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Why corporate blogs still matter

This is a guest post from Paul Miller, Head of Digital Strategy for Cision UK.

These folks were filmed during the Social Media in a Corporate Context conference a couple of weeks back, when our European CEO, Peter Granat (that’s him in the thumbnail), gave a presentation called “Do Blogs Matter?”

It’s not as strange, nor as trivial, a question as it first sounds – even when you’re posing it on a blog. All the other social tools available – and the power of Facebook and Twitter in particular – can leave corporate blogs looking a little old fashioned, and a little bit too much like hard work.

But as Peter argued, there are benefits associated with a blog that no other social platform can offer: the branding is all yours, as is the data, while regularly updated, link-friendly content equals good search engine optimization.

And crucially, a corporate blog allows you to put interested visitors straight onto the sales path. This applies particularly for those with ecommerce, but even steering prospects directly to online sales collateral means a pipeline value can be assigned.

There have been a few conversations at Cision this week about success metrics for our blogs in the wake of a couple of posts on the Cision US blog, both of which “went viral”, harvesting hundreds of tweets. So how valuable were these posts? Undoubtedly they brought in significant numbers of visitors, which, as explained above, can (and should) mean traffic entering the online conversion funnel.

Identifying longer term impact of such “thought leadership” is altogether more difficult. One US colleague has suggested interrogation at point of sale in order to determine the influence of such activities. But this will undercount the benefits, as it ignores the pipeline value of those prospects that didn’t make it so far. Yes, the entire pipeline could face the same interrogation, but then you hit the Catch 22 of potential disruption to the sales process.

There are numerous studies that suggest some communicators are unwilling to fully commit to social media due to uncertainty about what, exactly, to measure. Of course, there are many, many metrics that can used to track social activity, which can be combined to create powerful key performance indicators (KPIs).

But social media metrics are just KPIs. A chorus of tweets almost certainly shows your social media activities moving in the right direction, but the number of tweets received by a blog post isn’t in itself return on investment. The return should always be measured in the same units as the investment – and the investment is invariably measured in the hardest metrics of all.

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