Companies are blogging less and that’s a mistake

An interesting study courtesy of the Society for New Communications Research:

Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes has been studying corporate communications strategies of the Fortune 500 for the past eight years. Key findings include:

  • Twenty-one percent of the Fortune 500 has a corporate blog (103 corporations) (21%); a decrease of 10% from 2014.
  • Twitter is more popular than Facebook with the Fortune 500 (78% vs 74%).
  • Glassdoor (87%) has joined LinkedIn (93%) as a popular business tool.
  • The use of Instagram has increased by 13%. A total of 33% of the Fortune 500 having an Instagram presence, pointing to a continued growth in interest in visually rich platforms.

I have noticed that fewer companies are publishing blogs these days — particularly globally. I view this as a missed opportunity, though I understand why it is happening. Creating  content that people actually want to read is hard work. It’s not as sexy as chasing the latest new social network, like Snapchat or Instagram.

Blogs, well produced, can be an amazing source of leads, search engine traffic and customer engagement — even with mobile users. And if you support blogs across a variety of languages you will only multiply the traffic you receive.

I’m not suggesting that companies not support Twitter, Instagram, etc. In fact, blogs provide foundational content for Twitter, Facebook and other platforms.

One company still invested in blogs (and other content) is Capgemini:

capgemini_blogs

And here is an excerpt from the German site — local-language blogs:

capgemini_de

 

Perhaps I’m a bit biased about blogs, as I’ve been writing this one for more than a decade.

But I suspect companies will one day come full circle on this.

After all, everything old is new again…

You can download the full research report here.

 

 

How the NSA is threatening the future of Google, Facebook, Amazon and others

NSA Prism

When I read government arguments in defense of the NSA, an oft-repeated line was:

We’re not targeting Americans. We’re targeting foreigners.

Foreigners.

I really dislike that word.

And I’m sure companies like Apple, Google and Facebook do as well.

Why?

Because 80% of Google’s customers are foreigners.

More than 50% of Microsoft’s revenue come from foreigners.

Most of Facebook’s users are foreigners.

Apple gets more than 12% of its revenues from China.

And now these foreigners are well aware that their emails and texts and Facebook posts may have been scanned by the US intelligence industry.

I was asked by a tech company recently about what factors could disrupt their current globalization plans in the years ahead.

The NSA was at the top of my list.

We now see a rush of new and established tech companies around the world to create services that are located entirely out of reach of the US government (no matter how impractical this may appear). According to this WSJ article (reg required):

Three of Germany’s largest email providers, including partly state-owned Deutsche Telekom AG teamed up to offer a new service, Email Made in Germany. The companies promise that by encrypting email through German servers and hewing to the country’s strict privacy laws, U.S. authorities won’t easily be able to pry inside. More than a hundred thousand Germans have flocked to the service since it was rolled out in August.

So what does the COO of Facebook have to say about this?

“We should all be nervous when countries impose costly new requirements on companies as a condition of serving their citizens,” says Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. “It means fragmenting the Internet and putting the economic and social opportunities it creates at risk.”

The companies that are most nervous are the large established players, like, um, Facebook.

For start-ups around the world, this news is actually good news. From the same article:

For small German companies competing against big ones—like online-security company Symantec Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. which provides corporate cloud services—the NSA surveillance program “is a present from heaven,” says Oliver Dehning, chief executive of antispameuropeGmbH, which builds spam-protection software. “It’s kind of an opportunity to strike back and protect our home market.”

The fact is, the Balkanization of the Internet is not a new trend, but the NSA (no thanks to Snowden) accelerated it.

Do foreigners care about their email being scanned?

If the Germans are a leading indicator, perhaps so.

Though this article would indicate that Europeans largely are not concerned about the goings on of the security agencies. After all, it wasn’t just the US government at work here; there were other governments involved.

But I think the threat to US-based tech companies is real (perception, after all, is reality). I think the impact will be felt years from now, when there are new and competitive service providers taking a distinctly local approach to their offerings. This is where global service providers get uneasy. It’s difficult to compete with a “local by design” business when you are a “global by design.”

The sad part about all of this is that China — the poster child of Internet privacy violators — suddenly doesn’t look all that bad.

UPDATE: US tech leaders visited Washington, again, and warned of the Balkanization of the Internet.

 

LinkedIn now uses a globe as language icon

LInkedIn logo

And here it is:

LinkedIn language icon

I think it works.

I realize some UI experts won’t agree with me on this.

I’ve been told many times over the years that the globe icon is insufficient for indicating language. That the globe represents geography or travel or “select country” — but not “select language.”

And while I agree that the globe icon may not be the best icon to indicate language, it works just fine.

Most people seem to understand its meaning. They see a globe and they know it means something like country and/or language. And given that some websites are organized by country/region and others (like LinkedIn) by language, the globe icon casts a wide symbolic net.

The globe is simply the best available language icon.

I’ve yet to come across any more effective icon. Believe me, people have tried.

One drawback of the globe icon is how overused it is by a number of websites and software.

I’m talking about you, Facebook.

Facebook curiously uses the globe icon for notifications:

facebook notifications

I proposed two visual alternatives to the globe icon awhile back.  But Facebook appears perfectly content with the globe icon as it is.

And just to be clear that Facebook isn’t re-using the globe icon for language or locale settings I dug into the account settings menu. There is no icon used:

facebook acount settings

Getting back to LinkedIn, I would change the “Change” text to the name of the currently selected language.

But I’m glad to see LinkedIn embrace the globe icon for this purpose.

Warts and all, the globe icon is the best icon we have for communicating “select language.”

Take the Lionbridge Social Media Survey

It’s not every day I come across a survey localized into 18 languages.

But I guess I should expect nothing less from one of the world’s largest translation agencies.

Lionbridge wants to know what social media you use.

If you enter your email address, you’ll get the results.

Here’s the link.

PS: I just took it and it did take only 5 minutes. But it’s a rather clunky survey. At first I thought the only sites it would ask me about were Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn. I had to click through to the next page where I found the “global” list of social media sites, which will be much more relevant to folks in, say Germany (Xing) and Brazil (Orkut).