What You Can Learn From 8 Successful CEO Blogs

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The fastest way to create a successful CEO blog is to draw inspiration from some of the best existing examples. We’ve found that instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, one of the best ways to get started as a CEO blogger is to adapt the strategies that have worked for others.

We have analysed the most successful executive blogs and identified the attributes that can be easily adopted and adapted. Obviously, not all of these tactics will be applicable to every situation, but they can provide a template for a traffic-generating CEO blog.

Eight effective CEO blogs that you can learn from:

1. GatesNotes – Bill Gates

The Microsoft founder does a great job of combining his personal interests and publicising causes that he believes in. Gates uses the blog to promote the work of his charity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and to publicise causes he is passionate about, such as energy technology.

GatesNotes

Bill Gates effectively uses some basic images to explain the purpose of his blog and his activities.

http://quotesgram.com/bill-gates-philanthropy-quotes/

The two best things about Gates Notes are the manner in which Bill goes out of his way to provide useful information, and how he recognises the power of entertainment. Gates provides useful knowledge in the form of a reading list of books he’s enjoyed and his thoughts on some titles. The reading list gives people a reason to regularly visit the site.

Gates offers some entertaining content, such as a piece on The Deadliest Animal in the World. The animal is actually a mosquito, which his foundation is trying to eradicate. This story provokes thought without lecturing or boring readers.

GatesNotes - About Bill

The most effective page at Gates’ blog might be this one, which shows readers he is more than just the former CEO of Microsoft, he’s a human being with a past.

http://iftekhar.net/2015/10/

Something else to observe is how Gates also effectively adapts some classic newspaper promotion strategies, such as using sensational headlines to make his blog more thought provoking.

Those that want to see how a blog can be used to effectively promote a cause and to combine entertainment and education need to take a look at Gates Notes.

2. The Naked CEO Alex Malley

Malley proves that it is possible for a busy CEO to write an effective blog. The chief executive of CPA Australia, one of the world’s largest accounting organisations, and the host of The Conversation with Alex Malley on Nine Network Australia, is the driving force behind this blog targeted at students entering the employment market for the first time.

Like Gates, Malley understands the power of entertainment, but he also knows that blogs must provide useful information to attract repeat traffic.

Malley effectively achieves this goal and entertains his audience with slide shows on topics such as How to Deal with the Office Grump. The slides themselves provide an attention-grabbing visual effect for the blog.

Don't Get Caught

Alex Malley effectively uses humor and stunning visuals to make his blog more entertaining.

https://www.thenakedceo.com/

One of the best features of the Naked CEO blog is the Ask Alex a Question page. Instead of merely commenting, visitors can ask Alex a question, and he will answer some of them on video. This feature helps Malley establish a rapport with his readers and builds up his reputation as an industry expert and a problem solver.

Another advantage to this feature is that it allows Alex to interact with readers without spending all his time responding to comments.

3. Naomi Simson

Red Balloon founding director Naomi Simson leverages her success on Channel Ten’s Shark Tank with this colourful blog. We were impressed by the effective manner in which Simson uses it to promote her activities, including public speaking, writing books, and charitable causes. She communicates effectively by coming across as a real person, a mother, and an executive rather than just a talking head.

Naomi Simson

By using Pinterest posts like this, Simson establishes herself as an expert in her subject.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/123849058480895958/

Simson actively leverages her blog by posting photographs of herself on Instagram and quotes from famous people on Pinterest. This low-cost strategy attracts followers with minimal effort.

Pinterest is one of the more powerful social media tools because it encourages others to share images you upload. The Pinterest posts drive traffic and build credibility by establishing Naomi Simson as a source of knowledge.

4. Caterina.net – Caterina Fake

Flickr cofounder Caterina Fake proves that you can create an intelligent and thought-provoking CEO blog without fancy graphics or a lot of visual content. Her site is simple and clean, yet it conveys a lot of really good information.

What we liked best about Fake’s blog is the simple white background that makes it very easy to read. There’s nothing to distract the reader; instead, the focus is on the ideas that she is trying to convey. A really nice touch is the portrait that makes Caterina look like a real person. Fake proves that simple blogs can be just as effective as the complex ones.

5. Blog Maverick (The Mark Cuban Weblog) – Billionaire Mark Cuban is a popular and controversial figure in the United States.

Blog Maverick (The Mark Cuban Weblog)

Mark Cuban uses his blog to counter his popular image as an aggressive and thoughtless businessman.

http://www.bobstanke.com/blog/2015/2/4/top-10-mark-cuban-quotes-about-business-and-entrepreneurship

Cuban makes Blog Maverick a go-to destination by simply sharing his opinions on issues in the news. He offers thoughts on legal and political matters and headlines. A fascinating example is this post on social media and American elections. By discussing such matters, Cuban reaches a much larger audience and relates his philosophy to the masses.

