I like to call blogging the ‘traditional’ social media.
It’s been around since the early 2000s; back then it was clunky to use and attractive probably only to the technically-minded. For the rest of us, we probably didn’t have a clue that blogging was bubbling underneath the cyber-surface.
The first decade of the 21st century was also a time when traditional media was at its peak. We had no hesitation in sourcing our news and information from the likes of radio, TV, newspapers, and magazines, so why would we bother with these weird online journal things called blogs?
Simple and cheap
However, as we all know, the world has changed rapidly and irrevocably. Today it’s simple and cheap (in theory, compared to other marketing activities) to publish a blog and distribute its contents via the social web, globally and in real time.
Today, consumers are more than happy to get their news and information from sources other than traditional media, as long as they trust the source. Often this will include blogs by companies and organisations as well as individuals.
As content marketing activity picks up in Australia, more and more companies and organisations will be faced with the question as to whether or not they should blog.
Given we live in world where short-termism is rife and decisions need to be backed with data, no matter how dubious, it’s likely these three reasons will be trotted out ad nauseum as rationale for establishing a corporate blog:
1. A blog will help drive non-search engine traffic to your website
The main reason a company will establish a blog in the first place is to drive traffic to its website. It’s true, an effective and vibrant blog will do this – especially if you are in tandem growing your social channels because every time you share content on your networks, you increase the chances of growing the number of people who visit your site. Not to mention the power of building an opt-in list of people who want to be notified when your posts go live.
While social media and an opt-in list are great ways to grow traffic organically, coming up high in search engine rankings is also a powerful means of driving people to your site. Clever keyword-optimised copy has the ability to seduce Google’s algorithms, the result of which means your site will potentially rank higher than your competitors’ – of course this should result in more traffic to your site, albeit from people who might not be aware of your brand initially.
3. It will also help convert traffic into leads and sales
You’ve attracted people to your site and provided them with relevant information that answers their questions or a pressing need they might have. You may have inspired them to take action, or connected emotionally with a human story that resonated with them. Such nascent relationships can potentially blossom over time as would-be customers get to know your brand and what it stands for; in turn this can sometimes result in new business leads and ultimately sales (according to HubSpot, 57% of businesses have acquired a customer through their company blog).
These are very much rational factors in starting a blog, loved by chief financial officers and data junkies alike. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but it’s not where the magic happens.
Heart and purpose
Now let’s look at counter-balancing numbers-driven rationale with what I can only describe as the ‘softer’ side of the argument for blogging. Done well, with heart and purpose, a corporate blog will help:
1. CLARIFY your company’s purpose and point of view
- What discussions do you want to start, or be part of?
- What topics do you want to ignite debate around?
- What conversations do you want to lead?
- What do you want to be known for?
A blog will help focus your collective thoughts and serve as the touchstone for your company’s entire content marketing efforts. This is critical if brand publishing is a route you want to take.
2. ENGAGE your employees
An effective content marketing program should cut a swathe across the silos in your company.
If you’re a company of any size, you will have knowledgeable and enthusiastic people in many and varied weird and wonderful pockets of your organisation. Identify and recruit them! Get them involved in telling your company’s stories. You will also have subject matter experts lurking within the corporate walls – don’t hide them away in the shadows, get them out on the social web via your blog – make rock stars of them! (Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer report tells us time and time again we trust information coming from internal experts as well as external third parties such as academics).
3. DEMONSTRATE your brand has a ‘human heart’
I’ve always said that done well, a company’s blog should serve as the ‘beating heart’ of the organisation.
Giving people a sense of your business (not to mention your corporate purpose); taking them ‘behind the velvet rope’, being helpful, providing utility, demonstrating the expertise of your people – these are all factors that over the journey can help create a positive ‘glow’ around your brand (indeed, 60 per cent of consumers feel a company’s positivity after reading their blog). And as we all know, in a competitive marketplace – where product and service parity is the norm more often or not, despite what your website says – it’s often this emotional ‘X factor’ that plays a role in consumers’ decision-making.
A blog may sound like an ugly appendage and to the bean-counters, potentially a waste of time; but we keep hearing positive stories and anecdotes about the power of the medium from those companies and organisations committed to the blogging cause.
So which camp do you fit in? Data or heart, or a bit of both?