Are Business Blogs Dead?
I know it’s a tired, over used concept, but that’s the question I was asked recently for an interview. It’s been asked on and off over the past 10 years or so.
Ironically, we’ll be celebrating 10 years of blogging for our business in just a few months and we continue to add new blogs for clients on a regular basis.
With the combined challenge of creating high quality content over a long period of time with increased competition from overall content marketing efforts, it’s no wonder the question of whether business blogging is sustainable keeps coming up.
A blog is simply a content management system and how companies choose to use them are as diverse as traditional CMS platforms. But in terms of businesses publishing journal style articles written in a more conversational voice, the trend is actually up. According to a recent UMass Dartmouth study (pdf), there are more Fortune 500 companies blogging now than ever before and the increase from their most recent study is greater than in years past.
Of course just because companies are doing a thing, doesn’t mean they’re doing it well. Just look at social media or content marketing. Or SEO.
No matter how capable a company is at the act of blogging or how competitive the online world becomes due to maturing content marketing efforts, company blogs can play an instrumental role in an integrated content marketing strategy. For example, as a hub in a hub and spoke model where spokes are distribution channels and social networks, blogs provide a focal point of themed content that can easily be amplified through push and pull tactics.
Driven by a content plan and editorial calendar, blog topics can support answering customer questions and social engagement – all optimized for search findability and social media sharability. I’ve covered the topic of business blogging many times here so I won’t go more into the why, but here’s a bit on the how for those who are considering whether blogging might fit or what to do with a current blogging effort.
5 things companies need to think about in order for a business blog to be successful:
1. Align customer information needs (by customer segment and buying cycle) with marketing/business objectives to create an editorial plan
2. Leverage tools to plan and manage a content calendar that can adapt and be optimized (for messaging and conversions, not just SEO)
3. Grow and involve a community with the company blog, don’t just push information. Co-create and curate community content.
4. Be visual – images and video content in blogs have substantially greater reach, shares and engagement rates
5. Leverage buyer journey and content lifecycle analytics to determine performance optimization opportunities. Do the same for other intended audiences: current customers, industry media, potential employees, investors and partners. Use data to optimize performance but not at the expense of brand messaging and customer engagement.
Companies that are not doing these 5 things (at least) will find a hard time finding ROI related success with their blogging efforts. Even if a blog is started purely for conversation or thought leadership purposes, intentional design of an editorial calendar mapped to customer interests will help inspire measurable KPIs and business outcomes.
Business blog planning that factors in these 5 steps at once or more likely, in phases, will keep the blogging effort accountable. If your company already has a blog, then use these 5 steps as a sort of audit to determine if you’ve been doing what’s necessary to succeed. Wherever there are gaps, solve them and refresh your business blogging effort to be more successful.
Which business blogs do you see as the most successful in your industry?
If you’d like to know more about the role of blogs within the future of content marketing, be sure to check out my presentation at Content Marketing World Sept 10th at 9:45am “The Future of Content on the Search & Social Web“.
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