With all the buzz about business blogging and social media, is it really plausible that nearly three-quarters of the companies in a recent survey had no online presence?
That’s the surprising conclusion reported last year by Oxford, UK-based Passle, based on a survey of 802 marketers in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
“There has been much research done in the last few years on the importance of content marketing, social media, and the increasing prominence of such marketing communications today. But we are yet to find any recent statistics on the number of businesses who are failing to manage such activities,” the company wrote.
The research showed that “maintaining a regularly updated online presence is something businesses really struggle with.” The company reported that:
- Three of four companies in the survey were making no apparent effort to build an online presence.
- Only 13% had an active blog, only 18% were using Twitter, and Passle defined a successful Twitter presence as a minimum of one tweet per month—hardly a recipe for success on a platform that carries 500 million messages per day and logged a record 143,199 tweets per second last August 2 (at 7:21:50 PDT).
- More than half of companies trying to maintain an up-to-date online presence were failing on at least one of the channels they had chosen.
Content Marketing Comes of Age
The questions Passle asked, and the surprising answers they came up with, are one small measure of how quickly content marketing is coming of age.
Many years ago, Canadian demographer David Foot observed that beyond a certain point, “you don’t do more with less. You do less with less.” But in their early adoption of social media strategies, many organizations seemed to have missed that memo.
When blogs and social platforms first began to emerge, the too-frequent response was to adopt them because they cost less than traditional media buys.
Executives soon realized that someone would have to write the posts, craft the tweets, and monitor the channels. They were still in cost avoidance mode, but not to worry! It would be easy enough to get the intern to manage social media over the lunch hour—after all, isn’t that what twenty-somethings were born to do? (Hint: Did you ask them what they thought of that idea?)
Quality Takes Time and Money
Recently, finally, organizations have begun to see that quality content is the price of admittance on social media, and quality takes time, money, and strategy.
Content marketing agencies are beginning to hire journalists who know how to research a story, ask incisive questions, report fairly, and write well.
In early January, the Content Marketing Institute blog advised organizations on how to hire qualified writers and editors.
And about 10 days ago on Newsana, an excellent news aggregation site that recently celebrated its 400th day in operation, two of the four highest-voted stories stressed quality over quantity in social media management.
“Drinking from the Twitter firehose: I love the stream, but I need more filters and bridges” was the tagline for an article that called for better management of “overwhelming and noisy” social channels. The other item reported that expert content online is more effective than native advertising in an online world “where trust in content is vanishing at an astounding rate.”
Passle didn’t ask organizations why they were having trouble sustaining their social media programs. But their website recounts how their own business blog for a previous company “gently failed,” despite their best efforts.
“The reality was that running a fast-growing company is a very full-time job and dealing with the needs of paying customers came first,” wrote company founders Adam and Tom Elgar. “We ran short of time and ideas. Tumbleweed started blowing through the blog section of our site and a few weeks later, the tab was quietly, ruefully, removed.”
With the candour of their story and the direction of their research, Passle is helping to advance the understanding that content marketing matters, and is worth doing right. As organizations begin to measure and document the benefits of a strong online presence, it’ll be important to make sure the resources follow.