How to get your company experts to blog

If you work in social media as part of a marketing team, you’ve definitely heard “I don’t have time to blog” from your subject matter experts.  I work for IBM and a big part of my job is to encourage blogging by our experts.  Expert bloggers are how companies both large and small can demonstrate their expertise.  Sophisticated customers frequently look beyond simple marketing efforts to blogs to get a sense of what the experts in a company are like and if they really know their topic areas.

Considering how important expert blogging is, here are two tactics I found worked with the time objection from IBM experts.

1)  A blog multiplies your time by 10x or more!

I consider a normal 500-1000 word blog to take about 2.5 hours to write.  The first raw draft can take an hour of an expert’s time, then there is an hour review/editing phase by a social media person like myself, and then another thirty minutes by the expert to polish up and publish.  Let’s look at the best case scenario for the return on this 2.5 hours of company time.

The most popular post on is What we learned from data marts and consolidation by Nancy Kopp.  This page has been viewed 10,138 times at the date of the writing of this blog post (September 11, 2012).  The average time on the page was 38 seconds.  From an initial investment of 2.5 hours, the post was read for a total of 107 hours.  That’s a 43x return on time invested!  For people who are very pressed for time, you’d be hard pressed to get a better return on your time.

Another quick example: The article Which is more expensive – JBoss or WebSphere? by Roman Kharkovski has had 3447 visits with an average time on page of 10 minutes 52 seconds!  That’s a total time of 624 hours or a 250x return on time invested.  Roman clearly hit a sweet spot with this post that interested so many readers for so long.


And in total (with raw data), has had 85,971 visits and an average visit of 1 minute 47 seconds, for a total of 2555 hours worth of visits.  We’ve published around 100 posts (250 hours worth of company time to create).  So in total, posts have a 10x return on time invested to time read.

2)  Blogging is the easy road to white papers

Many technical people are required to write white papers.  “A white paper is an authoritative report or guide” used by companies like IBM to help “readers understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision.”  (Thanks wikipedia).  But white papers, frequently 8-10 pages long, seem like quite a chore to complete.  What I like to do is offer to help the technical expert structure the white paper, outline it, break it into chapters, and then approach each chapter as a 500-1000 word blog post. Do one post like this a week for two months and you have most of a white paper ready to go! Once again, for a time pressed expert, this is a fantastic return on time.  Plus the technical expert gets the assistance of a social media person who should be helpful in creating the messaging and crafting the writing.  All in all, a win-win for the company.

Expert writing and blogging is a powerful way to get your company’s message across to potential customers.  The trick is getting your experts to start blogging!  The time multiplier and blogging as easy steps to a white paper should help convince your experts blogging is worth their time.  Good luck!

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