Early birds catch the blogworms. Or so suggests research by blogging metrics maniac Dan Zarrella. You have the best chance of getting eyeballs to your posts if you get that content out before 10am US Eastern time. In a recent webinar hosted by Hubspot, Dan unleashed a torrent of findings from his surveys and research of over 170,000 blog posts.
This fine infographic does a great job of summing up general reading/feedback trends seen across the blogs studied:
Whether it’s views, links or comments, most activity happens early in the day. Saturday is a big day for commenting. Which could well be related to this activity on social networks:
Retweeting follows a similar path. It looks like most people read content early in the day, with little variance across the week. As we get nearer the weekend, people start getting social: whether that be retweeting on Twitter or sharing on Facebook (and getting around to commenting).
Judging by the success of this webinar, interest in blogging definitely isn’t on the wane, which makes me somewhat skeptical about a recent study suggesting that although corporate blogging isn’t exactly dead, it’s reached saturation point.
There was no evidence of this during Dan’s study of blogging, which had the Twittersphere ablaze for the full hour of the presentation. You’ll see there was particular interest in the tie-up between blogging and other social media: in particular those duelling siblings Twitter and Facebook. And that’s where blogging can really come into its own: as the content destination for inbound marketing tactics across Facebook and Twitter.
To my mind the Dan’s research also highlights a key difference between search- and social media marketing. For search marketing, attracting those indefatigable search bots that trawl the web for new content is a time-independent task. Just make sure you get content out in short order to win favor from the recency filter was the long and short of what I was told not so long ago by search experts here at IBM. The time of day really has little importance: algorithms aren’t more likely to read posts in the mornings. Whereas this research from Dan bears a closer resemblance to the findings you might see around email marketing which is often deemed to be time-sensitive. Readership is near-synchronous and content is highly perishable. And if you are blogging outside the time-zone of your key audience, beware. Your content could well end up overlooked. As you may have noticed, I’m taking Dan’s messages to heart and working on getting this content out in a timely fashion. Right, now time for breakfast!
One of the so-called rules of social media is that you should adopt a personal voice. After all the medium is all about helping companies look less monolithic and to engage on a one-to-one basis, right? Well, not necessarily, according to Ann All’s article in IT Business Edge. Content is content, and as long as you are producing unique, interesting subject matter, you may still find an engaged audience lapping it up. Ann points out that the IT Business Edge profile on Twitter and Facebook fan page are little more than warmed-up RSS feeds. This is fine for their audience: it’s more about putting links to useful articles on the networks where their audience congregates.
I’d say I largely subscribe to this view, and some of our own corporate Twitter accounts are not conversational: they just point followers to useful content, eg. BRMS Updates. With practically no promotional effort, we’re getting at least 1 new follower per day. And the followers know what to expect. If we do need to engage with our audience on a more personal level, we’ll probably open up a fresh profile to handle this.
After all, is social media really that different from the traditional media that went before it? After all, our media is as diverse as we are. Some of it is informal, some of it entertaining, whereas some is a mix. All of it can enjoy a share of the limelight.
So rather than concentrate on ensuring a ‘personal voice’, think about who your audience are and what value you can pass on. By all means, think about using a vivacious personal tone rather than turgid lackluster corporate-speak, but there are times when you just need to get the information out there and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use a direct, formal approach if this will work for your audience.
Blog takeup still low among Fortune 500
Findings from the Society for New Communications Research shows that blog take-up still low at the corporate level. Many companies are still trying to work out what are the relative merits to launching and maintaining a corporate blog.
A Brilliant Social Media Presentation (Kyle Lacy)
It’s amazing just how powerful can be the juxtaposition of contradictory symbols. Check out the wonderfully crafted old school design in this Slideshare presentation. You may well snag those doubters and luddites.
HOW TO: Track Social Media Analytics (Mashable)
Mashable picks up on how you might track social media. This often gets tricky as much of your social media efforts maybe concentrated on 3rd party networks (Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and so to some degree you are at their mercy.
Should you ensconce all your social media buffs into one team? Geoff Livingston wrote a great post against this siloization (is that a real word?) claiming that social media can touch every part of the organization and so doesn’t deserve to be hived off in a special unit (normally within marketing or communications).
He makes the point that for social media to be effective, it needs to be integrated with the organization. It’s about two-way communication between a company and its constituents, and everyone can have a role to play.
Whilst I broadly agree with the underlying message, I see strategic advantages in consolidating social media skills within a central function.
This is particularly true when considering those parts of the organization that are most affected by emerging communications technologies. Marketing is one department: gone are the days of broadcasting messages at the target audience. These days marketing has a strong role to play in obtaining feedback from prospects and customers, and where necessary picking up external threads and championing these within the organization. The customer support team is another example: social media can help them get closer to their constituency and interact in ways previously not possible. This isn’t to say these functions should remain siloed. As an example, if marketing (through its social media monitoring) see a Tweet from a prospect asking a technical question, they may need to engage a product expert to frame a response.
Another key role for a social media team is to act as expert facilitators. Although they may not run every campaign, they can still have valuable input (for instance advising on etiquette on a network like Twitter). In many respects, this is what is happening in PR. Whether it be through blog posts, forum threads or a discussion on LinkedIn, more people within the organization are becoming communicators on behalf of the company they represent. Does that mean we don’t need PR? No, on the contrary, we need professional communicators who can guide and coach employees who are unwittingly becoming company spokespeople.
A centralized social media team can also ensure that best practice is isolated and transmitted. Whether this means letting a blogger know that their post received more visitors than any other, or finding out how one product team managed to build engaging discussions on LinkedIn, there is value in pulling this activity together. A social media manager can help motivate disparate teams and ensure good practice moves rapidly through the organization. They can also be the ones that sell the story at the executive level and build a case for more involvement in this area.
So, my vote goes strongly in favor of setting up a social media department, albeit one that is open to the whole organization and doesn’t just focus on its own projects.
Twitter FAQ: RT, HT, OH Explained (Brent Ozar)
If your new to Twitter, this is a great introduction on some of the abbreviations used to keep messages under 140 characters. Other random facts like the artist who designed the Fail Whale.
Businesses divided over the value of blogging (Business Applications Blog)
Although businesses see bloggers as an important and influential audience, 63% of tech companies do not blog, according to a study by Eurocom Worldwide and Simpson Financial and Technology PR (it’s not clear, but I think this is a European study). The time required for these initiatives is a major factor, coupled with the lack of perceivable value.
Why Bit.ly Will Upstage Digg
Tracking links from Twitter will become a bigger deal for online marketers. Services like bit.ly could be at the forefront of this.
What An Executive Blog Editor Needs to Know (Chris Brogan)
Chris Brogan proposes you think of business value when it comes to content creation:
‘[Blogging] can be built around solid business intentions, such as content marketing (writing posts that are intended to deliver action, or at least actionable information), thought leadership (ideal for consulting opportunities), or even media sales model (typical “write good stuff and put ads against it” thinking).’
Top 20 Ways to Share a Great Blog Post
It’s one thing writing great content, but you also need to get out there and peddle it (although funny that this article comes from Mashable: one of the few blogs with such massive natural readership it has little peddling to worry about).
If you’re using Twitter for business purposes you’ve probably already realized some of the shortcomings of most Twitter tools:
Managing multiple accounts can be tricky
Having multiple authors for a single channel can cause confusion and duplication
Dealing with actionable Tweets
Creating groups and categories for incoming Tweets
Whilst there are tools that let you perform some of these functions (Tweetdeck and Twhirl spring to mind), few cover all these features. Until now, that is.
CoTweet is a powerful corporate Twittering tool used by the likes of BestBuy, JetBlue and Ford, that helps manage and process your Tweets. I’m afraid it’s still in private beta (I’m afraid I’m only speaking from what I’ve read: I haven’t tried it out yet).
The state of digital marketing in Asia (Market-interactive.com)
“Despite the hype on mobile and social media, marketers in Asia will focus on corporate websites, email campaigns , search engine optimization and behavioural targeting as the key digital marketing strategies in the coming year, according to results from an annual digital survey.”
Is this particular to Asia or applicable to other markets too?
Blogging rediscovered (The Korea Herald)
An interesting article covering the history and current state of blogging in Korea. Interesting cultural differences, such as the prominent position of meta-blog services that “interconnect individual blog sites in different portal services, leading to greater traffic and Web exposure”
Corporate Blogs Spring Up, But Effectiveness Questions Remain (CNN)
“He sees it as an excellent means of direct communication with both interested media who tap into the blog and many non-journos who get the information directly from him without the filter of established news outlets,” Dee Allen, spokesperson for GM talking about star FastLane blogger Bob Lutz
David Caolo offers some great tips as much on writing as on blogging. Don’t over-edit in the early stages, be prepared for inspiration from anywhere and setup a writing den, are gems in this list. Tips for consistently good blog posts
Twitter will remain online free for all (Which? News)
It looks like there will not be a paid ‘pro’ version of Twitter. So how exactly will it generate revenue? Ads on twitter.com could force people onto 3rd party clients. Ads in Twitter feeds could force people off the network, full stop.
Twitter Is What You Make It (NYTimes.com)
A great post if you are new to the medium. Number one rule of Twitter: there are no rules. As Ewan Williams (the creator of the popular microblogging platform) points out, you really can use the service for anything.
Why Do Corporate Blogs Usually Fail? (HighTalk)
There’s a common thread through this post: stop talking about yourself but comment on your customers/industries: “To be successful corporate blogs need stop focusing inward and start to look outward.” I’d argue this isn’t necessarily true for technical blogs. For instance, experts that normally publish academic papers could well find an audience in the blogosphere. Still the core point is a good one: remember a blog is as much Media as Marketing.
