Companies need to blog more than ever before

Blog concept

Blogging has been with us for 18 years. Even so, the vast majority of businesses do not blog. A recent study of the Fortune 500, for instance, showed that only 42% of these significant companies had a blog. Mostly, they are high-tech firms producing blogs. Traditional sectors don’t appear to have taken up blogging, in spite of its long-term existence online.

Meanwhile, almost every company is using LinkedIn – 98% according to the Fortune study. The vast majority of companies also have Facebook pages, Tweet regularly and upload videos to YouTube.

But you have to ask, why?

Consider a Facebook page. No matter what you do with it, it still looks like a Facebook page. Apart from an image at the top, every Facebook page looks like every other Facebook page. The branding is Facebook’s.

The same is true for YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and every other social network you consider. When you upload any item to social media, you accept that the presentation and the brand image conveyed will be that of the owner of the network – not you.

It would seem, therefore, that even significant businesses on the Fortune 500 have collectively said, “It’s OK for our brand to be diminished, for our web presence to use your fonts and colours, not ours, and for people to think about your brand, rather than ours when they visit our content on your network.”

Businesses have given up control of their brands and put the control of their image in the hands of people they do not even know.

Meanwhile, blogging allows a firm complete and total control. As the owner of a blog you can decide how it looks and ensure it follows brand guidelines. You can decide what to include and how to promote it and what order in which it will be presented. Unlike social networks, bloggers get to decide exactly how the world perceives them.

None of this is news, of course. Back in 2005, Business Week magazine said that “blogging was no longer an elective, but a pre-requisite”. In other words, if you didn’t blog your company would face an uncertain future. Equally, for a decade now, the inbound marketing company, HubSpot, has been producing data which demonstrates that blogging is the “number one” element in generating leads and online sales. Without blogging, companies appear to be making life much tougher for themselves on the Internet.

However, in spite of all the evidence that demonstrates the clear benefits of blogging for business, the majority of companies still don’t do it. And even those who do blog, most of them are only occasional users.

  • Companies that blogged in 2015

    21%

  • Companies that blog in 2017

    42%

  • Companies that should blog in 2018

    100%

In fact, until recently blogging went into decline for companies. The proportion of companies with blogs fell to just 21% in 2015, but now that has doubled to 42%. In the space of two years, business blogging has doubled.

Why?

Well, gradually firms are realising that social media presents them with no control. Apart from lacking any real branding, the delivery of social media messages is at the behest of the algorithms of the networks. Companies don’t like that, for good reason.

Furthermore, it would seem that more companies are realising that social media messages are meaningless without something substantial behind them. One of the founders of Twitter, Biz Stone, said in an interview in 2013 that “without longer-form, deeper-dive, more relevant conversation, I don’t think social media would have anything to be social or media about.” In other words, if your Tweets, your Facebook posts and your Pinterest pins don’t lead back to longer articles and blog posts, you may as well have not bothered.

What the recent research on the Fortune 500 reveals is that social media is treated experimentally by companies, often without any real evidence to support the notion of starting using them. There appears to be a vague notion that if you are on Snapchat, for instance, you’ll be able to reach the younger generations. That forgets they don’t want to hear from you as a business.

As businesses try and fail at one social network after another social network they appear to come back to blogging. It’s safe. It’s in your control. It works.

If you want more business, all the evidence points to blogging as a key. Equally, if you want more social media traction, blogging is what you need to promote. Furthermore, given that business blogging has doubled in the past two years, if you don’t blog now, your business will disappear behind the noise created by your competitors who do write blogs.

Blogging is more important than ever before.

http://bit.ly/2zAM7Py

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Content marketing should be central to your website

http://www.grahamjones.co.uk/2015/blog/blogging/content-marketing-should-be-central-to-your-website.html

The Big UK Content Marketing Benchmarks Study

The Big UK Content Marketing Benchmarks Study 2015

http://grahamjones.co.uk/2014/multimedia/infographics/the-big-uk-content-marketing-benchmarks-study.html

Get writing – people prefer articles

Businesses say articles are the most helpful form of content

If you want to engage business owners and executives you had better get writing. New research shows that the most “helpful” kind of web content is the written article. Indeed, it is deemed ten times better than social media and 14 times more helpful than video. Yet, everywhere you go these days people are telling you to record video, produce podcasts or to Tweet like crazy. After all, if Robbie Williams Tweeted and video blogged his way through his new son’s birth, it must be something people want. Right? Well, not according to this study.

