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author's profile photo Michael Appleby

So is Blog Pollution a new problem?

Lots of discussion on the quality (and quantity) of blogs coming down the pike these days. In the last 25 days, there have been an average of 27 blogs posted. Hard to say how many were subject to pre-moderation, but I would suspect that there were at least 5 and possibly more. There seems to be about 5 Moderator Alerts created per day on blogs. There are a lot of good quality blogs relating personal experiences or sharing technical knowhow, but many of them are marketing, product announcements, webinar or course solicitations, and even a few blogs pointing to other blogs. covered this topic about 3 years ago. Seems like we never do learn from our past. Fred quotes from 2003 a perspective on marketing that still resonates with many of us, but not sure is reflected by the Marketing folks who own the community now.

Jamie Cantrell's new SAP Employee Blogging Guidelines are not being well received (except for Moderators who have been asking for some clear guidance). Many of the folks pushing their product updates, webinar sessions, etc. are not real happy with the efforts to remove their content from the Blogs and have them posted elsewhere. Don't like the Featured Content in Community Topic Pages, because they have to submit their updates instead of having instant gratification. Don't like AEM for that same reason, plus the belief that it lacks visibility in Tag pages (which it does). Don't like the wiki because it is old and tired looking (which it is, but has some compensating features like multi-author, and email notifications of updates), plus it is supposedly going to go away (like for about the third or fourth time). Even worse is to have to use PartnerEdge or a Product Page for which updates are even more cumbersome.

What is the right solution to these conflicts? Can we build improvements into the SAP Community which will address these problems? I guess we could. How long would that take?

One thought is to create a new instance of WordPress in parallel to Blogs which is also associated with the SAP Community. Implement the multi-author plugin available, so common content pages could be maintained by interested members. Allow product announcements, pumping of webinars, training workshops, etc. there. Allow what used to be the old Jive Document pointers to KM style content which would then be stored in AEM but made visible and associated with Community managed tags, using a short paragraph followed by a link button to open the related content. Move landing pages from the wiki to this new WP and perhaps name it Community Wiki (or Documents).

Probably never happen ...

But what if it did?

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  • Jun 28, 2017 at 05:13 AM

    AnswerHub supports 'wikify' option with authorizations and RSS feeds #justsaying
    Of course, we need a better editor, because the current one is not good enough (mildly put).

    As for marketing content - is there any technical possibility (other than separate WordPress instances) to opt out of anything remotely related to 'Thought Leadership' for a tag of interest? I mean separate feeds for technical and technical+marketing content. Probably not :(

    • Jun 28, 2017 at 01:11 PM

      I just realized that my title assumes that blog pollution is a fact of life here. I believe that to be the case and that further it is being perpetuated by SAP Employees, by and large. But I acknowledge that my subject line could be similar to the question, "Have you stopped beating your wife?" or perhaps this one, "The beatings will continue until morale improves!".

      Oh well, I am rather firmly in the camp that we have blog pollution, that it is a real problem for the quality of content in the community, and that now that we have some realistic guidelines and an effort to enforce them, that this coming as a shock to many folks who ignored such guidance in the past and continue to do so in the present. Sadly, there are quite a few Moderators who obviously feel their desires to post invalid content far outweighs their responsibility as a Moderator. Since this situation is compounded by the perceived limited alternatives to blogs, any approach towards enforcement needs to be accompanied by a return of announcement functionality (along with other improvements).

      I agree with Vesi that a separation of the marketing content from the community's allowed type of blogs (paraphrasing) is a glaring need. Having had this conversation previously, the desire to market and post announcements is to do so where there are visitors who would see it.

      What if we do separate the marketing into a separate WP instance, but nobody goes there? Then it would become the wasteland of stuff with very little traffic and little interest to many if not most members here. NOTE: this is kind of what we are seeing already in the SAP Community given the low engagement numbers which are even at that low level are still declining.

      Of course, then the invalid blogs would begin to appear again where the members go. Argh! Is this a Catch-22?

  • Jun 29, 2017 at 05:19 PM

    Mike, thank you for posting this! "Blog Pollution", you got that right.

