Andrea Meier (@andreajm) is the social media and content marketing manager for Blackboard, which provides education solutions that help learners and educators collaborate, learn, connect, and analyze across the entire education life cycle. The company claims 20 million users worldwide and hosts Bb World 2012, a user conference that will attract 2,500 attendees this July.
Like many content marketers, Meier wasn’t originally hired with “marketing” or “content” in her title. She joined Blackboard in 2009 as the second member of the corporate PR team. At the time, even PR was new for the company, which maintained a blog with content focused on products and services.
In the context of content marketing, many businesses confine clients to the role of reader (or “user”), but Meier flipped that model on its head by turning clients into content contributors. She recognized that each one of those clients has a story to tell, and now Blackboard offers them platforms that allow them to “tell the story better than we ever could.”
In part due to Meier’s initiatives and ability to convince peers of the value of content, today Blackboard publishes multiple blogs with over 100 contributors and a respectable social media presence.
“We create the spirit of community with peers speaking to peers,” she says. “We want to provide a platform for their voice and to reach a larger audience than they can do on their own.”
Of course, not every company needs 20 million clients to implement this model. A handful of guidelines, however, are essential.
Here, Meier graciously shares Blackboard’s guidelines with other content marketers interested in offering clients and customers simple and succinct tips for contributing content.
Tell us about yourself.
Along with pertinent details like job title, an interesting fact about you, and company details, let the audience know how to continue the conversation through social media.
Use a natural voice.
Write in first person and in a conversational tone so readers can connect with you.
Keep posts between 400 and 600 words. Include multimedia if it helps tell your story. Use bullets if it helps communicate efficiently.
Remember your audience.
Share a story and/or experience that readers can quickly connect with to show your point. Pose a question. Keep reader engagement in mind.
Offer a new idea. All content should be 100 percent yours. If you cite another idea, be sure to source it with a link.
Once the story publishes, circulate it. Be proud.