Before I get into the Global, Business and Marketing reasons why every Caribbean Business Should blog, let me start with the definition of business blogging. ”
Then I will continue with our own regional Digital context.
According to Internetworldstats.com, of the 42,108,083 people in the Caribbean ( 2015), less than half of them are internet users. Only 17,655,462 Internet users on or 41.9 % penetration rate as of November 2015.
When it comes to being online and social, which is now the default way in which we communicate and do business, when we use the numbers of the largest social platform in the world, Facebook, only 9,721,980 Caribbean people are there, as of November 2015. That’s a mere 23.1% penetration rate.
Added to that mobile penetration in the majority of Caribbean nations have either reached 100% of very close. Smartphone penetration is hovering over 50%.
The great news is that, there is a lot more room for the Caribbean to grow Digital and to go Social. A lot. It follows too, that the trends of what Caribbean customers want and expect from your Caribbean Business, not to mention your international customers have irrevocably changed.
Now, let’s talk about the global context in which the Caribbean lives and does business with.
There are 3.6 billion internet users worldwide. Mobile phone penetration and usage is now just before 2 billion people. As of July 28th, 2016 there are 60 million businesses using Facebook Pages each month. That’s the general state of Digital globally for our region, plus the people and businesses we currently do business with and want to do business in the future.
Ok cool, so my context is set.
My argument as to why every Caribbean Business Should Blog ( regardless of their size) kicks off with this:
1. We need more Caribbean content + Caribbean stories online. Period. Both for our cultural and business purposes and preservation. The globalisation trend that we are living now, shows that connected Caribbean tends to inhale American content first ( geography and migration), then rest-of-the-world content next. Now while being global, as we live local and regional, requires that we remain plugged into what happens around us, so we ca respond to potential impact or opportunity — where are our stories, our voice, our businesses and our products online — in the Global Digital Economy?
Let’s look at another good reason why your Caribbean Business should Blog.
2. The diminishing culture of a traditional PR only strategy. Getting into the local and regional newspapers and being heard on radio or seen on the morning TV shows, as the mainstay of publicity and sharing of your business stories is fact delivering diminishing returns. How your Caribbean Business and its products/services are making its customers and community better simply must have other channels — digital mostly to communicate that. I’m sure you’ve heard and even now know, that the readership of printed newspapers have fallen off a cliff, people get their news online, from the digital versions of newspapers, blogs, social networks, in fact wherever they are spending most of their time.
People are time-shifting in how they consume content — from appointment TV and Radio to now, downloaded, Netflixed, Binge Watched and Listened to, On-the-Go and on their own time. We’re not saying the traditional will be replaced, but we are pointing to the shift in consumer behaviour and expectations that all Caribbean businesses must be aware of and respond to. And no, the Caribbean is not 5 years behind in everything, as we can sometimes hear from some, who can’t be bothered to wrap their minds around what is now and what is coming and become proactive.
3. Then Forbes.com made an argument for Business Blogging – 4 years ago!
“There are LOTS of good reasons for one or more members of company leadership to blog. These include:
Humanizing the company
Building credibility and trust
Establishing industry expertise
Promoting products and policies
Addressing important issues
Generating leads … and business
Defending the company against its critics. “
4. “Businesses are now in the minority if they don’t blog” – HubSpot Study.
Though this quote speaks to American businesses, I’m working up to what I’m going to share about what may be indicative of Caribbean companies via some research we did in Jamaica last month. We’re almost there.
According to HubSpot.com “businesses are now in the minority if they don’t blog. From 2009 to 2011 the percentage of businesses with a blog grew from 48% to 65%. Increasingly, companies are recognizing the value of their blogs. Eighty-five percent of businesses rated their company blogs as “useful,” “important” or “critical.” A very significant 27% rated their company blog as “critical” to their business.”
I deliberately left those years in there for you, as we’re in 2016.
5. I have one more round of facts and stats to woo you with, because while my argument so far has been largely about the context in which your Caribbean Business operates, what your clients and competitors in other markets are doing,expecting and also benefiting from-let’s tune in directly to the What’s-In-It-For-Me Channel. What’s in it for YOUR Caribbean Business When you Blog? Here are 9 universal truths.
1. A blog is a simple, easy-to-use platform for connecting with and sharing timely and relevant information with customers. A Blog is your direct communication channel.
