The Basics of Blogging
You learned everything you need to know in kindergarten
Blogging can play an important role in your company’s internal and external communications. Microsoft, IBM, Google and Ford are just a few of the companies that have learned the value of having a corporate blog. In fact, each has several, run by various employees.
Corporate blogs provide benefits in several key areas.
Employee communication. Management gets a chance to explain the “why” behind company decisions, seek anonymous employee input and promote new initiatives.
Employee recruitment. Corporate blogs provide prospective hires with a unique look behind the curtain at large companies. These blogs give a great sense of corporate culture that may attract new hires.
Public relations. They are great tools to help “get the word out” and communicate accomplishments.
Web site ranking. Corporate
blogs build site traffic and inbound links from relevant Web sites … all of which boost your Web site ranking in search engines.
New business. Prospects can use your blog to learn about new company developments and product/service
benefits. This builds an ongoing dialogue with prospective clients.
Customer retention. Existing
customers will value the ongoing
communication and insight into
their trusted vendor.
To have an effective corporate blog there are a few guidelines you should follow. With a nod to Robert Fulghum, I’ve taken some of the basic lessons from his best-selling book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindgergarten” and applied them to blogging.
n Honesty is the best
Readers of your blog will respect you for your opinion, even if they disagree, as long as they can tell you are being honest. Since blogs usually are a blend of opinion and fact, you should strive for honesty in both. If you lie or provide bad data, chances are you will get caught. Imagine that your competitors read it (they probably will) and are just waiting for a chance to catch you in a lie. Your blog is a reflection of your company, so it also should reflect your company values.
The blog forum is a good way to communicate your company’s accomplishments to the world. Be sure to include on your blog, items such as:
• new product/service announcements,
• new customer wins,
• new hires,
• investments, and
• expansion plans.
In addition, you should give your readers a peek behind the curtain. Too many corporate bloggers are afraid of giving up the “secret formula” that makes their company a leader. Find a way to provide your audience with insight into your company without giving away confidential information. Don’t be afraid of your competitors stealing ideas. You’re only providing them with a peek, not a full, open look.
While these are all great things to discuss, you also must remember to keep it short. Readers don’t want to feel like your blog is a walking marketing brochure. Keep the writing style conversational and use a human voice. Don’t let your public relations, legal or marketing departments “cleanse” your speech.
n Play nice with others.
Linking is a valuable skill in blog writing. When you introduce a complex topic, link to a news source that provides additional information. This will help readers better understand your post. Links can be directed to information on your own corporate site, as well as to outside Web sites/blogs. Linking to other blogs will make those bloggers take notice of you. (Especially if you drop them a note about your link.) It’ll encourage other bloggers to link to your posts, as well. This sharing of readership through links will raise the tide and increase your blogging
n Be a good listener.
If you choose to allow comments to be posted to your blog, then you must be diligent about the process. Screen them so you can eliminate content spam, anonymous flames and inappropriate language.
Do not screen out your critics. Their comments can be the most valuable, because it will give you a chance to address their concerns in a public forum. If a critic is correct about a problem with your company, admit
it and inform him of a planned fix. If you don’t know the answers, say so and get help from someone who does.
n Clean up your own mess.
Every company makes mistakes. Trying to sweep the problem under the rug never works long term. If someone says something bad about your product, link to it. Use your blog to address mistakes and communicate a remedy.
As Microsoft employee and corporate blogger Robert Scoble, says, “It’s all about building long-term trust. The trick to building trust is to show up! If people are saying things about your product and you don’t answer them, that distrust builds.”
n Give credit where credit
Applaud your competitors for their innovations. Don’t use your blog to bash your competitors. Take the high road, and your audience will appreciate your professionalism. This will surely help you build loyalty and trust among your readers.
n Do your homework.
Research any data, quotes or news articles before making them public. Provide a source for your information whenever possible. This will add credibility to your post and defer blame if data is erroneous. If you’re blogging about your company’s products/services then you must be well educated about them. Feel free to include guest posts from specialists in your company.
Corporate blogs can be a great tool when handled properly. However, they also can be very problematic if these basic rules are not followed. Good luck and good blogging. yy
Peter Figueredo is co-founder and CEO of NYC-based NETexponent, an online direct response agency. He can be reached by e-mail at peter@NETexponent.com.
For more articles on e-commerce, visit the Target Marketing Web site at www.targetmarketingmag.com.