Monday, April 23, 2012

The Corporate Blog Becoming More Scarce

The pace of change in the communications technology sector is now so rapid that if you’re a brand new college graduate, chances are pretty good that the way you communicated in your freshman year was significantly less technologically sophisticated than today’s freshman.

In less than four years, Facebook has become social media on steroids.  People of all demographics have jumped into the social media pool, from parents, and aunts and uncles, to the HR departments that screen potential employees online, and companies using the full range of business and marketing applications.  Twitter, Pinterest and other social media have filled niches.

Against this backdrop, the mere mention of a blog is to sound so old school you could be accused of being a luddite.  In the tech world, that’s akin to being called illiterate.

No shortage of irony that here we are on a blog of all things, talking about the corporate blog.  There’s a difference.  Blogs like this one are what individuals use for any number of reasons.  Corporate blogs are those published under the corporate brand, not particularly associated with any single author.

It appears to me that the space for blogs maintained by individuals, be they for professional or personal reasons, continues to hold its own.  Blogs provide much content for social media and give their authors a chance to expand on concepts, developments or ideas. 

Corporate blogs on the other hand, are often low priorities at companies. They are not kept up to date the way their originators had planned, and when they are updated, it’s usually little more than a place to find the latest news release or an occasional guest column from a company subject matter expert.  Creating original content is a challenge in terms of time and resource availability.

What many companies have found in the past few years is that they can be much more current and relevant if they skip the blog process and post directly to Facebook or Twitter.

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth recently conducted a survey on this topic.  It found that the number of companies that maintain blogs decreased from 50 percent in 2010 to 37 percent in 2011.  The project surveyed the 500 fast-growing companies ranked by Inc. magazine. 

In addition to the investment required into maintaining a blog, the other issues at play here is interactivity and location.  Retailers who actively engage consumers on social sites like Facebook have found that they can get more mileage out of their existing marketing content, and through “comments” add a level of interactivity that keeps it current and relevant.  And by being on the popular social media sites, they have a greater presence in the Internet marktplace.

When USA Today asked why his company dropped its corporate blog, Bank of America spokesman, T.J. Crawford may have said it best: "We want to be where our customers are."

For consultants, commentators, pundits and news organizations who have the time to invest in the process, blogs will continue to serve as major sources of content for their larger communications and social media efforts.  But for many larger corporations, their online focus is now on social media.

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