Xero’s blog has drifted off course recently, as they commissioned external writers to come up with such marvels as Choosing the right smartphone for your business, How to avoid holiday computer disasters, Social networking policy: what’s in yours?, How to exit a business and win and How to make sure your emails aren’t marked as spam.
The quality of the commissioned writing is poor. It’s not poor because the writers cannot write, but because their assigned topics are too broad, the content isn’t new or especially insightful and they are not writing from Xero’s perspective. There are far better sources for the article content on the internet and in books, but the authors generally attempt to summarize the topic Demand Media style instead of linking to the authorities.
You can tell that the posts are poor by the number and nature of comments that these posts generally attract. The Computer Disasters post, as I read it today, has just two comments, and one of them is a link back from the author who posted the text to his own blog on the same day. The other comment looks like spam. The author’s own blog attracted no comments.
This gradual build up of commissioned content came to a head with the Choosing the right smartphone for your business post from Dec 30th, where commenter Kelvin nailed it with “adding generic content to this blog about social media, smart-phone choices, e-books, etc… dilutes the value of the blog.”
What to do
I was disappointed and surprised that the Xero team chose to go this way, though perhaps just as an experiment. The external content is obviously poor and the reading the Xero blog is no longer so fun.
Perhaps this was part of a SEO strategy to attract more page views to the blog, but even if so SEO should never substitute for great and relevant content, and certainly not by straying into vaguely relevant and generic commissioned articles.
I would primarily nudge the Xero team to remember the wonderful customer-first approach to business that is part of Xero’s culture.
In the latest phone review instance, if Xero really thinks the topic is important then internal writers can instead point customers to great reviews found elsewhere, and then discuss how Xero works on each of the platforms. Blackberry and Xero – what should one do? Selecting a new phone? Xero works best on X and Y.
Xero has a large number of strengths, and should continue to use these to deliver the news and views to the growing Xero community, keeping the genuine Xero voice.
To that end Xero does demonstrate to customers how to do phones, social networking and everything else right by walking the talk, producing awesome products that shine on each platform and being leaders in genuine engagement with customers through different media. Posts on Xero Touch, the sniper team, How web hosting benefits from an open API, Double Entry Bookkeeping, and Lunch with Meg are written by Xero insiders for Xero customers and community.
More of the same please.
<update. Xero agree, and have, naturally, blogged about it. Kudos>