Another reason why this blog works so well is that Cuban effectively conveys his passions. It also shows a different image of Cuban, who comes across as somewhat abrasive on television. The posts show readers that Cuban is a highly intelligent and well-read man who is something of an intellectual. Blog Maverick demonstrates how a good weblog can be used to change a CEO’s image.

One interesting aspect of Blog Maverick is the way in which Cuban uses an app called Cyber Dust as an alternative to a traditional comments section.

6. GuyKawasaki.com

Marketing guru and brand ambassador Guy Kawasaki does not post that often, but when he does, it is worth reading. Nobody seems to do a better job of conveying a basic business philosophy—that of marketing as evangelism—than Kawasaki does.

Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki makes his blog a go to destination by limiting his number of posts.

http://www.azquotes.com/author/7789-Guy_Kawasaki

Kawasaki’s old blog, the Art of Evangelism, simply posted essays, yet they were highly effective. This post conveys a very complex concept, that of product evangelism, and provides a blueprint for utilising the method in day-to-day business.

We liked this mix of actionable information with complex concepts. Kawasaki succeeds in showing how to share experience and business philosophy as useful information. In his current blog, Guy Kawasaki does much the same; in this post on start-ups is another example of a useful lesson presented in an entertaining manner.

Guy Kawasaki - All Top

Kawasaki realizes that one of the most important roles of a blog is to share wisdom.

https://www.pinterest.com/atamanatilkan/startup-quotes/

7. Reidhoffman.org

Reid Hoffman, the co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn, successfully demonstrates how to combine social media and a CEO blog. The blog simply redirects visitors to Hoffman’s posts on LinkedIn.

We liked the way in which Hoffman’s posts followed a theme: marketing. We were also impressed by Hoffman’s writing style in which he succeeds in communicating complicated business concepts to a mass audience. One way in which Reid does this is by using familiar pop culture icons such as Star Wars characters as examples.

Reid Hoffman

Hoffman leverages the power of LinkedIn by using his blog to promote his presence on social media.

Why is LinkedIn Called LinkedIn?

Another effective trick Hoffman uses is to leverage the power of images such as stills from movies to spice up his blog. By posting interesting images, Hoffman makes his site slicker and more professional looking at a low cost.

8. OnStartups.com – Dharmesh Shah

One of the biggest flaws that we see in CEO blogs is lack of focus. This simple blog created by Dharmesh Shah, the founder and chief technology officer of HubSpot, works because it maintains a laser-like focus on marketing for growing startups.

Startup Growth Engines

Visuals from slideshows and PowerPoint presentations are a cheap and low effort means of adding stunning visuals to your blog.

Shah covers a wide variety of topics, but they are all related to entrepreneurship. The blog works because his passion for marketing and genuine expertise on the subject shines through.

We also liked the large amount of information that Shah shares with his audience. He gives them a reason to come back because they actually learn something from his content.

In conclusion

These blogs demonstrate that one of the best ways to learn how to blog is to read and analyse the blogs of other CEOs. In a round-a-bout way, CEOs that want to become effective and popular bloggers must become devoted blog readers. Just remember to select your role models carefully; some CEOs blog in ineffective ways. But if you use this list as a springboard to launch from, you’ll easily find dozens of other examples that will guide you on your way to a successful CEO blog.

These 18 Psychological Studies Will Transform the Way You Write Content for Your CEO Blog

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The biggest and most important question that CEO bloggers ask is “how do I get more people to read my blog?” After getting your positioning right and understanding the problems your clients find painful, we’ve found that a powerful way to increase blog traffic and readership is to employ a number of strategies based upon psychological research.

In this article we have examined a number of studies and pinpointed a number of effective techniques for increasing reader engagement and writing better blog posts. Better still, many of these principles can be used in combination for greater effect.

Outline of Psychological Principles Discussed in this Article:

  1. Short Attention Spans
  2. Self-Censorship
  3. The Mere Exposure Effect
  4. The Google Effect
  5. Priming
  6. Reciprocity
  7. Experts and Social Proof
  8. The Decoy Effect
  9. The Verbatim Effect
  10. Clustering
  11. Appeal to Emotions
  12. Framing
  13. Storytelling
  14. The Rhyme as Reason Effect
  15. The Processing Fluency Bias
  16. The Psychology of Usefulness
  17. Eye Tracking Studies
  18. Colour Psychology

18 Psychological Principles for CEO Bloggers:

To effectively employ these psychological principles, a CEO blogger must also be aware of some basic online behaviours (1-4). A simple awareness of these patterns of behaviour will make it easier to employ the strategies we will discuss.

