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.

Which types of social media does your company currently use?

But what does this really mean? Fortune 500 companies are showing the same percentage of blog use.

Growth in blogging, Inc 500 vs Fortune 500

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.

53.5% 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.

If you have been using social media, have they 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.

If you have been using social media have they been successful?

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.

Attributes that make a great corporate blog

3 Comments

  1. Ruth Winett says:

    I look forward to Telesian’s newsletter. As the article on blogging demonstrates, the articles are always relevant and practical.

    As the last chart in the article on blogging demonstrates, frequent postings of relevant content are what it takes to be a successful blogger.

    Ruth Winett

  2. Jim Cahill says:

    Telesian team, Thank you for the shout out in your post! I do agree that blogging requires a lot of persistency and consistency. I’m lucky to be in an organization with a lot of subject matter experts to draw stories for posts, and the time to work on the posts. I also have guest bloggers who help to spread the load.

    I think companies can be successful with a blog if they clearly establish its mission and develop a posting schedule they can stick with over the long haul. In our case, the purpose of the blog is to raise the visibility (and findability) of our experts. I push to post 4-5 times per week. We have other blogs like our ModelingAndControl.com blog where posts are done once or twice per week.

    It’s also important to spend as much time listening as you do writing. So if if it takes 2-3 hours per week to identify, write, and publish a post, plan for another 2-3 hours of listening to what others are writing about in blogs and online communities.

    If you go in with a good plan, and someone who makes this a priority in their stack of stuff to do, then you’ll likely achieve your goals and gain the thought leadership you seek.

  3. sharilee says:

    Thanks, Ruth. Good blogging is hard work…and it needs to be consistent to help your brand make any headway.

    Jim, you’re right. A schedule and resources are needed. Like a good, regular newsletter or PR program, it takes thought and planning. Just because the conversation style of social media is less formal, doesn’t mean the corporate planning should be less than rigorous.

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