What Corporate Blogging Isn’t (Comm Unplugged)
We see countless blogging tips but here are some major pitfalls to take into account. Don’t just copy, don’t just talk and make sure there is some light moderation. All good tips, although some of these are still contentious (eg. whether some form of ghost-writing can be legitimate).
Social Media Consultant or Snake Oil Salesman?(WebWorkerDaily)
Looking for a social media expert? Here are some pointers. Particularly interesting that there is a strong focus on blogging and Twitter: from the corporate perspective, these initiatives are currently hogging the limelight. Will they remain popular as time goes on?
Corporate Blogging Emerging in Pakistan
Last week we heard about the growth of blogging in Africa. This week a side we don’t normally hear about Pakistan: 1.9 million blog readers, and growing. Main point here: bear in mind this is a global phenomenon.
Your blog on the newsstand?
Aaron Kim on a move to present blogs on a different medium – namely paper. There are a number of projects that are taking the online world offline.
How soon do search results come to a new blog?
Douglas Karr of Compendium Blogware claims that according to their stats, it takes around 60 blog posts to start seeing a good level of traffic come through to your blog. So, don’t be discouraged in the early days of your corporate blog. Keep working on your craft and eventually the rewards will come.
Cornelius Puschman is undertaking some interesting research into corporate blogging and computer-mediated communication. He’s published his formidable bibliography. Great if you’re looking for academic literature around corporate communications… now where’s that extra time I put aside for reading? Read more
TwtQpon Helps Retailers Push Coupons Across Twitter
This service helped Dell make a $1 million over the holiday season. I’m sure we’ll see more in this line of innovation: companies using Twitter to communicate direct marketing messages. Obviously measurement of the results of this approach is also key.
This week, there continues a flurry of posts offering advice in the wake of Forrester’s report on the lack of trust in corporate blogging. The rub here is how to maintain transparency and fair-mindedness on a blog that on one level is a corporate communications tool.
Meanwhile, a web communications researcher within Daimler, the German car maker, has been looking at whether blogs follow the Gartner Hype Cycle. Early indications suggest a correlation. Is this what you see on your corporate blogs?
IBM Social Computing Guidelines
IBM takes Web 2.0 transparency seriously: they even publish the social media guidelines all employees of IBM are asked to adhere to. A great template if you manage social media or corporate blogs
Blogging obstacles: views from a seasoned IBM blogger
If you feel the blogging devil on your back, or suffer from blog writer’s block, Aaron Kim has a few words of advice for you. Don’t treat a blog post like a magazine article, but rather like reading and writing emails. Dip in and dip out, but just keep on posting.
Blogging strategy – pick experts and use social media for distribution
Pivotal Branding offer a few words of advice on maintaining a corporate blog. “If you have a blog and its not generating the interest you are expecting, try tweaking your approach. If you can make your content more personal and accountable, you could turn that extra web page into a community of loyal customers.”
How Obama Will Use Web Technology
There’s a lot we can learn in the corporate world from the use of social media in Obama’s presidential campaign. This looks set to continue into the presidency, including the ‘fireside’ chats on YouTube.
Perhaps more of this segment’s audience now uses these tools (another report this week states 35% of adults are members of a social network). Perhaps small businesses now understand more about this area. Either way, a glimmer of hope in the currently gloomy economic environment.
HP’s Tac Anderson talks about social media tactics including corporate blogging
Some good tips from HPs social media evangelist, such as think about your target audience and build content appropriately.
“If your customers are CXO’s (CEO, CIO, CFO, CMO) then the reason you have a blog is because the two most influential factors to a CXO’s decision making process are the Two G’s: Google and Gartner. Google is speaking to the importance of all search and Gartner is speaking to the importance that analysts play. Blogs are great for reaching both. There’s no lower bang for your buck tactic to reach the two G’s than having a high quality blog.”
Google uses corporate blogs to announce cutbacks
The medium is the messsage here, rather than the story. Google has for some time been using its blogs to release information about the company that would normally have come from a press release. Will more companies start doing following suit?
HP study shows humans will pursue status over wealth
A report by social computing scientists at HP labs looks into what degree we will go to to obtain social status. Their findings? We will go as far as to give up monetary rewards, if we think we can gain status. Is this what powers participation in social networks?
GSK and Centocor Abandon Their Pioneering Corporate Drug Blogs
Citing the fact that these were personality-led blogs where the personalities concerned left the company, GSK has stopped updating its AlliConnect blog and the Johnson & Johnson-owned Centocor has let its CNTO411 blog wane. Both companies continue blogging in other parts of the organization.
Tips on blogging content from Your PR Guy
Focus on the stories that are most useful to your client base: success stories, problem solution stories and testimonials. These tips are aimed primarily at small businesses but should be considered by any corporate bloggers.