- We examine two CEO blogs – Scott Farquhar from Atlassian and Alan Joyce from Qantas for personality, authenticity and likely returns.
- The #1 rule of blogging is “don’t be boring” (no matter who you are and how important your topic is).
- The majority of readers will assume a CEO blog is ghostwritten, unless you provide compelling evidence that this isn’t the case.
Websites/resources referenced in this teardown
- 50,000 dreams come true – Scott Farquhar (CEO Atlassian)
- China Free Trade Agreement: A Test of Australia’s Ambition – Alan Joyce (CEO Qantas)
- Captions read 300% more than body copy
Transcript of the teardown
“Hi, I’m Steve Pell from TLP. I’m here for another one of our marketing tear downs where we use practical examples to give you some takeaways that you can apply to your business to improve your returns on digital and content marketing.
Today I want to talk about CEO blogs. I’m going to talk about some lessons from an example that’s been done really well and an example that’s been done badly. We’re going to talk about Atlassian CEO Scott Farquhar and Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.
If you want to pause this video, have a quick look at the two of them and have a guess about which one I’m going to say is fantastic and which one I think has really done quite badly, you can pause now and come back.
Otherwise we’ll start and I’ll tell you that I think that Atlassian is fantastic. Scott Farquhar has done a great blog post talking about the success of the company. They’ve just achieved their fifty thousandth customer. This blog post has a huge amount of personality.
One of the key takeaways I’m going to come back to here is the two deadly sins of blog posts: don’t be boring and don’t ever make it seem like it could’ve been ghost written. Authenticity is absolutely everything, especially in CEO blogs. This is a deeply authentic blog post.
Let me read you out the first part of this paragraph here. “We set a big hairy audacious goal to one day have 50,000 customers, 50 fucking thousand, a seemingly impossible idea at a time most enterprise software companies were selling to a subset of the Fortune 500.”
Now, there’s no doubt that hasn’t been ghost written? The language is just too strong. It’s too personalised, too authentic. You read this and you’re engaged, you’re excited. There’s a lot of personality.
The other thing they’ve done really well here is use images to bring the core idea out. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that images either get scrutinised or completely ignored. They’re either at one end of the spectrum or another.
These are images that are going to be scrutinised. People are looking at them deeply. They also use captions. Captions are one of the most powerful tools when you’re using images in your blog. This caption here will read about 300% more than any of the text in the body.
If you didn’t know that already, this is a really powerful way to get a message across. Use the caption below because they get read more than almost anything on this page. I’d hazard a guess that this will be read more than even the title. There’s also a video here if you want something different to engage with.
In summary, the Atlassian post by Scott Farquhar is a great, really well executed CEO blog post.
Let’s contrast that against Alan Joyce here who has written a blog post about China free trade agreement. I don’t know if he’s written it personally or a ghostwriter has written it. There’s not a lot of personality coming through. If you have a look, it’s quite boring. It doesn’t talk a lot about his personal opinions on the topic.
There’s no real feeling that this is Alan Joyce’s opinion. It’s talking about “strong multi-layered safe guards in our skilled migration systems to prevent the integrity of the labour market”. It’s boring language! It’s an important topic but there’s just no personality coming through this that makes you want to read and engage.
People today just have too many content choices to read something that appears as to be boring when they skim it. When you look at the data, this article has had 711 views and probably 10 of them are me working through doing this video. That’s just not worth Alan Joyce’s time as a CEO to be writing this if you’re only getting that level of engagement.
The other thing I’d say about this is as we talk about images being scrutinised or ignored, this is an image that would be completely and utterly ignored. No one would look at it. I’d question really the merit of even putting it in where it’s going to be completely skipped over and people coming through to the content.
The key takeaway for today here is , really don’t ever skimp on the authenticity of blog posts. It doesn’t matter who you are, you’ve got to be authentic, you’ve got to be engaging, you just can’t afford to be boring. People won’t put up with it from anyone, even the CEO of an ASX100 Company. So be interesting, be engaging, give people something to hold on to about your personality, that’s what they’re really coming to understand.
If you found this interesting and you’d like to understand more about how you can get better returns from your content and digital marketing, at TLP we have a process in-house, we call it the Content Audit where what we’ll do is a similar process to this in a whole lot more detail. Over 14 days we’ll work with you to generate a 90-page report on how you can get better returns from your content and digital marketing.