is why this happens. After all, whether it is a YouTube video, regular blog posts, white papers, or Twitter feeds, any Internet user that performs an online activity with enough frequency, would clearly get better at the task and attract a larger online audience, right? In this case, one would think that producing a lot of videos for YouTube, the marketer would get better at video editing and uploading, yielding better video content, and a larger online audience, right?

The article goes on to provide a hypothesis to the researcher’s claim of diminished returns:

Based on Wu and Huberman’s findings: “when a producer submits several videos over time, their novelty and hence their appeal to a wide audience tends to decrease.” A more puzzling question is why the producers persist in the face of declining audience figures. Here Wu and Huberman are a little more convincing. They argue that like gamblers, video producers overestimate the chance of winning when the probabilities are small.

Here’s my perspective on this issue:

Online marketing success isn’t just about frequency. It’s also about updating content with fresh, new, and increasingly more interesting information. If it’s just as much about what goes into the content as doing the same old stuff over and over again. While eating steak may be exciting during the first meal, after about two weeks of eating it every day, you may find yourself yearning for a nice fresh salad.

But, the central premise is still in force in my opinion. Repetition will grow an initial audience for your online content. How you improve that content over time will decide whether you keep that audience or lose it.

As for the findings of Wu and Huberman, they may be right, but they didn’t dig deep enough to uncover the real reasons for viewer dissatisfaction.

What’s your perspective? Do you think repetition increases or decreases online effectiveness?

Twitter from the Technology Executive’s Perspective

April 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Blogging, Social Media, Twitter 

twitterPart of the problem with Twitter is its perception. To those unfamiliar with the medium, it has the connotation of a network of people with nothing better to do with their time than exchange mindless trivia.

But as Twitter gains in popularity, business executives are becoming increasingly curious about its benefits. On in a blog post from CTO/CIO Perspectives, entitled “Getting” Twitter from the technology executive’s perspective, several advantages are listed that help executives better understand the validity of the medium:

  • Probably 90% of Twitter users produce little more than drivel. But, you don’t need to follow any of those 90%.
  • Messages, by virtue of the 140-character limit, are pithier, hence more scannable. Brevity is the soul of twit. (I can’t be the first person to say that).
  • Topic areas are more findable, prunable, and groupable, leading to an incredible and still-growing abundance of Twitter utilities and after-market products to help people divide, search, conquer.
  • Twitter, used properly, is much less subject to the incursion of advertising (or pure inanity) that plagues nearly everything else on the net: you can (and should) customize the people you follow for maximum utility. It’s so much easier to simply unfollow someone who turns out to be a spammer or a fool than it is to, say, unsubscribe from a typical email blast stream. It’s your action that does the unfollowing, not theirs.

In addition, the blogger references the term “mindcasting”, which can help executives separate the Twitter wheat from the Twitter chaff:

“Mindcasting” is the term that I find most applicable to Twitter. Through Twitter, I get to tap into the minds of people I find useful, people who are willing to share, via this new medium, their perspective and interests. Those whose tweets prove interesting and useful, I keep following. Those who don’t, get dropped, and that’s OK.

Is Twitter the “pot of gold” within social media that finally gets influential business executives to jump on board that blogging, Facebook, and Linkedin couldn’t achieve? Only time will tell.

One thing is for sure. Having a maximum of 140 characters certainly appeals to their short attention span.

Is Twitter Killing Your Attention Span?

March 11, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Blogging, Industry Insights, Twitter 

twitter-tweetAre micro-blogs and micro-communities courtesy of Twitter making traditional blogs obsolete? Is it due to a rapidly decreasing reader attention span?

That’s the conclusion being construed from the blog, ExpertSEM, in a post entitled, “Twitter Killed the Blog“. As the blog post indicates, a recent TechCrunch blog about Technorati’s Authority Index (defined as the number of blogs linking to a website in the last six months; the higher the number, the greater the level of authority), blogs are losing their power as authoritative sources. Instead, users are turning to Twitter and other rapid content providers for info and links within these communities are stealing authority.

As the blogger, Angie indicates in this post:

I love Twitter—it’s a great way to interact with people in the industry and get timely information without having to trudge through a million sites. And if I’m not interested in a tweet, it’s simple enough to dismiss—it only takes up two lines of text and it will be pushed down my feed in a few moments anyway. However, I am often frustrated and embarrassed by people’s short attention spans and inability to read more than a few paragraphs. And I fear for future generations.

I hope that blogs do not go out of style any time soon. I rather enjoy reading them and love writing them. And as more and more newspapers become defunct (see Rocky Mountain News), I think we need insightful sources with quality content of more than two lines total. Besides, where would we all link to and how would we gauge authority?

I still prefer the weighty feel of an actual book. I like writing in the margins, highlighting text and dog-earring pages. I believe tattered pages and a cracked spine show that a book has been loved. Needless to say, I will never, never purchase a Kindle.

So I’ll pose the same question as the blogger: Do you think blogs will become obsolete in the near future? Would you prefer to use Twitter as your one source of news and information? Do you think Twitter has decreased your attention span and willingness to read more lengthy content such as books, white papers, and long articles?