The Corporate Blogging Alphabet
Corporate Blogging Alphabet – What Is It?
I built this alphabet to showcase what I think are the benefits and best practices of corporate blogging. Not all of these entries will apply to every individual blogging scenario, but they all apply to corporate blogging in general. So here you have them, corporate blogging benefits and best practices … from A to Z.
Accountability applies to corporate blogging in two primary ways. With single-author blogs (such as CEO blogs), the author can inspire trust among readers by “owning” his or her commentary. But companies also assume a certain level of accountability for all blogs under their umbrella, regardless of disclosures to to the contrary. So blogging accountability must be carefully considered at both the individual and corporate level.
Used properly, a corporate blog or CEO blog can make a company more believable. And in the low-trust, post-Enron world of corporate skepticism, a little believability goes a long way. Use your blog to tell an honest story in a passionate way.
A common mistake in corporate blogging is when organizations use the blog as “website, part two,” shoveling press releases and other corporate literature onto the blog. To achieve the believability mentioned above, a corporate blog must take on the candid, heartfelt voice of the author. Sure, it takes courage to do this (and probably a set of corporate blogging guidelines), but your readers will reward you by becoming advocates.
Corporate blogs are direct. You write your message, click the “Publish” button, and your words are directly viewable across the Internet. This removes intermediaries from the corporate communication chain. There are no journalists or editors to put their own spin on things. The message goes from the author directly to the audience. Never again will your message be diluted or mis-aligned (unless you do that yourself).
In my opinion, only enthusiastic bloggers should be allowed to represent the company. Half-hearted commentary stands out like a purple elephant in the corporate blogosphere. This kind of commentary does more harm than good, whether it comes from the CEO, the communications chief, or Joe Employee. Enthusiasm comes across in blog posts — and it’s contagious.
One of the great things about blogs is the versatility with which they can be used. A corporate blog, for example, can be used internally or externally. It can be a news channel, a customer-feedback forum, an educational tool, or a combination of these things.
And Yahoo-friendly, and MSN-friendly, etc. A corporate blog can help you increase your search engine visibility in a number of ways. For one thing, a blog gives you an easy way to expand your website with new content. If you blog daily for a year, you’ve got 365 new pages of topical content (and 365 new items for people to find through search engines). Blogs are also more “social” than websites, so in time a well-written blog will acquire links from other blogs. This kind of link popularity does wonders for your search engine ranking.
Nine times out of ten, a corporate blog is more “happening” than its website counterpart. Blogs are easier to update than a regular website. And when you update a blog often with quality content, it becomes an active resource that people are more inclined to revisit.
When you keep your customers well informed on new products, services or “behind the scenes” company happenings, you increase the likelihood of future business from those customers. Corporate blogging is a simple but effective way to keep people informed.
Generally, corporate blogs are not the place for corporate speak. At least, not a customer-facing corporate blog. Save that language for your annual report. Business blogs evolved from online diaries, single-author sources of information and insight. Much of this plain-speak expectation carries over to corporate blogs, so the potential power of blogging for business purposes lies within the blog’s frankness, not its jargon.
Use your corporate blog to show readers how knowledgeable you are on your subject. When your readers see how much information you have to share on a subject, they’ll recommend your blog to others who are interested in the subject. These are the kinds of readers you want. Just remember, some of your readers will know as much about the subject as you do. So check your facts before posting.
Corporate blogs can be configured in endless ways to serve endless roles. They can stand alone, be part of a website, or be part of a larger network of blogs. Because the technical aspects of a corporate blog are limitless, so too are the uses for the blog.
Blogs reduce the technical side of web publishing to such a degree that anyone can blog, regardless of their web experience. Blogs are so manageable, in fact, that even a large web presence built on blogging technology can be managed by a single individual. In this way, blogs are only an initial burden on the IT department. Once a blog is setup, it can be managed by the author alone.
Corporate blogs “pull” readers to the message, rather than “push” the message to the reader. People can sign up for a blog in total privacy, simply by pulling the blog’s RSS feed into their feed reader. In this way, corporate blogs are non-invasive for readers. The readers come to the blog — the blog is not thrust upon them, like other forms of corporate communication. As long as blogs adhere to this non-invasive, respectful approach, they will be held in higher esteem than other communication channels like email.
