HomePostsFeb 11, 2009

Facebook Group vs A Blog: What's a Company to Do?

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I was having a virtual conversation with a colleague last week and the topic of Facebook group pages versus blogs came up. She is excited to make a Facebook page to promote us and what we’re doing. I am excited to build a blog and push content that more people can see and interact with. I wanted to share this conversation because I think it’s essential to exchange ideas like this, especially ideas that pertain to experimentation and exploration.

Facebook vs Blog: Internal Risk and Fear

Just seems like joining a Facebook group would potentially be a little less risky/scary. I think there is still mystery/confusion for many people around the blog idea, so this could be a way to walk them into the deep end nice and easy.

Personally, I think you have it backwards. Most people who see a blog think it’s just a website or an updates page. Also, a blog isn’t something you have to commit to or admit affiliation with. When people join a group or become a fan, they’re tied to that group/fan page. Also, blogs are “liked” more by Google than FB pages.

I’ve been blogging for over two years now and I still get an interesting reaction from people who don’t blog or don’t read them regularly. One time, I was pulled aside and jokingly accosted by someone who thought it was ridiculous that anyone who blogs could be so vain. True story!

The word “blog” is a hot button word. Most people know what they are but they don’t quite know why people create them, use them, and work so hard on them. In this case, here is an example of someone who sees blogs as “risky” or “scary.” For someone who blogs, this is a strange reaction but if it represents a larger group of people then there is certainly still work to be done.

In the “Facebook vs Blog Debate,” the winner is clear to me. Blogs pull traffic directly to your site, blogs can disseminate information and be a little bit biased while being helpful, and blogs can have 1,000 people per day that visit anonymously. The visibility is higher, the traffic is stronger, and the format can be completely customized. While I think a Facebook group works for a lot of things, personally, I don’t see a benefit in aligning myself so strongly with any particular product.

Company Buy-In: The Eternal Struggle for ROI

I really think we can’t go wrong either way, and would prefer to do both, but am wondering about internal buy in. I personally think it would be great for you to explore blog options/ideas, not sure how others would feel about it.

The main point of a blog is information dissemination which works to attract links and search engine attention. The secondary purpose is online conversations. In fact, many blogs don’t have a comment system in place so, really, it’s just a series of articles and stories. In the end, it’s the conversation you generate and DON’T hear about that is the most important. “Did you read that thing about insert product here?” Internal buy in is automatic when people understand the great ROI that a blog can have.

Great corporate blogs contribute to corporate transparency, brand building, and trust. Plus, there are not a lot of great info sources for our topic these days.

What is missing from every blog without an audience and every Facebook group without a lot of fans is quality content. The buy-in she is talking about (I believe) pertains to the amount of time it might take to maintain a blog on our topic of choice. But what if we created a Facebook page without a constant flow of information people care about? Who would attach themselves to a brand that didn’t really mean anything? Probably just the people working for that company.

In the end, whether it’s Facebook versus a blog, a blog versus Twitter, or Twitter versus Flickr, it all comes down to what you can offer. I’ve found that I can offer a lot over a blog and a lot through Twitter but not a lot through Flickr. I’m on Facebook a lot but that’s more personal. For a brand to be built using the social technology of the web, the brand has to have something to offer people beyond it’s logo and marketing spiel. Once it is determined what kind of unique perspective or information they can disseminate, then it’s time to figure out where to go. With so many options out there, the tool can’t dictate the content, the content MUST dictate the tool.

Sometimes All It Takes Is a Good Example

I enjoyed the corporate blogs you sent along – it’s a totally different animal than recreational blogs, obviously, and I had not seen a “good” example of a corporate blog.

It’s only been recently that I’ve been distinctly aware of how segregated marketing channels are now. Have you ever seen Mad Men? If not, it’s about an ad agency in the 50’s. What’s so interesting is that they design campaigns that every potential customer would see. It’s radio, TV, and print. Nowadays, there could be three different channels of marketing, each of which reach a different group of people. You could advertise on XM, television, and through SEM and reach three completely different groups of people.

My colleague had never seen the blogs I sent her (GM Fast Lane, MailChimp, and Freshbooks). She has been in advertising and had not yet seen an example of a good corporate blog. I think this says a lot about the internet landscape and how it all comes together. She probably never needed an HTML email sending application (MailChimp), is probably not interested in the auto industry (GM), and has never needed an online invoicing system (Freshbooks). I think this also means that the brands she reads about and the companies that she is interested in don’t maintain a blog (or don’t maintain a quality one or don’t have a good enough reach).

In the end, it’s not a matter of Facebook vs a blog, it’s a matter of participation. The blog you create might not reach the majority of your customers or potential customers but that’s not the point. For the ones it DOES reach, your believability and the trust for you in the marketplace goes up (if, of course, you’re spreading quality, truthful information). If you can become just one more trusted voice for your audience, people will notice. It’s not the 10,000 (or 500 or 100,000) people who read you every month, it’s how many people THOSE people reach. It’s not the individual visits to your page, it’s what those visits translate into. If you can position yourself or your company to be a part of the online society that talks about what you care about, you can direct that conversation or, at the very least, appear to know what you’re doing.

Go ahead, get out there, get writing and sharing! Your friends, customers, and employers have been waiting for you.

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