These days, with so many brands focused on developing content for shared properties like official company pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and more, it’s easy to marginalize corporate blogs. In my view, blogging still matters. While I think lots of companies still agree with that thinking, I see a bigger problem that decreases the effectiveness of corporate blogs: a lack of content organization.
This problem tends to affect large companies that have been blogging for quite a while. Once a company has some level of success with a blog, there is a natural tendency to expand beyond a centralized single blog into additional blogs. In those cases, brands often segment those blogs by business unit, or some sort of structure that resembles how the company itself is organized. One problem with that strategy is that customers aren’t interested in a brand’s organizational structure. They tend to be interested in specific topics. The other problem is customers won’t waste time looking for content on your blog, especially if you make it a confusing mess. The end result is that companies spend time and resources producing content that not many customers never see.
So, what can brands do about this? Besides building an operational model for content marketing, I recommend a technical solution like a Content Hub. Our digital team can build a hub on a platform like WordPress or Drupal. Visually, the Content Hub can be made to look like your blog or you company’s website, or it can have a distinct look and feel. While I’m focusing mainly on blog posts, a Content Hub can also include other content items you would typically see in a news center section of a site, like press releases, white papers, reports or other articles. Think of Content Hub as a content front end or customized portal that pulls in content from a brand’s entire network of external blogs(or other sources) and displays that content based on which posts are getting the most engagement. In my mind, engagement is a mix of the following factors:
- The # of inbound links a piece of content gets
- The # of shares on social networks
- The # of comments
- The # of page views
Surfacing content on a landing page this way ensures that readers will see your brand’s most popular content regardless of how many different blogs are aggregated into it. This will eventually translate to a wider readership for blog authors who contribute to blogs with less visibility. The engagement factors I mention above can also be weighted more heavily to things like number of inbound links or number of shares as well. In the mockup below, we show content by most popular authors, but it could also be used to show content by topic (think of sites like GigaOM, The Verge or Buzzfeed.com). Here’s a wireframe of what a Content Hub could look like:
There’s additional benefits than broader visibility as well. From an editorial perspective, this data makes it easy to see what content resonates with your readers (and what doesn’t). Tracking inbound links gives you a way to see what external influencers your teams should be connecting with. Tracking the number of shares will give you solid insight into the kind of content your employees your customers and influencers like to share. All can be used to shape your subsequent content strategy.
There’s other work that would go into getting a Content Hub up and running (deciding which blogs or sites to pull content in from, defining the category taxonomy, deciding whether to display the full post or to redirect to the existing site where the content originated, determining a paid strategy to help get traction to the hub, etc). I’ll blog in more detail about those things in future posts.
Blogging does still matter, but these days it requires more than just producing solid content.