This past week, the Content Marketing Institute released a new study on how B2B marketers are using content marketing.
Among the study’s interesting findings is a small but measurable tactical shift away from long-form blog articles in favor of social media postings. According to the report, 93 percent of B2B marketers use social media in content marketing (up from 87 percent in 2013), whereas the use of blog/website-based articles has declined from 83 to 81 percent.
Outdated or Simply “Uncool”?
Is blogging an outdated tactic? Among social media people, the answer is certainly “yes.” When Didit surveyed the Top 100 Social Media Influencers earlier this year, we found that only 34 percent of these people maintained active blogs (“active blog” being defined as blog content less than seven days old). Their own behavior is consistent with the social media-heavy strategy they advise for their clients. And if the Content Marketing Institute’s report accurately reflects their influence on budgets, these people are winning the battle right now.
I’d think twice, however, before you drink the social media Kool-Aid and abandon or de-emphasize your own B2B blog content in favor of a beefed-up social media presence. While blogs and site-based articles might no longer be “cool,” this established form of content marketing has a bunch of advantages that social media postings don’t, among them being:
- Control. On your own site, you control the look and feel, context, and type of experience you want your prospects to have. You can embed anything you want in your blog articles, link wherever you want, and precisely control the mix of editorial and marketing messaging. Social media platforms aren’t set up to do this. For example, Facebook tightly restricts the amount of text that can be included in any posted image. Even LinkedIn’s Publishing Platform, which I wrote about several weeks ago, puts your content into a branding strait-jacket in order to be consistent with LinkedIn’s style. Advertising-supported social networks sprinkle ads (sometimes from direct competitors) around your content in a way that can distract from and diminish your messaging.
- Ease of Measurement. B2B marketers use a myriad of metrics to establish content marketing ROI, including page views, time on site, whitepaper/e-book downloads, lead form completion, etc. Modern site-based analytics packages (including Google Analytics) provide clear visibility into the prospect’s journey. They also give you a complete view of all sources (including social networks) contributing to article and site traffic. This functionality is much more extensive than metrics by provided by social networks.
- Page Rank and Domain Authority. Search engines assign merit both to individual articles and the domains upon which they reside. Link-worthy articles enhance domain authority; domain authority increases the chance of visibility of any given article. These SEO benefits do not accrue to the publisher when content is published to external platforms. Providing excellent content to social networks is very much like a “loft lease improvement” you make to property that reverts to the landlord once your lease is up.
- Accessibility. Content marketers typically serve up a mix of content, not just one type. For example, news-oriented articles may be designed to ride the wave of popular trending interest in a given topic. “Evergreen”-style articles are designed to be relevant for a longer period of time. Each type of article can be categorized easily and naturally on a website, but not within social media’s rapid scroll display presentation format.
Use the Hub/Spoke Model
I find it useful to think about the proper distribution of content as a hub-spoke model. Think of your website’s repository of articles as the “hub” of your content marketing efforts. Social platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, et al) represent the “spokes” radiating out from this hub. Your fundamental job is to drive traffic and attention from these spokes to your hub via earned and paid tactics. This model works exceedingly well because it is simple, centralized, and because it directs all SEO benefits directly to your site. If and when a new social platform comes along (Ello?), it’s easy for you to simply add a “spoke” to your model without changing your fundamental content strategy.
Sometimes a similar piece of content should reside outside your blog, especially if you can get an external reputable publisher to allow you to contribute that article as a guest blogger. Guest blogging for SEO links has been slammed recently, but when a publisher other than yourself can get your article to rank when you couldn’t and you get credit for that article, the PR and reputation-building impact is significant even if you get no links back from your externally published content.
I’ve been thinking a lot about ways to improve the effectiveness of blogging and have an idea I’m percolating. If you blog regularly or run a blog for your business and would be open to sharing your thoughts, please contact me or tweet me.
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