Well, you’d think blogging was definitely on the way out for companies, based on a new study, 2012 Inc. 500 Social Media Update.
Although USA Today pretty much wrote off blogging in its coverage of the results, it did quote Scott Monty, head of social media at Ford Motor, as saying that engaging blogs can serve crucial marketing goals — especially executives out to establish expertise in their industry.
The Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts surveyed the chief marketing officers of Inc. Magazine’s 500 fastest growing companies to learn how their adoption of social media has changed since 2011.
If you study the chart below, you will see that blogging has been increasingly successful as a social media strategy over the past three years, reaching 92% in usage even as its adoption as a social media tool drops. Blogging is still widely used by advertising and communications companies, less so by government agencies. Oddly, this was the first study including LinkedIn, which showed up at 73% usage, just behind Facebook’s 74%, which topped the list.
Companies are reducing their use of message boards, video blogging, podcasting and MySpace. Blogging reached a high of 50% of companies using it in 2009 to 37% in 2011. Companies responded overwhelmingly that the use of social media has been successful for their business.
Of course, social networks have grown in importance. If you’re a consumer company, Facebook is a formidable channel for reaching retail consumers. LinkedIn is corralling the business community.
So why is blogging losing ground? I believe a big reason that companies are blogging less is that it requires a commitment of time. Yet there is no better vehicle for a company to tell its story and for brand building.
Blogging is Here to Stay
Companies, both large and small, need to factor in blogging as an essential tool in their social media arsenal. As I’ve written before, I believe a blog should be the centerpiece of a company’s social media strategy.
- Own your content. When you rely on a third-party social network, you are at the mercy of their rules. What a pain in the neck it was when Facebook started company pages. Now you had two information streams to worry about. Recently, they changed their format again with timeline and have just changed the size of the insert in the large image. With your own blog, you can create the content, insert and delete copy, add videos, images and podcasts that promote your company and your products and services – according to your rules. And your content won’t disappear if a social network disappears.
- Feed social networks. From your home base, you can distribute important information directly to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many other social media networks where your customers are forming communities. Post an article, and it is immediately “pinged” to sites of your choice with a link back to your blog. The viral impact of blog post is enormous.
- Build credibility. A 140-character tweet has its place. But your customers want to know there is a full-service company behind the tweet. A blog will burnish your brand.
- Collect market intelligence. Readers can leave comments on your blog posts giving you valuable market intelligence and endorsement of your ideas.
- Attract followers. Visitors can subscribe to your blog. Just think, a built-in audience for your articles, newsletters and surveys on important topics. As your list of subscribers grows, you can begin to sell them products and services directly, bypassing social media networks.
- Impress Google. Blogs can rank highly in search, unlike static websites, because the content is changing all the time.
- Engage Employees. Employees can get the complete story from the company about new developments and not third parties.
By the way, the most highly ranked blog on the Technorati 100 is The Huffington Post, one of the most influential newspapers, either online or offline. Most people think it is a website when it’s actually built on a blog platform.
At last count, The Huffington Post’s monthly circulation was 37 million with 1 billion page views, and is must reading for business executives, politicians, entertainers – and other news media who regularly quote from it.
Not bad for a blog.
* with apologies to Mark Twain
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