Blogging is back in corporate fashion according to the 6th annual study of social media of the Inc. 500 by UMASS Dartmouth researchers (executive summary). This year’s study found that corporate blogging increased by 7%. This may seem minor, but relatively, it is not. The same survey last year found corporate blogging among the same sample decreased by 13%.
There’s a reason why a Wall Street mantra rings of “buy low and sell high,” and the lesson from lasts year’s study is that fewer corporate bloggers meant more opportunity. Seems to me some savvy businesses are getting on board with that idea.
Highlights I found interesting from the study:
- Blogging is back. 44% of Inc. 500 companies have blogs — an increase of 7%.
- Lead by example. 63% of CEO’s report contributing to content.
- LinkedIn links business. 81% use LinkedIn which has supplanted Facebook with 67%.
- Social staffing still lacks. 41% say social media spending will remain flat.
Here are four takeaways I’d offer:
1. Pound for pound, corporate blogs are a great marketing investment. Fads many ebb and flow, but blogging is a long tradition on the web. Corporate blogs ought to be the center of a content marketing strategy because blogs blend public relations, search marketing, branding and sales. For PR, it can help cross the threshold of noise for earned media. Great content aids search marketing by attracting links and social shares; search engines exist to index and help information-consumers find relevant content. It’s great branding because content is currency bartered for attention. Does it sell? Definitely. Some companies note that leads convert at a rate of 50% higher after prospective customers have engaged with branded content.
2. Leadership leads the content way. As busy as they are, senior leaders, including CEOs, that make time to contribute make a remarkable impact. This is not unnatural since a CEO is arguably, the single most authoritative voice in a company. There’s tons of evidence to support this idea. For example, a separate study by eMarketer found that socially engaged CEOs drive visibility, attract talent and inspire confidence in their employees.
3. There are other social sites besides Facebook. LinkedIn surpassed Facebook among the Inc. 500 in this study and I believe this is reflective of a trend. Another statistically significant social media study conducted last fall by Vocus, also found Facebook was losing steam to other social sites. What’s especially interesting, is that the demographics in that study, in terms of revenue and employees, closely mirrors the composition of the Inc. 500. Don’t pin all your efforts to one site because these sites tinker with functions, they change terms of service and they die. Do experiment with other social sites to find what works for your business; every business will be different.
4. You get out of social media what you put into it. Study after study, including this one by UMASS Dartmouth, find that businesses generally task social media as an additional duty to existing employees. The social media race is long, and it requires people, patience and persistence. Imagine assigning your some of your finance people, or developers, or cashiers, to staff a call center as an additional duty! They would never get anything done and the concept would fail. Think of it another way: a student can attend a state school, work hard and get a great education, or they can attend an Ivy League college, slough off, and wind up with a mediocre education. You get out of it what you put into it and social media results requires staffing.
What would you add? What jumped out at you in this study?