Flagship vs Network Blogging
Blogging has become a virtual necessity for businesses that seek to create a conversation with their prospective customers.
Interactive marketing, after all, is all about conversation – establishing active listening channels, earning customer loyalty, and informing the public with your specialized value.
Not every business needs a blog; it’s no panacea. It may just not matter for certain types of business. For others, it may open the floodgates of customers. For them, online marketing activities done badly can do more harm than good to a brand, and its SEO ranking.
But you’ve decided that a blog is the way to go. Now, you’re facing another question: what type of blog is best for me? Generally the types are broken down into “Flagship” vs “Network” blogs – i.e., a single authorial vs multiple microniched blogs. But both types have niches, and issues with organizational structure, etc – so it can get a bit murky. Instead I would like to describe blogs in a different way.
I wouldn’t attempt to sell you a miracle fix soundbite that claims to answer that question, because it will take thought on your part. Besides, blogging is creative, and there is a difference between convention and creativity that artists violate every day.
It’s better to be original and remarkable for better SEO and social media buzz. This said, you’re free to find your own solutions and do it your way. The rest of us will catch up, if you’re message is worthwhile to the readers’ interests.
No panaceas, no magic beans, no turnkey treasures – only you and your message. So what types of blogs are there? I’ll cover five in brief, and maybe you’ll get a better idea of the type of blogging that suits your best interest. They are as follows:
1. Consultant Blog
2. Authority Blog
3. Information Blog
4. Long Tail Blog
This type of blog functions like a shingle, hanging over a storefront. (Not to be confused with a keyword shingle, which refers to 3+ word search strings). No, I mean the old fashioned wooden sign that reads “Optometrist” or “Cat Wrangler.”
This blog positions its author as a specialist. Information in the related field is freely given, and the blog is monetized for the sale of expert consulting services, training, coaching, speaking engagements, etc. A one-man blog is better to create multiple promotional channels leading back to a product or two – the consulting services & E-books. Not necessarily a catalog of products all needing their own channel networks, which is work better suited to a team.
Example: China Law Blog
Now, this type of blog can feature one or more persons as authorities in their industries. It might represent a business team, a store, or service based in the real world.
The Authority Blog is a virtual supplement to real world commerce, where customers get store directions and other vital information they need. Credibility here helps to establish real world customers. Think, Product Specialists doing their thing online.
Alternatively, the authority might be the activity itself. A matter of interest for many different people in related industries.
Example: Jetson Green
This blog can be a content-centered catalog of products or other information. It may or may not feature the bylines of the authors. Indeed, much of this type of content can be outsourced, as it relies more heavily on keyword strategies, affiliate partnerships, content aggregation and more.
The Information Blog, sometimes called a Magazine Blog, might display news feeds or interesting stories around a certain theme. While the authors are not featured, it may still be beneficial to include a masthead with names, and possibly profile photos.
The reason for this is because, in order to optimize your traffic and loyalty, it is very helpful to reveal yourself as a person, and not an outsourced sweatshop lackey who has more important things to worry about than which widget will impress your friends most.
Example: Boing Boing
Long Tail Blog
Now people often refer to this type as a “Niche Blog” but niche is such a general word it gets confusing. You could call almost anything a niched blog. Personally I refer to these as “Sub Niche Blogs,” or SNBs. Others call them “microniche blogs”, narrowly-focused topic blogs, not to be confused with microblogging services like Twitter. Where the previous types of blogs may be called “Flagships,” the Long Tailed SNB is a humble, simple entity in the way a laser is simple.
These SNBs laser-focus on a set of keywords around a single product type: for example, pocket digital cameras. Every article will relate to similar keywords in some fashion, and the whole blog is “SEOed” – arranged to trigger those very specific keywords. Niche: cameras. Sub-niche: digital, spy, pocket, 3D, etc. The words will appear in title and metatags, copy and content densities (of about 3-5%), image alt text, and more.
They are called “Long Tail” because they are narrow and long-lived. People searching for these tend to convert at higher rates than the general public. They profit pennies at a time for a very long time, because these categories endure less traffic from competing blogs. But it’s a quantity game.
The challenge here is weaving together a network of many SNBs, and tending all the SEO on them separately. In my experience, it’s better for one person to source multiple channels to one or two entities; and let teams create channels to multiple products and entities. If you weren’t before, now you are thinking about sourcing some help.
Example: Bread Maker Review
Both the flagship and networked Sub-Niche Blogs require consistent keyword strategies and activities. Both variations are legitimate, proven strategies for success. If you’re deciding between them, ask: do I want the more social or anonymous path? Or just do both.
The shorter in length microblog is basically a single idea, blurb, product, or title broadcast to the masses. People commonly think of constant Twitter and Facebook updates; but other services like Tumblr offer much more content capabilities within a light platform.
“Lifestreaming,” as it’s often called, leaves a digital footprint of your day. People upload photos, music, snippets along the course of their mundane activities. While personal, microblogs can also be used effectively for marketing purposes. They permit more content, yet focus the blog’s message onto a single, clear, compelling area.
These blogs are also effective at aggregation (and aggravation). Updating several times per day can create a sense of companionship and familiarity that might build stronger followings. Just take care not to post too often, or you’re message will wind up in Auto-Deleted Purgatory.
Example: Tumblr Marketing Blog Stream
Blogging for Results
I hope that this article has helped to clarify some major options for your blogging. I should mention that it’s possible to blend these blog types. The next step is to get a domain, get a platform, and begin. I’m going to leave you with one final golden nugget of wisdom:
Whatever you choose – you can change it later. Blogging is like the female who wants to work out but is worried about hulking out – unless you actively pursue that result, with zeal and Olympian effort – it just ain’t gonna happen. Get started. Plot your course and set sail for the edge of the map.