“Life is all about making choices. Always do your best to make the right ones, and always do your best to learn from the wrong ones.” – Anonymous.
Owning a business is all about making decisions.
Like what has the best ROI? Social media or blogging.
Both offer exciting results and both require an investment.
This article will help you decide which is best for you.
First, the short answer.
Social media is great for testing your market, building connections, launching campaigns, and advertising. And social media marketing is very time consuming and often delivers a very small ROI.
Blogging, on the other hand, is great for attracting organic traffic, keeping people on your site longer, and building a mailing list. And a blogging strategy requires time to create the articles, and patience while your content builds an audience.
Now, let’s dig into the detailed answer, starting with your audience.
Who’s your audience?
Before you make a decision about online campaigns you should build a description of your ideal audience – what’s sometimes called your avatar.
Your avatar (you might have 2 or 3 avatars) is your ideal customer. For example, at BlogWorks we have 2 avatars: Amanda and Stephen.
We created our avatars by making a list of all the characteristics of our ideal customer and grouping them into two types, based on their profile and how they respond to our work.
Of course, every business will have a wide variety of customers, the question is who are the customers you most want to attract?
To define your avatars, start with these 3 questions: This article goes into more detail.
- Demographics: gender, location, age, family, income?
- Employment: retired, management, part-time, blue-color?
- Problem: what is their single or recurring problem that you can solve?
How does your audience buy?
Now that you have your avatar descriptions, it’s time to ask where does your customer buy?
Sure, you might be brilliant at building followers on Facebook, or love creating clever memes using Canva, but if your audience doesn’t make buying decisions online, what’s the point?
It all comes down to the best ROI.
As a business owner, you will always have limited time and resources. Launching into a campaign to build your Instagram followers might be exciting at first—you’re getting followers and people are responding. But, if that time investment isn’t turning into sales it’s time to reconsider your strategy.
Next, let’s look at how social media compares to blogging, starting with the benefits of social media.
Social media benefits
Social media is huge and growing.
Facebook has 2.4 billion active users and is the third most visited site worldwide after Google and YouTube. Twitter has 330 million users, half of which are active daily.
Instagram has only been around since 2010 and already has over 1 billion users and half of them are daily users.
These channels are a great place to build connections, express your opinions, share stories, and build a following.
The reality is that social media is like entering a room full of people who keep changing and have a 5-second attention span. So, while you might be getting exposure, you are competing with a very large audience.
Like any investment, building a base on social media, and getting the best ROI comes with challenges.
Let’s look at those…
Social media challenges
If you listen to the “experts” who spend all their time on social media it looks simple.
Post a bunch of stuff, upload cool videos, build followers, and rake in the cash right?
Here’s the truth.
Social media platforms are not designed for free promotion—they are carefully crafted to sell advertising.
Think about it: If you’re Instagram (Facebook owns Instagram) and have hundreds of highly paid staff all with holiday time, benefits, and nice office space, you need to push a whole lot of advertising if you ever want to turn a profit.
Yes, you can attract a nice following and even pull some followers over to your website/landing page/offer/shopping cart. But unless you are paying for exposure you will have to work very hard to get results for free.
And then there’s your time.
If you want to grow and engage a following on social media it will take time. Lots of it.
First, you need to learn how each platform works and where you will get the best results. On Facebook, you could load regular updates into your feed, focus on getting followers or reactions to your posts, start a group, host Facebook Live events, or pay for advertising.
Or any combination of these options.
Or you could outsource regular updates on social media.
At BlogWorks we provide a cost-effective way for small business owners to promote themselves on social media. For as little as $97 per month, our team takes care of all of your daily updates on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This article explains how to develop your own social media plan.
If you’re serious about building a following on social media and aren’t working with BlogWorks you should be using scheduling software, like CoSchedule or Buffer.
Every social media channel is designed to distract users and keep them on the channel longer. YouTube, for example, interrupts you with advertising and suggested videos.
Your content is competing with advertising, suggested videos, invitations to events, and mysterious algorithms that decide what users get to see.
It’s a crowded space.
What this means is you have to work harder to get noticed – even harder if you want followers to respond to your invitations.
Or you can pay for advertising, which is a whole other world of competition, investment, risk, and time commitment.
And then there’s the uncertainty of the rules changing.
All of your work on social media is on rented land—you don’t own the platform or control how your content gets shared. At any time Facebook, YouTube, or Pinterest will change their rules and change how your content gets traffic.
Of course, you might still want to invest in your YouTube channel about pet training or your Instagram account showcasing home renovation success. That’s all great and with some effort and consistency, you will get results.
Just be aware that ultimately the rules on every social media channel will change. What you own on the web is your website and the content on it.
Now that we’ve looked at the benefits and challenges of social media let’s look at how blogging compares.
Your blog brings an audience to your door every day.
Let me explain.
Every social media channel decides what content you posted gets shared with other users. Facebook, for example, continues to (notoriously) cut back on what gets shared.
