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On the decline? Company blogs still offer many benefits Add to ...

Is corporate blogging really on the decline?

According to a recent study, the number of Fortune 500 companies that had blogs stayed flat in 2011 from 2010, while the number of Inc. 500 companies, the fastest-growing private companies in the United States, dropped to 37 per cent from 50 per cent.

“The use of blogging may have peaked as a primary social media tool in the U.S. business world," wrote Nora Barnes, one of the authors of the study called Blogging Declines as New Tools Rule, by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.

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"The new data shows adoption of blogging is declining for the first time since 2007 among the Inc. 500 companies.”

Not surprisingly, the study attracted a lot of attention, including from many people who believe the results may not represent an accurate depiction of the blogging world, given it was focused on a specific number of companies.

As well, the apparent decline of blogging comes at a time when a growing number of brands are embracing content marketing, which involves the creation of value-added content to attract consumers.

Among the key tools for a content- marketing strategy are corporate blogs, which provide a way to deliver thought leadership, domain expertise, information and insight.

For startups and entrepreneurs, blogs can play a valuable role because they offer an opportunity and platform to establish a strong and vibrant industry presence.

As well, blogging can be a cost-effective marketing tool, given most of the costs involved are for the people required to write blog posts.

One of the key benefits of a corporate blog is that companies own and control their blogs. The content created can not only attract potential and existing customers but can be repurposed for other activities, such as newsletters, brochures and other marketing collateral. Blogs also have search engine optimization benefits because engines such as Google like websites that produce a steady flow of fresh content.

Blogs as a corporate “asset” stand in contrast to social media services, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.

While many brands have established a strong foothold on these services, they “lease” rather than “own” the digital space. Facebook, for example, could decide to dramatically change how Facebook Pages work, and there would be little a company could do but adapt to the changes. On the other hands, companies control the look, feel and content of their blogs.

For startups and entrepreneurs looking for a cost-effective marketing vehicle, blogs are definitely worth exploring and embracing.

While the University of Massachusetts study may throw cold water on corporate blogging, it should not be taken as a sign that blogging is going out of style.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is the principal with ME Consulting, a communications and marketing strategic consultancy that works with startups and fast-growing companies to create compelling and effective messaging to drive their sales and marketing activities. Mark has worked with four startups – Blanketware, b5Media, PlanetEye and Sysomos. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshmarketing and meshwest conferences.

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