B2B blogging trendsIn many organizations, corporate blogs are still seen as almost separate entities. Several other organizations have no blog at all. The question, whether you need a blog or not depends on how customer-centric you want your business to be, how you want to be found in a very crowded online space and how you can use business blogging to offer value to your “target groups” and your whole business ecosystem (employees, partners, etc. included).

Should a company blog? Should employees blog? There are no “musts” in business. However, when not blogging you are missing out on important opportunities.

Let’s have a look though at how organizations blog today and what can be done better. One of the keywords here is integration. By the way: if you read posts or reports on the Web saying “blogging is dead” (just like these “email is dead” and “xyz is dead” posts): please smile, move on and look at your business and customer reality instead of at opinion makers who often lack experience regarding the topics they’re covering.

Earlier this year I was asked to contribute to a white paper on blogging trends (and tips as well), aimed at B2B marketers by the people at Aggregage.

Contributors, including some great content marketing experts such as Tom Pick, Ardath Albee , Kristin Zhivago, and Ambal Balakrishnan, to name just a few, and more social media or PR oriented people like Maddie Grant, Jay Baer and Erik Qualman, were asked to share their views, along with yours truly.

Key reasons for an integrated blog marketing approach

One of the main challenges/trends that were identified is the need to integrate blogs in a cross-channel and conversational interaction and storytelling approach (although it’s really blog readers who tell stories, in my opinion).

The need to integrate your blogging activities has several important reasons. You can find a few of them below.

Avoid the disconnected blogging approach

When blogs are approached as separate activities, as it often happens, the focus and business goals are limited to using blogs as social media hubs, for SEO reasons, to share information (not seldom from the horrible “we” standpoint) and for engaging and broadening existing communities. However, blogs are much more than that and should be looked upon from the multi-channel customer perspective as well. That is a first part of the integration exercise: make sure your blogs travel along with your readers and ecosystem. Get all the channels you use to engage and interact, enhance each other and make the content accessible so that people can interact with it or get informed via the channels they’re using at the time and in the context, they use them. Don’t shut out email newsletters, for instance. People still use email! Don’t forget feedback and user-generated content. In fact, don’t forget anything: look at the most global picture possible. Blogging is by definition a connected activity, in all meanings of the word.

The integration of channels and business goals

Blogging can be merely a fun activity but when done in a business context, you also want to achieve something doing it. No executive will – hopefully – invest money in something that doesn’t contribute to business goals such as branding, customer interaction, customer acquisition, customer satisfaction, collaboration or whatever else the goals may be. It is obvious that this requires an integrated approach whereby your blog and bloggers work closely together with other interaction channels, people and departments that are involved in these goals. A corporate blog is not written by one person generally. So, it does require some integration and collaboration. However, it also requires an integration with your marketing efforts and goals. What’s the conversion of your blog? How do you measure it across the customer life cycle and a cross-channel approach? What’s the impact on your brand? What are the call-to-actions? Connecting the dots is crucial. Look at your blogs as part of a holistic, integrated and customer-centric approach with a clear focus on predefined goals. Even if you “just” want to engage in conversations (which is important as well).