Corporate blogs are more than simple communications tools. With their versatility and ease of use, a corporate blog can server operational roles. This might include internal collaboration (like an intranet) or outward instruction (like an interactive Q&A forum). Blogs can be an active part of your organization’s daily operations.
The key to a good blogging experience is to have a purpose. Sure, you can plunge right into corporate blogging and figure out your purpose as you go. That’s part of the appeal. But your blog will be more effective (and easier to produce) if you have a blogging plan and purpose. Maybe your blogging purpose is to educate readers on what goes on behind the scenes at your company. Maybe you want to increase your visibility on the Web. Or maybe the CEO wants to share his ideas on the business to foster interaction. Fill in the blanks as needed, just be sure you have a purpose behind your blogging efforts.
Qualitative and Quantitative
When corporate blogging is done well, it has both a quantitative and qualitative affect. Because blogs are easy to publish, they help you increase the quantity of content on your website. This increases your blog’s value to readers, as well as its visibility to search engines. If the content is also useful and informative to your key audience, the blog adds quality. A well-managed corporate blog can enhance your web presence by adding both quantity and quality.
Blog content can be reused for a variety of purposes. For example, if you expand on a blog post (or compile several blog posts), you can create articles that you can syndicate online. This will help you grow your web presence and even more. This is one of the strategies I teach through my blogging guide mentioned at the end of this article. Another example of reusing blog content — Seth Godin’s book Small Is the New Big is simply a compilation of his blog posts over the last few years.
Okay, so this is somewhat repetitive of ‘C’ for candid. But it’s worth repeating. The most popular of the corporate and CEO blogs reached their level of popularity by being straightforward. And here, I’m referring to both the design and the content of the corporate blog. Blogs that are “overly designed” don’t really look like blogs at all. They look like corporate websites, which (I believe) takes away some of their candidness and authenticity. The same is true of blog content. Blog postings that are straightforward and candid will generate more trust, interaction and “buzz” among the blog’s readers than thinly-veiled corporate speak.
The best corporate blogs are thoughtful. I don’t mean thoughtful in the sense of “kind,” although kindness goes a long way on the Web. I mean thoughtful as in “full of thought.” Blogs with a lot of “fluff” don’t fare well in the corporate blogosphere. So be sure you put some thought into your blog’s content.
Your corporate blog should be easy to navigate and read. In fact, any blog should be easy to use, or any website for that matter. Web readers and researches are skilled at hopping from site to site. They don’t need much of a reason to bail out on you, and they’ll do just that if your blog is hard to navigate. Review a list of the most widely read blogs on the Internet, and you’ll find they have something in common — they all have simple designs with high levels of usability.
You should blog because you want to, not because you think you have to. If you start a corporate blog just because people say you should, it will lack the heartfelt enthusiasm that’s a hallmark of great blogs. (See ‘E’ for enthusiasm above.)
Your corporate blog is the ideal place to share your wisdom about your industry. This will help you position yourself as an authority in your field, and will also help foster the trust that’s mentioned under the letter ‘T’ above. Show people what you know about your industry, but do it in a conversational way. A “tip of the day” series is a prime example of this. It’s a great way to share your wisdom, and it’s the kind of thing others will link to if it’s full of useful content or advice.
Okay, so I cheated with this letter. But blogs are certainly extensible (and you try to come up with a good adjective starting with ‘X’). Corporate blogs, business blogs, CEO blogs — any blog — can grow as the company grows. You can add additional authors, additional sections, whatever you need. And it doesn’t require and act of the I.T. gods to get it done. By design, blogging programs are meant to be extensible.
If you ask me, anonymous blogs are not blogs at all … just plain old websites. A corporate blog can have one author or several authors, but it should be somebody’s blog. It should be yours, or his and hers, or all of yours. Somebody needs to own it. Otherwise, nobody will trust what it has to say.
The definition of zippy is “lively and full of energy.” These are great traits for a corporate blogs. Some people equate the word “corporate” with “dull.” Show them otherwise. Inject your personality. Show them the passion you have for your industry. That’s the only thing that will keep them coming back.