Why your blog should be *the* focal point for building your brand online?
I'm still surprised how little blogs feature in digital marketing strategy and planning -- whether marketers run a corporate or brand blog as part of their web strategy, or leveraging third party blogs via blogger out-reach.
Blogs can also give you a hub for syndicating content and offers via the social networks as this post by Dave on blog content syndication shows.
I believe that this area really needs taking more seriously, the latest information from Technorati's 'State Of The Blogosphere' (Technorati quiz several thousand bloggers) reveal some interesting take-aways that I'd hope provide some motivation:
- Blogs are the new news: The blogosphere is still in transition, and still they have mainstream influence - you only have to look how progressive brands are leveraging bloggers to promote their latest product, message or campaign.
- Blogs are social: Blogs are entwined into social networks and micro-blogging, the content in them forms the bedrock of sharing, indeed blog post sharing is done increasingly through social networks.
- Blogs have huge influence: In Technorati's report, blogs ranked about the same as traditional media when consumers were asked which sources they trusted for brand and product recommendations. These groups were only secondary to friends and family.
- Blogs garner trust: More than a third of consumers said that blogs are becoming a more valued source of information. In addition, 39% agree that in the next five years, blogs will be a major source of news and entertainment over traditional media.
- Blog content is evolving: Mobile and tablets are shaping new forms of shorter and more spontaneous blogging, equally video blogs are creating new formats that engage different users.
- Blogs influence blogs: One significant advantage of the blogosphere is the intense viral effect that can take hold if you can earn the interest of and then connect with the right blogger and ultimately their network
So how can a blog help you, the lonely marketer, forge your brand ahead online?
Consumers don't care about you or what you have to say, they care about what they think and what perspective they already have. So it's us, as marketers that need to provide the information that they value and blogs can help enormously to do that. Trust is powerful and blogs are a powerful avenue for brands looking to share their story and build trust with the consumer. An influential blog, whether yours or a third party, can offer a gold mine of value. So, why not take blogs seriously when you're already creating content of some description?
Here are our seven reasons to incorporate blogs (ideally yours, but also third parties) into your marketing:
- Communicate a unique position and a clear purpose - blogs can help you be clear about the brands' values and beliefs. The tone, nature and content type are powerful indicators to the consumer and you can use that to communicate what you hope to get across. One thing is for sure, you're way more likely to evoke the feeling that you wish via content than a set of advertisements.
- Engender trust, build reputation and a position of authority - smart brands exceed customer expectations, they want to go the extra mile, blogs are useful in proving that you are giving in the hope you may receive. A great blog is working, living proof that you're doing what you can to be a valuable resource. The IBM blog does this well - they have several in fact for different markets and audience types.
- Offer real value - through information, helpful content, how-to's, advice or entertainment - there are also different content types that you can use such as video blogs, rich graphics, question based posts or simple text. You can use your blog to flag content across your site and across the internet at large, referencing any great stuff that you think is worth sharing.
- A vehicle for powerful brand associations - blogs are a great way to create connections with other brands, people or organisations that might help your position. You might want to interview many thought leaders in your industry as a means to bolder your position - sometimes called 'standing in the shoulders of giants'. The Smart Insights blog works to bring a network of wider experts in order to build the brand through great content (at least that's what we're aiming for!).
- An easy way to get feedback and spark interaction - standing for something allows consumers to agree, disagree, share and generally have their own opinions. Don't worry about negative comments. Remember that whatever is said about you when you are not in the room may as well be said in a place where you (and your fans) can engage directly. It also offers the opportunity to show you're open to feedback and dialogue, you are far more likely to gain respect even if not the adoration. Innocent do a great job with their blog to garner interaction, it says a lot about the brand and even has an association with an expert, Dr Shilpee.
- A reason to return and refer - this is likely the main motivation to build a good blog or post content onto a third party blog. Once people have looked at your site or products they're not really going to need to come back, or even remember too, if you didn't provide the reason, incentive or mechanic for them. Blogs are perfect - content I can consume on my terms and less interruptive than email.
- Build to fuel social - the content, easy post sharing and ability to generate feeds to other sites and networks means that you have an easy means to start to fuel social campaigns and interactions - as Chris Brogan says "you have the wood around which to build the social campfire".
And, it's so easy now with off-the-shelf, easily configurable software like the new WordPress 3 (way more than a blogging tool) or Blogger. Just be realistic, I once heard that a blog will only start to take traction with the audience after 50 posts, though I am not sure about the exact number it feels about right since it's the consistency and commitment that are required to get cut-through.