It’s Called a BLOG, Not a BRAG

by Marcus Sheridan

And so the saga continues—corporations are blogging less. Focus has shifted. Social is the name of the game…

Blah, blah, blah

Let’s just stop the madness for a second.

I’m going to explain the problem these failed blogs have by using an analogy:

Have you ever met someone that seemed only able to talk about himself or herself—without the slightest ability to shut-up for a minute and actually listen, respond, and then listen some more?

Yeah, I bet you know someone just like that. We all do. And those types of incessant “me” and “my” people drive us all bonkers.

But the sad thing is most business blogs (not referring to personal here) are just like that.

They’re not about education.

They’re not about listening.

They’re not about answering every consumer question.

No, rather than discussing what the customer actually cares about, they want to yap about themselves.

They want to brag about the awards they’ve won.

They think we care about the events on their calendar.

And they even want to shove down our throats why their products and services are the greatest things since sliced bread.

Enough already folks.

If you own a business, and want to brag, keep it to the rest of your website.

But leave the blog to your prospects and customers. Allow it to build a foundation of trust by making it about them. Yes, a call-to-action after a post is a good thing, but for the love of Pete let’s all just shut up for a minute and start listening to what our people are saying.

And when we’re done listening, let’s listen some more.

And when we’re done listening some more, let’s start writing blog posts people actually care about.

Their questions.

Their problems.

Their blog.

Are you with me?

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Martina May 17, 2012 at

I am totally with you Marcus. Listening is almost always the key to learning, understanding and even negotiating, but few people get it. And, if the only things you ever talk about are yourself and your accomplishments, people stop listening and eventually avoid you. Or in this case stop visiting your blog.

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Marcus Sheridan May 18, 2012 at

Yep, let’s hear it for the “L” word Martina! :-)

Great seeing you,

Marcus

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Adarsh Thampy May 17, 2012 at

Marcus,

Couldn’t have said better.

I see too many blogs with company news, press releases, team outing pictures, techie stuff (even includes some source code part), birthday celebration pictures, and what not.

What if, they stopped and tried to understand what a blog should be for a business. Then again, we cant blame them 100%. Maybe they are unaware, maybe they were misguided by some ad-agencies who recently ventured into digital marketing, or maybe- just maybe- they think that’s how it should be!

Some people wait for others to tell them that they are doing a lot of BS with their blog. Some people never bother to think how it affects their business either.

With content marketing gaining traction, I hope this trend changes :)

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Marcus Sheridan May 17, 2012 at

Are you telling me you don’t want to watch me to the team building obstacle course activities with my company Adarsh??? Geez, you’re no fun!! ;-)

Thanks for dropping, as always, my friend :-)

Marcus

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David May 17, 2012 at

Funny you wrote this today. About an hour ago I was thinking about my next blog post and writing something similar. I just got an email newsletter from a contractor bragging about some award they just got to all their clients. Emails are similar to blogs. I think sometimes businesses are so desperate for leads they think they have to tell all the features and benefits to their existing customers why they are so good. They don’t need to do that on an email or a blog…thanks for the post…I’m spreading the word!

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Marcus Sheridan May 17, 2012 at

David, always love it when you stop by my friend.

You know, maybe we should just all start emailing each other every time we win anything at all….then the economy would just explode and the housing market would fire up again….It’s a genius plan!!! ;-)

Stay well brother,

Marcus

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shirley May 17, 2012 at

LOL! Told in a way that only you can. We said Marcus.

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Marcus Sheridan May 17, 2012 at

Thanks Shirley, I try! ;-)

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Ryan Hanley May 17, 2012 at

Can I get an Amen!

Long live Content Marketing… Relationship Building… and Delivering Value First.

Love the Virtual Slap Across the Face to corporate bloggers.

Thanks Dude

Hanley

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Marcus Sheridan May 17, 2012 at

“Virtual Slap”—Hahahhaaha, that gave me a good laugh brother. ;-)

Hope you’re having a great week man,

Marcus

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Diana Baur May 17, 2012 at

What? Wait. Ok. So. Lemme get this straight.
You mean it’s really not all about me (sniff)?

No, I guess you’re right (she says begrudgingly). It’s not. It’s about the people I reach out to. It’s about what I have to offer them to make their lives easier, better, more fulfilled in some way, shape, or form. It’s about giving them what they need – and then in turn, they support me and my endeavors – the B&B, my fledgling pottery business, and now my writing. Somehow, it has to be WORTH THEIR WHILE to come here and exchange. And it’s no different for a large corporation.

A blog has to be worth reading. It can’t be one long advertisement. It’s amazing how smart people can get that so wrong.

It’s a trust issue. The blog is about showing that we are really in it for them, not just for ourselves. As soon as the blog turns into just another sales tool, it turns potential customers off.

Also, blogs have to MATURE. They stretch and change and grow – BECAUSE of what readers come and offer. The content of the blog cannot just be dictated by corporate or by the writer, or it will fail. It’s an organic exchange that takes place during the blog maturation process. This, I think, is what GOOD blog branding is – it’s the evolution that takes place if a blog is well curated.

