Assessing the status of business blogging is difficult. The data is inconsistent and changes frequently because of the exponentially rapid growth of the blog as a platform (not to mention its newness).
A recent Pew Internet research poll the number of companies using blogs is in the range of 7% to 7% (a research survey conducted by American Express last month suggested that the same percentage). A different poll conducted of Guidewire Group suggests 89% of businesses are blogging now or plan to in the near future. In spite of these vastly different numbers The main point of agreement is that blogging for business is growing. This is the issue.
The number of blogs is around 175,000 creating blogs every day (or around two per second) however don’t let that figure frighten you. The business share is a drop in the bucket. The number of active blogs for business on the U.S. today at about 5,500, with the majority of them less than one year old and only 10% older than three years. A lot of new blogs, like all blogs, disappear after a couple of months, and only about 39% of all blogs are written in the English the language (Japanese is the top). What all of this says is that blogging is now an international norm, but it is still very much accessible to newcomers.
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Trends differ based on the size of the business, with smaller companies tending to make more use of blog-related business blogs, while larger corporations have a substantial portion. About 55% of all blogs on business are launched by businesses with less than 100 employees, while 15% belong to businesses with more than 1,000 employees. But, of the biggest 500 businesses across the United States, 40% make use of blogs in their overall strategy.
In contrast to the chaotic numbers, what’s success in the field of business blogging is much clearer. Nearly every research and opinion on the subject points to some key aspects, including:
- A style of writing that is able to communicate on a personal level and be entertaining. This includes knowing your customer and establishing a significant relationship in the blog medium.
- The willingness of the company to be involved in an honest marketplace dialogue with its customers (the foundation of the precious credibility of any blog).
- The blog’s writer’s time is dedicated to the blog for research that is relevant and thought, as well as responding to reader comments and the overall building of high-quality content and regular updates.
Of course, every company in their specific industries have specific challenges and challenges. In particular, based on the situation or industry, your business may want to focus most carefully on the tone and tone of the writer. A company with a reputation that they’d like to improve or smooth (oil firms, as an instance) may find particular interest in the transparency of blogging. When it comes to a highly competitive industry (such as media or technology) the company blog may need to consider the time spent updating content to the blog more carefully. Many companies begin blogging with clear objectives at the onset, or even try a blog internally prior to creating an external website. Certain businesses also have multiple blogs. General Motors, for example has an entertaining blog (Fastlane) as well as an information blog (FYI) combination which has been extremely successful.
The General Motors blogs is a great example of successful corporate blogging as it matures. They’re easy to navigate and sign up to they are written in a concise manner and use material from costumers that includes video and photos. There are also many links (not just to GM as well as other auto sites as well as other blogs), so the reader gets a real sense that there is a genuine dialogue and an openness. The high volume of comments and responses on the Fastlane blog proves that successful blogs are both active and useful.
In the blogosphere there’s still a lot of debate regarding who should write on the corporate blog. For example, in Fastlane’s case, Fastlane the Vice Chairman is Bob Lutz. For some companies however, the potential pitfalls could outweigh the benefits of having an executive doing the blogging. Voices of bosses might not always sound clearly in blogs. Also, an executive might not continue to write for a long time due to simple lack of time. This is the situation for around half of the blogs that are launched within three months: posts stop and the blog is dead. Because of this, most of the most effective business blogs are run by the employees and not by the CEOs. So, it may be more beneficial for your company if employees blog because they typically have the motivation and depth of knowledge (and their voice) to create an easier to read blog due to their peers, the readers, and thus credible.
The legitimacy of a blog has been proven to be of central importance to any success in the world of business or in market blogging. It was a few years ago that Dr. Pepper attempted to surpass this when it came to the marketing of their now-infamous novel product Raging Cow (a flavored milk drink). The company hired teenagers to take a drink and then write about it, after they were instructed. Dr. Pepper’s attempts were met with viciousness and even boycotts for trying to get into the “integrity” of the blogosphere by promoting its products through coaching customers along with “hip-ness.” The whole situation turned sour and Raging Cow was never released. Additionally, a lot of us are contemplating the future of “Pay-Per-Post” and its legitimacy in the near future.
Another beverage company, Jones Soda, offers an entirely different and effective model of blog credibility and customer outreach. A visit to their blog gives more of the appearance of a hangout for teens than a place for business. The blog, in fact serves as the central point for various customer blogs. The blog has all the typical material for businesses the blog, such as an online shop and a product locator and message boards (with posts reaching in the thousands). But the people at Jones very obviously know their clients well and have created a highly profitable blog for their business by loosing the reins and putting the clientle completely in charge. Although this may seem scary to some executives, it seems to have worked brilliantly for Jones.
In summary the business blogging industry is better understood in its infancy , even if the number of blogs popping up every day appear to be high. Companies that want to join the blogospere should do so carefully unless they’ve got an approach that meets all of the criteria above. When done with care it can be a great source of personalization for customers, relationship building, and in turn, a reflection of your business’s brand.