The Possibilities of Blogging and Blog Marketing Are Underused

In 2006 Debbie Weil’s successful “The Corporate Blogging Book” was published. Robert Scoble and Shel Israel published “Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers”, and everyone was talking about “conversations” and “blogging”.

I participated that year in the writing of a book on blogging for a local client and started a “blogging for business” service. The following year, the market was flooded with books on blogging, such as John Cass’s “Tools for Corporate Blogging” as well as dozens of others. But by then everybody was working on the “next big thing”.

Fast-forward to 2010. Despite the masses of books, blogs, articles and opinions on blog marketing, I find that many companies have no blogs. And this in a social media marketing reality in which blogs play a crucial role. Naturally, you can say that five years is not a long time. But in the fast-evolving digital world, five years is an eternity.

Several studies this year have shown that blogging is used less in the business world than we think. So, blogging is anything but “so 2007”.

Blog marketing statistics: missed inbound marketing, PR, SEO and conversation opportunities

A recent report from Econsultancy and Big Mouth Media,  the “Social Media and Online PR Report”, gives some figures (most of the respondents were from the UK, followed by other European countries and then the US).

The report found that 48% of the surveyed companies have a “corporate blog” or a “branded blog”. That is less than half and for the others it is a missed inbound marketing opportunity.

The report also found that 45% of companies use “blog relationships” as part of their online PR activities and that 43% started online conversations that made use of user-generated content or social media. That is also less than half.

Online PR tactics

The possibilities of blogging are definitely not being put to optimal use. A lot of companies have no blog. Almost no company has a blog that is more-or-less independent of its own brand, such as Adobe (Omniture) does with, and even the use of “blog relationships” has room for improvement. Weird since blogs are ideal for conversations but also for PR, SEO and so much more. Is the fear of comments or the lack of proven ROI still withholding us? Or is it a lack of strategy?

Moreover, Iit appears that companies that do blog could do it much better, including in terms of the consistency between their blogs and their market messages. According to a study by communications company Burson-Marteller (see slideshare below), almost three quarters of blog posts do not reflect the company message.

Naturally, it does not  always have to do so, but in branded and corporate blogs content consistency between blogs, social media, email, SEA, advertising and other forms of marketing is very relevant in these cross- and mult-channel times. The link between blogging, community marketing and other forms of marketing (SEO, email) is often neglected.

This is unfortunate because Number of blog readers in the US between 2008 and 2014 according to eMarketerblogs are real social media hubs and cornerstones of inbound marketing. But more importantly, blogs are read.

For example, eMarketer estimates that more than half of American Internet users read a blog at least once a month this year. By 2014 this figure will be 60%.

NB: that figure reflects the whole Internet population. It is clear that in several sectors, especially those where the client makes intensive use of online resources and interaction channels in his buying journey, blogs are consulted much more.

This is especially true in various B2B sectors like marketing, services and ICT. And let’s not forget that blogs are “read” more in specific demographic and other segments.

Obviously, blog marketing is not only about blogging but also about building relationships with bloggers and their communities. As you know, there are rules in this regard and it requires common sense but interacting with bloggers that talk about your brands is important.

And bloggers do talk about brands: according to Technorati’s latest State Of Blogosphere report (edition 2010, released earlier this month), 42% of respondents say they blog about brands they love or…hate.

Among the bloggers that use social media to follow brands, this percentage is even higher (50%) as you can see in the chart below (you can read the whole Technorati report starting here).

Technorati: State of the Blogosphere 2010: bloggers and brands

What’s your blog marketing strategy?

The blog marketing priority areas are mainly strategy and relevance. Without strategy and planning, any form of blog marketing is doomed to fail. The same goes for content, interaction and relevance, which, in the end, is what blogging for business is all about.

Some claim blogging is “dead” (yes, I know, it’s the same old story) due to the arrival of new publishing models, micro-blogging, some social media evolutions etc.

But, however you look at it, even in new publishing models and content strategies, someone will still have to write. And let’s not forget one thing: blogs are still social media hubs.

So: is blog (marketing) dead?

I think it’s just only growing up and that many businesses need advice on how to do it well: do you have a strategy yet?