Assessing the status of business blogging is challenging. The data is inconsistent and changes every day due to of the exponentially fast expansion of blogs as a media (not to mention its newness).
Recent Pew Internet research poll the number of companies that are using blogs is about 7% (a survey conducted by American Express last month suggested that the same percentage). A different poll conducted done by Guidewire Group suggests 89% of businesses are blogging currently or are planning to do so in the near future. While these numbers are wildly different but the main thing that is agreed upon is that blogging for business is increasing. The pace seems to be the main reason for the disagreement.
About 175,000 blogs are that are being developed each day (or around two per second) But don’t let that number scare you: the business share is a drop in the bucket. Experts put the number active business blogs in the U.S. today at about 5000, with a quarter of them less than one year old and only 10 percent older than three years.
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A lot of new blogs like all blogs are abandoned after a few months. And only 39% of all blogs are in English the language (Japanese is the top). What all of this says is that the blogging industry is now the norm across the globe, but it’s nonetheless very welcoming to newcomers.
The trends vary based on the size of the company and the smaller ones tending to utilize more business blogging, while larger firms maintain a large percentage. Around 55% of business blogs are created by companies that have less than 100 employees. Approximately 15% account for companies that have more than 1,000 employees. But, of the biggest 500 companies located in the United States, 40% utilize blogs in their comprehensive strategy.
In contrast to the chaotic data, what makes most successful in the field of business blogging is somewhat clearer. Virtually all research and opinion about the subject point to certain key elements which include:
- A style of writing that can communicate on a personal level and be engaging. This means knowing your audience and creating a lasting relationship with them through the blog medium.
- The company’s willingness to engage in an honest marketplace dialogue with its customers (the source of the infinitely highly coveted credibility of any blog).
- The blog’s writer’s time is allocated to the blog for research that is relevant thoughts, thinking, responding to posts from readers and the overall building of quality work as well as frequent updates.
Of course, every company in their unique industries face unique challenges and requirements. For instance, based on the situation or industry, your business may want to pay attention to the tone and style of the writer. Companies with reputations they’d like to enhance or improve (oil firms, as an instance) may find particular interest in the transparency of blogging. If you’re in a competitive industry (such as media or technology), a company blog will need to assess the time spent updating content for its blog more carefully. A lot of businesses start blogging with clear goals from the beginning, or create a blog within the company before developing an external blog. Some companies run more than one blog. General Motors, for example has an entertaining blog (Fastlane) as well as an information blog (FYI) combination that has been very successful.
The General Motors blogs is a excellent example of business blogging that has reached its maturity. They are both easy to navigate and join as well as written concisely, and utilize costumer-generated material such as videos and images. There are many links (not just to GM but to other auto sites and even other blogs) which means that the reader gets a real sense that there is a genuine dialogue and an openness. The high number of comments and replies in the Fastlane blog shows that successful blogs are both active and relevant.
In the world of blogs There is still some disagreement about who should write on the corporate blog. For example, in Fastlane’s case, Fastlane the Vice Chairman is Bob Lutz. In some businesses however, the risks may outweigh the advantages of having an executive taking part in the blogging. It is true that the voice of the CEO may not always sound well in blogs. Also, an executive might be reluctant to blog for very long because of a simply lack of time. This is the situation for the majority of blogs that are made: after three months, blogs cease to post and the blog is essentially dead. In this way, the most successful blogs for business are managed by employees rather than the CEOs. It could therefore make more sense for your company if employees write blogs since they have the passion and a deep understanding (and their voice) to make an appealing blog that is more read to the peers of the readers, it is a legitimate.
Legitimacy has proven to be important for any success in marketing or business blogging. In the past, Dr. Pepper attempted to overcome this issue in the promotion of their now infamous novel product Raging Cow (a flavored milk drink). The company hired teenagers to taste the drink and then write about it on their blogs after being coached. Dr. Pepper’s attempts were met with a snarky tone and even boycotts for trying to get into the “integrity” of the blogosphere with marketing through coached customers in addition to “hip-ness.” The whole thing turned out to be a disaster and Raging Cow was not released. Furthermore, many of us are contemplating the fate of “Pay-Per-Post” and its legitimacy in the near future.
Another beverage company, Jones Soda, offers an entirely different and successful model of blog legitimacy and customer outreach. A visit to the blog gives more the impression of a social gathering for teenagers as opposed to a business. The blog, actually, acts as the hub for many blogs from customers. There is all of the usual material related to business: an online store and a product locator messages boards (with posts reaching up to thousands). The folks at Jones clearly know their clients well and have come up with a popular blog to complement their business , by loosing their reigns and making clients in total control. Although this may seem scary for some managers It seems to have worked brilliantly for Jones.