Blogs are still important tools for brands because they allow marketers to maintain full control of their content, and the analysis they can run on that content.
I recently came across a post from my friend Matt showing that this year we've seen the first decline in seven years of corporate blogging at Fortune 500 companies. Despite the drop, the article tonality overall was refreshingly positive on blogging and shared that 80 percent of those brands publishing to their own platforms were active (in addition to increased sharing in brand activities on corporate-owned social channels such as Twitter). Still, I have repeatedly heard as a question at conferences this year if a brand should still blog or if blogging at all was even relevant.
The answer to that is a resounding yes. Those companies who stopped blogging (and those not yet blogging) may wish to reconsider. Typically the people not yet blogging are those just getting started in digital marketing or have forgotten that audiences online are fragmented and social platforms come and go. Simply put: you give up so much by yielding your presence to the stream, as I shared in a 2009 post on reasons you should blog that, funnily enough, is consistently one of the most-read posts on my own blog. But, flashing forward five years to today, I wanted to go through a few updated reasons that blogging should not be forgotten, even if it isn't the most talked about digital marketing tactic anymore. After all, what's popular is typically easy, but what's easy isn't always what produces the best results.
When you run blogging software on a domain you own, you not only get to choose the tools you run, but also their configuration. Want to measure a specific action or event on your blog users take? Done. Want to test a new template for where you publish your brand's content to improve conversions sent to you from other social channels? No problem. Remarket to users who reach a specific post? Easy. Run consumer surveys of your readers? You get the idea. The point is you totally control the vertical and horizontal for how you analyze your blog (and what you do with the data) when it's hosted on your own domain. And when you set up your blog as a "hub" for your social strategy, you are best positioned to benefit most from all that top-of-funnel awareness.
When you are only playing in other people's platforms and totally reliant on one tool to reach users, you are forced to constantly analyze what is happening in that platform for attention, often using the tools they provide - which could be limited. This is a lot of work, not only exploring platform insight tools but having a moving target for small optimizations as opposed to focusing on what matters for your users and creating amazing content and building connections. With a blog, you have assets to feed each stream in a way that when you do something that matters, you won't have to worry so much about changes in platforms. You are free to step back and focus on the big-picture things that matter, like an editorial vision. To achieve this, the best digital marketers focus their opt-in at the source of content. Blogs let you think user-centric, not platform-centric.
Without blogging, it is difficult to build an ever-increasing amount of content to be discovered via search engines and shared via social. It's a virtuous cycle I mocked up in 2009 and continues to be true to this day. It's the backbone of what has built the current generation of media such as BuzzFeed. But of course you likely aren't BuzzFeed, you're a brand. That doesn't mean you have to publish the same volume of BuzzFeed. What it does mean is that each time you publish a blog post, you make it so significant that the industry takes notice. A perfect example of a brand doing this well is Tesla. Each time they have news, their blog is the central place where it's shared and whatever is published is amplified not just by social but media of all types. It's worth following them as an example of a brand that understands the importance of self-publishing and a model you could follow.
Call it blogging, digital publishing, or whatever you prefer: you've been able to publish your own ideas, in any format you like, wrapped in your own template, with full access to analytics and ability to monetize how you see fit (or use it to generate organic leads to equal revenue later) and distribute across search, social, and email since the Web existed. Blogging and newsletters - both self publishing - are big business, as we see time and time again (the most recent of which is Thrillist, which is on track to bring in $100 million. To give your best content over to someone else as the canonical place makes as little sense now as it ever did. To amplify and share your ideas in OPPs (Other People's Platforms) in a way that adds value and is efficient for you is the smartest path to digital success.
Adam Singer is Analytics Advocate at Google, a marketing, media and PR industry speaker, startup adviser and blogger. He previously was digital director for a 300+ person global consulting team and over the course of his career has provided online marketing strategy for B2B & B2C brands in a variety of industries including marketing technology, healthcare, manufacturing, advertising/subscription-based web startups, and much in between. Singer and his campaigns have been cited by top media outlets such as TechCrunch, AdWeek, NY Times and more for creative use of digital marketing and PR. Singer blogs at The Future Buzz - an award-winning blog with more than 25K subscribers and frequently-referenced source of what's new in digital marketing.
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