Should a corporate communications plan include blogging?
Has blogging become passe or should everyone still be doing it? Blogging was certainly all the rage years ago but I was under the impression that we've moved on and that the other social media platorms have replaced blogging as a useful or even informative outlet. I can count the blogs I regularly read on one hand. More than a year ago the New York Times ran a story with the headline: "Blogs Wane as Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter."
And if I may humbly quote myself, I wrote a blog entry waaaaay back in 2008 that concluded: bloggers "have time to get their act together and develop standards and levels of professionalism that has more or less served the journalism industry pretty well. They don’t have to worry about getting hidebound the way traditional journalism has to some extent. But an adherence to truth and accuracy is vital." How very high minded of me. But I think my point was that that it was cowboy country out there and very little of use was showing up on the blogs.
Jonathan Rausch, writing on Andrew Sullivan's blog last year, saw it much the same way: "There are a few great bloggers out there. Andrew Sullivan is one of them. But they're depressingly rare. If some strange magnetic pulse wiped out every blog post written since the format began, hardly anything memorable or important would be lost; and, after 15 years or whatever, it's too late to hope for maturation. The medium is the problem. The Web is great for shopping and research, but intrinsically lousy for serious reading and writing. Over the past decade and more, the most striking fact about the blogosphere is how little it has produced of distinction or durability."
No doubt, Rausch is right but he's talking about blogging as a durable extension of great informational debate, maybe even literature or important sociological discussions. Clearly blogging falls short in those categories.
But Rausch did point out, somewhat obviously, that the web is good for shopping and research and that's where blogging still has a place. In the business sphere.
Nevertheless, given the conclusions by some that blgging is over should I, as a public relations consultiant, include a blogging strategy in a corporate communications plan? Apparently I should. Let's start by looking at some stats. First of all, one has to figure out what you want to do with a blog. Some companies still see blogging or other social media channels as just new-fashioned advertising platforms, POV opportunities, or little more than an inter-office memo or bulletin board. Few see blogs as a way to generate revenue. In fact a survey by the marketing wizards over at Hubspot, finds that 66 percent of B2B companies don't use social media to help generate leads or customers. They also found that Linkedin is 277 percent more effective for lead generation than Facebook or Twitter (and I thought Linkedin was just for accepting people who want to join your "network."). Frequency also changes the dynamic according to the survey which found that businesses that blog more than once per week add new blog subscribers at twice the rate of businesses that blog just once per month. The more frequent bloggers also generate nine times more blog email traffic than those that blog just once a month.
So it turns out that we've just begun to scratch the blogging surface, at least when it comes to business strategies and public relations. Probably because there are a lot of bad blogs out there, as Rausch correctly points out, and blogs that don't really reverberate with readers that the whole discipline seems like a fad in regression. But maybe not. Boston.com just introduced a blogging product to link corporate blogs to their own site. I guess the idea is that association with boston.com and the Globe will help generate even more leads or customers.
The bottom line is that the notion of the death of blogging is premature. Subscrbe and we'll keep the conversation going.