There’s a big debate going on in the marketing community, and it’s been spreading to the general business world. Everyone pretty much agrees you’ve got to have a strong online presence to stay competitive. And no one really disputes that one of the best ways to establish that presence is to blog regularly in tandem with social media. But what no one can seem to gain consensus on is the issue of how to sustain the sheer quantity of articles, videos, posts, tweets, comments, and so on needed to actually make a blogging initiative work.
On one hand are the experts who say success on the Internet is all about harder work and longer hours. If you usually wrap up your workday at 10 p.m. and can’t fit in blogging, make it 3 a.m. And if readers and customers are tweeting you while you’re tucking your kid into bed, you’d better whip out that smartphone to answer. Little Jenny can wait.
On the other side are those who say that it’s impossible to keep up this sort of pace. Instead, they hold it’s best to apply systems, structures, and procedures to blogging and everything that surrounds it.
So which of these viewpoints is correct? The answer: It depends.
Producers and Sellers
Almost every business falls into one of two basic categories: producers and sellers. Producers are companies that make or assemble things. Sellers are companies that specialize in marketing and selling things made by others. Both types of companies are vital, and neither can exist without the other. But when it comes to Internet marketing--and blogging, in particular--people tend to confuse themselves by lumping them into the same category. Although sellers can arguably create an effective business blogging campaign by sheer hard work and sacrifice, producers who try to do this will inevitably fail.
When Hard Work Can Really Work
Let’s use an example. Imagine there’s a company that sells high-end craft beers. It doesn't brew any of the beers at its own facility, but it does know everything about all the beers it sells. It always has all the best beers on hand and unfailingly recommends the right beers for the right people. The owner of this company doesn’t spend any of her limited hours on the activities needed to turn water and grain into the elixir of the gods. Outside of a few administrative tasks, every hour spent at the company is at the service of building buzz and making sales.
At a company like this, spending more time blogging is a function of replacing one type of marketing activity with another. You may be giving up hours with your children if you try to do it all yourself, but you won’t necessarily hurt the rest of your business.
When Hard Work Will Kill You
Now let’s say you own a business that actually produces beer. You’re responsible for refining existing recipes, creating new ones, implementing industrial processes, and improving operational efficiency. Sales and marketing are an important part of what you do, but they're far from the only part. If you own a company like this, handling every blog post and answering every tweet is not just time consuming; it’s dangerous. By adding new time-consuming marketing tasks to your already around-the-clock schedule, you’ll neglect those fundamental activities that made your beer so delicious and successful in the first place.
What You Can Do
Don’t start any marketing campaign that includes blogging without first determining whether your company is a seller or a producer. If it’s a seller, feel free to go at it solo as long as you’re all right with the sacrifices that entails. But if it’s a producer, you have no choice but to attack blogging the way you’d attack a supply-chain problem. Start by evaluating your resources. Which people inside and outside your company are available to help you produce the necessary content? Next, establish how much each person can contribute without getting overloaded and establish incentives for doing so. Finally, give contributors the tools, blueprints, and training they need to effectively contribute to your business blog without damaging the rest of your business.