Since it’s 2020 and everything sucks, allow me to take you back to 2015. Instagram was the hot social media network. Facebook was purring along. And influencers were starting to work more closely and frequently with brands in the market. Oh, and also, corporate blogging was almost dead.
OK, I’m exaggerating for effect. But, corporate blogging was down. According to the good folks at the UMass Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research, corporate blogging use was down to 21% among the Fortune 500–the lowest it had been since they started tracking in 2010.
Made sense at the time, to an extent. Insta and Facebook were hot. People were spending more time there than on corporate blogs. Short-form content was all the rage (I’m old now, so I like to say things like “all the rage”). Corporate blogging was on the way out, it seemed.
But then a funny thing happened. It started to come back. Little by little, as you can see above.
And then 2020 happened.
Corporate blogging spiked and now 77% of Fortune 500 orgs are using their blogs again to communicate with key audiences.
But, given what happened in 2020, it’s not all that surprising, is it?
Let us review.
COVID hit the U.S. hard in March. The country shut down. But, companies still had to communicate important updates with many different external audiences. A corporate blog was a logical solution. They could control the message. Use various media formats. And, measure results in a variety of ways (i.e., visits, time spent on page, etc.). Tyson Foods was a big corporate blogger early in the pandemic. As was Walmart.
Then, in May, George Floyd was murdered and civil unrest followed across the country. Companies were called out in an attempt to drive change across corporate America. Again, corporate blogs served a role. Companies used these blogs to talk about the next steps they were going to take to increase diversity efforts. Locally here in Minneapolis, companies like UHG, Target and US Bank used corporate blogs to share these messages.
And finally, the election ramped up in September, October and early November. Getting out the vote was a huge message and once again, companies were involved–more so this year than ever before. Corporate blogs gave companies an outlet to share what they were doing to urge more people to vote. Levi’s comes to mind immediately here. As does Ben & Jerry’s (although they’re not in the Fortune 500 class–but, their parent company is!).
So, as you can see, 2020 was a bit of a “perfect storm” for the ascension of corporate blogging. It makes sense that it spiked with a 23% increase in usage.
But, will it continue in 2021?
I predict “yes.” Here’s why:
The final COVID wave means more key updates.
As the third (and hopefully, final) wave of COVID hits the U.S., companies will have a need to use their corporate blogs yet again to update audiences on their safety protocols and measures.
The “return to work” phase will eventually begin in spring/summer.
Once the vaccine is out there, and more people take it, we should start to see companies bring employees back to work in bigger numbers than we did in 2020. This will be another opportunity for companies to use their corporate blogs to update folks on steps they are taking. This will largely be an internal comms effort, but I could see many companies laying out their plan for all to see, too.
DE&I efforts will ramp up.
I see this work ramping up big-time in 2021–especially with President Joe Biden in office. Companies are already scrambling to devise plans and approaches to increase their diversity efforts and appeal to more minority audiences. The corporate blog, once again, will be a great spot for companies to showcase this work and update audiences on progress promised way back in May and June 2020.
Beyond that, who knows? But the comeback of the corporate blog is complete. And, I don’t see the momentum changing in the year ahead.