The number of companies that maintain blogs dropped by nearly 25% from 2010 to 2011.
That’s not a very smart move.
But it’s a growing trend. According to an article in USA Today, more companies quit blogging, go with Facebook instead, the percentage of companies on Inc. magazine’s fastest growing 500 dropped from 50% in 2010 to 37% in 2011. And only 23% of Fortune 500 companies had a blog in 2011.
Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, the UMass Dartmouth professor who wrote the report, and world-class social media academic, told USA Today that blogging may not be the panacea that businesses thought it would be.
“Blogging requires more investment. You need content regularly. And you need to think about the risk of blogging, accepting comments, liability issues, defamation,” she said.
The problem is, the companies are taking their energy and efforts to Facebook instead. That’s not a dumb strategy. After all, at 800 million+ users, you have to fish where the fish are. And there’s a whole lot of fish on Facebook.
But if you’re giving up blogging, you’re giving up so much more than a little time and energy.
Blogging is Still the Smartest Strategy
Let’s assume you can get a handle on the liability and defamation issues. Let’s assume you have bloggers who understand basic journalistic rules and know not to libel people in a blog post. If you can do that, it’s still one of the best social media strategies you’re going to be adopt for your company.
Here are five reasons why your business blog is still better than a Facebook strategy.
- Blogging wins search, Facebook does not: Right now, Facebook is blocking Google. They don’t let Google index their content, which means your Facebook content will go unseen by the search giant, which owns 75% of the search engine market. And when you consider that most of the people coming to your site will be first-time visitors, they don’t even know you have a Facebook page. But your blog is constantly being indexed by Google and the other search engines, including Bing, the search engine Facebook is working with. All the blog posts you write can be indexed by Google, and found by customers. All the Facebook stuff you cannot be indexed, and therefore goes unseen.
- Facebook is finicky, your blog is not: The only people who control Facebook is Facebook. They don’t listen to what the users want, they don’t pay attention to the fact that people don’t like Timeline. Don’t like the new news feed. Didn’t like it when they dropped FBML (Facebook Markup Language), after they spent a few thousand dollars on an FBML page. Didn’t like it when they dropped Groups in favor of Pages. So you’re especially not going to be happy if they change something else with the business page you’ve spent so much time, money, and energy on. Do you really want to spend all that time, effort, and money on something that could be gone in the blink of an eye? But you own your blog. It’s your design, your content, and your effort. You’re not subject to the design whims of someone outside the organization who doesn’t give a rip about your time, money, or energy. No one will change your blog without your permission; Facebook will change itself as often as a high school kid changes his underwear.
- Your blog is still the hub, Facebook is a spoke: Your social media campaign needs a hub that you’re going to drive all your traffic to. It’s the center of the wheel, the middle of the circle, the center of the spider web. Facebook is no more than a spoke on that wheel, or thread on the web. Facebook is no more the center of a strategy any more than Twitter is. You wouldn’t rely on Twitter to be the center of your content strategy, and the same is true with Facebook.
- Blogging is still about content, Facebook is about conversations: You’ll want to present all your big ideas, all your big plans, the answers to your big questions on your blog, not your Facebook page. For one thing, Facebook doesn’t lend itself to long-form writing — people won’t show up to Facebook, hoping to read a 500 word announcement about your new product, they’ll go to your blog. For another, Facebook is not easily searchable — you won’t get people searching Facebook with a question only you can answer, and they won’t plow through nine months of posts hoping to get the answer to their questions; your blog is easily found, and you can even search within it. Facebook is not the place people go when they want information, it’s where they go when they want to interact with other people. That’s what your blog is for.
- The pendulum will swing back the other way: Eventually, businesses are going to learn that Zuckerberg and company truly doesn’t care about the user experience in interacting with businesses. Do you know who cares? The businesses! Business who truly care what experience the users have, and whether their sites are found on Google, are the ones who will design their entire social media marketing strategy around a solid blogging and content marketing strategy, not around a channel whose design they can’t control.
Are we saying to drop Facebook from your social media plans? Not at all. Facebook is a valuable tool and a great way to reach the largest online audience possible. But blogging is a great way to target people and get them to use one of the strongest marketing tools you can possibly harness, Google.
And until Google and Facebook learn to work together and get along, you’re going to have to keep a foot firmly planted in both camps.