Charlie Peverett, iCrossing

Thumbnail image for Charlie PeverettCompanies that blog have 434% more indexed pages – and more indexed pages get more leads – or so says the slides that opens Charlie from iCrossing’s presentation at the Brighton Digital Marketing Festival. He’s going to make the case for banning the blog – or some of the bad habits we’ve all slipped into…

And he quotes Tamsin suggesting that many people ending up using blogs because their main website is too awful to easily add things to:

@cpev Blog: our main website is still too shit to add anything to it regularly so we’ll dump stuff here instead and hope someone notices.— tamsinbishton (@tamsinbishton) September 13, 2012

Marketers think that blogging will increase engagement, visibility and things like that. But blogs are buckets – clever buckets. We invest the things we put in buckets with our hope and aspirations for what it’ll do. Some people are more interested in the bucket than the contents. But it’s what’s in the bucket that counts.

Time has moved on, and the discussion hasn’t.

1. Blogs as workaround

Blogs are often workarounds for websites that are no longer fit for purpose. The arrival of blogs was a godsend for those of us trying to manage content for a bad website. We’re used to thinking of them as our friends – those of us who anthropomorphise tools on the web…

2. My boss heard about blogging…

Often the job isn’t to be blogging, but to create effects that blogging can bring.

3. It’s treated as a media buy

Social media is still being annexed by marketing. And that’s… fine. But actually social media is not a media buy. If we look at a blog as an alternative to paid attention, it’s easy to slip into the language of “not buying this, but buying a blog”. Panda and Penguin has put pressure on those working in content to come up with the goods.

In short: the success of you blog is increasingly tied to what you say – not just the fact that you have chosen to speak. Sometimes alternative platforms might suit you better. Thinking hard about what you’re trying to achieve something can save you a lot of pain later.

There are some terrible corporate blogs. It’s hard to find examples – because everyone just ignores terrible stuff online. They’re bad in a sad-making way, rather than an embarrassing way. Sometimes they put up (say) a great interview with a designer – and nobody watches it. And then the PR team insist you put up a PR release about a new opening. It’s not interesting.

There’s the Hippo phenomenon – the opinion of the highest paid person in the room. Without a clear idea of what you want, the Hippo’s opinion dominates.

Charlie recommends:

  • in the early stage of planning, ban the word “blog”
  • Take those questionable claims for blogging, and replace with being interesting and relevance
  • See if the conversation goes somewhere else

Focus on the purpose, not the bucket. If you do decide that a blog is what you need – that’s a positive decision. It’s the difference between the knee-jerk reaction of signing up for WordPress because you need to be “more social” – and choosing one of a set of communication tools. You might end up with a blog – that should always be a positive decision.

shit-pot-dot-com.jpg

We have a brief workshop session, where Charlie encourages a sleepy audience to contribute stuff they love online. Words like funny, unique, passionate, personal come up – which is exactly the sort of stuff that most company blogs just aren’t, as he points out.

It’s very difficult to be interesting on someone else’s behalf. Sometimes the things you actually know and do aren’t what people are interested in. So you can go a step away – to the intersection of what you do, and how people interact with your services. But it’s really hard to be credible talking about stuff you don’t really know or care about. In fact, the further you get from your core activities, the more risk there is of brand erosion.

Made up statistic: 98% of interesting online content involves something happening offline. If your content focus is far away from your core business, you have do actually do the stuff you’re talking about. Otherwise, it’s not credible.

Remember: tag clouds are the mullets of the internet.

In summary:

  • Purpose before content before platform
  • Get some perspective
  • Keep it relevant
  • Do something interesting
*Charlie is co-organising [Cool Content Coming Soon…](http://coolcontentcomingsoon.wordpress.com) — a great half day content conference next Friday afternoon. *