Here’s a conundrum that we face as community practitioners…
Host blogs in your community?
Host blogs on your marketing/company website?
Host blogs on community and website?!
Caveat: In this post I’m referencing “community” as an external space designed to nurture and convert prospects to customers - primarily as a marketing function. Naturally this type of community could also be invaluable for customers as well and increase customer stickiness and engagement. Also, much of what I’m discussing here are my observations musings not backed by hard data.
Has anyone ever encountered a treatise or something that clearly outlines answers to these questions? I would love to hear the thoughts and ideas from my fellow community leaders. Holistic community platforms like Lithium, the former JiveX, Telligent, Higher Logic, etc. all offer a “blog” content type among different functioning content tools like Q&A Forums, Discussions, Ideation tools, etc.
Our VP, Marketing sees “blogs” as most marketers see them… a place to drive SEO and traffic on the company website. Hearing about blog in another context may lead traditional marketing leaders to shun the practice of moving the blog to the community and they might also shun keeping the website blog, while adding another blog in the community. They may feel like it’s duplicating effort and you prob would be penalized for SEO if identical content exists on both blogs.
So the traditional marketer might think they want to spend their dollars driving SEO for the website, which is further down the sales funnel, than the community might be. They may feel the community blogs could be good but they are further up the sales funnel and therefore do not have as good of an ROI as a website blog could have.
After much consideration, I’ve concluded that it’s probably best to have the blog in BOTH places, but I still have a lot of questions:
- How can I get buy-in to leverage content team (other team) resources to write similar rich thought leadership content in the community (like they do on our company website blog)?
- Can you copy the blog from your website and paste it to your community blog?
- What are the implications of this?
- I’m guessing the implications are bad from a Google/webcrawler perspective.
- Are there other creative ways to copy and/or repurpose the content from the company blog, and leverage it in the community, in a way that won’t penalize you?
- Is there a way to syndicate the company blog posts so they show up in the community but they are referencing their original source and webcrawlers see that we are just iframing (or some other method, getting) the content to display in the community?
- If I don’t have the commitment of time/resources of our writers, what other creative ways can we develop content. (Obviously our plan is to incentivize and encourage community members to do this, but I feel like it’s something we should be leading the way on, so they can follow our example
Hosting Blogs on your company/marketing website
An age-old traditional content marketing strategy is to create a blog and host it on your company website. The more relevant content you write, the more SEO juice you generate for your website and your brand. This blog typically would take the angle of short and/or long form thought leadership content that closely relates to the product/service you’re selling. Smart marketers understand LSI (latent semantic indexing) and are excessively deliberate about blog topics and the keywords and concepts hashed and rehashed throughout each post.
- This is a great strategy for a company because without the blog, there’s not a lot of new content being generated on a marketing website. This basic company website is typically rather static and cold without frequent and new content being regularly added. The blog warms things up by infusing a website with consistent, fresh, new, relevant, and hopefully timeless content.
- Draws attention to CTA’s designed and targeted to quickly convert prospects or drive them through the marketing/sales funnel.
- Generates great SEO juice for the company website
- Impresses viewers with the thought leadership the company offers
- Incentivizes users to sign up to get notified of new posts!
- simple email submission
- does not require setting up an acct, etc.
- Could get users to keep coming back to website (but see the con)
- Content team (if you’re lucky enough to have dedicated resources for one) has to create all of this rich content.
- People often come and read the content and leave.
- People often don’t engage with the content by posting replies (esp with a young company with smaller amounts of visitors)
- When users come back to the website, they may look around for more great content like the blog post, but find that the rest of this web property is just the way it was, the last time they came their. A blog on a website does have the capacity to nurture the prospect or leverage a potential customer as an advocate or product/service evangelist. Websites are not designed for this type of behavior
- Company websites are inherently one-sided. The company shows off how great they are to the prospect. * The viewer can consumes the info. Hopefully all the product/service info is presented in an incredible way b/c you only have a short moment to capture someones attention. But even after you do, the material on a website is not designed to come back regularly. Why would a prospect come back tomorrow? The only reason would be to get something “new” which is usually just the blog posts.
Hosting Blogs on your Community
Communities are the ultimate place of prospect and customer engagement. In a well developed community there are typically handfuls of tools and programming in place to cultivate a relationship between a company and its potential/current users, and more importantly… between each other! Prospects and customers can engage with and learn from others who are “in the trenches” with the company providing the community, who will hopefully help improve their impression of the org/product/service. Best of all, as a community matures through deliberate scaling strategies, the community members are empowered to develop content, like blogs
- Blog content helps improve SEO for the community
- Shows prospects/customers that there’s more in the community than just answers to questions (which might be the thing that originally drew them into the community.) This type of regularly shared thought leadership gives users a reason to “keep coming back” to the community.
- Prospects and customers can easily engage with the content by posting replies
- This can encourage lurkers to “sign up” and join the community in order to contribute.
- People consuming blog content are encouraged to reply and incentivized through gamification strategy to post replies and add value to the conversation.
- Back to the LSI idea that I mentioned at the beginning of this post… these short form responses can sometimes become long form replies, which not only make your community blog content evergreen, likely dump a truckload of relevant synonyms into the thought leadership content, thus ramping up the SEO value of the content!
- Users can bookmark, like and revisit the content more easily than on a marketing site.
- Viewers can learn more about the author, in addition to others who commented on the thread… AND if they join, they can engage with these people as well.
- Content team will need to help seed the community with blog content and provide thought leadership, by example
- Viewers may be higher in the marketing/sales funnel and less likely to take a bigger commitment (like signing up for a product demo)
- Copying/pasting content could cannibalize SEO or even worse, ding both sites ¯_(ツ)_/¯
If there are more Pros/Cons that you can think of, which I failed to include here, or if you feel I should chance/update any of them in my post, please feel free to chime in!