Forrester: B2B Blogging Takes Nose Dive

BlogsThe number of business-to-business firms to begin blogging last year plummeted compared with 2006 as corporate bloggers ran into roadblocks stemming from a misalignment between invested effort and expected returns. That's according to a new report from Forrester Research, "How To Derive Value From B2B Blogging."

B2B marketers should embrace strategies prominently used by mainstream bloggers to attract readers, build conversations, and engage community members in sharing their experiences with their online peers, the report's author advises.

To track B2B blog progress, Forrester reviewed 90 company blogs from Fortune 500 and top technology firms to see how blogging has matured since 2006.

Rather than a crop of new, successful examples, Forrester was disappointed to find that the number of new corporate blogs took a nose dive.

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"The gap between blog hype and reality widened in 2007," said Laura Ramos, Forrester analyst and chief author of the report. "After counting 36 companies that started promoting corporate blogs on their Web sites in 2006, the number of B2B firms starting up blogs dropped sharply to 19 in 2007."

Additionally, with just three new blogs discovered in the first quarter of 2008, Forrester estimates that only a dozen or so firms will get fresh blogs off the ground this year.

Corporate bloggers are apparently struggling to sustain a conversation, while many B2B marketers are failing to realize that good blogging style should resemble a coffee shop conversation, not a whitepaper.

As a result, most B2B blogs are dull, drab, and don't stimulate discussion, according to the Forrester report. More than 70% of the corporate blogs it reviewed stick strictly to business or technical topics and don't share much personal insight or experience.

Team blogging may lighten the burden, but group blogs seem even more impersonal as writers bounce between topics and fail to deliver a unifying narrative thread. Team efforts also suffer from participation ups and downs. In the past year, for example, about half of Intel's featured bloggers have moved on to other pursuits.

As a result, 74% of B2B blogs receive a minimum of commentary or trackbacks because readers fail to find conversations worthy of their involvement.

Successful blogging, Forrester insists, is not a one-way street, but most corporate bloggers yak away about their companies and products, seemingly oblivious to whether their audience is listening or not.

Similar to last year, 56% of blogs we examined simply regurgitate company news or executive views, while relatively fewer blogs work to establish thought leadership by enlisting internal experts--with deep, specific knowledge of a particular topic--as their primary blog authors.

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