You might expect marketers to have serious “shiny object syndrome” when it comes to social media platforms, throwing the most time and money at whatever they perceive to be on the bleeding edge of social. Some interesting new data shows this is not entirely the case.

US Companies Using Blogs for Marketing Purposes 2007-2012An eMarketer study points out that corporate use of social media isn’t mirroring that of consumers, who are favoring Twitter and Facebook over the blogosphere:

“This year, eMarketer estimates just over one in three companies have a public-facing blog used for marketing, a proportion that will rise to 43% by 2012.”

Corporate bloggers certainly think highly of their own efforts, according to a 2009 Technorati survey:

technorati-logo“71% of all respondents who maintain blogs for a business – their own or one they work for – report that they have increased their visibility within their industries through their blogs. 56% say that their blog has helped their company establish a positioning as a thought leader within the industry.”

Feedback on corporate blogs from consumers, however, is mixed: Of active social media users, 36% trust them “completely” or “somewhat” as a “source of information”, while 42% “neither trust nor distrust” them, and 21% either “distrust [them] somewhat” or “don’t trust [them] at all.”

Despite this accelerated adoption, many, if not most, corporate blogs still end up failing. To piece together why, I asked a well-known expert, looked at some additional data, and finally went to the consumers themselves via Twitter:

Our tweet

Jay Baer is a top social media strategy consultant, and the man behind one of the web’s most popular blogs, Convince and Convert.  In an email, I asked him:

“Why do corporate blogs typically fail?”

In his reply:

There are several tactical and operational components that can lead to corporate blog failure: Content inconsistency; lack of humanization; insufficient interaction with potential audiences in other places (i.e. not commenting on other people’s blogs). But I find the biggest problem to be expectation management.

Too few corporate blogs really understand at a core level WHY they are blogging, and what success looks like mathematically. To try to “engage with customers” or some other form of fuzzy rationalization will not pass scrutiny when it’s inevitably discovered how much time it takes to produce a corporate blog. Before the theme is designed or the first word is written, corporate blog teams must lay out a robust argument for why the blog makes sense, for whom it is intended, how blog success will be measured, and by whom.”

Got that? Set realistic goals and have realistic expectations before you start, or else you’ll end up with a ghost town.

Twitter user Neil Lynch echoes Jay’s sentiment:

"@Bazaarvoice - Lack of clear purpose"

What about posting frequency? How often does a corporation need to publish to their blog to achieve success? There’s no magic number, but it appears that freshness wins:

“When looking at bloggers by Technorati Authority, higher Authority bloggers are much more prolific content creators, posting nearly 300 times more than lower ranked bloggers.”

This certainly doesn’t bode well for Fortune 100 companies, of which only 11% had posted any updates in the three months prior to the release of the study.

Jay’s point about a distinct “lack of humanization” among corporate blogs that fail rings true to Lisa Baehr, who tweeted:

"@Bazaarvoice Too stiff and formal? All business and no levity?"

Talk to both consumers and experts on corporate blogging, and you’ll often hear variations of this, by blogger Stephen Gacheru:

“If all you do is talk about how awesome your company is, how great your product/service is or how many awards your company has won, then it won’t be long before your visitors take off and never return.”

And yet, by and large, companies fail to understand that their blogs shouldn’t be about them. Just think about it: Do your customers buy your products and services to support you, or to help them? I’m not buying a shovel because I really, really love ShovelCo; I’m buying it because I need to dig a hole. So why would I read a blog all about your company instead of a blog addressing problems I have or ideas which I personally find interesting? Remember, in one way or another, we’re all competing for mindshare when blogging.

An informal survey of our blog’s readers bore this out—only a combined 13% of our readers come to our blog for company updates and product info:

Elio Camey isn’t interested in that self-promotional content, either:

"@Bazaarvoice they fail to connect because they only focus on promoting their own prod/service. Blogs r abt connctng with people!"

The people within your organization aren’t just experts on your products, they’re industry experts. This type of content, knowledge sharing and thought leadership, is what will make your blog stand out to people like Nazima Salleh:

"Knowledge sharing on a corporate's areas of expertise would generate more interest & create buzz around the blog @Bazaarvoice #in #marketing"

What other tips for corporate blogging success do you have? Share them with other readers by leaving a comment below.

2 Responses to “Corporations get big on blogging, but why do so many still fail?”

  1. I think the corporate blog is more relevant in a B2B atmosphere. It definitely has a place in B2C but will have more functionality in B2B in my opinion. I do agree with the above points though, especially Jay Baer’s. A lack of humanization is a huge downfall of corporate blogs. Those blogs shouldn’t always read like a Wall Street Journal article. They should educate their customers and entertain to a certain degree.

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