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.)