The modern consumer is seemingly inundated with brands, thanks to elements like TV commercials, online media, social media, and digital advertising. So, it’s easy to understand why consumers might not be super engaged with your branded content and corporate blogs.
Typically, a company’s blogs will include posts on their industry, news on the company, and may be peppered with elements like guest contributors, contests, or videos. All of that is completely reasonable, because it helps gives insight into who you are as a company and culture.
There’s nothing wrong with having a corporate blog, but for the time and resources it takes to maintain it, are you getting the most ROI from it? If the answer is “no” or “I’m not sure”, you might want to consider ditching the company branded blog altogether and develop a new media brand!
THE CASE FOR A 3RD PARTY CONTENT PLATFORM
In more than a few instances, I’ve worked or consulted at companies where there was a concerted effort behind blog content development. Different staff members would write posts, they’d get edited, and once they were live, we often found the traction underwhelming.
Was this because the content itself was not interesting? Maybe, but probably not. I can make this assumption because they performed very well on email campaigns. Yet when it came to posting on social media where you’re exposing yourself beyond dedicated consumers, the traffic just didn’t convert into enough newsletter sign-ups.
This means the content was right for the people we’ve already captured, but the general public just wasn't interested in engaging with a brand attached to a business. The challenge then became, “how can we reach more people with content we know they’d be interested in?” and it hit us: "let’s just build a new brand!"
The only newsletters I tend to subscribe to are from sites that write about topics I’m interested in, not company blogs. I like content from VentureFizz for all things business around Boston, I use Inbound.org to stay abreast of marketing trends and insights, and I rely on Barkpost to help cope with this Presidential election. I felt OK signing up for those networks because I was connecting with a theme, and not a brand trying to sell me stuff.
Ironically enough, Inbound is a platform co-developed by Hubspot and Moz, and Barkpost is a culture blog by Barkbox, a monthly toy/treat subscription service for your dog. This means brands are seeing success in developing third party blogs/platforms which open their content up to people without the element of directly selling their service or product.
HERE'S WHY IT'S WORTH CONSIDERATION
Building a new brand means you’ll need a new website and domain. This new site can serve as an extra source of links to your main site. Depending on how well you develop your SEO ranking with the new domain, you can add a nice bonus boost to your corporate domain.
When posting articles, you would be able to link back to certain pages on your site where applicable, giving you potentially valuable backlinks, as well as driving attention to your products/services.
You’ll be able to generate more free content by inviting guest contributors to write posts. Typically thought leaders in the space will not want to write articles for company blogs without compensation, because it essentially means they’re endorsing your product or service to their followers.
However if it were for a non-corporate platform that publishes content their followers are interested in, guest-writing for your blog can serve as an opportunity for contributors to reach new people, in which case they typically are happy to write for free.
People and brands will be more apt to follow and engage your accounts on social media if there’s no direct company or product attached to it. In one instance, I tweeted the same tweet from my corporate Twitter account as I did from the third-party branded blog Twitter account and the branded blog account got 10x the engagement.
People just seem less comfortable sharing content from brands that sell a product or service as their chief motive, which is fair!
There’s a real possibility you can convert more people indirectly than directly. On a corporate blog, you’re producing content on the same domain that people can ultimately go and convert on. You’d think that would be the more conversion-friendly option than a third party blog, however, you may actually get more flexibility on a separately branded blog.
Having an email sign-up on a third party blog gives you the ability to do things like ask subscribers if they’d like to receive content around your product or service, or even place ads in your email campaigns that give people the ability to click over. You’re now using a more neutral brand to identify who might be interested in ultimately hearing more about your products and services, but might have never thought to click on or sign up through your corporate blog.
If you do a good enough job generating traffic to the third party blog, you can benefit by adding a new revenue stream to your business by accepting paid sponsors or connecting your site to products like AdSense.
There’s nothing better than going to your CEO and saying you were able to generate new leads and make additional money in the process.
If you think this strategy might be a good idea for your company, I have more good news: this project shouldn’t cost you much to produce. All you need is a Wordpress installation (free), a new domain name ($12+/year), and some bandwidth.
What are some of your favorite examples of brands building separate content platforms? Tweet them to me at @JustinMillerco.