Don't blame blogs for this, but let's be honest: if given the opportunity the vast majority of consumers would rather read a quick 140 character tweet, watch a video or glance at a photo than dig down deep into a text-heavy reading-intensive form of communication. Once technology enabled the creation, sharing and speed of access to images and videos, it was merely a matter of time before everyone who was all excited about blogging hopped over to whatever the newest and shiniest object was. With that, we know that human beings try to avoid reading as much as possible (don't believe me? Please read this: Are You Reading This?). If you take all of those issues and you roll it up into a bigger social media marketing mix, you would uncover that blogs and blogging should fall below the level of interest for most brands.
Don't forget about the blogs.
I was taken aback by some of the data that was released yesterday in a WP Engine study on how consumers prefer original content from brands. The biggest surprise is in how much value consumers derive from corporate blogs (of course, with the caveat that they are rich with valuable information and delivered in a non-sales-like manner). Some key point to consider:
- 46% of consumers say they read the blogs of their favorite brands.
- 48% feel that it's important for a brand to include brand content on their blog to assure most up-to-date information.
- 40% believe there are negative effects if brands do not provide up-to-date content on their blogs.
- 40% prefer to read content directly from a company blog rather than a news magazine or website.
- 52% prefer to go directly to the company website for content about the brand, vs. 25% going to social media and 22% to third-party articles.
- 60% want to see content directly from brands.
Here's the one mind-blowing thing about blogs...
If this data is true, sound and accurate, what we are seeing is great news for brands that consumers would acknowledge as their "favorite." As exciting as Facebook and Twitter may be, these influencers prefer real content directly from a company blog over a news magazine or website. If there was ever a more powerful data point to support the notion of building a direct relationship with consumers (this is also a huge component of my second business book, CTRL ALT Delete), I don't know of one. Corporate blogs, when done right, are the true voice of the brand. Corporate blogs, when done right, engender a brand to consumers. As much as consumers are busy creating and sharing content in a myriad of social media channels, brands tend to forget the complex matrix of value that is created when they are openly communicating (and on an ongoing basis). Consumers prowl the Internet for information on brands (nothing new there) and they're trying to ensure that whatever they come across is as credible as possible.
Time to reboot your company blog?
I never expected Six Pixels of Separation to build a million-plus readership as a blog. There was never a desire for it to become a Mashable. The content here is direly niche. It speaks to businesses looking to better understand and navigate digital marketing and the opportunities that come from it. Within this niche is a rich and deep group of professionals who are learning, sharing and adding to the discourse. While we don't track ROI in terms of directly bringing in new clients at Twist Image, it has become abundantly clear to us, that having a corporate blog of our own (for over a decade) has enhanced our credibility, work and brand perception in so many ways that it is hard to list out after all of this time. What brands forget about building and nurturing a corporate blog of their own, is the immense amount of work and dedication it takes to make it work (I stand before you to testify how challenging it can be!). In fact, it's probably no more or less work than the PR machine of pumping out press releases or contributing to trade publications. The big difference, it turns out, is that consumers would much prefer a blog over that other kind of content.
Who would have thought that in 2014?