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You Don't "Need" A Blog

Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a mantra in regards to blogging: Go to where you customers are already hanging out before you you try dragging them to your own content.

Not everyone needs a blog. I know that's counter to what a lot of marketing folks would say, but so be it. It's true. Not everyone is cut out for blogging and frankly there are too many blogs to begin with. And no, your markets won't crumble if you say no to corporate blogging.

Why the heresy? Here are the points of my argument:

Conversation Stimulation

Most companies don't understand the reason for blogging in the first place. They look at it as yet another channel to push out communications or opinions. Or worse yet, it's the press-release section of the site re-branded as the "blog."

In both of these cases, the company overlooks that the reason social "experts" claim you should blog is because they want you to engage in debate with, participate in a larger discussion with and/or garner advocacy and support from your targeted audience. So essentially blogging has very little to do with the message itself and more to do with participating in a conversation with the online community. So if that's the case, wouldn't it be better to find where that conversation is already happening than to try to create it from scratch?

Go To Them

Here's a simple example. A company sells dog treats. They already have a loyal population of customers who regularly post hundreds of videos on YouTube of their dogs enjoying the treat. So which is the more effective first reaction by the company: 

a) Create a blog and encourage all these users to read it?

b) Post official comments and praises in the comments sections of the video postings and maybe aggregate all these videos (with permission) on a company YouTube channel?

The users are already being loyal. They've already chosen the tool they want to use to engage with each other. Why disrupt that? Why not encourage this activity and show interest in their loyalty? Why do we always need to have them come to us, when going to them is a much stronger statement of customer engagement?

Blogging is Not Bad

I'm not saying that blogging isn't worth your time. Certainly, in the above example, also adding a blog would offer an extra hook for possible engagement and more opportunities to win over a customer's loyalty. But it's rare that this would, or should, be the first step in engaging customers. 

The first step should always be listening to see where your customers are already talking about you, then doing everything within your power to encourage as much positive buzz there as possible. Only then should you assess if you have the commitment and desire to start a blog. And more importantly, then you can gauge whether a blog is even something this audience of yours would want or read. Again, using the above example, maybe the focus on videos means that your audience would prefer a daily video clip of employees and their dogs. You'll never know until you reach out. 

So if you absolutely must, by all means start a blog. More power to you. Just go in with open eyes about it's role and realize it's probably not a front-line strategy for your social media campaign.

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