There was a time when bogs were considered as the top of communication 2.0: a new way to communicate, used by celebrities as well as by common people, in the end appreciated also by companies as a marketing instrument and for the creation of a community. Then we had the impression that social media had come to take everything over: more immediate, more popular, less “dull”, although they cannot completely replace a blog, they have become the favorite tool to talk to users and to build a brand.
Besides, let’s face it: making a blog (a good one, I mean) is hard: you have to choose the subjects thoroughly, develop them, try to say something useful and original at once, write well, make a review, look for consistent images…the work behind a blog is very long and, unfortunately, you do not always have an immediate confirmation that you are doing a good job. So, does it still make sense to have a blog in 2019? To be more precise: are blogs still useful for companies?
The answer, as happens for all the questions concerning the still mysterious world of web, is: IT DEPENDS. On what? If you are answering that it depends on the sector, just stop: a blog, indeed, might have all the potentials to be useful to a furniture shop as well as to an insurance agency. Even a company like Sebach, with a lot of creativity - and a bit of courage - has succeeded in building a blog - a very good one, indeed - finding interesting and consisting subjects even where it seemed impossibile.
So, what does the choice whether to open or not a blog depend on? Basically, on three factors. Here they are:
1 - Why do you want a blog? Do you have the instruments to pursue this objective?
Only apparently an easy question, as a blog might be useful for the fulfillment of different objectives (often connected to each other): someone uses it to build a community, someone to increase traffic to the website, someone as to build a brand. Depending on your objective, the work to do for a blog might be very different and might require different skills, which you will probably need to look for outside your company.
To make a simple example, if you want to attract profiled traffic to your website through your blog, but you plan to write only some articles occasionally, about what comes to your mind, i.e. without a thorough choice of subjects and punctual planning…ok, this may not be a completely useless work, but what is certain is that you are not using all the potentials that a blog might have in this sense.
The type of work you want to do (and that you can do, or that you are willing to invest some budget in) must match your real objectives.
2 - Are you offering contents that your target is really looking for? Have you defined this target?
This question is connected to the previous one, but it obliges to look at the needs of your future readers in an even more attentive way. When you create a blog, indeed, it’s not about giving visitors the service or product you sell or that they need, but about being able to understand their connected needs and interests. To make it clearer: if you manage a furniture e-commerce, those who visit your website probably already know that they want to buy a chair or a table, meaning that they are ready for the purchase, or at least very close to it. On the contrary, our blog might attract people that are not ready to buy, but that are starting to be interested in the subject, that are looking around, deciding what style to choose and so on. In other words, you need to understand the different intentions of users, intercept them and give people what they expect to find. The tools that can help you with this are numberless, from the dear, old Keyword Planner to AnswerThePublic, but sometimes it is enough to take a look at the SERP to understand what type of contents people expect from a given query. If you address to the international market, it might be very useful to consider the “People and ask” section in the SERP, where Google groups some questions connected to a given query and gives us some interesting tips about how to develop the contents of our article.
3 - How much time do you have?
If you are looking for an instrument that gives you an immediate result, maybe you should find an alternative to the blog. The results that you can achieve with a blog, in terms of both visibility and recognizability, indeed, are long-term.
If, answering to the questions above, you realized that a blog could really be good for your needs, then you can start working on that and join many companies, all over the world, that use blogs as content marketing instruments, as evidenced by the Content Marketing Institute research.
Before giving birth to your blog, let’s make a step backwards to the reason why you are creating it, depending on your objectives. To take inspiration and better understand what we are talking about, let’s have a look at the blogs of some companies that are using this instrument for different reasons and that have understood how to take advantages from that.
Would you like your blog to launch your brand image, making people understand not only your products and services, but above all your values, philosophy and world vision? In this case, a good example to follow is Whole Foods Market, a supermarket chain that offers natural food and organic products. The company’s blog is a summary of natural nutrition philosophy and includes recipes, tips about healthy food as well as news and updates about all that is green and healthy.
Ryanair - a blog to attract potential customers intercepting their desires
The blog, by its own nature, is good to contain guides, tips, extended discussions about specific issues. In many cases, the companies that give tips and tricks do that because they have ulterior motives: this activity, indeed, might help them intercepting the customers’ desires and needs, suggesting potential solutions that include using the products and services offered by the company itself. An example? We are looking for information about a journey we would like to do and we land on Ryanair’s blog, which gives us useful information about our dream destination and gives us the chance to book the flight to reach it with just one click. The same logic can ne applied to several sectors, as evidenced by Harrods’ blog (called “Style Notes”), BricoBravo’s blog and many others.
Hootsuite - a blog to show that we are really good in what we do
This is probably the most popular type of blog used by agencies, companies and platforms that offer services or consulting: the blog to show that we are expert in our sector, so that we can even become evangelizers of the sector itself. In this case, you will not speak about what you can offer, but you will provide in-depth analysis, opinions, researches and updates on various issues. A good way to be recognized as experts by other professionals and persuade potential customers to trust you. This is what very popular platforms (like Hootsuite) do, but this is a type of blog used also by many real estate agencies and lawyers' offices: also in this case, the formula can be applied to many different sectors.
Mantel - a blog to intercept profiled traffic
A company might have the need to increase the traffic to the website. A blog can certainly give a hand in this sense, if it is built after an attentive analysis of the online market. Some corporate blogs, like Mantel’s blog, have succeeded in positioning among the first Google results not only with informational keywords, the most typical ones for a blog (“how to choose a bike saddle”), but also with transactional keywords, which reveal a much more mature purchase intention (“bike saddle”).
Nutella - A blog to build a community
A corporate blog does not seem to be the favorite tool for the construction of a community anymore: the blogs that best succeed in doing this are not corporate blogs, but bogs that contain news or that are focused on a subject that interests a given group of people. However, some companies are creating alternatives to blogs, which have been conceived not only to let users leave a comment, as they are asked to write the contents themselves. An example of these new forms of blogging, completely user-generated (and with contents that are more similar to those of social media than blogs, in fact) is given by the Nutella® Stories, a page of the website that gathers the stories that describe the bond that unites readers to Nutella, written by readers themselves.
Many types of blog, but it is self-evident that the borders between them are often very labile: a blog conceived to convey a precise brand image, for example, after a while is expected to become also an excellent tool to attract traffic, and viceversa. The general rule is: focus on your main objectives in the beginning, making a high-quality work based on an in-depth analysis. In the long run, results will come from different sides.