There are a lot of really good blogs out there. There are so many that there are scores of roundups spotlighting the very best blogs in our industry. This isn't one of those roundups. In fact, there's only one criterion: Do marketers follow them? Naturally, that's a rather broad question. After all, we follow some blogs because they're informative, others because they're fun, and still others because they inspire and push us to think in new ways. Blogs, or rather blogging, is the raw material that fuels the way we think about our space.
Some of the blogs are run by agencies, others by individuals, and one is actually a branded blog. There are blogs about business, and blogs about design. There are blogs about technology, and there are blogs that are purely about advertising. If that seems scattershot to you, consider the diverse range of skill sets needed to bring a single campaign to life, from account people and creatives, to media buyers and developers. We work in a diverse space, and reading blogs -- especially a wide range of blogs -- is one of the best tools we have for breaking down silos, or at least thinking outside of them.
If you don't know Adam Kleinberg, you're definitely not doing your homework. He's the CEO of Traction, but he's also an outstanding blogger. What makes his agency blog so great? It's thoughtful. That might sound like a minor compliment, but in a space overrun with hype, spin, and jargon, Kleinberg and the rest of the Traction team take care to write posts that actually say something. A personal favorite? His take on the Richard Sherman controversy that played such a big role in last year's NFL playoffs.
Side note: Traction also posts job openings to its blog, so if you're an agency type looking for a new gig, you really need to follow.
Like all agency blogs, there's a fair bit of self-promotion at the 360i blog. But the reason 360i's blog keeps bringing us back for more is the agency's commitment to making its thought leaders available for comment on the latest developments affecting our industry. Check this take on Yahoo's image-rich native ads for mobile, or this post on what marketers need to know about Twitter's new mute button.
Shane Atchison, CEO of Possible, doesn't run a full-time blog, but he often shares his thoughts on LinkedIn, and chances are you've likely seen his posts in your social media feed. His topics range from think pieces on company culture to an interview with the CEO of Alaska Airlines. But whatever the topic, Atchison writes with a candid voice of experience that makes him a must-read.
Some people like to go deep on UX and UI. But even if you don't nerd out on the design and functionality of a website, it's worth checking in with Luis Abreu from time to time. He has a decade's worth of experience designing high quality iOS and web applications, so he's clearly informed about his topic. But he doesn't just rely on his opinion. In fact, in one of his most popular posts, Abreu uses data to argue for a rethink on the so-called hamburger menu. Sure, you may not have heard of the hamburger menu, but give the post a read and you'll soon realize that Abreu is a designer who is committed to improving functionality and user experience in digital.
Technically, this GE blog falls under the category of branded content. But if you're looking for insights into technology and innovation, it's hard to go wrong with the researchers at GE. So while you can think of the blog as an ad for GE, we prefer to think of this blog as a window onto the technology that shapes and will continue to shape our world. It's a great blog to lose yourself in on a slow day.
No list of bloggers would be complete without a self-proclaimed rambler. Enter Adam Kmiec, who runs enterprise social and content for the Walgreens family of companies by day and blogs at The Kmiec Ramblings by night. The blog runs the gamut from marketing topics like Instagram's ability to deliver on social engagement to the problem of slow internet speeds. But what really makes the blog great is a weekly roundup called the "Friday Five" that gives digital marketers a quick hit of the week's most relevant stories.
There are only three Harrison Monarth blogs up on the Harvard Business Review website, but each one is worth a read. Monarth is a speaker and author who works with leaders and organizations on positive behavior change, authentic leadership, and effective communication. Whether he's writing about hierarchies without job titles or how to empower your team, his insights are certainly applicable to digital marketing. And his post on storytelling as a strategic business tool is not to be missed.
Maybe there's something in the water at GE that makes the company's culture so welcoming to bloggers. Consider Beth Comstock, GE's CMO, who is certainly a must-follow for anyone interested in topics like leadership and innovation. Contributing to a LinkedIn series that asked influencers to share lessons from their youth, Comstock penned a thoughtful piece about getting your foot in the door. On the innovation front, Comstock is always keen to share insights from life at GE, including this piece about how the long-running tech company incorporates lessons from startups.
We haven't confirmed this, but outspoken might just be Mark Cuban's middle name. So it's not surprising that Cuban has a blog. In fact, Cuban's blog has been a must-read for a long time, and it's still relevant today. Some posts speak directly to marketing, while others hit topics that are of interest to marketers, such as access to the mobile web. But what makes Cuban's blog so useful is his depth of experience, which you can see in posts like this one where he shares his thoughts on the future of streaming. Oh yeah, that piece was written way back in 1999, when most people thought streaming had something to do with running water, which is exactly why posts like this one are such a great tonic for the instant predictions that seem to pollute our feeds on a daily basis.
It's not hard to find copywriters who run great blogs, but Copyranter keeps calling us back for more, probably because we just can't get enough of the blog's unvarnished commentary. But apparently we're not alone because many of the posts, covering topics like the ad industry's inability to understand women or the embarrassing state of American ads, are also published on Vice, which may or may not be safe for work, depending on your company culture.
If you ever get the feeling that your developers are speaking a different language, you might want to check out Wired's Web Monkey blog. The topics are fairly technical, but the writing is incredibly accessible, so even if you're not building your own website, it's a good place to go to upgrade your knowledge base. And for those who are writing code, there are some nice cheat sheets and code snippets to choose from.
Bernard Marr is an author and consultant who writes a lot about big data, performance management, and analytics. Usually, his writing appears on LinkedIn, and it often draws a lot of views and comments because Marr excels at taking seemingly dry topics and making them accessible. Interested in performance management? Marr breaks down the top five tools. Want to know how big data will change marketing? Marr has a take that's worth sharing and talking about. Wondering if your organization has a sound strategy for using big data? Again, Marr has you covered.
If there's a place where marketing, PR, social, and customer service collide, it's probably somewhere in Peter Shankman's head, which is exactly what makes Shankman's blog a must-read for anyone who works at, or with, a brand. Sometimes Shankman blogs about business lessons learned from life experiences like his daughter's first birthday party. Other times he writes pieces that challenge conventional wisdom, such as his post about the benefits of quitting Foursquare. But whatever the topic, following Shankman is always an adventure.
Michael Estrin is a freelance writer.
"Businesswoman with digital reader in coffee shop" image via Shutterstock.