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Over the last five years, blogging for business has become an industry unto itself. With numerous companies all over the world vying for the top talent and the most pageviews, it’s no surprise that the top business blogs are those which can adapt and respond to the changing landscape of the digital world.
In this article, we take a glimpse at some of the pressing trends in blogging in 2015, and how your business blog can utilize these trends for your own gain.
Trend 1. Blog design is trending towards minimalism
I learned about the minimalist trend while attending the Blogcademy workshop in Auckland last year. It seems that the biggest blogs in the world are stripping back all the gadgets and doodads in their design and focusing on minimalist, simplistic designs that highlight the quality content and stunning images. Less sidebar and header clutter, and using branding colours as accents, rather than the focal point of the entire theme.
46% of people say a website’s design is their number one criterion for determining the credibility of a company. This means that focusing on usability and ease of reading will ensure your blog attracts and retains more readers.
What it means for your blog? Now is the time to look at a rebrand or redesign of your blog/website to focus more on the content - and less on all the added bling!
Trend 2. Social Networks are Going Interest-Based, Not People Based
In the last five years, amorphous, global social media platforms have exploded - Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and others have focused on being everything to everyone, and so far everyone has been more than keen to commit. But people are starting to bite back against global homogeneous social media, and interest-based social media sites are cropping up everywhere … and seem to be growing steadily.
From Fitocracy, a platform for fitness junkies to swap workout ideas, to Doximity, a social media site for doctors and Catmoji, my new favourite online hangout, where cat lovers get together to share images and videos of their feline friends.
What it means for your blog: Apart from the fact that you’re now going to have to work harder than ever to avoid being sucked into the procrastination hole of Catmoji, it means that it’s easier than ever to find like-minded people online - hang out, be helpful, answer questions and put a blog link in your profile, and people will find you.
Trend 3. The Blogger Personality is Back
The internet is so saturated with content now that if you want information on a certain subject, you can plug in a search on Google and find hundreds of articles answering your question. So why does anyone come to your blog? They don’t just want to learn about your product - they want to learn about you.
For a long time, it’s been thought that a business blog should be dry, informational, authoritative. But a businesslike writing style doesn’t encourage readers to stick around. They want to be entertained.
What does it mean for your blog? Inject a little personality. Add your weekly playlist, tell a story, share some pictures from your vacation … don’t write the same boring articles in the same boring business voice. Customers who love your product are looking for more - they want to know about the person behind the scenes.
Trend 4. Using Blogs and Social to Support In-Person Events
67% of all B2B content marketers report that their most effective marketing strategy isn’t their blog or online engagement, but in-person events. Combine these events with an effective blogging campaign and you’ll guarantee to attract more attendees and convert more clients.
Bloggers are running workshops, speaking at events, managing retreats and creating unique parties all across the world. When the online and the real world collide, magic can happen.
What it means for your blog? For bloggers, this means finding ways to expand the content on your blog to fit an offline workshop, whether it’s the food blogger doing cooking demonstrations or the tech blogger speaking at a conference. For businesses who are blogging, it’s about using your blog to generate buzz about your events, then sending attendees additional content post-event - with the ultimate aim of making them dedicated fans.
Trend 5. It’s All About Quality over Quantity
When I started blogging in 2008, the pressure was on content creators to produce as much content as possible - and blogs kept punishing publishing schedules that required posts go live several times a week. Many bloggers - such as lifestyle and self-confidence blogger Gala Darling - established themselves early on by producing several pieces of content a day. Now, the trend is swinging the other way, and many A-list blogs are cutting back their content publishing schedule to focus on other projects.
What it means for your blog? Would cutting back your posting schedule enable you to focus more on producing the kind of content your readers love? Take a long, hard look at your current content and see where you could make cuts.
Trend 6. Make ‘em Giggle
Everyday we are bombarded with images of horrible stuff happening to people - bombings, murders, kidnappings, cruelty to children and animals, global warming, and celebrities kicking puppies. The result of all this negative content is that it makes us want to disengage entirely, and as a brand - you don’t want your customers to do that!
Instead, make your blog a place of positivity and fun. Don’t be afraid to encourage humour and candid talk in your posts, comments and social media.
What it means for your blog: Think about how you can use your unique brand message to make people laugh. Produce some fun videos, create some cat memes based on your branding, or better yet, ask your audience for ideas!
Trend 7. Customers provide a unique source of content
Don’t assume you have to be the sole source of content for your blog. If you’re stuck for content ideas, talk to your audience! Using your fans to create content is a great way for brands to reach a deeper level of engagement with their crowd while lessening the content creation load.
One of the companies that does customer-sourced content stunningly well is Australia’s Black Milk Clothing. The company regularly releases collections of leggings, dresses and gymwear based on geeky themes, including space, renaissance artists, Harry Potter, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. They encourage fans to post pictures of themselves wearing their gear on Instagram and Facebook and they will blog their favourites.
What it means for your blog? How can you ask your customers to contribute content to your blog? The key is to make it easy and fun - making customers feel valued for their contribution to your brand community.
Trend 8. Blogging Gets Analytical
In previous years, bloggers have just been winging it - posting when they like, choosing topics from thin air, with no real eye on their goals beyond “I must blog”.
Now, with more accurate data available, many popular blogs are getting seriously analytical, drilling down their data to figure out the best date and time to post, what their audience want to read, exactly where that audience is coming from, and what they do next.
The blog of 2015 is a blog that’s smarter and bolder thanks to the use of detailed analytics.
What does it means for your blog? How much attention have you been paying to your analytics? It’s time to get serious about the numbers - dust off your Google Analytics account and start digging deep.
Trend 9. Guest posts are out, paid placements are in
Ever since I started blogging back in 2008, guest posting has been the primary method for generating new readers and increasing traffic to your blog. However, after numerous Google updates, and an inundation of low-quality websites trying to automate the guest-blogging process, it seems that many major sites are closing their doors to guest blogs.
Bloggers are feeling the sting - while a guest blog used to generate 300 new hits, now it might be lucky if it generates 30. Instead of publishing guest posts, more and more sites are focusing on paid placements and sponsored content, where a brand pays a fee to include an article on the blog linking back to their site - this is called native advertising. Most readers can’t tell these sponsored posts apart from the “real” content and initial native advertising tests show it to be more effective than guest posting for several niches.
What it means for your blog? Take a hard look at your previous guest blogging efforts. Do you feel they’ve paid off in terms of the time and effort you expended? If not, it is time to place your efforts elsewhere - perhaps into a paid placement campaign.
Trend 10. A Blog By Any Other Name
In certain niches, readers are declaring that they “don’t read blogs”. The word blog conjures up a particular image to certain people, and all the branding effort in the world can’t make people read your blog if they’re not “blog people”. Brands are thinking outside of the “blog” label - creating content hubs, resource pages and online magazines.
What it means for your blog: Should your blog be a blog? Create a survey and test some different formatting and naming ideas with your audience. Perhaps your blog would be better off being called a magazine.
So what 2015 blogging trends will have the biggest impact on your site? Have you observed any other trends we haven’t talked about here? What’s your first step for improving your business’ blog in 2015?