Could it really be: blogging is falling out of favor with the corporate world? A survey by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research shows that only 37 percent of Inc. 500 corporations used blogs in 2011 compared with 50 percent in 2010. Facebook and LinkedIn, in contrast, are virtually tied at 74 and 73 percent adoption rates, respectively.
Before dropping all of your clients' blogging efforts and moving over to the social media world completely, consider that with social media, you are at the mercy of the platform itself. Facebook has made this point painfully clear to some businesses, who continually have to adapt to things like the new mandatory Timeline and the fact that only a small percentage of fans actually see their updates, unless they pay.
So, dropping the blog is not recommended, but perhaps it is time to look at how to maximize it:
1. Provide something valuable people will want to share
This means eliminating the blatant sales pitches and focusing on great content that will inspire people to link to it or bookmark it as a resource. What defines great content? Things such as:
- Expertly researched industry news
- Commentary and links to other great information sources (content curation)
- Entertaining editorials in a genuine voice. Blogs are great for expressing opinions.
- Interviews with internal and external thought leaders
- Charts, infographics, videos and other visual tools
- Tutorials and how-tos
An example of a corporate blog that gets it right is antivirus vendor Webroot’s threat blog, which provides cutting-edge information on security threats. While obviously slanted towards encouraging people to protect themselves with an antivirus, nonetheless the blog provides great info found nowhere else.
2. Hire great writers to write real articles
I am going out on a limb here to say that the Internet is saturated with too many 400-600 word posts that do not delve enough into their topics to be of real value. They are simply appetizers without the main dish. It is okay to publish longer articles — try 800 to 1200 words — just make sure to use bullet points and sections headers rather than huge blocks of unbroken text.
Also, expect better results offering rates of at least five to ten cents per word in order to get superior writers. White papers, technical writing and heavy research requirements should pay 25 cents and up per word. Secure your writers now, as the industry will undoubtedly get more competitive as search engines reward better content rather than SEO trickery.
3. Speak authentically and avoid getting “too cute.”
It is painful to watch some brands’ awful attempts at “spicing things up” with humor — when it’s obviously not genuine. Humor is awesome when it is genuine, such as a funny anecdote about something that actually happened at the office or a CEO’s witty and honest examination of some current event. Not everyone can pull this off, so not everyone should try.
A better approach might be to occasionally share funny and relevant material from around the Web, rather than force the humor.
4. Develop an editorial calendar
The next tip is a short but important one: organize your blogging by planning out the themes and article titles months in advance, allowing for a few spur-of-the-moment posts of course. An editorial calendar forces a company to consider its audience and the entire point of the blog itself, leading to a more coherent message and branding effort.
5. Integrate with social media
Social media integration could simply involve sharing links to the content on your own social platforms, and suggesting others share it as well if they find value in it. It does not necessarily mean cluttering up a site with share buttons all over the place.
The latter is probably going to eventually engender “social media button fatigue” among readers who are now seeing them everywhere and tuning them out, like banner ads. It is also a bit awkward to see sites with buttons that show zero shares or “Likes” on their posts. So, consider removing these buttons if your blog is not very popular. People can copy and paste your URL if they want to share, like in the good old days.
In summary, the companies that have failing blogs probably looked at them as just another way to launch a sales spiel. These companies will probably also fail miserably at social media marketing, as the thing that works there is the same thing that works in blogging: a genuine voice sharing excellent stuff that people like.