"Round up the usual suspects."
With all of the Facebook and Twitter commentary, out there, you'd think there's nothing else of significance worth doing on the Web any more. But of course, you know that's just crazy talk.
Corporate blogging has been with us for quite some time, with some major companies having forayed into the space in the early to mid 2000s. Yet there's surprisingly little attention paid to it today. Why is that? Is it that the shiny object / GMOOT ("get me one of those!") syndrome has worn off? Or is it that there's a purpose that isn't served by blogs?
"I was misinformed."
If you look at the recent statistics shared by eMarketer ("Corporate Blogging Goes Mainstream"), you'll see that only about a third of companies use blogs. But if you look at the growth over the last three years, the use of blogs has actually doubled (!).
The focus on Twitter and Facebook is understandable: they're nearly universal, they're easily accessible via mobile devices, and there's the ability to instantly connect users' thoughts, actions, and comings and goings via those platforms. But blogging is more than that - or at least has the ability to be more than that.
"Can I tell you a story, Rick?"
The first thing is, it's long form content. It gives companies the ability to have a greater narrative and develop more nuance around the message. Stories can be told in serial format so that a predictable cadence is established, with regular posts on known topics. Over time, this builds a relationship and perhaps even loyalty from readers. And fundamentally, marketing is about storytelling.
"In Casablanca, I'm master of my fate!"
While blogs are typically identified by having comments enabled for a two-way dialog, in reality the site owner is really in the driver's seat and has more control over it. This is a reassuring fact for many marketers, who can decide which comments to publish and what major topics they'd like to cover in their next post. Many marketers still prefer the stability and perceived brand control this gives them - even though we all know that you brand is what your customers say it is. But the other benefit is that when you run a blog, you have the ability to own the platform and content, which isn't necessarily the case when you're using Facebook, Twitter or the like. When a crisis is brewing, this means that your blog can become a central hub of all activity - one that you control - that can still be engaging and two-way in nature, should that be required.
"I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
There's no reason your marketing efforts have to be an either/or mentality. If done well, blogging can incorporate the benefits of traditional marketing as well as the new. For example, integrating blog content or headlines into the corporate website in order to keep it fresh. Doing so not only gives customers a reason to return to your site frequently, but also helps with SEO (search engine optimization). In addition, the shorter form platforms (Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Digg, etc.) can easily be integrated into your blog, either through buttons on each post or by making it a part of the commenting platform. I use Disqus, which allows readers to log in with other accounts and share the content out on those other platforms as well. The point is, when you integrate your content plan, it allows your content to spread to wherever customers happen to be searching for it.
"Welcome back to the fight. This time I know our side will win."
Blogging was something of a curiosity in its first wave. Now that it's been around for a while and proven its worth as a communications and marketing tool - not to mention the new platforms, content types and technology advances - it's beginning to mature and defend its rightful place in the pantheon of marketing channels. Now the challenge is for us to determine how best to supply a stream of story-like content and integrate that into everything we do so that the blog is not another site that's competing for attention, but one that is strategically integrated into many other efforts.
If you're ever in doubt about the definition of a certain hashtag as it flits by your screen, simply pay a visit to wthashtag.com (as in "What the Hashtag?"). There's a directory there. And if you're inventing one, it's a great place to document what it means so that others can discover it.
Hashtags can be a very helpful way of discovering content that you wouldn't normally see. Typically, you're most likely to see the tweets of the people whom you follow. But by using the search function within Twitter - available on twitter.com as well as search.twitter.com and within a number of third party apps - you'll begin to be opened up to wider and more varied conversations.
It's especially handy when you're hosting or participating in a Twitter chat. I've actually been asked by PBS / MASTERPIECE Mystery! to host a Twitter chat on October 24, with the hashtag #sherlock_pbs. Feel free to read about it here. I'll have a TweetGrid set up so that I'll be able to search for specific terms.
That's essentially what hashtags allow you to do - it's a saved search of sorts. So even though one of the largest trending topics of all time is Justin Bieber (according to TweetStats, above), typically #justinbieber is also tied to that search. So if you clicked on that dreaded hashtag, you'd see tweets from millions upon millions of people you wouldn't otherwise follow.
And if you're actually trying to get work done and you follow a Justin Bieber fan (why??), you might run into a problem something like this:
So whether you're getting #followfriday'd to death or you're trying to decipher the near-hieroglyphics in your sidebar, remember that there's actually value in hashtags.
At Ford, Scott heads up the social media function and holds the title Global Digital &
Multimedia Communications Manager. He is a strategic advisor on all social media activities across the company, from blogger
relations to marketing support, customer service to internal communications and more, as social media is being integrated into many
facets of Ford business.
Prior to joining Ford, Scott served as Consigliere for crayon
and spent a number of years with PJA Advertising + Marketing, a
boutique BtoB agency specializing in health sciences & high tech.
In addition to his professional responsibilities, Scott is an active blogger and podcaster. He writes about the intersection of
advertising, marketing and PR at The Social Media Marketing Blog and
also writes The Baker Street Blog and cohosts I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere, two literary undertakings. Scott
has been featured in hundreds of news and business publications in print and on the web, in nearly dozens of books, and on a variety of
mainstream media, including NBC, NPR, CNN and The Wall Street Journal. Scott is a recognized thought leader in the social media industry and
frequently speaks at industry events.
Scott received his Master's in Medical Science from Boston University's School of Medicine concurrently with his MBA from BU's
Graduate School of Management. He lives in the greater Detroit area with his wife and two young sons, golfs all too infrequently, and
has a hidden talent for voice over work.
Scott speaks on social media at events, seminars and conferences around the world. His topic generally focuses on corporate use of social media, becoming an online spokesperson, and specifically on the progress that Ford has made in the recent past. If you're interested in booking Scott to speak at your event, please click here to submit a speaking request for Ford-related purposes or email me at speaking [AT] this site's URL (if you know what I mean) to send a general email request.. Scott's bio and headshot can be found in the "About Scott" tab above.
I'm Scott. I'm the global head of social media for Ford Motor Company. This is my personal blog, where I share my perspectives on social media - the convergence of marketing, advertising and PR on the Web - for marketers, agencies, the enterprise and the individual. This blog contains my personal views. My bio is available here and my headshots can be found here.