Unlike individual blogs, company blogs often exist solely as a promotional vehicle. As such, they often lack the power derived from an individual’s passion about a topic and their desire to share what they know.
5 Corporate blogging hurdles
To understand how to ignite your firm’s blog, let’s look at the top five challenges that corporate blogs face. While these points weren’t discussed explicitly during the blogchat, they get to the underlying issues that you need to understand in order to overcome them.
- Need to constantly add new, relevant content. There’s lots of excitement around creating the blog and getting the look and feel in line with the corporate brand. After the first few posts, the spark goes out and the blog barely gets touched for weeks or months. Since you’re effectively hanging out a “No one’s home sign”, you would have been better off by not blogging at all.
- Trouble finding several qualified employees to regularly contribute. Sometimes this can be due to the fact that blogging is viewed narrowly as a marketing or communications function. The reality is that you need to cast a broad net when considering who should contribute the most to the blog regardless of their department.
- Not part of anyone’s job. Most companies can find a few employees who are excited about the prospect of blogging and sharing their expertise. But if it’s not part of their job and tied to the factors that they’re evaluated on, blogging becomes something that gets done only when they’ve spare time, which in the current environment is rarely.
- Overcome employees’ fear of writing including the dreaded “blank page or screen” syndrome, the “I don’t know what to write disorder”, and the “others will see how bad my writing is” virus. All of these can lead to writing paralysis.
- Difficulty motivating C-level executives to write posts, particularly ones that do more than scream “me, me, me.” Remember no one likes to listen to someone who pounds his chest and only talks about himself.
5 Corporate blogging tips
When establishing a company blog (or group one for that matter), it’s critical to think through the rationale for having a blog and the tactics to keep it going. While blogging looks easy from the outside, like any other form of communications, it requires thought and planning. Here are five important tips for creating a high-value corporate or group blog.
- Decide on a topic for the blog. While this may appear obvious, many blogs overlook this crucial point. For company blogs, it’s important to think about a topic that relates to your offering but extends beyond “buy our product now” and only posting when you have a sale. (Of course, Woot is the notable exception to this point.)
- Tap into the expertise and passion of employees across the organization. Every area has something special to contribute. For example, product managers and merchandise buyers are good at discussing trends, customer service can discuss how to overcome common problems, and sales representatives know what buyers’ questions are. Remember it’s not about the number of bloggers or contributors but rather the consistency and continual addition of interesting content.
- Create an editorial function to ensure that there’s one consistent voice across the blog and that posts have been edited for basic grammar. Remember this is part of the branding of the blog. An additional benefit is that this can help mitigate writers’ concern about the quality of their posts. The blog should be written so that it sounds like real people talking, not corporate speak.
- Develop an editorial calendar to ensure that content is posted regularly across an array of topics. It can also help ensure that writers have a hook to start writing about. Think like a magazine editor and include a listing on topics by season or product cycle to help inspire your writers. (Note: While this subject was discussed on the chat, it’s an area that I teach in my classes and work with clients on.) One option that was recommended to liven things up was the use of guest bloggers. [Here’s a link to help you start yours. One of the participants shared this link.]
- Provide a set of guidelines for employee participation in social media. It’s critical to give people rules. This protects both your firm and your bloggers. Interestingly, no one mentioned this during the blog chat. It’s important to lay out when and how bloggers and others should identify themselves as employees as well as to set standards as to what they can say and do.
Remember that corporate blogs differ in character from individual blogs and require different ways to keep bloggers interested and engaged to ensure that you continue to produce attractive content.
Note: This blog post was inspired by Sunday night’s #blogchat which focused on creating and participating in company or group blogs. The ideas in the column are mine unless otherwise specified.
Thank you to Mack Collier (@MackCollier) and Ann Hanley of MarketingProfs (@MarketingProfs) for hosting the July 11th #blogchat. If you would like to see a full transcript of the chat, please click on this link. You can join the discussion Sundays at 9.00 pm eastern time/8.00 pm central time. The conversation continues during the week with the use of the #blogchat hashtag on Twitter. [For more information, please check out Mack’s post]
Photo credit: Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr