Last week I was speaking with a ‘social media pro’ who informed me that I shouldn’t bother with blogs as its all Quora nowadays.

At first hand it’s not such a silly statement – may people instinctively believe that the volume of blogging has fallen massively since 2007 at the expense of the shiny toys of Twitter, Quora, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. If all the conversations are happening in other channels why should we bother to blog at all?

This view is short sighted. In fact, blogging for marketing purposes has increased:

A common mistake people make is that people live in a “field of dreams” world whereby they think that simply blogging about a subject will make people come and visit. Blogging is great for telling prospects about what you are selling but it does not bring people to your site.

In fact a blog is a focal point and acts as a base of operations for communications. Even though you may use Twitter and Facebook there still needs to be landing point – a place that people end up when they click on the link.

 

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Writing as a blogger, I an confirm what many people know, in that it takes a great deal of effort and dedication to compose a blog post. it’s not like twitter where brisk thoughts can be jotted down in 140 characters – instead a blog is a place where context is added to headline, where ideas are fleshed out and where structure is given to a proposition. Twitter and Facebook are not the right platforms for this – this is where a blog shines and becomes a library of all your thoughts and ideas. In essence it is where ‘idea starters’ reside.

What’s more a blog can also address questions or concerns your audience find important. By all means people use amplification tools like Twitter and Facebook to draw their attention to your blog post, but the thoughts reside in one place.

SEO is also vital. New, focussed and relevant content will always be picked up by Google which will in turn bring extra traffic. It is here where the second stage of engagement takes place – directly on the blog. This is often more in-depth and focussed than through other channels like Twitter. How often have we all felt that 140 characters is not enough to give a detailed opinion. Facebook too has its limitations – even though you can write as much as you like, many find lengthy wall posts unappealing – it really is a case of the right message for the right channel.

At no stage i am suggesting that a blog is used in isolation. As if proving my own point, when i raised this question on Quora, i received in depth replies. Priit Kallas, Founder and CEO at dreamgrow.com explained his reasons why Blogs are important:

  • Create an image of an expert
  • Interact with clients and prospects
  • Improve search engine rankings
  • Spread the word
  • Talk about more than just products and services
  • Solve client’s problems
  • Build trust
  • Stay on top of your field
  • Build brand
  • Exercise your creativity
  • Put a human face on your brand
  • Proving ground
  • Foundation for social media activities
  • Differentiate from competition
  • Educate clients, prospects, stake holders
  • Increase traffic
  • Make money

And here is a real life screen shot straight from Google Analytics (points are weeks):

The increase in traffic was 3 to 4 times and leads grew even more. Not too shabby.

So how should a blogger blog?

  1. Write informative and relevant posts
  2. Use social media to amplify the post

Blogging takes time and effort. Whereas a quick tweet may be insightful, the dedication to compose and elaborate on ideas takes in the form of a structured blog post is incredibly difficult. To all those people who do this regularly or even as Jeremiah calls it – a ‘casual career blogger’ , truly salute you for bringing opinion and content. Where people talk of information overload, they forget that all the info points somewhere – and that more often than not is a blog.

Recommended reading:

29 Ways to Keep Me Coming Back to Your Blog Again and Again

Corporate narcissism: The single biggest mistake made on corporate blogs?

The State of the Blogosphere 2010

21 Tips To Create A Brilliant Business Blog

Corporate Blogging Goes Mainstream

 

Originally posted on Technobabble 2.0

I’m as big a fan of the X Factor as the next person, possibly bigger having yesterday cajoled the team here into joining in an X Factor sweepstake (I got One Direction). I have to admit that I’m also quite the fan of Mr. Cowell, the puppet master extraordinaire.

As a fan and member of the dark arts of PR, I’m currently torn and struggling with a moral dilemma. The X Factor PR machine is a sight to behold and has dominated the news agenda since before the latest series even began. The campaign that has been built and is being executed around the show is the most well oiled of machines. Whether it be the spin around the nation’s sweetheart getting malaria or the ongoing ‘feud’ between judges, the show unapologetically dominates the headlines in a relentless fashion. So, on the one hand I have to doff my cap to the team for pulling it off yet again and getting the kind of coverage which no client could quibble with. But on the other hand, I have to question the moral approach to their tactics in taking no prisoners to get the column inches that the show’s creators demands.

I’m probably opening myself up to a barrage of abuse here, but in the era of openness, integrity and public engagement, the tactics employed by those behind the X Factor can’t help but jar a bit. A case in point has to be the latest charade around Gamu Nhengu, the young contestant who was presented to us as a frontrunner in the competition from the first episode.