    While doing some research for my recent blog, sadly, I pretty much confirmed my suspicions about this. The number of blogs written by the SAP employees is clearly disproportionate. Even from my very limited sample I've noticed the following.

    1. The so called "KPI blogs" - incohesive ramblings of the SAP employees. Those usually follow the same template: "hot" subject + bunch of banalities + in the last paragraph mention some SAP product with a link to "learn more". Exhibit A, posted today. This simply needs to stop.

    2. The "announcement" blogs. These actually were rather annoying on SCN before. There needs to be some kind of feature for this since "hey, this is happening then and there" is not really a blog.

    3. Blogs that are really the documents. I believe these are actually quite helpful but, as you said, using blogs as a documentation replacement is not working well for both authors and consumers. The current guideline is to use Wiki but yeah, right, who's going to do that if it's much easier to post a blog? I don't really have a solution for this one, unfortunately. Perhaps the SCN team needs to have a good look at the features provided by AnswerHub or come up with some other strategy.

    Regarding poorly disguised marketing content - we've had numerous discussions about this on SCN. If memory serves, the marketing team always quoted the view numbers as some kind of popularity indicator. However, this is IMHO not at all an indicator of anyone even reading the blogs, much less approving of them. A simple answer: bring back star ratings or "dislike" and then see what happens. However, here we are stepping into the "strategy" territory and it's a foggy one...

    • Jun 29, 2017 at 09:03 PM

      For number 3: SAP should appoint a document manager for every tag they recognize. This shouldn't be optional!!!! If you want users to recognize and use the tags, SAP needs to support the tags in some real way.

      The document manager should be responsible for a separate repository of documents, (like a wiki). SCN members could then submit their blogs for inclusion. The document manager decides if the blog/article meets SAP standards in format, design, quality and correctness of information. If it does, SAP either copies it to a wiki like area with proper author documentation or flags it with a special tag or flag.

      A moderator for the tag would have to first recommend the blog to the document manager. This could be done by allowing the author, or anyone else, a new moderation choice. A blog would be reported to the moderator with a "recommended for SAP". Then the moderator would be given a way to report it to the document manager if they felt it was appropriate. This assures a two level review.

      SAP can give Karma points to authors that get blogs accepted. The moderator can be given Karma points as well for each blog recommended that gets accepted. If SAP was serious about this, they would make an appropriate size donation to the charity of the authors choice. Or maybe even pay the author a small amount. Maybe by word count or page count, or KB count. Or something.

  • Jun 29, 2017 at 10:07 PM

    Well, I was just reading through Michelle's comment to my blog (on why she does not read blogs) and thought let me open the RSS feed for all the SAP blogs and just capture the first thing that comes to my head. My apologies to the blog author's and I didn't mean this to make fun of them but just to illustrate the issue. Blog titles are on the left, my "blurbs" on the right:

    If I'm honest, the blogs I mentally earmarked as "possibly read" likely won't be read because tomorrow there will be 10 more posted with very similar titles.

    blog-reaction.jpg (134.0 kB)
    • Jun 30, 2017 at 08:35 AM

      The second blog is not exactly a KPI one (as far as I can tell, the topic is outside my expertise), it is just the unfortunate double meaning of the word 'message'.

      In such cases the excerpt, which one gets in is useful: KPI blogs are typically written-down to respect the working vocabulary of a 7-year old and break my buzz-o-meter with the first sentence (if it was not broken already by 2 or more buzzwords in the title).

      I also skip all blogs, which mention events. Please, don't be offended, I know, that you blog about these, but I am not interested even in attending one.

      My biggest problem with HANA and S/4HANA blogs, is that there is hardly any good and useful content, which is relevant for me. For system administrators and developers - yes, and while as a functional consultant I need to understand the concepts to provide good solutions, this is hardly something, which I will be permitted to touch, except for troubleshooting purposes in DEV. There is an ocean of business-level (read as sales - driving) content, which is of little, use once you are faced with replicating business processes and exotic requirements. There is some good content for functional folks, but it is a nightmare to find it (especially for logistics in S/4HANA). Blogs, which only rephrase the simplification list do not count as useful, unless written for non-English speaking audience - I can download the pdf and read it myself, thank you :)

      I would love to have some simple content filtering within a tag or topic by target audience and language - similar to what openSAP has:

      And 'Channel' is also a nice concept (when it is followed).

