As an entrenched form of content marketing, corporate blogging is something every digitally adept company seems to - and should - be doing. Despite the rise of video content and webinars, and the lasting appeal of eNewsletters and social media marketing, blogging is still the third-most popular content marketing strategy. According to CMI, 81% of companies are using the tactic in 2016 - it’s informative, interactive and can be a great way of driving traffic to a site.
Though the majority of companies will have a blog, many get the medium wrong - creating value for the visitor isn’t easy, and all too often blogs are banal and half-hearted add-ons to an otherwise ordinary corporate website. The ‘build it and they will come’ mentality is flawed, and having a poor corporate blog is arguably worse than not having one at all. A lot of organizations only have a blog because their competitors do and they feel they should. When done properly, though, blogs can build brand reputation, nurture a sense of engagement and, importantly, let visitors know that your company understands its industry enough to share knowledge.
Let’s start with the bad. At its worst, corporate blogging is essentially traditional PR repackaged - overtly promotional content disguised as an ‘update’ or an ‘insight’ into the company itself. The rest of a company’s site is the place for promotional material and, though posts can comfortably allude to products and solutions it offers, visitors will switch off if they feel they’re reading an advert. The companies that get it wrong focus their blogs only on their own products, how they approach problems, and neglect to
This point ties in with a wider problem in corporate blogging - it doesn’t consider its audience enough. All too often, companies publish blogs for them, filled with insight too specific to the company to be shareable, and too promotional to be interesting to a wide group of readers. In some cases - we won’t name names - comments are disabled and no feedback is encouraged; blogs are intended to be more human in tone, more interactive, and visitors should feel they can contribute as well as taking something away. Good blog content shouldn’t feel didactic, it should feel like a discussion.
A good example of the medium done right is Hubspot. The marketing software company has successfully built a blog that will appear just about anywhere you search for anything related to marketing tips and insight, with entirely clickable headlines - ’13 Networking Mistakes You Need To Stop Making’ for example - and genuinely interesting content that at no point feels like marketing. Hubspot has positioned itself as something of an authority, an insightful educator on top of its core business. At its best, B2B blogging should build an audience and then funnel that audience to the product, a delicate but important distinction from traditional PR publishing.
B2B blogging is a difficult thing to master, and far too many companies give up early on when the so-called ‘vanity metrics’ don’t show a significant upturn. It takes time to build an audience, and publishing pieces with only mass sharing in mind is missing the point of blogging. The goal should be engagement; comments mean more than likes. If you’re not using blogging as part of your content marketing strategy, you should be - just make sure the pieces offer real value, rather than serving only to promote products that your visitors can find for themselves without the need for microsites and straight faced sales writing.