Should You Launch A Corporate Blog?

Many managed service providers are launching corporate blogs to get their message out to the masses and build stronger user communities. Do corporate blogs really deliver results? Absolutely -- if you get up to speed fast. But if you don't master the art of blogging, you'll fall on your face in a very public way. Here are five secrets to success with corporate blogging.

1. At First, Be Secretive: Many blogging platforms (WordPress, Blogger.com, etc.) allow you to write a blog that only invited users can see. Use this “private” approach for several months to develop your voice and writing style. You’ll also learn if you have the energy, focus and desire to blog frequently. Fact is, you can’t fake blogging. You’re either going to get addicted to it — or you’ll consider it a painful, demanding addition to your workload.

2. Stay Frequent, Link Often: There’s nothing worse than a corporate blog that never gets updated. It’s like an empty billboard that shows you have nothing of value to say. Be sure to update the blog at least once per week. And each entry should include multiple links to previous blog entries and peer blog entries. This will drive activity across your site.

3. Be Honest: Corporate blogs often get bogged down in corporate speak. Even worse, they look like they’ve been polished by the PR and marketing teams. A case in point: Check out this corporate blog at Symantec, featuring a dialog between Senior VP Art Wong and CTO Mark Bergman, two sharp guys talking about software as a service. You’d expect to get some great insights. Instead, we get lame exchanges like this:

  • Art: We’ve launched Online Backup Service into beta already.
  • Mark: That’s exciting! Can you tell us when that is going to be available as a real service and when you expect some of the other services to roll out?
Are we to believe that Mark — the CTO of Symantec — didn’t know his company had launched an online backup service? Better yet, he writes with exclamation points! Sorry, but senior executives at major software companies don’t write, talk or blog this way. You’ve got to use your real voice online — otherwise readers (like me) will dismiss you as a marketing mouthpiece.

4. Be Interactive: Blogs provide a way for readers to interact with you. You’ve got to welcome — rather than fear — reader “comments.” Avoid the temptation to turn off a blog’s comment features. Also, don’t force readers to “register” before they post a comment. Instead, let them share their thoughts — good and bad — about your blog posts and your business. This will drive incredible learning within your company.

Skeptical? Check out Direct2Dell, one of my favorite corporate blogs. It’s filled with thousands of reader comments — some positive, many negative. Dell’s PR, marketing and technology executives often reply to the comments. Many reader comments help drive Dell’s own product development. The key takeaway: Corporate blogs are about outward communication and inward communication. Accept it or don’t launch a blog.

5. Be Focused: Pick a topic and drive it home. Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz frequently writes about customer focus and open source. He comes across as an approachable, innovative executive who is open to new ideas. You can’t be all things to all people with a blog. Pick a few topics that are near-and-dear to your company’s focus, and blog about them at least once or twice per week.

Still not sure where to start? Send me an email (joe [at] ninelivesmediainc.com). We’re helping several clients to launch and polish their corporate blogs — even as we continue to build new editorial blogs of our own.
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