      I wonder whether this is technically possible to be implemented here - if yes, then even the marketing people will probably be satisfied, because they will still have a way to reach the audience, for which they are writing and target more precisely, then the analytics will show if their content strategy actually works.

      filtering.jpg (126.8 kB)
      • Jun 30, 2017 at 08:41 PM

        Yes, later I actually opened that blog out of curiosity and it looked rather technical. Just shows you how important the title is these days.

        I really like the "target audience" idea. This could've been easily implemented if the tags were done right on SCN. Although I'm concerned that SAP might screw up the classification in their usual "this is how we view this, regardless of reality" approach. E.g. similar classification is used in the conference agenda builder and last time it made me wonder a few times "am I a human or am I a dancer?" :)

        And I feel the same way about the HANA blogs. I'm a developer but enough is enough. At this point I believe I've heard every in and out of enhancing S/4HANA but have no slightest clue what I'd be enhancing (or not). I'm just as much interested in the standard functionality as in the customization. Surely all those people who crank out the KPI blogs deal with the customers sometimes and know something about business. Why not tell the readers about best practices, how different processes would line up going forward, etc. instead of burping the buzzwords?

        • Jul 01, 2017 at 12:10 AM

          The problem with 'target audience' category, is that people need to assign the right ones, just like with tags, but here we introduce an additional challenge, that this assignment is subjective and can be abused for sales-driven or KPI blogs.

          I am afraid, I don't have an easy answer to that - one way is through moderation, but moderators are suffering enough with the current platform. Another way is like Facebook treats news-feeds - you don't like the sponsored content - say 'not relevant', then I suppose, that there is some logic, which learns from your input (but this won't solve the problem in anonymous mode).

          Channels are another (probably easier) way to handle the problem - this is similar to what Mike suggested, except, that by default you see everything in the blogs page and filter by site instead of visiting

          In 95% of the cases I am not interested in reading content marketing/KPI blogs. In the remaining 5% I will use the search feature or I will do without these.

          In a similar way, most end users and managers will not be interested to read about development specifics, system administration tricks or configuration details.

          And to be even more blunt - if I were evaluating marketing solutions, I would be questioning how reliable it can be, if I am neither targeted correctly in the vendor's website, nor have I an easy way to filter the content, which is relevant for me.

  • Jun 30, 2017 at 02:13 AM


    Thanks Mike -- you may notice I defer to your judgment in these cases. You have the experience and the knowledge. I hope it doesn't feel like a thankless task. If so: Thank you.

    Also: love the questions and the productive suggestions. The multi-author blog thing -- would that just solve the old 'documents edit' thing? or would it solve the blog quality thing? want to be sure i understand -- because you're always worth understanding.

    PS: thank you!

    • Jun 30, 2017 at 01:39 PM

      Hi Moya,

      I appreciate the feedback and your consistent willingness to discuss these topics. Many of our less responsible Moderators are unwilling to change their behavior and even more unwilling to even discuss such topics.

      The multi-author blot plugin for WordPress was something I researched and raised as a solution for several content types (periodic product update Jive documents, Landing Pages, etc.) where the limit of a single author was a significant problem. I believe this was discussed during one of several SAP Community Document handling discussions on or around April 28, 2016. It was ignored as an option both during the meeting and afterwards with the statement that the SAP Wiki would work as the interim solution with a roadmap to its replacement to be developed towards the end of 2016. As far as I know, this roadmap has not appeared or even been discussed. The separation of blogs into one instance of WordPress (WP) and what used to be wiki/Jive documents into another instance with the WP multi-author plug-in would go a long way to resolving our blog pollution. Announcements functionality which I believe I saw a wireframe proposed design almost 4 months ago, would also help with the blog pollution we are experiencing.

      None of these options appear to have been taken seriously or at least not until very recently. But until some serious architecture redesign come into play for our members, and especially SAP Employees, we have less than desirable options to suggest as alternatives to blogs. Mind you, there are acceptable alternatives. They are just not as desirable. But the more blog pollution occurs, the lower quality of content is returned by searches (Google or otherwise), and the lower the engagement we experience with our users. Lather, rinse and repeat in a downward spiral.

