Rumors of the death of blogs have been greatly exaggerated.
A recent survey conducted by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth says the percentage of companies that maintain blogs fell from 50% in 2010 to a mere 37% in 2011. The study attributes the decline in blogs to their decreased relevance in the face of other social media counterparts, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, along with excessive investment in both time and staff.
However, the study misses a segment that approaches blogs in a whole different manner, particularly industry-specific blogs – B2B and professional services firms. Blogging, as a strategy, is highly variable, and what works for consumer brands won’t necessarily work elsewhere. For B2B companies, specialized blogs are a platform for self-publishing content that the mainstream press is either misreporting or ignoring. This serves a strategic purpose for the company’s brand, content creators and finally, their clients and prospects.
AllThingsD recently ran a guest blog post declaring that audience is more important than content and corporations should focus efforts on audience development, not content. The author argued that technology has led to a separation between content and distributor.
However, in the face of declining corporate blogs and increasing audience development efforts according to the sources cited in this post, companies that maintain industry-specific blogs are actually reaching niche B2B audiences that they are targeting with valuable, sometimes critical, content. In the B2B world, quality content remains as relevant as ever, and audiences matter. If content is not the centerpiece of a company’s marketing push, large audiences will find themselves with nothing worthwhile to learn from that organization.
As companies look to cultivate specialized skillsets in their employees, they should not dismiss the strategic value of offering original content in a blog format. Specialized industry blogs help to translate complex information on specific topics and provide key insights for highly targeted audiences who look to the content as a key resource in the decision-making process.
Often due to potential risks and liabilities with stakeholders, corporate blogs become diluted when sharing business perspectives from the C-Suite. However, decision-makers are more frequently looking for commentary not just from top executives but from each individual business unit. What trends are business units seeing, experiencing and anticipating? How are specialized units advising clients? Where are unit leaders shifting resources or maintaining strategies? These industry-specific blogs can inform business leaders when they are researching industry developments, as well as reporters who are looking to supplement their coverage by linking to perspectives and information from outside sources.
It is important for companies to distinguish the unique value in each distinctive publishing platform, be it long or short in form. Companies need to develop a plan for how each platform will be used alongside other communications tools to form cohesive, memorable messages.
So if you have a dull, sanitized corporate blog, consider using this platform in a whole new way – it is worthwhile to tailor blog content to what will speak most effectively to clients and prospects. Because to reach that right audience and build a reputation as a thought leader, content – as long as it is of high quality – is still king.