Are Blogs the Unpopular Social Media Cousin?

5th Oct, 2010

I was asked by a client last week if Twitter and Facebook had superseded the blog? It’s an interesting question because a lot of the attention, in terms of words being written about and visibility in social media is on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. While the poor old blog is seen as the less popular geeky cousin, everyone knows its hovering around in the background but it rarely gets the attention or the glory associated with the much cooler Facebook.

The blog is not a brand, but a type of social media, so it doesn’t have the same marketing drive behind it as the other brand names. So maybe that explains how misunderstood the blog can be, especially by those who are new to social media. In the ever changing social environment blog’s have been around a lot longer than Facebook or Twitter and might be seen as an older format going the same way of VHS or even DVD.

You won’t find a Hollywood film coming out about the blog. But if you strip away all the flash and hype that surrounds it’s fellow social media tools, you will see the blog has a lot more pro’s than con’s, especially when compared with its competitors. So instead of looking at statistics as to how many businesses use blogs (it’s far less than those who use Facebook,  a better statistic would be to ask how many customers consult blogs), I thought it might be better to look at the pro’s and con’s of three different social media channels Facebook, Twitter and Blogs.

Facebook Pro’s

It has a worldwide audience of over 500 million

The mainstream online audience are comfortable using and exploring the Facebook platform

It’s good for quick updates to you fans, who are the equivalent of subscribers since they are sent each of your updates.

Facebook can be good for two way interaction with customers.

Facebook easily supports photos, videos, games, apps and also e-commerce

Social plugins will bring the Facebook platform off Facebook to integrate it with more websites, including blogs

Facebook Cons

Search is very poor on Facebook. It will often throw up multiple pages that may not be relevant for the one keyword or brand name you are looking for. The addition of community pages has only added to the clutter in search.

It’s more for new and fresh content, as older content on the wall is pushed out of sight and interaction levels can be low.

If Facebook implement a change you have no choice but to comply. In the past notification has been short, but lately some of the bigger changes have come with plenty of advance warning.

This content loses its value once it’s out of sight. Then try searching for that older content on Facebook. You are unlikely to find it unless you trawl through lots of wall posts.

You’re at the mercy of Facebook and that platform. You may have 20,000 or more fans, but if you don’t follow Facebooks guidelines you may find your page deleted.

Anything that is hosted on Facebook will disappear if your page gets deleted. That includes your 20,000 + fans. The lesson? Read those guidelines!

Twitter Pro’s

Great for distributing links to articles, posts, videos etc.

Can also be used as a distribution channel for older content by readers who  come across the content for the first time and decide to retweet it. But that’s only if they can find the content!

The amount of information at your fingertips is amazing.

It’s great for keeping up to date with industry professionals, media and news organisations. What they’re reading, what they find interesting or what they’re working on.

And more than likely all these links point to external websites, blogs and rarely to specific content within Facebook

Twitter Cons

After the first hour tweets are less likely to get a response

Which means information gets old fast, probably even quicker than Facebook.

It’s 140 characters can be good and bad, tweets have to be to the point in order to engage fans. But only 29% get retweet or reply.

The constant stream of information can be overwhelming. With so much information at your fingertips how difficult is it for you to rise above the noise and get read, never mind being retweeted?

Blog Pro’s

Blogs can feature text, video, mp3’s, polls, games etc. subscribers can subscribe by email or RSS feed.

While all channels will contribute to SEO, Blogs contribute the most by providing regular, fresh, keyword friendly content.

All content is search engine friendly meaning older content can still have value after the first hour, week or even month.

All content remains your own without ever being at the mercy of another platform developer, their rules or changes.

Blogs can be great for niche audiences for particular brands, and for more mainstream audiences looking for regular news updates.

Blogs become a body of work on a certain subject, topic or brand.

Since they are easy to search you can find what you want easily, without having to wade through lots of wall posts looking for something posted a year ago

They can be integrated into Facebook through social plugins, which allow Facebook users to connect to your website via their Facebook login

They can integrate with Twitter through plug-ins and set up automatic tweets to be sent with the name and link to new blog posts.

Blog Con’s

Technically blogs are slightly harder to set up. But using WordPress, free themes and free plugins once it’s set up its barely more work than writing and sending an email each time.

Blogs can be daunting, they are so much more than 140 characters (but they power so much of Twitter).

It can be time consuming to maintain a blog and deliver regular quality content.

Blogs take a certain amount of dedication and persistence in order to get off the ground.

Finding those initial readers can be difficult enough and it’s a long term process that won’t show any signs of return for at least six months or longer.

In Conclusion

Blogs offer a diverse and media rich way of communication with customers. They tend to share knowledge or news about a certain area of business. In doing so they help position that blog writer or affiliated company as an expert in their field. As more and more commerce is conducted online, and offline commerce is more influenced about whats being said online, then maintaining the body of work that you put online becomes even more important. With Facebook and Twitter’s relative short life of posts, the only true way of creating a searchable body of work is through the use of blogs.

In brief, Twitter is for small amounts of information with a short lifespan. Facebook for slightly longer information in the medium to short term and Blogs are for any type of information in any time frame.