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Marcus Sheridan May 17, 2012 at

I think your perspective on blogging, and life, is something I could sit back and listen to all day Diana. Seriously, you’re amazing with words. :-)

Hope you’re well,

Marcus

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Rebecca Livermore May 17, 2012 at

Well said, Marcus.

I think people just don’t realize that relationship and trust comes first. Until then, people don’t really care about YOU. This is true in all types of relationships,including business relationships.

If a business blog spends a bunch of time bragging, people won’t stick around long enough to get to know you or care about the company.

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Marcus Sheridan May 17, 2012 at

You mean there is an order to building trust R’??? What the heck???! ;-)

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Robert Dempsey May 17, 2012 at

Seriously Marcus I’m not sure what the problem is. I mean, I LOVE talking about me. It’s all me 24×7.

:) I kid… though I haven’t won any awards…

In all seriousness though if, as a company, you aren’t answering the questions your potential clients have then man are you missing the boat. I wonder if those folks are afraid of saying too much or not looking super smart when they write.

Either way there isn’t any excuse. I know one and two-man operations that blog 3x per week consistently and only reference themselves in the context of working with a client.

From the sound of it those blogs you’re talking about are more for others in their industry rather than their clients. Sad, and not the suggested way to go.

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Marcus Sheridan May 17, 2012 at

Robert my friend, you epitomize a blogger who “gets it” in my opinion.

Seriously man, I think you’re dang awesome, and appreciate you stopping by.

Continued success my friend,

Marcus

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Barbara May 17, 2012 at

I agree and think it does overlap with personal blogs as well. I tell personal stories on my blog quite often but the objective is to draw out similar stories from my readers. Sometimes it’s things they’ve never addressed and are relieved to have it out in the open to discuss. Air out the skeletons in the closet, so to speak.

When I see business blogs that do nothing but brag I don’t stay around long. If they are pushing product/webinars/ebooks down my throat post after post I am outa there.

When I began blogging 2 1/2 yrs. ago I had no idea the depth of community that’s occurred with my readers was possible. I doubt that would be true if I hadn’t asked for their feedback and for them to share their stories with me. The braggers don’t know what they’re missing!
b

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Marcus Sheridan May 17, 2012 at

Amen to that Barbara :-) Yes, the braggers clearly don’t know what they’re missing.

In fact, not only do they not know, but they’re blaming “blogging” for their problems of communication and branding (gag me with a fork).

Keep doing your thing lady, you really do “get it” Barbara :-)

Marcus

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Davina K. Brewer May 17, 2012 at

Totally with you Marcus and love the picture.. it’s why there still aren’t many company/corporate blogs that I read. They’re all about them, nothing that helps me.

I think the problem w/ a lot of corporate blogs (and individual, see also Barbara’s dead-on comment) the planners think, “look we won this cool award [that no one outside the industry has ever heard of] – it’s ‘news’ we want customers to see that.” But we don’t care about your news, we care about ours – our deals, our perks. You have a new product, woo hoo; you have a new product that’s better, faster, cheaper and will make me more money – then I might pay attention.

You’ve got me thinking about ownership, whose blog is it anyway? We certainly write and share what we feel is important, what we think contributes — and we also very much write for our audiences, since they’re the ones that decide what’s important. If it’s important, worthy, valuable enough to them to keep reading, commenting, sharing – then it is; if not they move on to someone less full of themselves. FWIW.

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Marcus Sheridan May 17, 2012 at

Did you say “Award” Davina? Award? Oh, oh, please do tell me what it was, me and all my friends are waiting to hear of all your accolades ;-)

Again, glad you stopped by and tossed me multiple grins D’ , have a great Friday :-)

Marcus

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Matthew Stock May 17, 2012 at

I use the News section of our site to brag and keep it off our blog. Coincidentally I posted a release today about an award we recently received (and then used HubSpot’s new press release service to promote it…pretty neat).

I went to dinner the other night with literally the biggest bragger I’ve ever met (my wife talked me into a double date with a friend of her’s). I was warned about him…and he certainly lived up to his reputation. No wonder no one else would join us! He made The Donald seem humble.

What a yapper. I regret not putting him in his place.

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Marcus Sheridan May 17, 2012 at

Look at you Mr. Public Relations, well done sir. ;-)

And do me a favor, send your buddy from dinner this article….sounds like he could use a good read ;-)

Thanks for stopping by brother,

Marcus

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Ameena Falchetto May 18, 2012 at

Ahhh I’m going to come in and say, I disagree … you can demonstrate your success and achievements and still provide value.

If you are blogging for business you have very little opportunity to showcase your brilliance if you don’t do it on the blog.

At the end of the day YOU have to be the one to be shouting loud and proud.

And yes, you can provide value at the same time as saying “Wow, I am awesome” by giving clear actions steps, offering up solutions etc …

You can’t assume people are going to trot off to your testimonials and read them always.

But yes, there is a fine line between those who can make it using this technique and those who will ultimately bomb out.

