Why Has Blogging Declined Across the Inc 500?
A new study reports that there has been a drop in the number of Inc. 500 companies who maintain corporate blogs. According to the authors, “Use of blogging may have peaked as a primary social media tool in the US business world. The new data shows adoption of blogging is declining for the first time since 2007 among the Inc 500 companies.”
Does this mean social media in business has hit the skids? Let’s take a closer look at what’s happening.
The details are part of a longitudinal study of corporate use of social media by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. The first results of this research were released in 2007 where it was shown that 8% of Fortune 500 companies were blogging compared to 19% of the Inc. 500. The numbers increased over the years with 2010 data showing that 23% of Fortune 500 blogged vs about half of the Inc. 500.
In the 2011 study, the numbers were down: 37% of the Inc. 500 (34% responded to the survey) maintained corporate blogs vs a steady 23% of the Fortune 500.
But what does this really mean? Fortune 500 companies are showing the same percentage of blog use.
Why do they continue to blog at the same pace? Because it’s working. According to eMarketer, 53% of Internet users will read blogs this year.
Corroborating the forecast, the Center for Market Research found the same thing. 92% of the Inc 500 said blogging has been successful.
Well, that’s strange. An overwhelming number say blogging has been successful, but use trended down this year. Why? I have a few thoughts.
1. Blogging is hard work. Well, blogging the right way is hard. Producing insightful and useful blog posts requires research, expertise, and a lot of thought. Taking the easy way out and blogging about any inane but slightly related topic is easy.
HubSpot, for instance, found this out when they started a manufacturing blog to increase their presence in search engines…like they advise their clients. (We advise blogging as well, but the customer should come first when you blog. Search engine rankings are an added bonus.) Unfortunately, HubSpot was all over the place on topics: lean manufacturing, safety footwear, John Deere, tin manufacturing, ceramic bearings. Who’s going to be interested in a lightweight overview of random manufacturing news? No manufacturer that I know. Not surprisingly, the last post on the blog as of today was July 19, 2011. At least they realized it wasn’t the right approach and turned their efforts elsewhere.
2. Inc 500 companies are on a hell-bent growth curve. This is great news! We love to see companies innovate and, as a result, rise to new heights. But that means they have to make some very hard choices about how to use their resources. Did I mention that good blogging is hard? I’d rather see them spend time Tweeting and interacting on LinkedIn, which almost half Inc 500 are doing (see above, and successfully, see below), then jump in and blog half-heartedly. The more bad corporate blogs out there, the more readers are going to be discouraged and stop reading.
Here is an example of a good corporate blog. For those of you who know Telesian, you know we have great respect for the work Jim Cahill of Emerson Process Experts is doing. Jim is focused on process control and does a deep dive into relevant technologies and markets, such as continuous process verification, advanced biofuels, and Fieldbus. Occasionally his internal marketer overcomes his internal engineer and he comes up with titles like, “Achieving Potash-stic Results.” Emerson Process Experts is an example of one of those 23% of Fortune 500 companies who continue to blog. Why? Because it works. Jim attests to the fact they they see millions of dollars in opportunities based on the interactions via the blog.
I’ll end with a link to a little data from eMarketer on what makes a good corporate blog. Note: comments won’t happen as often in the B2B world, but that doesn’t mean the blog posts aren’t being read. Check your blog analytics report so you know what’s working and what’s not.