Business Blogging Drops, Social Media Use Rises
A survey conducted by University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, showed a downward trend in business blogging. Only 37 percent of companies surveyed in 2011 maintained blogs, down from 50 percent the year before. According to an article in USA Today, the business trend seems to follow the general downward trend in blogging among consumers. The article quotes Dartmouth professor Nora Ganim Barnes, who notes some of the downsides to blogging; she says, "You need to think about the risk of blogging, accepting comments, liability issues, defamation." Midsized companies as well as larger companies, like Bank of America, are no longer maintaining blogs. Some companies have followed their customer base to social media sites, where they are able to build marketing strategies and engage customers.
From an IT perspective, there is a benefit to using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. With a blog, it is difficult to measure customer engagement or to gather enough metrics to gauge whether the blog is successful. Metrics related to a blog are not as easy to capture as metrics from Twitter where, at the very least, quantitative metrics related to followers are measurable. Additional metrics, such as those about retweets and churn rate, can also be captured. IT analysts have a wider array of analytical tools available to them that help gather social metrics for visualization and analysis.
The qualitative metrics related to social media are perhaps of most interest to IT analysts, because it is the interaction between social sentiment, reach, and influence and customer numbers and demographics that help companies determine if their message is being heard and talked about. A means to measure and analyze quantitative and qualitative metrics is important, and a number of analytical tools for social platforms exist or are evolving to help capture and understand social sentiment.
Thinking about a blog from a qualitative perspective can be a vague process. As noted in the USA Today article, some companies approach a blog as a less-than-critical marketing tool, one with dull content and lacking a voice. An IT analyst may have a tough time identifying "dull" and "voiceless" content with existing blog analytics, though it may come across in a dearth of visitors to the blog.
Perhaps, though, it is simply the ease with which companies can engage with customers on social sites that can't be duplicated with a business blog. It is far easier to join an existing community on Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, or Twitter than it is to build up a community from scratch with a company blog. That said, any time a company engages with a community, whether by blog or by Tweet, the IT analyst must have a way to measure and gauge the effectiveness of the engagement. Metrics and analytics will always be necessary.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.