Is Your Blog Good Enough?

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On his blog, @CurrencyTim (using real names is so last decade) commented on the number of inactive blogs he found in his RSS feed before launching the “great blog purge of 2010.”

@financialbrand commented “I have room for about 50 RSS feeds in my life. If I want to add a new one, I have to find an old one I can delete.”

This led @CurrencyTim to respond:

“It would actually be good for marketers to think about their social media effort in those terms. ‘Is my blog good enough to be in someone’s top 50 news sources?'”

Well, is your blog good enough? It’s an important question, not just for credit unions, but for banks as well.

To give you a sneak peek into some research I’ve been doing, the 170 financial institutions I’ve recently surveyed are pretty evenly split into three categories: Those that have a blog, those that don’t but plan to in the next 12 months, and those that don’t have one and don’t plan to. Of the credit unions surveyed, one in four has a blog today, and nearly half plan to in the next year.

What do FIs expect to get from blogging? Customer awareness, preference, and engagement. Across 9 different types of social media tools/technologies, blogs are seen as the 2nd most effective for generating awareness (behind Facebook), 2nd most effective for influencing customer preference (behind customer review sites), and 4th most effective for engaging customers.

But for any of that to happen, customers have to read your blog, don’t they? And if they only have room for 50 — or even 100 — blogs to read, the question remains: Is your blog good enough?

I’m willing to bet that 95% of FIs can’t reliably answer that question.

To know if your blog is good enough or not, you would need to know:

  • Which of your customers reads blogs and which don’t? The numbers I’ve seen suggest that about 60% of Americans still don’t read blogs, (although that number is down from 74% in 2006).
  • Of the customers that do read blogs…which ones do they read, why do they read them, what aspects of those blogs are they satisfied or dissatisfied with, and what other types of blogs would they read if they existed? The 40% that read blogs are reading news blogs, political blogs, personal blogs, sports blogs, travel blogs, music, you-name-it blogs. Tell me again why you think they’re going to read your blog?
  • Of the customers that don’t ready blogs….why not and what would it take to get them to read blogs? People who don’t read blogs can’t be influenced or engaged through your blog.

What’s a budding bank/CU blogger to do?

I’m sure that the first inclination of many is to survey their customers/members. What could be wrong with the voice of the customer? Potentially, two things:

1. People who don’t read blogs can’t tell you what they like/dislike in a blog. They might be able to tell you why they don’t read a blog, but if you ask them “if we wrote about yada yada, would you read our blog?” you’re almost certain to get misleading data. People almost always underestimate what it would it take to get them to change their behavior.

2. The people who read blogs will tell you what they want in a blog, but — to the @financialbrand’s point — it will tell you nothing about whether or not they’d make room in their limited span of attention for your blog.

So, is your blog good enough? Is it good enough to get people who don’t read blogs to read one? Is it good enough to get people who do read blogs to add another one to their list?

Based on the research I’m currently conducting, I’d conclude that many banks and credit unions expect a blog to help them create awareness, influence preference, and drive engagement. I think many of those FIs are going to be very disappointed with the results (if they could measure them in the first place).

I’m not optimistic that general-purpose, broadly-focused blogs about the institution or financial products or even about managing one’s financial life are going to drive a lot readership — and hence, bottom line results — for many banks and credit unions. If you’re going to publish a blog, its got to be focused and its got to stand out. It has to be GOOD enough.

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