Blogging Alive and Kicking At The Center Of Your Marketing
Social media blogging doesn’t get respect any more.
Even though 59.3 million new WordPress blog posts are published each month.
This number doesn’t include blog posts on Blogger buried deep in Google or on Tumblr languishing in Yahoo’s portfolio.
Nor does this include blogs integrated into corporate systems or other homegrown options.
Despite the numbers, blogs are old by Internet standards. They started as weblogs in the 1990s.
Old translates to invisible. Maybe this is why blogging doesn’t get much respect from social media people.
Yet most top social media influencers built their reputations on the quality and strength of their blogs. Many are still going and have expanded into professional media entities like Jay Baer’s Convince and Convert and Lee Odden’s Online Marketing Blog.
Jason Miller viewed LinkedIn’s blog as the uncut jewel in LinkedIn’s content crown when he joined their team.
Effectively, businesses view social media blogging as dead. Their posts tend to be after-thought content. They read like high school writing assignments not quality content. As a result, their blogs underperform. While 81% of North American B2B businesses use blogging, only 59% of them find blogging effective! It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
As marketers, content strategists and social media experts, it’s time to rethink your blog.
Social media blogging: 4 Reasons your CMO needs
If you’re like most marketers, you probably have to make a case for social media blogging to your CMO.
1. Blogs are owned social media
For most marketers, PR professionals and business executives, the bigger question is:
Why aren’t blogs considered part of your social media strategy?
To answer this question, let’s define social media.
Social media platforms engage participants to consume, create and comment on content to communicate with their social graph, other members and the public. They endeavor to:
- Encompass a variety of content formats including text, videos, images (notably photographs), audio, PDF and presentations (notably PowerPoint). Many social media platforms use select content formats in defined sizes.
- Allow interactions to cross one or more platforms through social sharing, email and feeds.
- Involve different levels of participant engagement. Members can create, comment or lurk.
- Facilitate speed and breadth of information dissemination.
- Provides one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many communications.
- Enable communication to take place in real time or asynchronously over time. Additionally, they extend engagement online to offline and offline to online. (For example, conferences.)
- Be device indifferent. Social media can take place via computer, tablets and/or smartphones.
Social media blogging satisfies these 7 social media elements:
- Blogs can publish any form of content. Most social media platforms require specific content types and sizes.
- Blog content is delivered via email, social media or feeds.
- Blogs allow reader sharing and comments.
- Blog content has longevity. It’s content can be delivered directly when published or viewed later.
- Blogs provides continuous marketing to keep your brand going between other marketing campaigns.
- Blog content integrates with the rest of your marketing efforts both online and offline.
- Blogs can be viewed on a variety of devices. Add an easy-to-use mobile plugin to make your content mobile-friendly with limited programming.
By contrast, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have matured into full-fledged media entities. In addition to aggregating audiences, they must generate revenues from their participants. Chris Brogan calls them rented media.
2. Blogs provide optimized content
If you’re like most marketers, you think search when you hear the word “optimize”.
BUT, the reality is social media blogging optimizes content for 5 of your key audiences.
Unlike other social media, you must build your blog audience.
- Format blog content presentation to maximize readership.
- Make blog content easy to consume on any device.
In the early 2000s, businesses used blogs to support search.
- Plan your blog content to attract better search rankings. (Check Andy Crestodina’s Orbit Media Blog for additional help on this.)
- Use Yoast plugin to cover the basics.
- Add keyword relevant text to images and non-text blog content.
Beyond being a social media platform, blogs fuel other social media interactions.
- Maximize readers’ ability to engage with your blog and share your posts.
- Extend your blog content reach by sharing it on social media. Plan your social media sharing beyond the first day, week or month.
- Schedule evergreen holiday (or season) specific content in advance.
Influencer Marketing has grown up. Use social media blogging to encourage influencers and extend your reach.
- Mention influencers to position and align your brand. Reference and link to their blog posts.
- Ask influencers to participate in roundups or interviews (including videos and podcasts.) Dietrich does this with her Spin Inquisition.
- Invite influencers to post on your blog. This is at the core of Social Media Examiner’s content.
- Actively post on other people’s blogs. Andy Crestodina established his blog by guest posting once a week.
Many marketers underestimate the importance of optimizing their social media blogging to drive business.
- Answer ALL of your customer questions. (Hat tip: Marcus Sheridan) This answer generated $2 million in sales.
Link to your product and offering where appropriate. Unlike most social media, blogs yield sales.
- Establish thought leadership. Michael Brenner established himself as an expert with his blog while he was at SAP.
3. Blogs allow multi-directional engagement
Many marketers use social media to engage with their customers and broader audience.
Social media blogging is engagement-friendly. Blogs provide 4 types of engagement.
Blog comments allow readers to interact with you directly. Depending on your blog focus, this may not work for your business. If you allow blog comments, ensure the blogger can respond to readers for at least the first day the post is live. Close comments on older posts to avoid spam.
Engage your larger audience with interviews. Whether text, audio or video, interviews allow editorial control. Make interviews a regular column with a focus. For example, Actionable Marketing Guide has regular author interviews.
Expand your blog reach with influencers. They can participate via references, comments, interviews or blog posts.
Incorporate third party voices and opinions with guest posts. Guest posts require editorial support and management.
4. Blogs yield measurable results
Measuring social media ROI remains an on-going challenge for marketers.
Most social media marketing has an impact either:
- Before marketers know prospects are in-market for their offering
- Between the first or last piece of content touched in the purchase process.
As a result social media is a lot like John Wanamaker’s view of advertising:
“Half the money I spend on [social media] is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”
Social media blogging provides measurable results. Specifically, through the use of contextually relevant calls-to-action and good tracking, you should be able to track:
- Sales. At a minimum, link to the appropriate product page where you mention your offering.
- Qualified leads. Give readers a reason to request more information. Don’t go directly for the sale.
- Email house file. Use tools like Optin Monster and SumoMe to increase your list.
- Improved search rankings. Keyword focused content can support your search marketing. Check the longevity on your search traffic.
- Reduced marketing expense. Integrate your blog into your marketing plans, editorial calendar and social media sharing.
Additionally blogs contribute to softer marketing metrics like:
- Thought leadership
That said, blogs require resources and budget to yield these results.
The social media blogging bottom line:
Blogs are alive and kicking.
To be effective, your social media blog must be integrated into your overall marketing plans. Your blog can’t be siloed in one department.
Your blog must be a collaborative effort between you and your audience. Done well, a blog contributes to the value of your business.
Your blog should provide value for and engage your audience. As a result, your blog makes your marketing iterative and flexible to meet your customers’ needs.
Not sure how to improve your blog effectiveness?
Make your blog the engine of your always-on marketing including social media.
Optimize your blog content to extend your reach.
Use your blog to engage with your audience and your influencers.
Track your blog results to see what’s working and what needs improvement.
You can improve your social media blogging!
Just take the first step.
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Photo Credit: Austin Schmid https://unsplash.com/photos/hRdVSYpffas