Before we delve into the future of blogging, let’s go back to the start and look at how blogging began.
Justin Hall is credited with starting the first ever personal blog, when in January 1994 as a college undergraduate, he created the first version of his personal website at the domain links.net, which he used to share his thoughts and writings, and so the practice of what would later become known as blogging was born.
At this time, it is important to note that the word ‘blog’ had not yet been established. The term would get its first documented use over five years later, when Peter Merholz corrupted the existing term ‘weblog’ (meaning ‘web log’, literally a log or diary of one’s activities that is kept on the worldwide Web) into ‘we blog’ in the sidebar of his website peterme.com in the Spring of 1999. Whether Merholz initially did so as a mistake, accidentally putting the space in the wrong place, only for this then to be adopted out of habit or for comic effect, is now a moot point. Whatever the reasons for its persistence, the practice spread, and from that point onwards, the new word ‘blog’ began to be widely used as both a verb and a noun.
But what of the original term ‘weblog’? Well, even that is not a very old concept. It is believed to have been coined by American Jorn Barger in December 1997. It wasn’t until 1999, however, that the dedicated blogging platform Blogger was launched by Pyra Labs, making it easy for masses of Internet users to set up their own blogs without needing to be adept in HTML. Many other similar platforms followed, catapulting both the concept and the practice of blogging into the mainstream.
What started as something individuals were doing in their own private blog-space soon grew to include businesses and other organisations, as their websites were fitted with dedicated ‘blog’ sections or pages. Regardless of the type of website and size of the organisation responsible for it, many marketers could see that blogging and regular date-stamped updates in the informal style associated with it was a personable and appealing way of communicating with their audiences and keeping them up to date with the organisation’s latest news.
Business blogging is inherently different from personal blogging in its motives and objectives, so the style of writing that is appropriate is likely to be different to reflect the reputational risks of careless or ill-judged remarks or offending particular groups of people, whether those are your customers or not. If blogging for business, there are many things that may be inappropriate to share because they are too personal or controversial. However, there is a counter-argument that personalising your brand and taking a stand on controversial issues can increase your profile, though not always in a beneficial way.
Moreover, while business owners and their marketing executives may be enthused by the idea of regularly blogging, the question of value for money for the time invested is bound to crop up sooner or later.
While some developments in your business are inherently newsworthy, regularly blogging with updates from day-to-day activities at your workplace just because you are in the habit of keeping a blog may result in too much writing that fewer of your customers actually want to read. Less can be more, and quality over quantity is a valuable maxim here.
This said, there is another way of thinking about posting content online for businesses, which is less about blogging in the conventional, casual sense and more about content marketing. Think about what information resources you can put out on your website that would attract more visitors. Careful consideration and development of content that benefits your business is what content marketing should be all about. It is a more sophisticated and deliberately targeted approach to online marketing for businesses than unfocused blogging.
Even then, in an age where we’re inundated with the latest digital technologies and social platforms (for example, Twitch and TikTok), businesses already have a hard enough time maintaining the relevance of the content they put out online.
Blogging or posting regularly with content that is shareable and worthwhile does take time, something that is in short supply in many active businesses, and so not all businesses have proven equally enthusiastic about starting blogs, and many that have started them have later let them lapse for months or years at a time while focusing on other priorities, as can also happen to business social media accounts.
Within every company, there can be competition for resources, with a limited amount of online marketing time available. It’s understandable for businesses to want to prioritise what is going to make a substantial difference to their business out of all possible uses of that limited time budget. With these constraints, is blogging for business still relevant in 2023?
At GWS Media, as we work in digital marketing and choose to maintain regular posting on marketing topics of relevance on our website, aiming to add at least one new in-depth article each month. We find this type of content marketing to be valuable both to keep clients informed and to keeping up our online presence and reputation as knowledgeable experts in our field.
The impact and value of blogging or article writing on your business will vary considerably depending on your industry sector and what methods of marketing are most effective for your target market, but sometimes all it takes is a little imagination to come up with ideas for content that will bring in additional visibility, and help increase new enquiries and ultimately sales.
In this article, we cover a number of ways in which blogging can have a positive effect on business, and why we believe it is still relevant as a part of business marketing strategy in 2023, and will remain so for many years into the future.
1. It provides content for social media
Regular writing and creating of unique content for your website offers ready-made content that can be shared across social channels to your audiences via a link. With the rate at which audiences devour social content, having one or two pieces a week that are consistently written and shareable on social media platforms can be a very helpful way of reducing time pressures on staff who are tasked with keeping these channels up to date.
It also offers the opportunity for the written piece to reach a broader audience as it is being shared on multiple platforms. And you can try to extend the reach further by actively requesting that your followers also share the piece with their audiences.