      I do not think blog pollution is as big a problem as the departure of our Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and the poor engagement in Questions which has resulted. Nor do I think the consequences of blog pollution are as drastic as the increased number of tickets seen in BCP as a result of declining engagement. But it is a significant issue nonetheless and needs some action.

      We need to have some empathy for our Moderators who, for the most part, are struggling to keep up the quality of content in the Community, despite missing many of the tools we had previously, and despite Moderators compensating for the departure of so many SMEs by taking on responsibility to respond to Questions as opposed to simply monitoring content and ensuring civil discussion. Not the right way to go, but I am as guilty of enabling that as anyone (as you well know!).

      Thanks, Mike

      • Jun 30, 2017 at 04:22 PM

        Ahh so the parallel blog platform could then support announcements, webinars, events etc?

        Makes sense to separate marketing content from content that has one blog author anyway: event/webinar/etc are not 'thought leadership' pieces associated with one brave blogger at a time... But in that case why can't we just do the answerhub thing Veselina suggests above (i don't follow the functionality all the way but in one of the historical pieces you reference, Tammy suggested that in the past: a 'discussion' without a question mark.

        I get you on the empathy part and hope the appreciation and value comes through (after you know we painfully lost some -- but on the other hand the task has grown multifold). But I also have empathy for people taking the time to churn out marketing content - whether we like it our not. I very much dislike having to silence someone who puts a voice out there (bots aside... well that's definitely another 2017 can of worms...) -- but then again, that's why i don't do the tough moderator job :)

        • Jun 30, 2017 at 09:26 PM

          Hi Moya,

          I think the Announcements need to be a separate functionality which can be either automatically expired on a certain date (like the Community Overview Page announcements were) or something with a single entry point and stacking mechanism so that the most recent ones reside on top and older ones continuously drop down the list. We did do some things that way whereby the latest items were added on top. Not sure how that would be addressed, but thought it could be on a Community Topi Page as a separate section of Featured Content. I am very open to other options as well.

          The Discussions without being a Question was a fine way of doing your own personal announcements and marketing of your webinar, workshop, etc. We don't have such a thing right now.

          As far as AnswerHub is concerned, I doubt very much that we are making use of the features available. We also don't make use of DZone's experience with other folks setting up what they refer to as Knowledge Sharing sites. I think of our community as what used to be something along those lines. Sadly we have gotten pretty far away from that concept.

          It is worth a trip to their website to see what options are available to a license holder such as ourselves. I have no idea if they are best of breed, but from what I have seen from their website and from our very own hybris wiki (also based on AH), there are additional capabilities we have not taken advantage of.

          Cheers, Mike

        • Jun 30, 2017 at 09:49 PM

          After reading my post, I realized, that it was not very clear what I meant by 'wikify'. This is a cheap alternative,supported in standard, to have multi-author feature for content.

          Who is permitted to convert content to wiki could depend on user group assignment - this can be moderators or a separate group, or based on reputation (reputation-based wikify permission is not a wise choice, IMHO). Who is allowed to edit a wiki can also depend on user group assignment or reputation (separate settings).

          AnswerHub has built-in RSS support, which we do not use now for some reason. If AnswerHub RSS subscription is still undesirable (even only for wikis), I suppose, that with minimal adjustments wikified content updates will make their way into activity stream/notifications.

  • Jun 30, 2017 at 09:44 PM

    Hi Mike,

    I like the idea of separate areas for blogs but I didn't agree fully with the blog you linked from Fred. As it is a SAP site I like and appreciate some of the content shared. If it is not of interest to me, I just think someone may get some benefit from the information shared as no one can know everything about SAP nowadays. However I do think if it ends up pure marketing and reduced community input it could be that SAP end up talking to only SAP themselves and lose the community voice.

    One blog about blogging that I did comment on back in the day was an example of how to build blogs. I like some of the "How to" blogs as it does appeal to my technical interests. The blog I refer to was from Jeanne Carboni and called "Build Better Blogs" my comment linked here and mentions Jeanne's blog could have been a Wiki page or separate blogging area :).

