Best of the web: Why every brand-conscious business should blog
Despite the evidence in favor of blogging, with the rise of Twitter and Facebook, many brands are reluctant to blog. While blogs can be a lot of work, they provide a foundation for information on the Web and an owned platform for your social business.
Hubspot’s 2010 "The State of Inbound Marketing Survey" found that:
• 77 percent of Internet users read blogs;
• Blogs yield an average ROI of 600 percent;
• Companies that blog have two times the number of inbound links versus companies that don’t;
• 46 percent of companies with blogs have acquired customers from a blog-generated lead;
• 58 percent say that they are better-known in their industry because of their blog;
• 56 percent say that their blog has helped their company establish a positioning as a thought leader within the industry.
And anyone who says blogs are dead hasn’t dealt with a corporate crisis in the last three years. When a crisis hits or an issue about your company or brand captures the public’s attention, good luck telling your story in its entirety without a blog. Online searches about your brand will surge, and if you don’t have a blog, you are leaving your reputation in the hands of anyone else who chooses to blog about the subject.
Based on my own experiences over the last five years working with brands that blog and brands that don’t, I’ve outlined six reasons why I think every brand should blog:
1. Brand Identity: A blog provides a low-cost, long-term venue to continuously bring your brand to life. What distinguishes you from your competitors? Brands that clearly define their personality and build an identifiable group for their audiences to connect with find their efforts enhanced by the desire to belong. Brands like Southwest Airlines, Apple and Starbucks don’t just sell products, they create emotional bonds with their audiences that pay dividends.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): A blog provides an informative resource for anyone seeking information about you or issues relating to your brand. Blogging allows you to constantly capitalize on hot topics and popular search terms. SEO helps increase traffic to your site and expose audiences to your brand, services and product offerings. If a customer doesn’t find you when they search for you or your products, you may as well not even exist.
3. Control the Message: A blog provides you with a platform to accurately tell the important brand stories that may otherwise go untold or be inaccurately reported. When someone searches for something related to your brand, you want them to receive that information directly from you rather than an unauthorized, inaccurate and potentially adversarial third party. In order to lead and shape online conversations, organizations must continuously tell their story. If you don’t have a blog, you are leaving one of your most valuable assets – your reputation – at the mercy of others.
4. Social Media Home Base: A blog provides a long-term home for content that can be continually accessed and pushed through other social and traditional channels. Your blog is the only place where you can continuously tell your story in its entirety without the bias or limitations of a third party. Twitter is limited to 140 characters. Facebook has its own rules and limitations. And, we no longer need to wait for the media to tell our stories – nor should we. While Twitter, Facebook and traditional media are all great resources for promoting your brand, they are temporary, constantly moving streams of information. Your blog provides a stable home for information related to your brand.
5. Lead Generation: A blog can help grow your business. Social media and blogs are the fastest growing category in lead generation, and they continue to be categorized as the lowest cost lead-generation channel. As noted in Hubspot’s 2010 "The State of Inbound Marketing Survey," inbound marketing-dominated organizations average a 60 percent lower cost-per-lead than outbound-dominated organizations, and 46 percent of those using company blogs have acquired customers from a blog-generated lead.
6. Analytics: Blog analytics can help you perfect your online communication strategies and improve ROI. What’s the ROI of your social media efforts? Access to blog analytics will help you to better understand your customers and how they find and consume information online. If you understand the analytics, you can almost predict the future.