18 Psychological Principles for CEO Bloggers

This study shows how attention spans deteriorates with age.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memory_span

1. Be Aware of Short Attention Spans – The average person’s attention span is now eight seconds, a study of Canadian media viewing habits conducted by researchers at Microsoft’s Bing Ads determined. The same study found that attention spans are shrinking: they are down from 12 seconds in 2000. This means that readers are less tolerant of boredom.

2. Watch Out for Self-Censorship – Bloggers are often their own worst enemies because they censor their own material too heavily. Sometimes by eliminating any opinion that could be construed as offensive or controversial. Self-Censorship on Facebook, a study conducted by Sauvik Das of Carnegie Mellon University and Adam Kramer of Facebook Inc., found that 71% of the site’s users censored posts at the last minute. This means that many writers are more concerned about not offending others than creating good content.

3. Mere Exposure – Psychologist Robert B. Zajonc’s Mere Exposure Theory postulates that people are likely to develop a preference for things that they are exposed to on a regular basis. Zajonc’s research indicates that repetition and regular exposure to data or images can make people like them more. Therefore, repeating patterns or data in a blog can create a regular audience for a CEO. The important point here is – be consistent.

4. The Google Effect – People tend to value information from certain sources more than others. Researchers Betsy Sparrow, Jenny Liu and Daniel Wegner found that people are more likely to forget information they find online and to consider information printed on paper more valuable than read on electronic data. This is called the Google Effect; it can be countered with effective writing styles and showing that information is referenced from respected sources (for example – scientific research papers instead of Wikipedia).

5. Use Priming to Direct Your Readers’ Attention – The idea behind priming is to use words or images that trigger certain behaviours in readers. Researchers Naomi Mandel and Eric J. Johnson discovered that websites that contained pictures of money were more likely to influence visitors’ choices. Those who looked at pictures of money were more likely to study financial information, Psychology Today reported.

This works because certain images conjure up specific thoughts or emotions, for example a picture of the Queen might evoke patriotism. Therefore, a CEO blogger should carefully consider the types of images they use when creating content. One incongruent image can do a lot of damage to your overall message.

The 1st weapon of influence

6. Harness Reciprocity – In his classic work Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion Robert B. Cialdini demonstrated that diners who were given a mint when they finished their meals at a restaurant paid larger tips. In essence, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.

CEO bloggers can employ this strategy by providing useful information for their readers, such as an inside sales strategy or insight into the market. A good way to utilize reciprocity is to point readers to free or lower cost resources they can take advantage of.

The Power of Social Proof

The power of social proof.

social proof

7. Leverage Your Expertise and Social Proof – The formal name for this phenomenon is informational social influence. It occurs when people imitate the behaviour of others whom they assume to have superior knowledge or insight. Visitors referred to a designer fashion site called Rent the Runway by persons perceived as experts (fashion bloggers and magazines) had a conversion rate that was 200% higher than those drawn in by paid search, Tech Crunch reported.

This strategy can be highly effective for CEO blogs because CEOs are already perceived as experts on their business and widely respected.

8. Be Aware of The Decoy Effect – Also known as the bait and switch, this principle draws in visitors by offering them the illusion of a choice. Duke University Professor Dan Ariely demonstrated this principle by offering 100 students three choices for a subscription to the Economist:

  • an online subscription for $59,
  • a print subscription for $125, and
  • an online and print subscription for $125.

Students preferred the combined online and print subscription because it seemed to offer them a bargain, two for the price of one, even though the online deal was less than half the price.

A CEO blogger could use this principle in their post’s call-to-action to great effect. In fact, any web page with pricing information will be so much more powerful with this principle utilised.

9. Cluster Similar Topics Together – Back in 1956, George A. Miller demonstrated that the average person can only remember seven pieces of information at a time. A CEO blogger can take advantage of this by combining a blog about similar subjects, for example warehousing and inventory. Limiting the amount of information in a particular post can also make it easier to read. Therefore, it is a good idea not to write about two complex subjects at the same time.

10. Keep the Verbatim Effect in Mind When Writing Posts – In a 2008 study, researchers found that 15 subjects were more likely to remember the meaning of a sentence than the actual words. This means that the overall message is much more important than the technical details.

A CEO blogger can put this principle into immediate effect by concentrating on the big ideas and basic concepts in their posts before moving onto the specifics.

Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain

11. Appeal to Emotions – In his book Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain neurologist Antonio Damasio effectively demonstrated that emotions guide human beings in most decision making. Despite this, we find that many CEO bloggers make the basic mistake of producing dry technical posts that provide no emotional satisfaction. We have found that simply adding some content that appeals to emotions, such as humour, can significantly increase traffic to a blog.

12. Framing Your Content in the Right Way – Research indicates that people are more likely to respond to information if positive or negative results are emphasized. In an article for the Journal of Economic Psychology, James N. Druckman demonstrated that more people would pay attention to statements about economic policy when effects on employment rates were mentioned. A CEO could take advantage of this by mentioning the results of a new initiative at his company, such as increased sales.

Millais Boyhood of Raleigh

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” ― Philip Pullman

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/55/Millais_Boyhood_of_Raleigh.jpg

13. Does Your Blog Post Tell a Story? – The New York Times reported that MRI scans revealed that stories can actually stimulate the brain. Neural activity increased when people read an interesting or entertaining story. Keith Oately, a novelist and professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, even believes that reading can produce a vivid sensation of reality.

Therefore the best way for a CEO blog to engage readers is to tell a really good story that captures the imagination. We find that taking the trouble to turn a blog post into a good story about your company can increase reader interest and blog views.

14. The Rhyme as Reason Effect – Tests conducted by M.S. McGlone and Jessica Tofighbakhsh found that people found statements made in rhyme to be more accurate than non-rhyming phrases that contained the same information. Their subjects were more likely to believe the phrase “What sobriety conceals, alcohol reveals” than “What sobriety conceals, alcohol unmasks.” This indicates that adding a few rhyming phrases to a CEO blog post can make it sound more credible.

Every great blogger understands processing fluency and how it affects readers.

Every great blogger understands processing fluency and how it affects readers.

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/XmF7zmaDBiw/maxresdefault.jpg

15. The Processing Fluency Bias – Researchers demonstrated that American students who were required to read lessons printed in a heard-to-read font learned more than those given lessons in an easy-to-read font, The New York Times reported. Researcher Daniel M. Oppenheimer thinks this occurred because students had to concentrate and think more when faced with a hard-to-read font.

A CEO blogger can harness this psychological principle by changing the structure of the content in their posts. We do not recommend using a hard-to-read, but changing the colour of the text, for example, could prove useful.

16. The Psychology of Usefulness – Blogger Gord Hotchkiss postulated that when faced with a dull task, the human brain automatically looks for a shortcut to finding the most effective solution for the task. A CEO blogger can put this concept into use by offering fast or simple solutions to complex problems. The best way to see the effectiveness of this principle is to use it in your blog posts’ title. “How We Cut Order Processing Time in Half” promises a useful solution for a common problem in the industry.

17. Be Aware of the Findings of Eye-Tracking Studies – Many psychological studies have been conducted to find out what readers look at first on a web page. A 2000 study from the Poynter Institute determined that readers looked at text 78% of the time, and graphics 22% of the time. This indicates that CEO bloggers should concentrate on writing a good post and not spend so much time on graphics.

This doesn’t mean that you should neglect the graphics on your blog post. Quite the contrary. But your graphics should complement your content, not the other way round.

The Psychology of Colours

What colours are you taking advantage of?

The Psychology of Colours

18. Consider Colour Psychology – Researcher Satyendra Singh determined that 62% to 90% of a users’ initial assessment of a website was based upon colour. Researchers Paul A. Bottomley and John R. Doyle also determined that certain colours send specific information to viewers. Neutral colours such as white or grey convey the impression of usefulness or utility, while bright colours such as red provide pleasure and stimulation.

The research suggests that adding a bright colour such as red to a CEO blog can make it seem more exciting, while a white or grey background can make it seem useful. The key point here is – choose your colour scheme very carefully.

In conclusion

The most effective CEO bloggers employ a combination of these strategies to drive traffic to their sites. It would be almost impossible to focus on all 14 strategies in one post. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. If you just focus on integrating a few of these principles into your blog posts the overall quality and persuasiveness of your content will noticeably increase. We recommend focusing on one principle per blog post until you get a good feeling for the efficacy of each.

Nine types of CEO blog article

By | CEO blogging, Thought leadership | No Comments

A common question for new CEO bloggers is: “what should I write about?” In our experience, there’s two good ways to get started writing great CEO blog posts.

One alternative is to start with a type or style of post in mind. With this approach, you adopt a style for the article upfront, and then find the right ideas to fit your thought leadership positioning (find more about getting the right thought leadership positioning here).