    Also I would highlight two examples below from my recent collection of stats on this site and I would personally not call them "blogs". However the number of comments is amazing and indicates that the information shared was useful. I do not have any interest in the topic of U.S tax but these "blogs" do generate a lot of comments/feedback (I admit I have not read all the comments as they may complain about the blogs LOL ;))

    I don't think it will be a win win/ or everyone will be happy with the format or contents of SAP blogs. But I do like Veselina's idea of target audience that does sound an ideal way to split and target the audience of blogs.



    • Jun 30, 2017 at 10:24 PM

      Ouch, you struck another painful subject :)

      I think, these were posted as blogs due to the terribly flawed design of activities/notifications, not to mention the inefficient answer detail screen.

      Using a functionality not as intended - as a workaround, instead of revising the designs, which lead to this, is treating the symptom and not the disease...

    • Jun 30, 2017 at 10:45 PM

      That's right. US Tax Reporter Year-End and ACA Reporting are complex subjects that change significantly every year, due to changing Congressional and IRS (not to mention individual State) requirements. In the case of these two "blogs," they aren't blogs at all, they are true Q&A, except the question isn't in the original post, it's in all the comments, as a way for all the customers working on this functionality to collaborate in near-real-time, and with supporting SAP staff chiming in with announcements every time a Note on the subject was released (because, believe me, every customer pretty much had to apply every Note, in the right order, and not missing any details -- it got so confusing one year I wrote a blog on just how to apply all the Notes correctly, and at the next SAPPHIRE another customer came up to me and told me I had basically saved his life doing so).

      Are blogs the right platform for that activity? Absolutely not. They aren't blogs. But there isn't presently a good way to handle that kind of true forum activity, and those involved do not have the luxury of waiting for something -- legal requirements mandate they get it going immediately, and the fines for making mistakes or missing deadlines can be severe (millions of dollars, in some cases).

      So, the sheer number of comments is not an indication that these are high-quality blogs -- it's an indication that this is a critical annual activity for just about every US customer.

      And... the change in the way notifications and tracking unread messages works in the new platform made this much, much harder for these customers, as missing a comment can lead to big consequences. The SAP staff involved go the extra mile to document important developments in the Notes, or sometimes by editing the original "blog" post, but it comes out first in these comments.

      • Jul 03, 2017 at 11:01 AM

        But couldn't there blogs have created as "questions", too? And the customers use the answers as starting point and get their answers as comments? Wouldn't be much more confusing than it is now, right?

        • Jul 03, 2017 at 12:32 PM

          As questions, with the current setup - not really:

          • with RSS you can subscribe to comments for a specific blog, which is easier to track than hunting for comments to a question in activity stream;
          • no hidden comments and better overall representation of comments (I am not sure whether there is a limitation on comments depth);
          • as Jelena discovered - moderation for blogs works differently than for Q&A;
          • slightly better comments editor, which supports also tables.

          I really hope, that the blog guidelines will not be enforced for these highly important threads until the team comes up with an adequate solution.

          • Jul 03, 2017 at 01:38 PM

            That sounds reasonable. I forgot about the RSS feed thingy, since I don't use that. Thanks for summary, Veselina! :)

    • Jul 01, 2017 at 10:46 AM

      Hi Robert,

      You hit on something which was a problem in old SCN and probably old SDN (which getting a bit fuzzy in my memory) as well. In SCN (on the Jive Platform), the line between blogs (single author, personal experience/opinion content) and documents (how to guides and other technical content) was so blurred that it was impossible to impose separation. Both content types were HTML with the same editor and styles. The only real difference that I can remember is that Jive Documets were by default, multi-author. Landing pages in particular made use of this functionality. BTW, such pages were supposed to all migrate to the Wiki as having the closest set of conditions or functionality to support such pages. Landing pages were tables of content (sometimes referred to as link farms, but were usually more complex and well organized than that) for a specific topic, did not need comments, and were maintained by multiple authors/editors. They were and often still are fine example of collaborative efforts on the part of both SAP Employees and external members. Some at least are.