2. It gives your company a voice. A blog creates a place to talk about new products or services, comment on timely news topics or market trends, and share company initiatives beyond your website. It’s also the place to let your brand’s personality shine and show people what you’re all about. 70% of consumers learn about a company through its blog versus ads.
3. You can tell your brand’s story. A blog is a great place to offer more insight into your company, philosophy, employees, and ideas. Tell your customers why you’re in business and how you can help them. It builds confidence, relationship and sales. It creates a two-way conversation with customers, prospects and industry peers. It encourages interaction, comments and feedback. Make sure you reply to all comments!
4. Your blog fuels SEO. Businesses that blog typically have 97% more inbound links to their website than those that don’t, which means more search engine traffic to your website. And your website is your owned channel, remember social channels are rented, borrowed if you will.
5. Believe it or not, your blog is the heart of all of your content marketing efforts. It’s fodder for your social media channels – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email newsletters and e-books. It can be a sweet mixture of text, video, photos and Infographics.
6. Businesses who blog acquire more customers, according to a HubSpot survey.
7. Blogs are cost-effective marketing investments. Every post you publish is a long-term asset that helps build brand awareness and promote your expertise, products and services.
8. Gives you insight into your audience. Blog analytics allow you to track readers, click-throughs, popular topics, shares and comments. You can even tell what day of the week your visitors prefer to stop by.
9. It creates free PR. Business blogs are often picked up by journalists and online influencers. Get some press online and offline!
Sources: QuickSprout. HubSpot.
Hopefully by now you really should be convinced about the virtues of having a blog for your Caribbean business. Right?
Well, let’s look at the study we did in June 2016. We looked at all of the companies who are listed on the Jamaican Stock Exchange, main and junior markets here’s what we found.
The getCONNECTID Report on the Status of Jamaican Business Blogging 2016
( Case Study – The Jamaica Stock Exchange Listed Companies)
Of the 30 companies listed on the Main Market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange
– How many had a news/media/blog-like section on their website ? 22
– How many regularly updated it and within to the last month ? 11
– How many show that they had email newsletters/downloadable newsletters? 3
What we found typically, was that for companies like JMMB and Jamaica Producers Group, it was their sub brands that had the blogs that were updated. For JMMB it was its Investment arm, while for Jamaica Producers Group it was their Tropical Foods and Rumcakes brands that were being kept current.
Of the 26 companies listed on the Junior Market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange that we looked at.
-How many had a news/media/blog-like section? 19
-How many regularly updated it and within to the last month ? 3
-How many show that they had email newsletters/downloadable newsletter? 2
We got way more details especially on their status in social media and also what percentage of their CEOs and executives are on platforms such as linked in, but for this, we’re focused totally on the status of Jamaican Business Blogging.
THE QUESTIONS IT ALL RAISES
So the questions that rise from this are not just about these listed Jamaican businesses, but they are ones any Caribbean business can ask. What are the beliefs and internal culture that guides your marketing and communications strategy in this fast emerging Digital Caribbean and Global Digital Economy?
Does your Caribbean business believe that your B2B, B2C customers, shareholders have not gone digital or social enough for you to warrant a serious change and investment in this direction, so you still with the traditional despite the diminishing returns?
Do your Caribbean business have clear Digital Strategies that will guide its growth, locally, regionally and internationally?
Do you know the current and changing needs, expectations and behaviour of your current and potential customers ?
What we ask, given this Status of Jamaican Business Blogging Case Study this — does the current status of these Jamaican Listed Businesses, Indicative of Caribbean Businesses ?
Facts remain, If Caribbean businesses are serious about their customers and remaining relevant and visible in the local, regional and global Digital Economy, they will get serious about their ideas, creating and sharing their stories — then they will get serious about business blogging.
WHERE AND HOW TO START?
Email me email@example.com. I’m happy to answer your questions via email or a schedule an initial 15min call. Happy to help you get clear on How to start your Business Blog and Digital Strategy.
Additionally, if you found this blog useful, do subscribe to our Email Newsletter, we have monthly updates and information about the approaching Caribbean Blogger’s Week being staged by our sister brand SiliconCaribe.com and we have an ebook coming out shortly that we know will be useful for your Caribbean Business. #DigitalCaribbean #SocialCaribe