Is blogging an old-fashioned tool or the linchpin of a successful marketing campaign? It’s a question you might be asking if you’ve read the new research by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research. Their 2011 surveyshows that some fast growing companies are putting aside tools like blogs in favor of services like Facebook, Twitter andLinkedIn. But, in the long run, is that such a good idea?
The Dartmouth study focused on the Inc. Magazine 500, a list of independent U.S. companies ranked according to percentage revenue growth from 2007 to 2011. The study showed an increase in the usage of Facebook and other social media networks, but a decline in the use of blogging, message boards, podcasting and video blogging. Blogs, for example, were in use by half of the 2010 Inc. 500 companies, but that number was down to 37% in 2011.
The Content Marketing Institute’s own research involving more than a thousand business marketing professionals also shows a strong rise in the use of social media sites, but also indicates a strong 14% increase in blogging, to 65%, over the same period.
One possible reason the Inc. 500 companies are cutting back on blogging may be economic. It takes time and resources to maintain a healthy, active blog site. Even a modest investment in hardware, software and people may not provide the return envisioned. “Making a switch [to Facebook] is easier,” says Kathy Drewein, Senior Managing Consultant with Sweet Tea Group.
But that can be a risky strategy. Once posted, Facebook and Twitter have full control over your content, while blogs generally are safely owned. In addition, a blog on your own website works hand in glove with search engines, a key advantage over outside social media services: Google isn’t indexing your Facebook status updates, but it is analyzing your blog posts and putting your message where it can be found by a simple search.
CNET Social Media Manager Nathan Bransford says social media sites are “increasingly valuable ways” to reach customers. “We utilize Facebook, Google+ and Twitter to make sure readers can easily discover and consume our great longer-form content,” Bransford explains, ”rather than using Facebook, Google+ and Twitter as a replacement for it.”
So while a Tweet might be cheap and easy, it will never have the lasting impact that your own content will.