Blogging statistics are staggering. June 2010 figures from WordPress  (which powers the Marketwire blog) cite 11.4 million blogs hosted on their platform, with WordPress.com users publishing about 350,000 new posts on an average day (and their readers, in turn, leaving 400,000 new comments every day). With all that conversation, discussion, opinion, interjection and objection, it’s easy to see why many organizations think it’s best to avoid an already crowded arena. After all, their blog can’t possibly compete with all the rest. It’s also easy to see why many choose Twitter and dismiss blogging (isn’t it just simpler and faster to say what you need to say with only 140 characters?).
But the blogosphere is calling you, beckoning input and insight from you and your organization. And while blogging is something that requires dedication and commitment, it is a necessary communications tool in today’s social environment. There are also proven benefits to blogging, for both the creative, brand-building and holistic right side of the marketing brain and the scientific, numbers-driven and analytical left side. With valuable input from my SEO lovin’, scientifically sound colleague, Garry Przyklenk , we’ll offer up 10 reasons why you need to blog.
- Spark conversation (right brain). Few forums provide a better opportunity for the open exchange of ideas and insights between an organization and their key stakeholders than do blogs. You are able to put forth issues, share thought leadership and offer solutions, and in return, your customers and readers-at-large are able to participate and share their ideas. Remember to think in qualitative, not quantitative, terms: Focus on great conversations, not the most readers.
- Encourage social media sharing (left brain). Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook rely on communities that share quality content, but so do bookmarking sites such as Tumblr, Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon. A steady stream of short, quality content on a corporate blog can do wonders to drive traffic and build links as a result of social media sharing.
- Improve customer service (right brain). When you provide your customers (and potential customers) with a place to learn about your organization, products and services, and give them the opportunity to provide feedback on what they like and dislike, you open up a powerful channel for customer service. The multi-way flow of communication between an organization and the public lets you identify and solve problems, gather great testimonials and enhance product development efforts. Chances are good that if they know you are listening to what they say, and taking action for improvement where you can, you’ve increased their loyalty significantly.
- Build an army of brand advocates (left brain). As mentioned above, increased communications between your brand and your prospects, clients or casual visitors can significantly increase loyalty, and nowhere is this truer than on the web. A blog provides content that is usually much more discoverable; content is optimized for discovery through organic search, social media and other websites. This discovery often spurs the attention of new audiences, new visitors and new prospects that may not be ready to purchase your products or services, but are more than willing to come back to your website on a routine basis, driving your website traffic upwards and increasing those all-important “engagement metrics.” In some extreme cases, such as Mac versus PC and iPhone versus BlackBerry, the increase in loyalty can recruit die-hard brand advocates that become part of an unofficial sales team.
- Provide context (right brain). Sometimes, organizations need to be rigid and formal in their communications, and the news they need to share is indeed black and white. Quarterly financials issued by public companies, press releases about product recalls, mergers and acquisitions, etc., this type of news is most often more formal and less conversational. When a blog is adjunct to your other corporate communications, you are able to provide context and dress-down a formal issue, adding colour and perspective to the “hard and fast” facts.
- Timely subject matter (left brain). Google points out that indexing and displaying timely and relevant results are important factors in their search algorithms. It’s difficult for many organizations to jump on trending topics  with the express intent of ranking on search engines due to the confines of their corporate websites, so a blog is the perfect outlet to push content out to the web in a timely and less formal manner and generate content to rank well for trendy terms.
- Build community (right brain). We often think first (and sometimes only!) of our customers as our audience. But there could be thousands of people online looking for products, services, ideas and solutions that your organization can provide. Your blog represents a tremendous opportunity to build a community of like-minded people, and engage them in great conversation. Think beyond your customers, and think about your stakeholders. (Think about your employees, too. A blog is a great way to engage them and mine great content.)
- Link building (left brain). Not only is a blog a great place to share information and links to other sites, it’s also a great platform to build links back to your product and service pages. The goal is to write posts that are relevant to your core business, but are also generally interesting to other bloggers, journalists and webmasters that may reference your content with those all-important backlinks. A few quality backlinks can do wonders for building authority on social media platforms and in search engines that eventually seep great “link juice” back into your corporate website.
- Get real (right brain). Bring out the personality in your organization and your people. Encourage posts from your employees on subjects that are not necessarily tied directly to their daily jobs, but still provide insight and information. Let your customers and readers get to know your organization from the inside, and put a face to your company.
- Long tail keywords (left brain). A blog allows you to break the confines of a corporate website’s stuffy boundaries and go into much greater depth for many topics pertinent to your business. Technically speaking, elaborating on specific topics is a great way to build highly relevant long-tail keyword rankings in search engines. Optimizing posts for long-tail search results is incredibly important because up to 90 percent of any website’s organic search traffic comes from long search queries, and competition on short, generic phrases can be extremely difficult to rank well for.