Blogging Is Dead – Long Live The Blog! [Research]

10 Reasons To Run Out And Start A Blog Now

Is blogging dead? It depends who you ask. According to recent University of Massachusetts Dartmouth research, blogging has declined from 50% of the Inc 500 in 2010 to 37% in 2011, while it’s remained constant at 23% among the Fortune 500.

Before you rush to write an obituary for blogs, look deeper at the findings. 92% of marketers found blogs successful for achieving their goals, up from 86% in 2010. This doesn’t make sense. 

3 Challenges to the research

Look still deeper at the data and you’ll find that while the blogging results appear to be comparing apples to apples, there are distinct changes accounting for the reduced rate of firms engaged in blogging.

  1. Inc. 500’s industrial composition changed in 2010 and 2011. Due to Obama initiatives, there was an increase in Inc 500 companies providing Government Services.  This segment adopts blogging at 15%  compared with an overall average of 37% (or less than half the rate.)
  2. 61% of the Inc 500 sample was founded after 2005. These newer companies may have a greater propensity to use newer forms of social media such as Facebook and Twitter than blogs.
  3. 34% (or 170) of the Inc. 500 participated in this fifth iteration

10 Reasons a blog should be at the heart of your marketing strategy

Call me a contrarian but blogs should be a core aspect of any organization’s marketing strategy regardless of whether you’re a B2C, B2B, not-for-profit or a solopreneur. (Here’s a chart laying out the four main types of blogs.)

Here’s why a blog should be at the heart of your marketing plan.

  1. Supports the purchase process at every step. Blogs enable you to create content to help prospects and customers making purchase decisions and using the product post purchase. Even more important, you can link directly to the product to support sales (It helps to have a unique tracking code and a contextually relevant call-to-action.)
  2. Builds your brand. The various aspects of the blog design enhance your brand beyond your logo. Think voice, language, topics, photographs and video. (Here’s 33 blog design tips to help you.) This is important since brands require multiple impressions across different platforms.
  3. Helps search optimization. Blogs provide keyword rich content (specifically each post should focus on a specific keyword phrase). Blogs support a search-related linking strategy. Each post should link out to resources as well as link to other references on your blog and website including specific products where appropriate.
  4. Positions the brand or company.  Blogs provide a platform for engaging in the public discussion. By continually adding content to the social media ecosystem, marketers and communications executives can build their platform and make their perspective known.
  5. Is owned media. Unlike Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, your organization owns your blog (assuming that it’s on your own domain). The most important aspect of having a blog as the centerpiece of your social media is your possession of it. As a result you own the content and can gather related information from your readers. You don’t have an issue if it suddenly falls off the public radar.
  6. Acts as a hub for your social media involvement. Chris Brogan referred to a blog as the hub of your social media engagement. Using a blog enables you to coordinate your content and social media via a media vehicle you own.
  7. Feeds social media. Social media runs on content to keep the conversation going. A blog produces new, engaging content on a regular schedule. Of course, you need to make it easy for readers to share your posts by having social sharing icons associated with every post.
  8. Engages prospects, customers and the public through comments. Blogs are a form of social media for a variety of reasons (Here’s how social media is defined). Blog comments provide a forum for discussion. Additionally, they’re part of the larger social media ecosystem in terms of linking to other blogs and resources and social sharing.
  9. Provides a 24/7 publishing platform. As a form of CMS (content management system), your business blog should be an important component of your crisis management plan. By building your blog audience, your organization has a way to get messages out quickly and effectively with limited if any support. You can use your blog as a venue to respond to late breaking issues in your category. (For more information, check out David Meerman Scott’s ebook, Newsjacking.  (affiliate link))
  10. Is measurable. Blogs provide an array of meaningful metrics to enable marketers to track their effectiveness such as traffic to specific pages, time on site and earned media.

Regardless how you measure it, blogs are a marketing win. Blogs are a great tool for branding, attracting new prospects, supporting search optimization, and fueling social media. Despite what this research says, continue to build your blog and carefully integrate it into the other aspects of your marketing without being worried what your competitors are doing.

Do you have any other suggestions for how to use blogs as the center piece of your social media marketing?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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