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Is blogging still hot?*

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By Christine Nelson

While developing a blog strategy for a client recently, I had to back up and wonder if this communication tool was still actually worth the time. Of course, I started my quest with Google.

The Google results about blogging hotness intrigued me. Forbes tells us that blogs still matter — at least for social entrepreneurs with a passionate cause to promote. Most of the other results came from bloggers explaining how to run a successful blog. The final results highlighted aspects of blogging, such as professional commenters who use existing blogs to pump up their own visibility.

Then there was an article in The Atlantic that provided a bit of blogging history and lampooned the belief that no one blogs anymore. The word is outmoded, but people are still “web writing,” just on different platforms such as Facebook and Medium.

While it’s difficult to know how many new blogs are born a year, social platforms such as Facebook publish about 2.5 million pieces of content a minute, which is how most users publish content these days, in brain-friendly bits and bytes.

Companies also publish longer content on their WordPress sites or custom websites within a subdomain, then tweet that content to their networks. Doing so boosts traffic to their websites, which they hope builds visibility and increases the chance that people will buy something, donate something or become members or employees. The most popular iteration of web writing is video. Why write when you can speak – or lip sync and dance – your point of view on YouTube?

Granted, writing good blogs is time consuming, with no guarantee of attracting an audience. But their use goes beyond improved Google rankings to the one thing every business owner still wants — engagement.

In a sea of competitors, a personal and witty blog post gets attention at any time of day. It makes you memorable in the way a handwritten note or well-timed gift earns points. The very nature of the Internet has made people crave a personal touch. As they scan a business like an X-ray for something interesting, the images and words have to grab them. Will they read more or bounce away? Can you afford bounce?

If you have a blog languishing in the recesses of Blogger or your company website, there are good reasons to revive it now — with the right strategy. Analytics have improved to measure how many people pay attention to your content and where they share it, providing valuable information when you are trying to expand your visibility with certain audiences. You can see the numbers trend up by web page views and social media shares. The content with the most interest is the stuff you should keep writing about.

Social media has also made it amazingly simple to promote your content 24 hours a day. What could it mean to your business to rank in the top 10 in Google search results for a specific product or service — in a specific region?

I’m talking to the naysayers who still believe they get all their business from personal referrals. What do people do when they get a referral? Like ungrateful children, they don’t call. They don’t email. They Google you.

You are being judged. The first impression you make online must be personal, inviting and different. While blogs are as prolific as satellite television, they can still be fresh and inspiring — inspiring enough for people to contact a real person at your business.

You don’t have to produce the content yourself. A ghostwriter or marketing agency can efficiently develop a strategy that is sustainable, trackable — and hot — for your audience.

*Answer: Yes.

Hot blogging best practices

  1. Write narrowly about what you love. Narrow your focus to a strong interest to keep writing fresh and people invested in your blog. If your topic is too broad, it will lose focus and not build a dedicated audience. For example, a blog for a restaurant should not be about food. It should be about cooking hacks or your passion for puff pastry.
  2. Inspire a positive emotion. Viral blogs and videos are often associated with positive emotion that people want to share with others. Sharing equals more visibility equals more attention on your business.
  3. Use technology to gain visibility. Your blog should be keyword rich and categorized for Google bots. It should be shared on social media pages and easy for others to share on social media with one click. If possible, it should be a subdomain of an existing website that already carries authority on Google. Starting from scratch will take you longer to gain visibility, but it’s never too late to start.

LEA_photo-christinenelson-standingChristine Nelson is a senior communications consultant with Ingenuity in St. Paul, Minnesota. She provides communications strategy on blogging, social media, public relations, websites and emerging media. Contact her at christine@ingenuitymarketing.com, @virtualprgrrl or +1 (651) 690-3358.