Are corporate blogs dead? USA Today recently reported on a University of Dartmouth survey that revealed a sharp decline among the Inc. 500 fastest-growing companies who used blogging as a way to communicate with target audiences in 2011.
According to the report, the percentage of fast-growing companies who maintained blogs fell to 37% in 2011 from 50% in 2010. And while blog use by larger companies held steady during this period, the number is still small: only 23% of the Fortune 500 blogged regularly in 2011.
Marketing and communications professionals are quick to blame Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and others, saying the social media sites are eating into the time consumers used to spend on brand sites. But I think many of the companies have only themselves to blame and are killing interest in their blogs through poor content strategies.
In the USA Today article, Lou Hoffman, CEO of The Hoffman Agency, said that blogs failed to tailor their content strategies to consumers’ interests, opting for the self-serving and promotional instead. Given the boom in rich media, there’s a lot of fun, interesting and truly informative content available to online audiences -- and consumers are tech-savvy enough to find what they need and avoid all that is boring and self-serving.
The give-and-take ecosystem of social networking sites is what’s key to their success -- and some smart brand marketers are realizing this and quickly shifting their content strategies to earn audience engagement. They are scrapping the press releases and mission statements in favor of shorter form, multimedia content that address consumers’ needs and interests.
But as marketers start exploring the brave new world of rich media and online video, it will be important that they not fall prey to the empty, promotional-content habits that contributed to the death of the company blog. Too many seem to be going down that route, so it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee: Consumers don’t want an online commercial -- they want information and expertise in your authentic voice.
While the investment of time and resources necessary for effective video content marketing may exceed that of blogging, marketers and communicators that shift their focus to social networking-like dynamic content will have more success fueling engagement.
Here’s to a second chance!