Just today Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox published the findings of a recent eye tracking study on the reading habits around corporate blogs. Of course, I find this of immense interest both as the blog editor of a Top 10 corporate blog (LinkedIn), but more so since I publish rankings for the Top 10 corporate blogs out there. I found this a perfect opportunity to re-rank the top business blogs out there and study their front page structure.
More on the front page structure of the Top 5 Corporate blogs (ranked August 2010), after this confusing graphic.
Before I continue, here were the results of the eye tracking study: “Showing summaries of many articles is more likely to draw in users than providing full articles, which can quickly exhaust reader interest.” This is probably true of all blogs but more so for corporate blogs which for the most part are just a feed of breaking news press release style items. That said, I’m glad to announce that we’re considering a redesign for the LinkedIn blog (more on that later). But, I digress…
Here are the top five corporate blogs on the planet today (based on Technorati Authority, Aug 2010) show an interesting breakdown and development in terms of their front page structure and design. Read on. Please note: these reviews are purely on front page design as well as social media engagement.
1. Google: While Google’s corporate blog has a killer Technorati popularity ranking, it’s design is pretty staid and boring – providing full articles, while not doing much to engage ANY conversation at all. No comments nor focus on the author of the post makes this blog as useful as a press center and that’s how Google wants to play it. Brand recognition, over 600K subscribers to the blog, over a million followers on Twitter ensures they’re widely read, but if you’re a small business owner and want to create an engaging blog with compelling content to educate your users – see #4 on this list (Mint blog). If you’re a brand that wants to create a press center 2.0, this model may suffice. Again, from a front page design perspective – THUMBS DOWN.
2. Facebook: Facebook’s corporate blog moved up in the rankings overtaking Twitter’s blog and their newly redesigned front page is only gonna help them further give Google’s blog a run for it’s money. Positives: Simple, easy to use design aesthetics, integration with Facebook (whether it’s the post author’s Facebook profile or integration with the Facebook fan page, which has over 15 million followers!), engaging design – summaries over full articles, terrific share functionality (Comments, Likes and Share – again fully integrating into the design one expects to see within Facebook), Facebook connect integration (Duh!), and each post also links to topic category links (brilliant!). Love everything about the blog front page / design / usability. THUMBS UP. AWESOMENESS!
3. Twitter: Moved down a spot since last year’s corporate blog rankings, Twitter’s blog is currently HOT cos Twitter’s hot, but again they closely mimic the Google model. No comments nor integration with their product (their posts don’t even have a retweet button!!!) and it takes forever to identify the author of the post. Again, this is but a press center 2.0 model. Decent integration with the corporate Twitter account doesn’t make up for a poor front page design. THUMBS DOWN.
4. Mint: Mint’s blog even prior to the Intuit acquisition, set the standard when it came to CONTENT. They created the most compelling, objectively viewed content around personal finance and data, which got organically picked up by the blogosphere and press in general. No wonder they have rocked to the Top 5 and are at #4, this year. From a front page design, they’re a tad cluttered, but contain all the hallmarks of a great content portal – carousel with featured stories, broad categories and personal finance that is easily accessible, article summaries vs. full articles, great sharing tools (integration with Facebook, Twitter, Stumble Upon, etc.), and JUST GREAT CONTENT that focuses on the product. THUMBS UP!
Another corporate blog that kicks butt in the CONTENT category is Ok Cupid. Their content is exceptional and is quoted by mainstream press by the New York Times, but unfortunately Technorati has screwed up their authority rankings and I’ve no way to verify if they belong to our Top 10 rankings.
5. Yahoo! Search: Another straightforward old school corporate blog design with full articles vs. summaries. Also, Yahoo’s Yodel Anecdotal or Dell’s Direct2Dell corporate blog may have taken this spot if Technorati hadn’t screwed up their rankings this year. As for Yahoo’s Search Corporate blog front page design, I’d have to give it a THUMBS DOWN.
Summary: The Top 5 corporate blogs show an interesting breakdown in terms of their full articles vs. summaries with #2 and 4 (both having made a jump to a higher rank this time) and both having not only summaries but also featured story sections with images that help drive engagement around compelling content. #1 and 3 did well because of their brands and their hotness in terms of popularity (in general) and newsworthiness.
While this may work in the short term, I think for business blogs to engage more of their audience I’d rather go the Facebook or Mint blog route. I’m also glad that the next iteration of LinkedIn’s corporate blog (ranked #9 currently on this 2010 listings) will have both a featured stories section as well as summaries over full articles. Stay tuned for more.
In the meanwhile, leave a comment if you feel your favorite corporate blog could be more popular than any of the above five blogs. Would love to know why?