Despite recent suggestions to the contrary, written words online - beyond the burgeoning 140-character attention span limit - continue to represent a useful means for companies to connect with their targets. Recent musings about the demise of blogs tend to center on the argument that the new online conversational tools like Twitter, Quora, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on, have rendered blogs as essentially superfluous, redundant, and more time consuming than necessary.  Despite my beliefs to the contrary - my modest Paris Restaurant Reviews and Beyond blog continues to welcome an average of 60 visitors per day - I would probably be the first to agree that the blogosphere is littered with countless blogs, abandoned by their creators who quickly learned they bit off more than they could chew, or discarded like space debris once it was realized the blogs served no more useful purpose.  From the blogger's perspective, to maintain a fully-functioning blog, regularly updated with informative, engaging new content and maintaining a two-way conversation with commenters, well, it's a full-time job (which, for personal bloggers, only pays for the very lucky).  Yet, from a marketing perspective, just look at the evidence - more and more companies are taking advantage of the tool and claim that the outcomes more than offset the effort (at virtually no expense).




In terms of payoff for firms, check out the following results from HubSpot's Rick Burnes' 2009 analysis of 1,531 HubSpot customers (mostly small- and medium-sized businesses; 795 of which blogged):






In a nutshell (but more than 140 characters), Dreamgrow.com's founder and CEO Priit Kallas offers the following reasons why blogs are important:

  • Create an image of an expert
  • Interact with clients and prospects
  • Improve search engine rankings
  • Spread the word
  • Talk about more than just products and services
  • Solve client’s problems
  • Build trust
  • Stay on top of your field
  • Build brand
  • Exercise your creativity
  • Put a human face on your brand
  • Proving ground
  • Foundation for social media activities
  • Differentiate from competition
  • Educate clients, prospects, stake holders
  • Increase traffic
  • Make money

Still not convinced?  Then check out this little graphic from  Jonny at Technobabble 2.0:




Technobabble's blogging vs. Twitter assessment recalls my casual comments above:

Writing as a blogger, I an confirm what many people know, in that it takes a great deal of effort and dedication to compose a blog post. it’s not like twitter where brisk thoughts can be jotted down in 140 characters – instead a blog is a place where context is added to headline, where ideas are fleshed out and where structure is given to a proposition. Twitter and Facebook are not the right platforms for this – this is where a blog shines and becomes a library of all your thoughts and ideas. In essence it is where ‘idea starters’ reside.

But it's all relative, or should I say, connected?  Another finding from the HubSpot analysis:



In other words, the more meaningful and informative your blog content, the more interesting you will be on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, etc.  Easier said than done, but The Next Web offers a great start:  21 Tips to Create A Brilliant Business Blog.

And here are some suggestions as to how to draw a crowd, thanks to Problogger's Darren Rowse:



I hope to offer some more tips based on my own blogging experience at a later date, but you know, it's tired and I'm getting late.
I would love to hear from you, though - consider this a call for blogging tips and ways to keep building your follower base.