Chart showing various types of content and their perceived usefulness

The study shows where you should be putting your business priorities in terms of content production. Articles, reports, white papers and newsletters are the top of the tree. Notice too that people distinguish between blog posts and articles. It seems that  blog posts are perceived as short updates, whereas articles are obviously longer. This ties in with another recent study which showed that the most valuable length of content is around 1,600 words – much longer than the typical blog post. Google is also now highlighting “in depth” articles on search results pages because its own research has shown that such items get more clicks.

What all of this data tells us is one thing – people want in-depth material. They perceive social media and video as more superficial. Furthermore, the vast majority of online video is entertainment and is not generally useful to business.

There is another reason why people want long written content and that is involved with the psychology of risk reduction. We are constantly seeking to reduce our risks; it is a natural survival mechanism. When it comes to business, though, we still are risk averse and so we seek as much information as possible before making a decision. Furthermore, people want documentation to support their decision, so that should someone criticise them they can weigh in with all the “evidence”. If all they had was a Tweet or two and a couple of videos they fear they would get laughed out of the job.

Long articles, white papers, reports and so on help with this risk aversion. They provide evidence to support the decisions made and they also help inform those decisions because of all the detail they convey, thereby lessening the perceived risk.

If you want to engage with more business people, then more time spent writing will pay off.

http://grahamjones.co.uk/2014/blog/web-business/get-writing-people-prefer-articles.html

The Power of Visual Content

The Power of Visual Content

http://grahamjones.co.uk/2014/multimedia/infographics/the-power-of-visual-content.html

Is email marketing successful or just plain easy?

Email marketing continues to be the “number one” – but why?

Email marketing is constantly being rated as the “number one” method of marketing by online marketers. There are dozens of surveys and studies which show that marketers rate email marketing as their most successful method of gaining business. There is plenty of research which shows that email marketing generates more sales and more leads than other forms of internet marketing.

However, a new study shows an interesting twist to this long-held belief. It turns out that marketers rate email marketing as the easiest form of marketing.

Graph showing that email marketing is considered to be easy

This suggests that there is a vast amount of email marketing going on simply because marketers find it easy to do. And with large volumes of email marketing happening you are likely to find it is more successful than other forms of digital marketing, simply because of the impact of the volume.

Marketers rate social media as the most difficult form of online marketing that they do. They rate this as their fourth most effective kind of marketing.

When you consider other elements of marketing which they also find difficult, such as SMS marketing or marketing through ecommerce channels, you can see that things rated as more difficult tend to be rated as less effective.

This suggests that people may be finding data that confirms their beliefs. They believe email marketing to be easy and so the data they find backs up it is successful. In other words, people tend to find what they are looking for,

Independent analysis, by firms such as HubSpot, shows that content marketing is by far the single most successful online method of generating sales. Yet, marketers believe this is one of the least successful elements, behind email marketing, a website, SEO and social media. But they also rate it as one of the most difficult kinds of marketing they do. They don’t rate it as that successful because they find it hard to do.

What this data suggests is that email marketing might not be the “holy grail” it seems. It might just be that people find it easy and therefore reckon it is valuable.

Sometimes, a business benefits when you concentrate on the more difficult tasks, rather than the easy ones. Just because it is easy and it produces results, does not mean that email marketing is better than something else, such as content marketing which is more difficult to work with. Don’t let a marketing task’s difficulty fool you into believing it will not be successful. We might be being fooled into believing that email marketing is the most successful form of online marketing, when in reality what we are actually measuring is its ease of use.

http://grahamjones.co.uk/2014/blog/email/is-email-marketing-successful-or-just-plain-easy.html

What Kind of Content Marketer Are You?

What Kind of Content Marketer Are You? #infographic

http://grahamjones.co.uk/2014/multimedia/infographics/what-kind-of-content-marketer-are-you.html