Blogging statistics are staggering.
A September 2010 study from eMarketer on the continued rise of blogging says the medium will continue to grow in popularity as more users turn to blogs to produce and consume content. According to the same study, by 2014, blog readership will rise to more than 150 million Americans, or 60 percent of the Internet population in the United States. June 2010 figures from WordPress (which powers many of the blogs you read) cite 11.4 million blogs hosted on their platform, with WordPress.com users publishing about 350,000 new posts on an average day (and their readers, in turn, leaving 400,000 new comments every day).
With all that conversation, discussion, opinion, interjection, and objection, it's easy see why some communicators consider blogging to be a daunting task. But the blogosphere is calling you, beckoning input and insight from you and your organization. And while it is something that requires dedication and commitment, it is a necessary communications tool in today's social media environment.
There are so many proven benefits to blogging: building brand awareness, increasing Web site traffic, fostering better relations with stakeholders, and so much more. Here are some great reasons why you need to blog:
- Spark conversation. Few forums provide a better opportunity for the open exchange of ideas and insights between an organization and their key stakeholders than do blogs. You are able to put forth issues, share thought leadership, and offer solutions, and in return, your readers-at-large are able to participate and share their ideas. Remember to think in qualitative, not quantitative, terms: Focus on great conversations, not the most readers.
- Improve stakeholder relations. When you provide your stakeholders with a place to learn about your organization and give them the opportunity to provide feedback on what they like and dislike, you open up a powerful channel for conversation. The multi-way flow of communication between an organization and the public lets you identify and solve problems, gather great testimonials, recruit donors and volunteers, and so much more. Chances are good that if they know you are listening to what they say, and taking action for improvement where you can, you've increased their loyalty significantly.
- Build an army of brand advocates.. As mentioned above, increased communications between your organization and your stakeholders can significantly increase loyalty, and nowhere is this truer than on the Web. A blog provides content that is usually much more discoverable; content is optimized for discovery through organic search, social media, and other Web sites. This discovery often spurs the attention of new audiences, new visitors, and new prospects who may not be ready to take immediate action but are more than willing to come back to your Web site on a routine basis, driving your site traffic upwards and increasing those all-important "engagement metrics." (In some extreme cases, such as Mac versus PC and iPhone versus BlackBerry, the increase in loyalty can recruit die-hard brand advocates that become part of an unofficial "sales" team.)
- Provide context. Sometimes, organizations need to be rigid and formal in their communications, and the news they need to share is indeed black and white: press releases about disaster relief efforts, quarterly and annual financial statements, etc. When a blog is adjunct to your other corporate communications, you are able to provide context and dress down a formal issue, adding color and perspective to the "hard and fast" facts. Your CEO or other executives are often able to be informal in blog communications and can take a more personal tone with your audiences.
- Build community. We often think of our stakeholders as our only audience. But there could be thousands of people online looking for information and assistance that your organization can provide. Your blog represents a tremendous opportunity to build a community of like-minded people and engage them in great conversation. Think beyond the people you are already working with to those you'd like to work with. And think about your employees, too. A blog is a great way to engage them and mine great content.
- Link back. Not only is a blog a great place to share information and links to other sites it's also a great platform to build links back to your product and service pages. The goal is to write posts that are relevant to your core business but are also generally interesting to other bloggers, journalists, and Webmasters who may reference your content with those all-important back links. A few quality back links can do wonders for building authority on social media platforms and in search engines that eventually seep great "link juice" back into your corporate Web site.
- Get real. Bring out the personality in your organization and your people. Encourage posts from your executives, employees, donors, and volunteers on subjects that are diverse, and not necessarily tied directly to their daily jobs, but still provide insight and information. Let your stakeholders and readers get to know you from the inside, and put a face to your organization. Blogs and blog posts by CEOs or other executives are often very popular among readers because the information is professional but often less formal than other C-suite communications, offering different perspectives and humanizing the organization. These posts are also very popular among internal stakeholder groups and act to strengthen the organization from within. Take a look at the blog by GuideStar's own CEO, Bob Ottenhoff, as a great example.
Connecting with stakeholders and maintaining strong relationships with those who affect your organization are important parts of your nonprofit's communications strategies. Blogging can provide an effective means to educate, engage, and mobilize the right people behind your cause, and keep people connected to all that you do.
Lisa Davis, Marketwire
© 2010, Marketwire
Lisa Davis is director of marketing for Marketwire, a leading newswire and communications work-flow provider.