June 30, 2009

Avoid the Traps of Corporate Blogging

Blogging for your company can quickly become a trap. CEOs who agree to blog regularly often run out of time or desire. Or you might delegate blogging to a lower-level marketing person who doesn’t really ‘get’ your company. If you follow a few simple rules, your blog can be on the road to success.

  1. Don’t sell, sell, sell – Your social media presence needs to provide value to its audience. Think about what your desired audience wants to hear. Business advice? A peek under the hood of your product development team? Real stories from customers like themselves? A weekly advertisement for your company quickly becomes passed over and ignored. 37Signals’ company blog Signal vs. Noise is a great example of a corporate social media stream (over 100,000 RSS subscribers) that very rarely writes about their products. Instead they offer insight for Web developers, tips on UX design and respond to articles and blogs from across the Web.
  2. Don’t tie your blog too closely to a single author –  Employees, even CEOs, change jobs. You need to make sure that your social media stream has value beyond a single person. One way to achieve this is to spread authorship among a number of authors at your organization. The Wells Fargo – Wachovia Blog is doing this to help customers make the transition while they merge the two consumer banks. Another way is to use a created personality, anthropomorphizing the author of the blog. This can be tricky to do without looking trite or feeling inauthentic, but it can work for some brands. The Chicago Tribune has been successful using their “web ambassador” Colonel Tribune as a face for blogging, tweeting and Facebook.
  3. Be authentic – Readers can sniff out inauthentic content quickly. Write about things that are of real interest to you and your audience will gravitate to you. Watch out so you don’t get caught in a situation like the outing of Guy Kawasaki’s ghost tweeters. Even one situation like this can reflect badly on your organization for a long time.
  4. Respond – Blogs feed on links. One of the best ways to get links into your blog is to link outside of your blog. Read other blogs and articles in your space and refer to them in your writing. Those links will be reciprocated when other writers respond to your opinions, building your audience. Listening works. Just look at authors like Umair Haque’s blog Edge Economy on the Harvard Business Publishing Web site. He listens and responds to his audience. In return, he gets more interest in his blog entries and more links from outside sites. Keeping up this ongoing conversation can be hard, but it can also be an endless source of ideas.

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