      The similarities of Jive Blogs and Jive Documents was recognized as a problem, but not one of great import until this latest migration and blog abuse put it squarely in the headlights. During our SCN/SAP Community migration, documents officially submitted to a review process and published with a Jive Doc linking page were moved almost exclusively to Adobe Experience Manager as Knowledge Management documents. Some of the blogs which were identified as KM content were also moved, but not a very large percentage. Most blogs were either identified as migration candidates or obsolete and candidates for deletion. This evaluation process of blogs was strictly voluntary and not comprehensive by any means. I doubt more than 25% of blogs went through this evaluation, so by default most were candidates for migrating. The migration instructions were for blogs of a How2 nature to be migrated as, you guessed it, SAP Community Blogs. Are they truly Blogs? Not by many of the blog definitions I have reviewed, but it was an expedient solution at the time. Hopefully segregating blogs from technical documents can be addressed during our next upgrade. Maybe while we also move product announcements, push marketing for events, webinars, workshops, etc, and other short-lived campaign material, to more appropriate channels.

      Cheers, Mike

    • Jul 11, 2017 at 08:06 PM

      Here is an example of the similar scenario when what was entered as a question on SCN later grew into the whole "community project" (good luck reading 952 replies with Moar button :( ).

      It was used similarly to the US tax "blog" mentioned above. Except no one from SAP made an appearance until few months into it. Also in this case I believe no one realized in the beginning how far it would grow.

      This is where "wikify" or "KBAfy" could be handy. When it became clear that this was more than a quick question it should've been converted into a different format, more appropriate for knowledge sharing.

  • Jul 03, 2017 at 12:36 PM

    "Implement the multi-author plugin available,

    why don't we have this feature in current blog platform. I used to co-author documents a lot and would love to been able to have both published. I raised this in Ideas or general feedback at some point and was given the impression it's not possible.

    Honestly, with current usage we have got to stop telling people why they can't be part of community and find ways to let them co-exist without interrupting the harmony of the rest of the members - much like real life. A way to allow members to filter content out or force vendors/suppliers to do a sponsored link (reinvest revenue back into community through paid content curators or more global moderators to manage the workload).

    • Jul 12, 2017 at 11:02 AM

      It's not too hard to find:

      I do not have it bookmarked as it comes up in a Google search on the terms (not too surprising) [WordPress multi author plugin]. The 1DX team was aware of the availability before Open Beta, but chose not to implement it.

    • Jul 12, 2017 at 11:34 AM

      Multi-author option for blogs can be useful if you have to switch userIDs for reasons beyond your control (I am probably stating something obvious)...

  • Jul 11, 2017 at 05:55 PM

    Sooooo, I was checking the SAP Support RSS feed after a long break. There are rarely any blogs posted in this tag but this time there was an unusual peak of activity.

    This blog posted on June 19th. The find 10 differences blog posted the next day. In case anyone still does not get it how to subscribe in WhatsApp - here is the mother blog from back in February. Each blog by itself is not bad per se and at least not a KPI blog but how many times does the same information need to be repeated?

    And then, of course, the KPI virus is spreading:

    "When we think about companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Netflix, and Uber, it’s easy to see the underlying principle of innovation in action. The disruptive influence of new digital platforms, algorithms, mobile devices, and analytics is not just transforming how enterprises operate internally, but how also helping consumers reimagine how things can be better, faster, and more convenient."

    The twist ending - this is somehow about SAP Leonardo. AAAAAAHHH!!!! [Runs for the hills]

    • Jul 11, 2017 at 07:19 PM

      I just love how SAP is not included in that list of companies with the underlying principle of innovation...

      • Jul 12, 2017 at 08:16 PM

        Haha, LOL! Haven't thought of that. Well, I guess those guys are already "in action" while SAP is still innovating with the Play-Doh at the kiddy table. :)

  • Jul 14, 2017 at 09:56 AM
    • Jul 14, 2017 at 05:05 PM

      Looks like these have already been taken care of and reduced to one. Still... This person has no content other than 5 blogs promoting a third party. Glorified spam.

      I'm not sure what agreement SAP has with the partners on this but when an "educational" webinar is meant to promote a third-party product then shouldn't it be paid advertising? From what I understand in this blog, someone who does not and has no plans to purchase that product would not gain anything from such "education". So what is a benefit for the community at large?

