Is BuzzFeed's Boom Making Brand Blogs Go Bust?

Your Blog or MineFirst Google tried to kill the press release. Now BuzzFeed's president says company blogs are so yesterday.

In a recent interview, BuzzFeed President Jon Steinberg said:

...Three years ago brands wanted to post things on their own microsites. No one really believes that anymore. Everybody now has the view that you fish where the fish are…I go to where the platform is right to put the content. It doesn't really make sense for me to post content on my own blog anymore.

Tagging itself as a media company for the social age, BuzzFeed is one of today's hottest social news platforms; making a name for itself by spinning real-time editorial and branded advertorial content designed to go viral.

BuzzFeed's rising popularity is creating its own buzz among content marketers who are wondering if the BuzzFeed platform is replacing company-owned blogs as one recent headline asked.

Is BuzzFeed the Future of Content Marketing?

One content marketer tweeted: Noooooooooo! Lee Odden, Author of "Optimize" and CEO at TopRank Online Marketing, explains the thought behind the tweet:=

Lee Odden Says Noooooooooo

"BuzzFeed serves a need like supermarket tabloids serve a need for information and entertainment. Just because BuzzFeed is successful at packaging information doesn't mean it's a content marketing model that would work for any company," Odden said. "Sensational headlines and weird compilations of related stories can drive page views but most companies succeed by attracting, engaging and converting readers to buyers."

Content Marketing Stats and Facts

No doubt about it, content marketing has a stamp of approval from both marketers and consumers bankrolled with a cushy budget!

  • $118.4 billion will be spent on content marketing, video marketing, and social media in 2013.
  • B2B companies that blog generate 67 percent more leads per month than those who don't.
  • 32 percent of B2C marketers consider themselves effective at content marketing.
  • 61 percent of consumers say they feel better about, and are more likely to buy from, a company that delivers custom content.

Content marketing has made a name for itself as today's most valuable and trusted form of marketing. But is it also one of the most overused and abused words you might hear from online marketers?

'The Next Stage of the Advertorial'

Did the social media news industry and elites invent something new called social content marketing that is the replacement for blogs as we know it?

A pay to play version of content marketing that's paved the way to 100 percent of BuzzFeed's revenue really isn't that new according to marketing experts; it's the socially smart and savvy reinvention of the advertorial: paying for editorial disguised and styled content to be mixed in with authentic editorial news content.

It looks looks, smells, sounds, and acts like editorial. But it's paid. Boom!

Boom

"The future of content marketing is here already. I think what Contently, BuzzFeed, Mashable, and others are doing in the space - having articles/posts/videos created that meet stringent editorial criteria while serving a purpose for the brand - is still very early in the game," said Amy Vernon, veteran journalist, blogger, and consultant who focuses on content and digital strategy.

Content marketing, a.k.a.:

  • Branded Content
  • Branded Journalism
  • Sponsored Stories
  • Promoted Posts
  • Promoted Tweets
  • Amplified Media
  • Social Media
  • Press Release Distribution

"I've heard all those euphemisms and more. It's the next stage of the advertorial - those ads or "special advertising sections" that appeared in newspapers or magazines and looked like the rest of the content, but were paid advertisements," Vernon noted. "This isn't new at all. The BuzzFeeds and Mashables just reinvented it to work on the web. And that's fine. Banner ads weren't cutting it, obviously."

So if the content marketing trend is headed in the direction that paid media and earned media are starting to blur together, what does this mean for owned media, like the trusted company blog that companies have ownership and content control, but maybe not as many eyeballs?

Are Company Blogs on the Verge of Extinction?

Let's check out the recent blog stats:

  • Social media sites and blogs account for 23 percent of all time spent online.
  • 78 percent of consumers believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships.
  • Blogs give websites 434 percent more indexed pages.
  • Social media and blogs reach 8 out of 10 of all U.S. Internet users.
  • 37 percent of marketers say blogs are the most valuable type of content marketing.
  • According to a recent UMass Dartmouth study, there are more Fortune 500 companies blogging than ever with (34 percent) having corporate blogs showing the largest increase in use of this tool since the 2008.

"Blogs are not dead," Vernon said. "Anyone who lets all their content live somewhere other than their own home (domain) is doing it wrong. It is absolutely vital to have a home base for your brand's content, no matter who you are."

"Yes, you do need to go where the people are, but to rely on someone else's platform entirely is, simply put, short-sighted," Vernon added. "That's like having a house, but putting all your money into repairs to hotel rooms you're staying in."

Owning a Blog has Benefits!

"Blogs are very much alive," said Dan Cristo, SES San Francisco speaker, Founder of @Triberr and Director of SEO Innovation at Catalyst Online. Blogs have certain perks. After all, on social networks:

  • You don't own your profile and they can disable your account at any time.
  • Content isn't 100 percent visible to search engines. On a blog it is.
  • You can't control optimization all page elements. On a blog you do.
  • You don't have complete control over the design. On a blog you do.
  • People aren't there to see your brand. They are there to see pics of their friends. On a blog, visitors are there to see your brand and your content.
  • Your brand is secondary. It's Twitter.com/brand or Facebook.com/brand instead of Brand.com
  • You can only talk to a portion of your audience. If you want to talk to a larger portion than what Facebook allows, you need to pay them.
  • You're forced to create content specific to them. 140 characters of text for Twitter. Images for Pinterest. Videos for YouTube.

The Future of Content Marketing is...

According to Odden, the future of content marketing is:

  • An evolution of technology and processes that support strategies for reaching the right customers with the right information across the buyers journey.
  • Understanding customer segments, brand leadership for it's position and USP in the marketplace.
  • Continuously optimizing the ability to identify topics, content types, distribution channels and offers.

It doesn't look like we are planning any funerals for the company blog, just like the press release. The blog will continue to be reincarnated and refreshed as content marketing sparks fly and fire up in paid, owned and earned media.

Check out my session at SES San Francisco (#SESSF) – Social Publicity and Publishing: How to Earn it, Grow it, Brand it, or one of these to learn more: Paid Organic Social Content Distribution Unravelled; Badass Blogging: Best Practices to Enhance Your Customer Reach; The Marriage of Social & PR: Making It Work for Your Brand; and Social Publicity and Publishing: How to Earn it, Grow it, Brand it.