A number of prognosticators have decreed that blogs are in varying degrees of death, fueled last year by Pew Research Center studies in 2010 and 2011, which suggested that young people are gravitating toward social networking; and by study from The Center for Marketing Research (UMass – Dartmouth) that suggested corporations are following suit.
When I look at the results our blog has garnered – more than 140,000 reads since inception, with lots of re-blogging and even media pick up of our posts, and growing visibility in search engines – I wonder at the larger corporate trend away from blogging. Why would any sensible organization close such an invaluable communications channel?
Well, there are probably a few reasons. Obviously, you have to publish good content people will read. But anyone who runs a blog will tell you that content generation can be challenging, to say the very least. And it can be tough for the organization to understand the need to put the audience first, and not try to stuff straight marketing messaging down the channel. I’ve rejected a host of blog posts penned by my colleagues that were little more than sales pitches – not exactly the kind of content we’ve come to purvey on Beyond PR.
Here are some tips on developing content your audience will value, derived from my experience running the Beyond PR blog.
- Be authentic. Say no to ghosts. They’re creepy.
- Be useful to your audience. Say no to posts that aren’t useful to your readers. Posts that aren’t germane to your blog’s mission dilute your overall message, and your value to readers, causing their attention to wane.
- Notice which posts articles are read (and shared) more than others. The simple act of paying attention to your own analytics will illustrate in no uncertain terms what content your audience likes, and which blog posts were duds.
- Mine referring search engine terms for story ideas. I notice that we get queries that are adjacent to some of the content we have published. Often, the queries are looking for more specific details related to that content. When I see queries recur, that (to me, at least) is an indicator of a real opportunity to fill a need.
- Trawl industry message boards, notice the questions that recur, and answer them in blog posts. This is pretty obvious, too. Discussions generating a lot of traction on message boards and in discussion groups are obviously of interest to the audience. I have taken cues from several of these, even reaching out and quoting people from the original discussion in the ensuing blog post.
- As much as possible, diversify the voices on the blog, while making sure the content still fits with the blog’s overall mission. Ours is to inform, educate (and maybe entertain a bit.) New features from one of ProfNet’s writers, Grace Lavigne (author of the Grammar Hammer and Dear Gracie) have proven popular, and have expanded our subject matter.
Here at PR Newswire, this little blog is more than a cog in our social media wheel – you could argue that it’s our hub. We participate in a variety of networks, most notably Twitter, where our lively presence has garnered more than 50,000 followers. Our Twitter team is active participants and curators, gathering and sharing information. But it’s on the blog that we’re able to really do our thinking, to expand beyond the limits of 140 characters, and share with our audience more of our perspective. And the original content we publish on the blog is more fodder for all of our other social networks. Clearly, our friends/fans/followers and connections appreciate our sharing blog content, because about a third of our blog traffic comes from links we’ve shared on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
I believe that corporate blogs that exist to share information and showcase expertise have a healthy future as the lynchpin in content marketing and social media strategies. What do you think? Has your organization backed away from blogging?