By some accounts, less than 20% of your followers will ever see what you have posted.
Blogs, on the other hand, attract a new audience to your site. Without any filters.
Here’s how it works.
The articles you publish are “indexed” by search engine bots. Think of it like robots running around the web looking at content and then organizing and prioritizing it to match search queries.
You know how this works because you use it every day.
You type a question into Chrome, Firefox, or Safari, like “What is better? Social media or blogging” and, presto! This article (hopefully) shows up.
An audience to your door
Once your articles are indexed by search engines, traffic starts coming in. This is new traffic from people searching for solutions.
Of course, at first, it will be small.
But the more popular the search inquiry, and the better your article answers that inquiry, the more traffic you will get.
Like all social media, the more traffic you get signals the platform that your content is “right” and it sends you more traffic. More traffic brings in more traffic.
It’s called “going viral.”
Pretty cool, right?
Here’s the best part.
An article you wrote (or you had the wonderful writers at BlogWorks write) will still be working for you, pulling in an audience, years after it was published.
Try that on Twitter or Facebook (wink).
Of course, just like social media, there are challenges with blogging.
In business, there is no free ride.
And with all the benefits that your blog can bring to your business, there are also challenges.
Let’s start with the time commitment.
Time to create content
It takes time to create great content. First, you need to research your topic.
In the old days – think 2013 – there wasn’t as much content on the web and every blog article you publish would get traffic.
Today, you need to develop a content calendar of topics relevant to your services that have two things:
- high search volume, and
- low competition
In simple terms, this means creating a “hit list” of topics that answer questions your clients often ask and that will stand out against other blog posts on this topic.
If you aren’t using one of the popular SEO tools, like Moz or SEMrush there are 2 free Google tools that will help:
Every blog starts out as an unknown island in a great big sea of traffic.
And gets zero traffic.
And then the traffic builds…
Your email announcements of each blog post bring in traffic and those readers share your posts.
Search engines index your content and start sending organic, new traffic to your content and those readers share your posts.
And traffic builds.
The beauty of blog content is that it’s evergreen.
Unlike a Tweet or Instagram update that has a short shelf life, your blog will pull in traffic every day, indefinitely.
And when your posts get outdated, or you can update them and republish them. Your readers get fresh content, and search engines drive even more traffic to the content that’s been updated.
Now that you have an audience at your door every day it’s time to convert that audience.
The effort you put into your blog isn’t for entertainment—you want to build your sales and your business.
Here’s the trick with blogs…
Unlike social media, where you might have somebody’s attention for 5 seconds, people who find your blog will stay for 3 to 10 minutes. That’s a captive audience.
Imagine having a group of people who arrive at your office every day, and sit down to listen to you for 3 to 10 minutes! What an incredible opportunity.
The trick is to get your reader to say “Yes” to the next step in a sales funnel. If it’s their first time on your site, you can invite them to read a second, related article. Or, they could watch a short demo video, or go to a product page to learn more.
There are lots of ways to take your reader to the next step. You can invite them to:
- join your mailing list,
- read another blog article,
- check out your service,
- buy your online course,
- download a free workbook,
- complete a survey,
- sign up for a free trial,
- book an appointment,
- send an inquiry request,
- watch a demo video.
As a business owner, you need to make hard decisions, like who to hire, how to market your business, and how to spend your time.
Social media will always be the 800lb gorilla with millions of active users and new features being added every year. Certainly, many businesses have built their fortunes by growing a following on social media and converting those efforts into business success.
And many more businesses have spun their wheels, trying to get traction, only to conclude the cost of trying to keep up with social media didn’t move their business forward.
A business blog is a viable alternative to social media. But, feeding your blog with content comes with a cost.
If you want to test your market and get quick feedback, or launch a campaign, use social media.
At the same time, your blog will be more effective at attracting an audience who are already looking for your solutions and then gaining more of their attention.
Most businesses will invest in both social media and a blog. The trick is to measure your results, make a decision, and then put the majority of your investment where you get the best results and divest yourself from the rest.
Enjoyed this article? Here are 3 more articles all about putting your blog to work:
10 surprisingly simple tune-ups to make your blog sexy
5 brilliant ways to start your blog post with a bang
9 blog topic ideas your audience will love
Great article. I use my blog to share information that readers can use and then spread that information via social media.
Thanks for the ideas.
Thanks Anne – your blog is a great place to go in-depth on more complicated topics – and people will take the time to read it!
I concur Anne, great article and I hope to share it on social media!
Really like the Article. It was her at the right time. I was just working on my marketing & Sales strategies. The Internet created a universe of unknown competitors. We are now competing with the world, not just a specific locality. We have a bigger market with a much larger competitive field. We need to be really connected to the upside and downside to use our time wisely.
Raymond, well said! At BlogWorks we argue for the value of content – real content. Social media has it’s purpose, but it’s not ideal for developing rapport or showcasing your expertise.
Really enjoyed this article! I couldn’t agree more – I feel that the best way to build customer relationships is through both social media and business blogs!