Last week I posted an article asking if corporate blogs had become sacred cows. I questioned the logic of a corporate blog remaining the center of a social communication hub when readership is down, competition for attention is increasing and our audience’s preference is evolving towards shorter, more visual content. Why are marketers so unwilling to accept that, in some cases, the value of a corporate blog is diminishing?
The question sparked a good conversation across many of the social channels that it was shared in.
A common theme to those who disagreed with my suggestion was that if readership is down, the problem is not competing social channels or the audience’s changing preferences but the quality and format of the corporate blog itself.
Most argued that the corporate blog is still THE place to represent your brand and maintain control of your message without the public or social-spin that can derail your efforts in other channels.
I agree that a corporate blog is an important element in the social mix and also that most corporate blogs fail to provide the value readers seek and thus fail to retain regular readers and/or drive value from it. However, I disagree that simply revamping these blogs will make a large difference. The reality is that our audience has moved on.
I’ll Take The Challenge
Those of you who know me know that I love a great debate and that I never back down from a challenge. So for a moment, I’ll accept the argument that the fortunes of corporate blogs can be reversed by re-imagining their structure and content.
So let’s consider what would have to be done to a typical corporate blog for it to remain a viable social hub for its business.
My point of view: today’s corporate marketing challenge is no longer the lack of quality blogs, but the audience’s content consumption habits and preferences. With this in mind, below are the 3 key changes required by corporate blogs to remain relevant:
1. Go On a Diet
Blogs posts need to shed a few words around the middle. Few visitors have the time or desire to read long, drawn out articles. Shorter, hyper-relevant and more frequent messaging is critical to attract and retain readership today. Further, the audience is increasingly accessing content from mobile devices that are not ideal for long-form content. I’m not suggesting that longer articles should not be posted, but they might be better served as downloadable whitepapers or e-books.
2. Get a Make Over
In his SNL skit “Fernando’s Hideaway,” Billy Cristal stated so eloquently, “It’s not how you feel…it’s how you look…” Corporate blogs must take a lesson from the market, which is exploding with more visual content. So instead of posting 1,500 word articles, why not create and post visual slide decks, video interviews, podcasts or image galleries (please no kittens) instead? Get out of your comfort zone, try on something new and watch the reaction.
Secondly, your site should be refitted using responsive design so that its layout is dynamically reshaped based on the display capabilities of the device accessing it such as smart phones, tablets, netbooks, laptops and oversized desktop monitors. Maintaining a consistent customer experience is critical to branding efforts as well as content consumption.
3. Start Dating
Once you’ve lost a few words and had your makeover, get out there and meet new people! You can convert your blog into a true social hub by replacing infrequent posts with a grid of feeds from all your other social channels such as Twitter, SlideShare, YouTube, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn Groups, etc. This creates a speed-dating environment within your blog that allows your audience to better mingle with you and your content. Alternatively, you can join blogger communities using services such as Triberr which connect complementary bloggers who support each other through distribution and commentary.
Lastly, allow your audience to generate some of the content within your site. This might be the biggest challenge for most since a corporate blog is seen as “the voice” of the brand but in reality, your audience is more interested in their peer’s experiences with your brand than your views on it.
So there you have it. Me arguing the “other side”. Not sure I’ve convinced myself that a corporate blog should always be the center of a business’ social efforts, but if it has to, a change in strategy is certainly in order.
Where do you weigh in (see what I did there?) on this debate? Can a corporate blog upgrade to compete with the changing needs of its audience? Or should it bother? Share your arguments for and against in the comments below.
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego