We've Got Good News & Bad News
By Becky Carroll
First Published on The CMO Site
Corporate blogging is on the decline, being replaced by tools such as Facebook and LinkedIn, according to a recent study. That's bad news, but it's not all bad.
The percentage of Inc. 500 CEOs and CMOs reporting that they are using corporate blogs as part of their social media portfolios decreased for the first time since the "The 2012 Inc. 500 Social Media Update" began in 2012. Only 37 percent of respondents had a corporate blog in 2011 as compared to 50 percent in 2010. This brings the use of blogging in Inc. 500 companies down to just below levels reported in 2008 (39 percent at the time). For comparison, Fortune 500 companies that are blogging have remained relatively steady over the past three years at around 23 percent.
The new study, by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, indicates that Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are the top social media tools being used by these companies (at 74 percent, 73 percent, and 64 percent respectively).
But Facebook and Twitter are no replacement for blogs. Facebook and Twitter are great tools for reaching customers where they are present online, but both suffer from information overload. Updates get pushed down the page very quickly (if they aren't completely buried by Facebook's EdgeRank algorithms). So the opportunity for brands to provide thought leadership on Facebook is fleeting.
LinkedIn can be a very valuable tool, but most companies seem to be using it mainly for recruiting rather than for providing updates to and building relationships with connections. Additionally, brands that rely on social media will have trouble reaching customers; many companies block access to these tools in the workplace, making it difficult for customers, clients, and prospects to catch the latest updates when they are posted during the day.
It is a shame that companies don’t seem to understand how all of these tools should work together in a strategic approach. For example, Facebook and Twitter can help promote blog posts from the corporate site. As a blogger, I find that much of the conversation around my blog posts has moved to these two tools, yet they also provide most of the referrals to the blog itself.
In fact, blogging can be excellent for SEO and is especially beneficial for B2B companies. When blogs are part of a corporate Wwebsite, those sites get more visitors. According to a study conducted by HubSpot, Websites with blogs get 55 percent more visitors than those without blogs; those companies that actively manage their blogs (including more frequent posts that are relevant to potential readers) get 6.9 times more organic search traffic than those that simply have a blog.
Perhaps the Inc. 500 corporations that state they are no longer blogging haven’t taken the time to blog regularly or haven’t bothered to create content that truly builds thought leadership and strengthens relationships with customers. Blogs that only tout the newest product or brag about the latest industry award will most likely not produce many return readers. The best corporate blog authors write posts that educate on topics of interest to their readers and potential customers, as well as posts about the state of the industry, the accomplishments of their employees and customers, and even controversial topics that spark conversation.
Interestingly, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth study also noted that blogs are among the most successful of the social media tools covered in the survey. 92 percent of those using blogs stated that they have been successful with blogs, the second highest success rate only to message boards. (96 percent of those using message boards felt they were successful.) Of the 13 tools highlighted in the study, Facebook ranked near the bottom with a success rate of 82 percent, just above podcasting (80 percent), Foursquare (68 percent), and MySpace (0 percent). Should corporations really abandon blogs for tools that are less effective?
So why am I excited about the results of this study? It's because those of us who do continue to blog will now have a stronger voice over our competitors.
What about you? Where do you see blogging in your corporate tool kit?
Becky Carroll is the author of The Hidden Power of Your Customers: Four Keys to Growing Your Business Through Existing Customers. She is the founder of Petra Consulting Group, a consultancy focused on social media and customer experience. Her client roster includes several Fortune 100 companies including Electronic Arts, HP, Fujitsu, and Ford. In her most recent role, she was the Community Program Manager and social media strategist for Verizon. In addition, Becky is the Social Media Contributor for NBC/TV San Diego. She teaches the "Marketing via New Media" class at UC San Diego and is the author of top customer service blog Customers Rock!. She also speaks internationally about social media, customer experience, and customer service and loyalty.