Many SMBs rely on blogs and newsletters to engage with their customers. Typically, the intent is to build “community” with highly relevant and useful content.
Regular posts, even daily, are the ideal. But that’s not always realistic. SMBs don't expect to spend all their time writing a blog. And there's something else: Many SMBs don't have all that much to say -- they are focused on the day-to-day activities of their business.
Content from third parties can fill in the gap. There are four basic approaches to working with third party content providers:
Acquire one-size-fits-all “content farm” material from a single source. Since a lot of syndicated content can be overly generic and non-expert, the ideal content is customized by the SMB.
Do an Internet search or build search alerts, and grab links to content. This can do the trick in many categories, assuming that the SMB has time to search, download and write. In some categories, however, a lot of the best content isn't highlighted on the search engines and is hard to find.
Accept a generalized feed from a media source that may sell advertising on your site. This fills the need for content, but some of the stories may not be directly relevant.
Generate a specific search feed that will bring in content from a variety of pre-vetted sources.
Let's focus on the latter approach, which gives SMBs several options . One is to work with a company like Nozzl, which provides continuously streamed articles on specific subjects via a "player" on your website. Nozzl is inexpensively priced at $5.99 per month.
A second approach is taken by Quintype, a free alternative to WordPress that makes content available on given subjects from publishers seeking broader distribution.
A third approach is taken by Sociative, a three-year-old company that has determined that there is an “ocean of content” on many subjects. What it is trying to avoid are the stories that are overly familiar –i.e. the Associated Press story that is reprinted on dozens of websites. It also seeks to avoid stories that are syndicated, via machine learning, from a small list of popular sites.
Sociative curates sites from all over the Web and social media, and distributes them as custom feeds to blog owners For instance, it provides a highly customized newsfeed of "foodie" content for The James Beard Foundation, which is dedicated to good cooking.
For SMBs, a lot of the decision making around the blog will ultimately come down to costs and expected impacts. If the business has the time and interest to do it themselves, that’s the cheapest option. Posting one of the third party feeds on your site is another option.
Solutions that require the acquisition of content, hiring of writing and editing resources, or subscriptions to customized feeds are likely to be more expensive. If these generate more readership and interest in a business, the costs will probably pay for themselves.
About the Author
Peter Krasilovsky runs Local Onliner, a consulting firm that focuses on how digital channels target local consumers. “Local” has been a focus for him since 1995-96, and the firm's practice now includes search, marketplaces, geotargeting, vertical media and loyalty and promotion services. Peter was Chief Analyst and Vice President for BIA/Kelsey from 2006-2015. He holds an MA from The Annenberg School of Communications at The University of Southern California and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. He currently resides with his wife Sharon in Ashland, Oregon.Follow on Twitter More Content by Peter Krasilovsky