      It's a dangerous precedent otherwise. Where would such "education" end? If I want to start a company and "educate" SAP customers on my [paid] services, is it cool to get free advertisement in an SCN blog? "Achieving excellence with Jelena's Awesome Advice (tm), Part 1". There are many consultants on SCN that I'm sure would love to get free ad space.

      SAP's own webinar announcements are annoying enough (when they are irrelevant to me :) ) but at least they're paying for this website.

      • Jul 14, 2017 at 08:02 PM

        I will try to explain my understanding what is the difference between educational and marketing content with an example for non-SAP software.

        1) A small company produces CAD software. They offer full-featured time-limited demos for their products.
        2) In addition, they create video tutorials on how to use the software modules and publish product documentation on their website (no paywall to watch the videos).
        3) On top of that, they maintain wiki articles on construction standards (not related to specific software use).
        4) They also have web-based software (limited functionality for free version, full features for paid), which is based on the information from 3).

        3) is definitely educational content. In my opinion, promoting 3) should not raise concerns even by the most fierce opponents of marketing.
        Promoting a webinar for 4), I believe, still falls into the educational category, as long as the limited version is usable. I know, everybody wants free stuff, but developers need to make a living, too.
        Promoting 2) on third-party sites is a tricky one: in my opinion, if the videos are really tutorials and not 'my product is so awesome and soo much better than anything else on the market', it is still educational, due to the existence of the trial versions. This means, that one can actually try out the examples and play with the software to evaluate its usefulness. Some would say, that it is a form of advertising and needs to be paid for, but in this case my opinion is different.
        If the videos are similar to what marketing departments produce - then it is not educational, it is advertising. The reason? Content marketing is mainly authored by people, who have knowledge about advertising, but know very little about the industry from first-hand experience and have not even used the product, which they are promoting, neither do they understand how it works. Education means helping others gain knowledge and skills on a subject. I doubt that anyone could produce decent educational content without knowledge, experience and skills in the area. (This does not mean that a knowledgeable person would produce good educational content, it is merely a prerequisite).

        I have read a few articles, where content marketers describe their work as 'business content', add a few buzzwords on 'customer journey', 'experience' and 'brand', but this does not make it business content to customers. It is just advertising with claims on creativity.

        I apologize for the harsh tone, but most 'content marketing', 'thought leadership' etc., which I encounter on the internet, is just plain silly, lacks creativity and self-generated content, it is a waste of time and budget and can have negative impact on the brand and on the product, being promoted.

        • Jul 14, 2017 at 08:35 PM

          I agree that "devil is in the details". Even if the pure marketing was offset by some non-marketing content then it'd be somewhat acceptable. To bring your example back into SAP world - if a company creates some kind of job management solution then they could build some credit by posting about job scheduling in general. And if they posted tutorials on using their product that is educational as well. But, like you said, "let me tell you how ours is better" that's a sales pitch.

          In this particular case though no trial or free version offered (at least not openly on their website) and OP has not posted anything other than non-technical blogs. So - boo! :)

          +100 on the "thought leadership". It's becoming a curse word quickly since usually neither thought nor leadership is offered.

          • Jul 15, 2017 at 08:54 AM

            Good marketing is supposed to be subtle: I don't need to be told, that Photoshop is a good product - watching a speed painting video on youtube looks impressive, no matter if you are a designer or not. We all know, that the major part of the magic comes from the skills of the person, doing the drawing, and yet, one cannot help, but think: 'I am an artist, too, I just haven't found the way to express myself'.

            Here is an example of great marketing content: The Displaced.

            Warning: NSFW and potentially upsetting for sensitive people.

            Yes, it is pretty obvious - it is about VR, but it is done really well. The brilliant part is, that even when you know, that this is marketing, you'd still watch it. It is not targeting you as a member of a specific ethnic group, level of education, knowledge, financial power - you are targeted as a human being (being targeted as a human being makes you feel better about yourself and you are more inclined to accept certain content). It is done so well, that despite my disgust of using real-world problems to sell, I watched the video several times (playing with the arrow keys) without feeling cheaply sold out.
            Producing great marketing content requires a lot more budget, talent, thought and effort, but, believe me, this video made more impact on my opinion of VR than 10+ blogs and 'educational' (read as 'infused with marketing') videos could manage.

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