Dropping a Blog for Social Media May Not Make Sense for Brands

by Gregg on April 21, 2012

The following headline was on the front page of USA Today‘s Money section yesterday, and it bothered me, because it once again illustrates how some brands may be taking the wrong approach to social media:

Headline: Blogs are slogs, so companies just quit. Subhead: More try Facebook, other social media instead: It’s faster.

I read the story while eating dinner last night, and I’ll be honest, it was disturbing. The premise is that companies are dropping their corporate blogs in favor of Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels. Why? It takes less time and budget.

I get the limited-resources angle, and I will never fault a brand for being cognizant of that. The story also references a University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth study that provides compelling statistical data about the drop off in corporate blogging (down to 37% of 500 companies surveyed in 2011, from 50% the year before). That’s consistent with Pew Research Center data that suggests less general consumer interest in blogging.

But when it comes to brands, dropping a corporate blog in favor of social media may be flawed thinking. The USA Today story struck me as social media is the easy way out, so to speak -  it’s harder to plan and execute a unique content approach that’s necessary for a blog and, really, an integrated cross-channel digital strategy. However, while engagement with target audiences is key to social media success, I don’t think it can stand on its own.

In other words, as I’ve mentioned here previously, where are brands sending target audiences once they are engaged, because that is where the deeper experience with the brand takes place. It could be a corporate blog, but obviously, it doesn’t have to be. It could be a specialized landing page on a brand’s website - though as we’ve also disccovered, some brands are neglecting their websites for social media channels. Consider also:

  • A corporate blog on a brand’s website is owned by the brand, and thus controlled by it solely, which is not true of social media channels.
  • Who is literally engaging on behalf of the brand, and how are they engaging - does it appropriately reflect the brand, is it responsible, and is there an established protocol (i.e., an internal "response tree") for thorny issues?
  • Finally, what analysis tools are in place? I use Google Analytics for Branding Bricks, and on the job, I use Radian6 (which I love), though there are other options, like SM2, for example.

I totally agree that a blog won’t make sense for every brand, and assessment of blog traffic and engagment over time will bear that out. My personal feeling is that video is going to be a big key to our future, and I think video blogs as opposed to written has great promise because target audiences may have the time tolerance to watch a 1-2 minute video over lunch rather than spend 10-12 minutes reading a blog post. But again, that has to be scripted, shot, edited and approved – which takes time and budget.

Maybe the point of all this is that brands can’t be penny-wise and pound foolish when it comes to a unique content approach as part of an integrated cross-channel digital strategy. How a brand is portrayed and represented – from the fringes of the social media galaxy to the heart of its website – should be of paramount importance.

(Image credit to Legal Marketing Maven.)

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenn Seeley April 23, 2012 at 9:15 am

Love what you’ve said here about blogs! You’re right, they are definitely time consuming and can be a real resource hog if you’re limited… but blogs produce the comment that can easily be shared on your other social channels like Twitter and Facebook, and help act like the glue that brings your community together. Blogs also ‘live longer’ in that they’re easier to find if SEO is put to good use. For the brand who sticks only to Facebook and Twitter.. communities aren’t going to easily find those conversations a month from now by doing a quick search. Not as likely as a blog that highlights the details of great conversations.

Thanks for your mention of Radian6! We’re glad you love it ;)

Jenn Seeley
Community Engagement, Radian6

Reply

Gregg April 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Jenn: Thanks for your post, really cool to have Radian6 comment on this important issue. I think you make a tremendous point about the content sticking … frankly, one I wish I would have made when I wrote the original post. But you’re totally right – with the ocean of posts across multiple social media platforms, finding them later is like finding a specific needle in a stack full of needles. I also think a blog can be the hub for conversations that start on social media platforms – which can then be leveraged in a specific situation later. For example, a sales rep for a given company could reference a specific conversation about a question a customer has, which can show that the customer’s problem is a common issue with which a brand has aided other customers.

While social media is a powerful tool in a lot of ways, I still come back to the fact that it’s a way to draw in target audiences to experience a brand at a deeper, richer level, in addition to all the other things it does well, like make a brand more “human” by helping customers wiht problems/gripes.

You have a much different perspective than I do – if you’re able to comment, are you seeing the trend of social media channels being chosen over blogs?

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