Business blogs are failing because they don't say anything

Business blogs aren’t exactly booming — at least according to Ken Magill in a Direct Magazine post, where he cites a Forrester report documenting rapid decline in business blog growth:

Business-to-business blogging took a nosedive this year, mainly because returns on corporate blogs haven’t matched investment, according to a recent report by Forrester Research.

…the number of new corporate blogs has dropped sharply in the last year and a half, according to the report, with 36 companies launching them in 2006, 19 in 2007, and just three in the first quarter of 2008, according to Forrester.

The problem? Corporations repeatedly fall victim to their inability to escape boring, meaningless “corporatespeak.” In fact, Forester’s report speaks to the traits required to successfully engage customers:

Successful corporate blogs “talk openly with an authentic voice,” and are “humble and honest,” two traits that run counter to many corporate egos, said Forrester’s report.

Ouch.

For corporations – who often see blogs as yet another pipeline for corporatespeak (or showcases for preening executives), the ugly truth is this: customers and prospects want useful information or thought leadership, and they’re not getting it. (And yes, they need it coherently written.)

Some organizations have shown excellent returns from blogging (like Patagonia’s Cleanest Line), and the benefits of engaging with customers (binding them to the brand via shared passions and values) are significant.

If I were Absolute Ruler, I’d immediately recruit a good writer, slap a new job title on them (like Corporate Content Writer, though if it were me, I’d negotiate for “Content Czar”), and point them at the Internet.

Imagine the ROI of a good writer – working for a tech company — who was engaging with customers, prospects and media via blog, twitter, social networks, flick’r, YouTube, IM, eNewsletter, etc.

You don’t have to imagine it, of course. Look at what Scoble did for Microsoft.

One of the hidden truths of Web 2.0 is this: the need for copywriters who can communicate in a personable, engaging fashion is far greater than the supply.

Sadly, corporate America hasn’t realized it yet.

Keep writing, Tom Chandler.