The content conundrum
We don’t make our distaste for industry jargon much of a secret around here, but the sometimes unfortunate reality is, some terminology just is what it is.
For example, the way in which we use the term “content.” There’s just something about it that feels a bit reductive. Transactional vs. personal. It doesn’t feel like a word that you’d use to describe something that is carefully crafted by a professional.
And yet, there probably isn’t a better term used to describe the numerous marketing opportunities that brands have available to them — a million and one different ways to reach their audience, each needing to be filled by something. Content, to be specific. And also vague.
To be clear, this is not an “Old Man Yells At Cloud” protest of the evolution of language. The progression of language — professional terminology, slang, online discourse, etc. — is inevitable. By and large, I welcome it.
What I tend to object to, outside of the meaninglessness of certain types of corporate jargon, is the lack of precision that we often experience in language. I like specificity, especially when I’m trying to express the value of something.
Often, content feels synonymous with “stuff” and “things.” Cogs vs. vehicles.
So while I don’t love the term as it pertains to our profession, I also understand that that’s where we are. We all understand it just enough. And I’ll use the term over and over again for this and many other pieces that I write in the future. But it’s not quite right. I feel that the same is true for the word blog.
Blah, blah, blog
This isn’t even our belief, it’s simply the truth: There are few things more important to your brand’s ability to connect with your customers than your approach to developing and publishing content online — e.g. your content strategy.
You have so many opportunities to create a unified story for your business across a variety of channels — your website, blog, newsletters, social media, paid campaigns…the list goes on.
While what is essential to a brand’s success varies from business to business, an element we consider foundational is blogging.
This is where my disdain for the current terminology comes into play, because “blogging” sounds more like an early-aughts online journal than what it actually is, which is an incredibly powerful marketing tool for your business, one that can be used as a cornerstone of your content strategy.
Just as there’s still a drastically misguided perception of social media managers being “unskilled interns” vs. the experienced professionals they are, the value of blogging is often misunderstood.
Here’s why blogging matters to your brand
- It’s purposely differentiated from your website content — Typically, a website’s service or product pages are designed to generate a specific action, whereas a blog gives the brand an opportunity to stretch out, share deeper information, and speak to a different side of their audience’s intent.
- It helps brands build authority — Speaking of going deep, blogs give brands a space to address an incredibly broad spectrum of topics, from the most general subjects to highly niche, longtail keyword-type queries. The more a brand can express its specialized knowledge, the greater the likelihood that its audience will regard it as an authority.
- It helps create positive brand perceptions — In addition to building authority, simply by being a trusted resource where people can access useful, free-to-access information, you’re establishing positive brand equity. This is a long-term investment. Will you create new customers today with this strategy? Sometimes! That’s why it’s important to see blogging as part of a larger strategy, where each tactic is measured according to its intent. Speaking of…
- It supports a healthier approach to SEO — Here’s why blogging supports your overall SEO strategy. Simply put, search engines scour the internet for what they deem to be useful, authoritative content, and rank websites largely based on their analysis of it. Ideally, sites with keyword-stuffed, duplicate content filled with sketchy links get pushed further down in rankings, whereas sites with relevant, useful, and regularly published content get pushed to the top. Again, ideally. The point is, it’s in any business’s best interest to keep their website filled with fresh content, and typically, the best vehicle for that content is your blog.
- It creates a piece of content that can be turned into countless pieces of content — Content strategy and deployment can be daunting. Many businesses think, “How can we possibly incorporate blogging, social media, and email marketing into our current state of work?” It’s a fair concern. But blogging isn’t an event in and of itself. I like to look at these pieces of content as part of a greater whole. For instance, you write a 1,200-word blog that you publish to your site. Great! But that’s really just the beginning. Now, take one of the hookiest one or two sentences from that blog, and use it as your Facebook caption that links to your blog. Turn that 1,200-word blog into a thread of tweets. Use the intro paragraph as an excerpt in your email newsletter. It doesn’t even have to start with blogging! Record a video. Have the audio transcribed. Use the transcription to create your blog. And so on.
- Its data will tell you a lot about your customers — We have a number of clients on our blogging program who are shocked by what resonates with their site visitors. It’s not always what they suspect. This data tells us a few things: One, this topic is meaningful to people. Why don’t we dive even deeper into this subject with more specific content? Or, given its relevance, we could run some paid campaigns on this specific service. Another important thing to consider is how can we apply similar techniques to the blogs that haven’t performed as well? Low performance doesn’t necessarily mean it’s irrelevant. It might. But it might also mean that our approach isn’t the right one.
- It will tell your customers an awful lot about you — Businesses are collections of people, and while they’re typically driven by the mission and vision of its founders, I do think it’s fair to say that a brand’s personality isn’t just one thing. Like people, brands often contain multitudes. When we discussed how we wanted to approach blogging, we created broad categories so that we could write about all of the different things that matter to us, like our approaches to services and creating a healthy work culture, as well as showcasing client work, and even discussing relevant industry trends. There’s a lot that we care about and are thinking about, and I think it’s important to not box yourself in when it comes to how you approach your blog’s topics.
- It gets results — I’m probably burying the lede here, but regularly publishing thoughtful, useful, relevant content will help your website’s visibility online, it will help you connect with customers, and it will help you establish authority while building brand awareness.
So, maybe getting hung up on a less than descriptive term like blogging doesn’t really matter all that much, especially considering how powerful a tool it’s proven to be. When something works, it works, and in the case of blogging, it indeed works.
If you’re wondering what you can do to start blogging for your brand, my advice is just that: Get started. You don’t need to wait until you’ve done extensive keyword research, or redesigned your website, or gotten a new MacBook Pro.
If you know your customers, what they care about, and how your brand serves them, then you know everything you need to know to get started. Just start writing. You’ll be glad you did.
And if you want more information on blogging and other services that will help your brand reach more customers, then you know where to find us. We’d love to be your partner.