2. It helps drive traffic to your site
Once a blog or article has been shared across your social channels, provided that you have come up with an appealing and enticing title, a certain percentage of more engaged readers will click through to read the article in full. As well as an appealing title, you could also offer a short snippet of your article to further tempt readers in.
This, along with including any articles in your company mailout for people to click through to and read, will increase the amount of traffic to your website.
3. It can help to improve SEO
Great content that is optimised for search engines with well-chosen keywords in headings and text offers the chance to improve your search engine ranking positions. Optimise for keywords that you want to appear in search, for but don’t go overboard or you may be penalised. Good-quality content is key here, so ensure that it is thorough and well-researched and that it will offer the reader what they need. It’s also a good idea to post regularly, as search engines like to see new content.
4. It can build brand awareness
Writing factually but positively about your business, whether that’s what services or products it offers, its level of customer service or the team behind it, can help to increase awareness and visibility of your brand. It offers customers and clients a chance to see a different side of the business, a more personal side that may encourage them to seek out your services in the future over another potential competitor.
5. It can build trust with existing customers
Highlighting what the company’s values and beliefs are in a blog series of points or posts could be a great way of building trust with existing customers. As existing customers, they already value the business, but take this opportunity to really show them what you’re about and why they should use your services again.
Writing about what the business cares about, whether that is charity work, community support, supporting other local businesses, fair trade, or protecting the environment, and what steps you are taking to help these causes is a great way to show that the business is more than just a business. Give customers a personal reason to keep coming back by showing how you align with values they hold dear.
6. It can appeal to new customers
In a similar way to the above point, being open and honest and showing what your business cares about is likely to attract new custom too. Conscientious 21st-century consumers don’t just want a business that can offer the services that they need, they want a business that has laudable purpose and values at its core.
With 66% of people stating they would switch from a product they typically buy to a new product from a purpose-driven company, describing your efforts in a company blog is a great way to engage those new customers and potentially give you the edge over any competition in their supplier preferences and loyalties.
7. It can make the business an authority in the subject area
As well as writing about the values of your business, write about your business knowledge. Whatever your niche or expertise, make use of this with longer, in-depth articles about your subject area. These types of posts may not be geared to everyone (some potential customers are short of time and just want to make quick purchase decisions and to-the-point enquiries), but they cement your business as a reliable source of knowledge that readers will be able to utilise in the future. This type of content can help to build authority in the niche you occupy, which will only add further credibility to your business.
8. It can help with business development
Depending on the subject area you are writing about and what other organisations you engage with in the course of doing business, you may well have included mentions of other named businesses in your piece, perhaps to highlight their services that are complementary to yours, or to make a recommendation.
When including mentions of other organisations, provided that they have your unqualified approval and are not your direct competitors for some products or services you offer, it can be a good idea to link to their websites to help inform your reader. When doing this, you can take the opportunity to contact the company concerned, introduce yourself if they do not already know you, and make them aware that you have included them in your blog. This is a great way of building business relationships, and provided they respond favourably to the initial contact, you might also want to ask them to share the piece with their audiences, such as on their social media channels.
9. It can support your business in keeping up with current trends
Through the process of researching and sourcing ideas on a weekly or monthly basis for a new blog piece, you are likely to be better able to keep up with the latest developments in your industry. Being aware of new technologies, advances and news in your space is valuable for future reference or if any of them should ever come up in discussion with your clients, and being well-informed about what is going on in your industry will only help further your progress as a business, as well as potentially saving you from some seriously costly mistakes.
10. It can help show commitment to the business
Keeping up a commitment to write a weekly, twice weekly or even monthly blog will be something that requires a reasonable amount of time that is solely for the use of researching towards (where applicable) and producing that content.
Whether you take on the role yourself or have one of your team of staff do it, dedicating this time regularly will show a certain level of commitment in providing your customers with new and fresh content that has the potential to either interest or educate them. Essentially, you are offering them something of value for free, even if the value lies in information capital and knowledge rather than material value.
From all the points considered above, we can see that there are many benefits to writing a blog for your business. Whether you have one already, or are considering starting one now, provided you can spare the time, it has far-reaching potential as a tool in your marketing arsenal. Newer, trendier marketing strategies have their place, but the fact that they have been making waves in certain quarters doesn’t mean that traditional activities like blogging have had their chips.
Informal blogging without clear objectives and a strategy is certainly likely to be less valuable, but blogging for business has moved on a long way from its roots in personal blogging. Content marketing is now at its core, meaning creating and producing content that is valuable for customers and potential customers and that can help search engines to send them your way.
If you need help or advice on starting or developing your business blog as part of your content marketing strategy, we'd love to hear from you. Call our office between 9-1 or 2-5 Monday to Friday on 0117-9724835, or email [email protected]. You can also read more about our copywriting and strategy services here.