Life in a Post-Blog World

There are many alternatives to the traditional blog. How do you choose which is right for your business?
June 20, 2012

Every report that states "blogging is dead" is jumped on with a certain amount of glee. Everyone loves to hear about new platforms generating leads, increasing sales and driving traffic. And they're quick to mourn the passing of blogs as a thing of the past.

But the picture isn’t as simple as that, and businesses that jump onto new bandwagons simply for their novelty risk losing the benefits of their existing platforms. In many cases, a few tweaks to your existing social media strategy could yield better results in less time than setting up whole new accounts and growing new followers. You may not have the time or resources to be equally dedicated to all platforms, and it's better to be active on fewer channels that suit your business than spread yourself too thin across many channels.

A new study by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth showed that Inc 500 companies are moving away from blogging, and that more were moving to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, downloadable mobile apps, texting and Foursquare. But many of these companies don’t use blogging to generate leads or sales. A study by Hubspot showed that of the companies relying on driving traffic to their sites, more were blogging than a year before.

Before switching platforms, ask yourself what's right for your business. The answer will depend very much on your industry, customer base and business model. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, but the following breakdown will try to separate out the benefits of traditional blogging versus popular alternatives and where each platform's strengths lie.

Traditional Blogging

A recent Hubspot report found that 57 percent of companies using blogs reported that they acquired customers from leads generated directly from their blog. While some businesses are moving away from traditional blogging, many remain committed to the format. Here are some pros and cons:

Blogging strengths:

  • Long-form discussions of more complex ideas

  • A supplement to traditional customer support channels

  • Showcasing your company’s best content

  • Displaying your expertise or thought leadership

  • Blog content is good for SEO

Blogging weaknesses:

  • Content is less likely to go viral

  • Can be time-consuming

  • Needs a level of dedication

Best suited for:

  • Companies with business goals that are best achieved by discussion and longer-form content

Tumblr

Although Tumblr was only launched in 2007, it now rivals Wordpress in blogging popularity. Part blog, part social media network, Tumblr is best for short-form or multimedia posts that are designed to be shared and re-blogged with other Tumblr users or across social media sites.

Tumblr strengths:

  • Catchy round-ups

  • Multimedia posts

  • Easily-shared content

Tumblr weaknesses:

  • Not designed for long discussions

  • Not well set up for SEO

  • Less flexibility than Wordpress

Best suited for:

  • Businesses looking for more of a magazine-style format

  • Businesses with a younger customer base

Pinterest

Pinterest is the up-and-coming content sharing site. It is a virtual pinboard where users can create collections of themed Boards and share, or re-pin, images. As an image-based sharing site, it works well for visual businesses, which is why it has been so successful for retailers and lifestyle brands like Whole Foods.

Pinterest strengths:

  • Very easy to share images
  • Excellent lead generation for visual industries
  • Community and sharing features are built in

Pinterest weaknesses:

  • Not good for news, announcements, press releases or other text-based information

Best suited for:

  • Photographers, artists and designers

  • Retail and lifestyle businesses

Photo and Video Platforms

There are many photo and video sharing communities aside from Pinterest, such as Flickr, Picasa, YouTube, Instagram and others. You can integrate your portfolios with your blogging platforms, for example embedding videos from your YouTube channel on your traditional blog or featuring your Instagram images on Tumblr to create a more enriched experience as well as growing your audience.

Many businesses use social media channels simply as a way to share their content, rather than as a community building tool in their own right. While you can use tools such as Hootsuite to manage your postings across many networks at once, it is worth choosing one or two networks to interact with your audience, welcome feedback and comments on your posts and ask questions. You may find you have completely different interactions on Google+, for example, than on the comments section of your own blog. Focus on the networks popular with your target customers and be sure to follow the etiquette of that community.

However great your content is, never lose sight of your end goal, whether it is to drive sales, promote your company as thought leaders, build community or provide excellent customer service.

  • Make sure content links back to your Website, product or sales pages
  • Ensure communication is two-way
  • If you want to create a conversation, ask questions and listen to the answers
  • Don’t be overly pushy with your sales message
  • Think about what your customers or audience want to hear, not just what you want to tell them
  • Make your content easily shareable
  • Don’t stretch yourself too thin: concentrate on the networks where your audience gathers

Do you use a blog or one of these media platforms for your business?

Image via: pinterest.com/wholefoods/