This article looks at this approach in detail. In turn, we cover nine common article styles (with a practical example of each):

  1. Industry Trends
  2. Best Practices
  3. Commentary and Analysis
  4. Guest Post
  5. Question & Answer (Q&A)
  6. Excerpts
  7. Comprehensive Guides
  8. How-to Articles
  9. Roundups of Information

When you’re starting an article style first you can use these nine styles for inspiration as you sit down to create content. A quick warning that the quality of idea is still important when you start with a type of post in mind. Boring but well structured content is still boring.

In the sections that follow I’m going to highlight examples of each style – with a quick review of the aspects that work well (and not so well).

Nine styles of blog post to consider for your CEO blog

Style 1: Industry Trends

An industry trends piece is an opinionated overview of what’s really happening in your industry.

Writing on industry trends post is typically one of the easiest styles for a CEO to deliver, because it’s simply a written recap of discussions that you have every day.

You’re covering current developments in the industry, for the benefit of your customers, employees and partners.

An example of this style is the 2015 Top 10 List created by George Colony of Forrester Research for his Counterintuitive CEO blog.

George Colony’s 2015 Top 10 List

Style 2: Best Practices  

A major reason why people read CEO blogs is to pick the brain of an expert in the industry.

Providing detailed coverage of your opinions on best practices is one of the best ways to establish yourself as an authority figure.

As we’ve talked about previously, these posts need to be differentiated from the opinions of your peers if you want to position as an industry leader. For this reason, it’s much better to write about your views on best practices (than simply recapping on widely held industry views).

Style 3: Content curation

One of the best ways to get people to come back to a blog is to provide useful information about the industry from a range of sources.

By helping your customers to understand what’s relevant to them, you can quickly highlight your expertise, opinions and industry coverage.

An example is Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Kevin Roberts’ review of a book called Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed.

Black box thinking

Kevin Roberts’ review of Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed.

Style 4: Guest Post

Letting somebody else take over your blog can be a great way to highlight the broader strength of your business.

Specifically, we’d recommend this be done through inviting selected employees and customers to contribute to the CEO blog.

Guest posting is a great way to show off the success and capability of your employees and customers. It can also add variety to your material and deepen the relationship readers have with your organisation. 

Style 5: Question & Answer (Q&A)  

A question and answer post is perhaps the easiest post style to get started. You ask an expert questions, and post their responses.

There are two basic variations on the Q&A style:

  • Ask one expert a set of deeper questions (the interview)
  • Ask multiple experts the same question, and post the set of replies

Whilst a Q&A style can be particularly effective when used sporadically, every CEO blog needs personal thought leadership – that only comes from a core of well-developed opinion pieces.

(See also: more about developing a core list of strong opinions as a foundation for thought leadership).

Style 6: Excerpts

An excerpt post typically has a range of short soundbytes woven together around a central theme.

One of the most effective yet least used blogging styles is to post excerpts from useful materials, such as books, columns, articles, white papers, etc. This helps you avoid reinventing the wheel or regurgitating others’ ideas, and shows your willingness to learn from other experts in the industry.

A good example of this style is What Is Thought Leadership from Thought Leadership Partners.

Style 7: How-to post  

Many entrepreneurs and other leaders turn to resources such as CEO blogs to learn how to perform new or unfamiliar tasks. This includes everything not taught in business school and areas outside of a person’s expertise.

A common mistake with how to pieces is to pick topics that are too simple. The topic needs to be deeply aligned to your experience and a lesson that only you could give.

A well-written how-to article, such as Penny Herscher’s How to Run a Board Meeting, can establish credibility as a leader and attract many new followers.

A example of a CEO how to piece: Penny Hercher’s How to run a board meeting

Style 8: Comprehensive Guides

The comprehensive guide is simply a how-to post, delivered at 5-10 times the normal length and level of detail of a blog on the topic. The aim of a comprehensive guide is to provide so many resources that the post becomes the ‘bible’ on the topic.

Style 9: Roundups of Information

Some of the most effective blogs around, such as The Huffington Post and Mashable, are really roundups of information or news stories that the blogger finds interesting, entertaining, or useful. The basic idea here is to provide references to a variety of useful information readers might not be aware of.

An example of this style is The Forrester Book Club on George Colony’s The Counterintuitive CEO, where he simply asked his executives what they were reading.

In conclusion: There’s no right style of article, but there is a right result

The key to success in CEO blogging is to be creative and to be on the lookout for new types of blog articles, new topics or new spins on old topics – all with the aim of achieving a deeper level of engagement with your customers and prospects.

Remember that If it’s done well, CEO blogging should be a substitute for sales meetings. Does the content you’re producing mean that you’re deeper in the sales process, generating more new leads, seeing more opportunities, and ensuring that your current clients understand the breadth of your sales offer?

There’s no right style or way to get started – just a process that delivers great results for you and your business.