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Rebecca Livermore May 18, 2012 at

I don’t know, Ameena — I think it is highly possible to SHOW that you are awesome without telling people you’re awesome. If awesome is what you are, it’s kind of hard to hide it. ;)

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Marcus Sheridan May 18, 2012 at

If you are blogging for business you have very little opportunity to showcase your brilliance if you don’t do it on the blog. —It’s this statement that I think is way off Ameena, because I’ve seen it done, the right way, again and again and again without the brag. Besides, the brag is assumed.

I think your take on this is too much from the solopreneur perspective. But I’m not writing really for the solopreneur with a blog. I’m writing for the River Pools and Spas, US Waterproofing, Block Imaging, Yale Appliance, and many other businesses of the world perspective.– Lots of employees, with a massive website that shows their greatness but also a blog that focuses on teaching the world.

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Andrea T.H.W. May 18, 2012 at

Well, corporations are blogging less, and probably next year they will be social less, because they don’t need these kind of things. They just have to pay Google for this.

A big wallet for AdWords is the best Seo technique in the world, at least for what regards Google search results, even if it’s an old, stale, static website with no blog or updated, fresh content.

Imho. :)

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Ruth Zive May 18, 2012 at

Obviously, I agree. I wrote about it here – http://ruthzivecopywriting.com/why-do-most-business-blogs-fail-so-miserably/.

But the good news, in my opinion, is that the cream is rising to the top. The businesses that have opted out of blogging (through no fault but their own) are paving the way for other companies to leverage the very powerful impact of EFFECTIVE and STRATEGIC blogging.

And consultants like you or me can support those efforts by underscoring best practices and establishing industry standards that work.

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Sean Davis May 18, 2012 at

I hear you, Marcus. I’ve never been a selfish blogger but I definitely learned my lesson when it comes to referencing myself too much.

Recently, I’ve started to write more articles that have actionable advice and do things specifically for the reader. I couldn’t believe how many more people were willing to comment when I spoke to their needs in my posts.

There’s a lot of truth to this article.

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phil May 19, 2012 at

Yes… but, did you ever listen to me….nooooo…..lol ….good thoughts Marc…I really do hate it when somebody is trying to sell me something but cant actually take the time to listen to what I want to buy and equally when my customer asks a question and obviously hasn’t listened to the answer….transactional analysis…learn to REALLY listen to people in an overt way

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Nancy May 20, 2012 at

Well at some point of my life I also had this same problem but hopefully I could overcome them and that has made me a stronger person….

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Andrea Smith May 20, 2012 at

Good to see someone pointing out that blogging is all about listening o your readers and not the other way around. If you listen to your readers, sky is always the limit!

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Pete Goumas May 20, 2012 at

Hi Marcus,
I don’t like those blogs in which bloggers try to show off their writing career or make contents to praise themselves. I like those blogs which have valuable and informative content and simple to understand.

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christine May 21, 2012 at

I see this all the time in people’s blogs. I also think people forget that we need to see the human side to a business blog. People don’t want to read all business all the time. x

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Bradlee TheDawg May 21, 2012 at

Totally with you Marcus – in fact we recommend most clients don’t bother with a Blog at all because they’re not ready to approach it as customer-facing. Instead of the typical self-serving PR-agency managed blah-blah- blog…. we have them set up a good customer-facing Facebook page which almost forces them to respond directly to customer concerns. Would it be better to do both? Sure – but a blog done poorly is a waste of limited resources. There are exceptions, such as the US Waterproofing example you highlighted last post.

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Lena May 22, 2012 at

There´s a lot of truth is this article….thanks a million!

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Mark Holtzman May 22, 2012 at

Marcus – thanks!

These people are still working with an old media mentality – we will tell you whatever we feel like telling you, or whatever we think you want to know about us, and maybe you’ll read it. This should work about as well as the old media did – sort of like digital yellow pages, except more convenient for consumers and wasting less paper. It works.

Sometimes, they can even pay for all kinds of fancy SEO tricks to insert themselves into our web searches.

Sure, these advertisers can say that they’re in cyberspace. But they are missing the vast power and potential that social media offer. It’s a pity.

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Marcus Sheridan May 22, 2012 at

A pity it is Mark, and appreciate your take on it sir!

Thanks so much for dropping by,

Marcus

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Sarah May 23, 2012 at

Listening is more important than speaking. Listening is always the key to learn something and understanding. But few people get it. It is necessary to talk about different things rather than one thing only. If you ever talk about yourself and your achievements then in this case, people may stop listening to you or may start avoiding you.

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Jacob Rowlstar May 24, 2012 at

This is perfectly written. You nailed it.
-Jacob

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Valerie Deveza June 3, 2012 at

Very well said. The title already speaks for itself. So true that it’s really about listening to our target audience that communication really begins. It’s not what the blogger have to say, it’s what the reader are actually saying.

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Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at

That’s exactly it Valerie–It’s about listening, and listening well.

Thanks so much for the comment,

Marcus

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