What is your blog really saying about your business? Tuesday May 31, 2016
It’s an obsession. Pretty much the first thing I do when I visit a company’s website is scoot over to their blog or news section. Yes, I want to find out more about them and their content, but I’m also looking to gain a few insights – insights that perhaps they don’t know they’re even revealing about their business. After all, there’s what a company thinks its blog says and what a company blog actually says! Watch out for these clues…
1. Canned content
I’m always fascinated by the number of companies that put so much work into blogging yet still have blog posts that don’t reflect their personality at all. That’s sad because people love personality in content. The canned content blogs are the ones where you realise that you could be on anybody’s website. The blog is indistinguishable from many others out there in terms of tone of voice, approach and messages. To me this always sounds like a clue that a business doesn’t truly value what it has to offer. The other possibility is that there is a disconnect between the company’s brand and its content and this gap is still being overlooked. Whatever the cause, it’s a lost opportunity to connect with people in a more authentic way.
2. Facts only
There’s a big difference between informing people and doling out information. I’m always interested to find a company blog in which facts and data are served up alone without an interesting angle. This is content that’s more preoccupied with the intricacies of the business rather than the audience. I find it interesting to see how many businesses have good, engaging content on the rest of the website. Then I get to their blog and it feels like I’m lost in the middle of a technical manual from the 1950s. Being factual, these blog posts lack any sense of energy or excitement. To me, this is a clue that the company is fantastic on the technical side, but is still seeking an effective way to communicate this expertise to its customers.
Now, this might be a controversial one. For some businesses, their entire blog is dedicated to updating the world on their achievements, from the newest client to the latest addition to the company’s novelty mug collection. But I think this is a little old fashioned in the light of changing online and mobile habits. Why? Because people increasingly search for content to answer their problems. This means that having blog content that’s about their interests than about your business is actually going to work better in the long run. For me, a blog with “spotlight-itis” suggests a company that is overlooking changing tastes in content. Not that I don’t think company updates are great, but they’re even better balanced with blog content which is devoted to answering client questions informatively and engagingly. And yes, there is still scope to tell them about the latest novelty mug to grace the meeting room.
We’ve all seen it. The blog that was last updated two years ago or six months ago. Whatever it is, it screams “out of date” at the reader. Sorry to get all heavy here, but by having a blog, a company is making a promise to keep it updated with lovely fresh content. That’s the big issue with a blog. It’s those loaded words: latest, upcoming, new, fresh. A mismatch between your promise and your main message undermines the credibility of your whole website. So what does this reveal about a company? Well, the practical issue may be lack of time or a shortage ideas, but I also think that it suggests a company which isn’t incorporating its marketing strategy into the whole business. Because when your blog is an integral part of what you do, it really is possible to keep generating new and relevant ideas.
5. No angle
Visiting this kind of business blog can be bewildering. It feels as if a magazine, a Twitter feed and a collection of emails got together and decided to have a party. This somewhat exhausting collection of different approaches and themes can reveal a couple of things about a business. One: that they have a number of people writing and adding blog posts. This can be an effective strategy – when it’s managed properly. Two: that the person blogging has a shortage of ideas and isn’t sure what is appropriate or they are trying to reach too many different audiences. Inconsistency is always revealing. The nature of a blog is to build consistency: a continuous and effective connection between a business and the outside world. With no angle to anchor it, your business is shown to be unsure of its identity and of what’s important to its customers.
Agree or not? Let me know in the comments below!
Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, May 2016
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