Why should companies blog?

1 Dec 2010 by Randall Helms, 1 Comment »

Many people, when they think of creating a ‘social media strategy’ for their brand, tend to think only of social networking. Facebook! Twitter! MySpace! (OK, maybe not so much MySpace these days).

As I discussed in my dissertation, social media is not just social networking, and it encompasses many other different avenues for engaging with customers. One of the most important of these other social media tools, at least in my opinion, is blogging.

I believe that there are several important ways that blogging can help brands to achieve their marketing goals:

  1. By allowing a direct connection to the customer
  2. By humanizing the brand
  3. By achieving strategic marketing goals
  4. By helping to reach new customers/markets
  5. By assisting the process of brand repositioning

To start with, like other forms of social media, blogging gives brands a direct, unmediated connection to the public in a way that traditional marketing channels like television or direct mail don’t. As I discussed in my dissertation, this allows brands to have a two-way communication with their customers that can then feed into other areas beyond marketing, such as customer service or new product development.

The specific advantage of blogging over other forms of social media is depth. You can only say so much in 140 characters, but in writing a blog you can really explore a topic in depth and offer the reader something of lasting value beyond just a straightforward marketing message. To go back to the point about two-way communications, the depth that blogging encourages can also manifest itself very positively in the comments section, where smart, engaged customers can provide valuable feedback that can have a positive impact on the business.

One proviso I should mention, however, is that having a blog that is open to comments (which is essential, in my opinion) leaves you open to being targeted by trolls and spammers, which means that you have to be willing to police the comments judiciously, encouraging conversation whilst discouraging pointless flamewars and abusiveness. Trolling will be the subject of my next post, but it is certainly essential that companies be aware of it upfront when it comes to designing their blog policies.

One of the most valuable things about blogging is that, if done well, it helps to humanize the brand. This can be achieved by writing in an authentic voice, and not in the arid marketingspeak that was for so long the default tone of most brand communications. People crave authenticity, and yet for too long so much customer-focused business communications have sounded as if they were written by robots. By striving to always be ‘professional-sounding’ marketers have ignored the tremendous vitality of the English language, and how it can be used to effectively communicate a message. If you go back to the classic marketing text The Cluetrain Manifesto you can see that this concept has been around for a long time, but even so too many marketers have failed to take heed of it.

One of the other main values of blogging for marketers is that it can help to achieve a brand’s strategic goals. Because blogs are customer-facing and constantly updated they can play a big role (if done well, of course) in helping the brand to reach new markets and/or to transform the expectations and understanding of existing customers. Again, the key variable is depth; if a brand wants to reposition itself, a good blog can do a lot to help the process along by both reaching out to new markets (in terms of interacting with bloggers influential amongst the new target group) and by hammering home the new brand message through the repetition that is inherent in the blogging format.

Any thoughts on other reasons why companies should blog?

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