Her rise to fame has been carefully built – her first audition was subject to much discussion because of the use of auto-tuning technology, this then disappeared from any other episode so we were groomed to notice this as a point of difference. This was coupled with a semi-emotional story of Gamu’s quest to escape to the safety of Britain, marking her out as one of the lead protagonists in the carefully scripted show we like to call ‘reality TV’. Along the way we see various other good, bad and ugly performances before we reach the stage of the competition where Gamu comes back to fight for her five minutes of fame. You’d have to be hidden under a rock to have missed what happened next but in a nutshell, our new favourite underdog was cast aside to make way for Cheryl Cole’s very own mini-me and the ‘baddie’ that is Katie. Cue dramatised reports of Gamu’s imminent deportation from the country alongside stories of her ‘wildcard’ re-appearance in the competition.

To those who haven’t yet succumbed to the cynicism that the X Factor can instil, Gamu’s exclusion is a misjudgement of the highest proportion. To others, it’s yet another incredibly well played tactic to own the tabloids once again and generate a lot of chatter on Facebook and Twitter.

On paper, this campaign is genius. The ‘product’ hasn’t been out of the media spotlight, has taken the audience on a rollercoaster and sparked a significant and very real emotional relationship with the audience. Only this isn’t a product, it’s a young girl dreaming of making it big in the profession she has set her sights on.

And so back to my moral dilemma. The story that has unfolded is an incredibly well executed PR campaign which no doubt achieves its objectives. But is it also a dark and quite disturbing indictment of just how much the contestants have become a prop in a PR game? It’s of course recognised by most that the show has long been a 12 week soap opera and really has nothing to do with finding a pop star, but you do have to wonder whether the contestants themselves can see it like this.

I love the show and I respect the Cowell machine for doing a job so well, but it is staring to leave a slightly sour taste in the mouth in the era of transparency.

@AJGriffiths

In a scene reminiscent of the 90s cult classic ‘Lawnmower Man’, it is understood that Jonny Bentwood – pioneer of the celebrated Tweetlevel online popularity contest – has been consumed by his own Twitter algorithm; in the process becoming the first human being to become physically socially networked.twitter all

Concerns were first raised when semi-digital manifestations of Bentwood appeared on computer screens thoughout the company, during prolonged physical absence from his desk alongside the Edelman Technology team – concerns that were confirmed when he disappeared altogether and became wholly digital.

The first unexplained phenomenon was the appearance of a series of seemingly motivational – yet slightly unsettling – Twitter related posters (right).  These were followed by ghostly bangings from the server room, alongside muffled, digital screams about ‘influence’, ‘popularity’, ‘engagement’ and ‘trust’. White-noise and repeated yells of the word ‘retweet’ have also been heard in what is being dubbed a ‘polterzeitgeist haunting’ by experts.

It is now feared that Jonny has used his integration into the Twitter portal to access other online territories, with the Edelman server under attack, and traditional media lists being erased from client files to be replaced by an audio file of someone reading out complex and often nonsensical algorithms and laughing maniacally.

"At this stage we’re at a loss as to what to do," commented a spokesperson, "this is entirely without precedent and we’re unsure whether to eradicate the threat; monitor and analyse it; or whether this is in fact an innovative route to influencers not seen before, which we can exploit and use to bypass newly evolving platforms being used by early adopters. Harnessing Jonny’s new digital access and power has the potential to put us so far ahead of the curve we may well rebound back onto ourselves and BECOME the curve."

It is understood several Helpdesk tickets have been raised, and allocated to a member of the IT team to handle; although an unnamed IT member said that they were unsure as to how to tackle this threat other than "turning something off and on again and hoping for the best"

How do you ensure that your limited time and resources is spent using social media effectively? The answer is not as many people often believe.

The current view is to try and engage purely with the superstars of the twittersphere in the hope that they will repeat your name/message and promote you. This is timely, expensive and rarely succeeds.

The other method I have seen used is to hit everyone who refers to a specific term. Having a search filter setup for key words and then conversing with anyone who mentions your key terms is a sure fire way to spend a great deal of time with people who have limited influence. In an ideal world, this would be great but many firms do not have the time to spend engaging with everyone. The cynical part of me believes that this approach is often used purely to hit metrics on report cards, i doubt that savvy people will allow this approach to go on for much longer.

Instead, my view is to focus on those people that are influentials. The people who create and share ideas as oppose to merely broadcast.

I presented on this topic a few weeks ago at BrightTalk – if you’d like to see my presentation you can do so below.