Blogging is changing - are you keeping up?

Blogging is still the king of content marketing, but scribes and the companies they represent have been warned to raise their game.

In new research into marketing trends conducted by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), a whopping 80 per cent of B2B marketers and 75 per cent of B2C marketers include blogging among their current techniques. Its popularity is ahead of email newsletters (77%), in-person events (68%), ebooks (65%) and videos (60%) among methods of reaching out to customers and peers.

While the catch-all category of ‘social media’ (83%) is actually the most-used tactic, some 52 per cent of B2B and 51 per cent of B2C marketers told the CMI that blogging will be their most critical tool for achieving success in the upcoming year. Just stepping back for a second, who exactly are the 17% of operators NOT using social media?!

Anyway, back to blogging. Its popularity remains undiminished, but that’s not to say it is not changing. While the CMI confirmed its continuing importance, further data from Orbit Media uncovered some rather interesting insights into how blogging is changing, and these are key points for those who want to keep up.

1 How much time

If you spend 10 minutes on a blog before boredom sets in, you need to sit back down and keep on typing. Orbit – which polled more than 1,000 bloggers – discovered that the average blog post now takes more than three hours to write. 2016 must have been a year for tapping away as that was a 26-per-cent year-on-year increase. The number of bloggers who spent more than six hours on a post also doubled in a year to 12 per cent. Overall, the average in 2016 was 3hr 16min, compared to 2hr 24min.

But is the extra effort worth it? A third of bloggers who spent 6+ hours per post reported ‘strong results’.

We say: Undoubtedly, more time spent on crafting a well-structured, well written piece pays dividends. A blog is an opportunity to inform and entertain and it reflects on you and your company. Rush it and more harm than good could be caused to your reputation.

2 Editing

So, you’ve spent 3hr 16min on your blog. It’s time to upload it straight to LinkedIn and then pop out for lunch. By all means grab a bite to eat, but leave your work for someone else to proof before you add to your website or social media platforms. The Orbit survey found that the majority of bloggers get a second set of eyes on their posts, and approximately one in four works with an editor to help maintain optimal quality and production standards.

Around 30 per cent of bloggers show it informally to one or two people, but almost 20 per cent now use an editor and more than 5 per cent employ more than one editor. While this may be seen as unnecessary by some, just remember that 50 per cent of B2B operators consider blogging to be the most important part of their content marketing strategy.

We say: Editing isn’t just about broken sentences, incorrect spellings and poor grammar. An editor who writes for a living can make your copy flow, add flourishes that make it leap from the screen and bring out your expert voice through the narrative.

3 Blog length

Blogs are getting longer too. The average in 2016 was 1,054 words according to Orbit, which was around 25 per cent more than 2014. The survey found that the percentage of posts that are 500 words or less is half what it was two years ago.

Orbit went further by reporting a direct correlation between, ahem, length and satisfaction. Just 13 per cent of those who wrote fewer than 500 words reported ‘strong results’, compared to 36% who wrote 1,000-1,500 and 40 per cent who filed more than 2,000.

We say: People are writing more, and expectations are therefore changing. If you’re posting 350 words in 2017, readers may feel short-changed and consider your piece to be rather half-baked. The fact others are writing more on average means you must keep up.

Check out our guide on splitting those 1-2000 words into 5 x 300 word chunks that are easy and simple to write, long content doesn’t need to be daunting to put together!

4 Content

The use of imagery, video and audio has remained fairly static over the last three years, although there was a spike in the use of lists in 2016. The Orbit report found that 47 per cent of blogs now feature a list compared to just 30 per cent two years before. Around 78 per cent feature an image, and 51% now use more than one. Video is used by around 15 per cent of bloggers.

It seems images are no longer enough to create ‘strong results’ with just 25 per cent responding favourably. Lists and multiple images hit 28 per cent, with audio (33%) and video (38%) at the top of the list.

We say: Rich content is becoming more and more desirable in blogs and, again, is changing expectations. The use of audio and video is still at the stage where it is generating ‘strong results’ and can make your work stand out from the crowd.

GrowthMinds can help you to keep up with the changing dynamics of blogging. We’ll use our time, resources and expertise to create content that meets the standards expected in 2017 and delivers value. Why not get in touch?