Corporate Blogging: Is It Right For You?
Thinking about starting a corporate blog? Here’s a look at the business blogging landscape from the marketing and operations viewpoints. This is a “back to basics” post to assist those who’ve been asking me about corporate blogging offline. Hope it’s helpful.
Why Create A Corporate Blog?
An organization publishes a corporate blog to meet its defined communication objectives and goals, which can include relationship building with target groups, positioning itself (or one or more of its employees) as industry experts, providing industry news/education, recruitment and media relations. Corporate blogging has evolved as an increasingly useful business technology over the past several years (as shown below in Gartner’s Technology Hype Cycle) and is becoming increasingly valuable as a communication and marketing tool for businesses who are willing to make the commitment – and it is a commitment.
Here are some key considerations…
What is the purpose of your blog and how will it deliver value/interest to your target audience?
Who is going to write it? Will the CEO make/have the time? Does accommodating/managing multiple contributors make sense for your business (i.e. employee contributors, guest contributors)? Who will manage the online community that forms around your blog (and other related online “outposts” in the social spheres that can work to help promote your blog and support your objectives)?
Once objectives are defined, blogging guidelines and a commenting policy will need to be set up and the company will need to be prepared to set up interdepartmental response channels to manage comments that require follow up. (There are a variety of free and paid tools that can support this workflow.)
Content / Editorial Calendar
Content is king in that if your content isn’t of value, the traffic will not come. If you deliver valuable content, your community will rise up and help promote your content and boost your WOM (word of mouth). Strategic (and ongoing) discussions around content frequency, quality, resources, workflow and purpose are critical to successful blogging.
“Corporate blogging is the best way to get information into the hands of your prospects. Those who benefit most from your services are those who are actively searching for your solution.” (Source: Compendium Blogware, Third Generation Corporate Blogging) Traditional marketing “pushes” or broadcasts messaging and information to targets in mass markets, whereas niche blogging “pulls” targets to your content. Traditional marketing is one-sided, whereas blogging can work as a two-way communication platform, enabling greater opportunities to build relationships with those most interested in your industry, your products/services and your ideas – and to create lead generation opportunities. (Consumers often seek your blog out online – and subscribe to it – because it provides them with a “solution” to whatever they are searching for online.)
In short, it is my opinion that the biggest challenges to corporate blogging are time, traffic and legal. The internal operational logistics behind blogging can bog some corporate workflows down – from content generation to blog post approval processes to real-time responsiveness (when it comes to comments or other online mentions of your brand). Issue number one (time), drives issue number two (traffic). Without consistent, quality content (posts at least once or twice a week), the traffic you’re hoping for won’t be there. And in some cases, legal likes to take a look at content before it posts, so that can slow things down a bit – but it’s also critical to include legal early on as you establish rules, policies and guidelines. Ultimately, you want to empower and provide your community manager with the flexibility to respond to comments in real time without legal or management approval. Guidelines need to be set first so as not to hinder prompt responses to your community, who will expect it of you.
Some businesses might feel concerned about managing negative comments. The first question to consider is, what volume of negative comment traffic are you currently getting via traditional mediums? The next question is, how much negative content is there about your brand online right now (you should be monitoring for this regardless of whether or not you are blogging)? Many businesses feel it is more important to be proactive in addressing negative content should it occur online. As part of your online strategic plan, you can prepare for negative comments and you can address them professionally as they may occur. If people have really negative things to say, they’ll say them regardless of whether or not you have a blog, so the perceived risk can alternatively be considered an opportunity to address issues should they arise. In this way businesses can work to nip problems in the bud. If you’ve done a good job at building a good rapport with your community, you may find that they are willing to respond to negative comments on your behalf, as well. Negative comments may very well be surrounded by positive comments; businesses should be prepared to trust their community to spot “complainers” in comment threads and only give serious weight to serious concerns that may (or may not!) be raised on your business blog.
Want More Info?
15 Companies That Really Get Corporate Blogging
Dealing with Detractors
Corporate Blog Trends and Samples
Corporate blogging can create or extend opportunities for cross-channel marketing, organic SEO, email marketing, lead generation, brand awareness, brand loyalty, multi-channel customer service — you may even benefit by working with an affiliate marketing program to monetize your blog. The marketing case is easy to make, but it’s important to ask — and answer — the strategic and operational questions first.
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