As I meet with more and more clients, I am struck by how rarely a blog makes the most sense for their marketing.
Blogs used to be (and in some cases still are) synonymous with Content Marketing. Put up mildly useful information on your website and people will flock to it. That may have worked in the past, but it is quickly losing effectiveness. Why?
- When there is such a galaxy of text content out there, mediocre or even good content doesn’t grab people’s attention anymore.
- Content consumers are getting more realistic about how much text they can consume in a day or week. If your content isn’t good/useful enough to make it into their Top 5 text sources, you are on the chopping block.
- Content consumers are getting exposed to a wide variety of media formats (audio, video, courses, webinars, etc.), and their tastes are changing beyond just the text format.
Blogs will still be a great format to engage with communities, but will start to become the specialty of a few, as opposed to the work of the masses.
The Life-cycle of a Medium
Think of it like an art medium. Suppose a new medium comes onto the scene. (Let’s call it coffee sculptures). At first, it is new and lots of people want to try it out. Those who are first have an advantage because the medium itself is interesting and fresh. As it starts to trend, so many people will start doing coffee sculptures that it will seem like you see them at every turn. People are putting coffee sculptures up everywhere – in their homes, offices, and in public parks.
As the medium matures, certain artists distinguish themselves as truly great coffee sculptors and it is their work that attracts people, not so much the novelty of the medium itself. They have mastered coffee sculpting and consistently put out amazing work. At this point, it becomes harder and harder to pass off mediocre coffee sculptures as people’s expectations have also risen with time.
Also, the medium itself finds a niche use. Over time, they realize that coffee sculptures in parks make no sense at all. They are really only best in office complexes and shopping malls.
Blogs and Coffee Art
In many situations, blogs have reached this point. If you bring in an average ‘sculptor’ and plan to put your art on your front lawn, it just won’t fit. Similarly, if your blogs are average and you just throw up articles on any topic and for any reason, it isn’t going to work. It is a mature medium that requires an expert and a specific use case.
When Blogs Work
When you need to demonstrate that you have authority on a given topic. If you are a consultant, you need to be able to show that you know what you are talking about before people interact with you. In any field where people will demand to know your expertise before working with you, blogs are an effective tool.
When you need to distinguish your position from others in your field. If you have an extremely unique positioning in your industry, a text blog can shake things up a bit. If you plan on writing something slightly provocative and very differential, then blogs are a great tool. (See ‘Excite’ in the Models of Engagement.)
When you are very, very talented at writing. Some people have built the skillset to be very good at engaging with people over text. It’s not easy, but you know a great writer when you read one. If you are one or can get one to write for you, then blogs will work very well.
These aren’t the only situations, but there aren’t too many others. If your blog is serving some other purpose (i.e. keyword stuffing, lead generation), there is probably a better way to spend your time and money.