Corporate blogging is not about jumping on the bandwagon. It’s about developing a deeper relationship with your customers and other key audiences by being open, engaging in a dialogue, and showing the human side of the company. In To Blog or not to Blog, I shared the benefits of corporate blogging and the importance of understanding its value. But, businesses often find it challenging to start a blog. What should we write? What do we do when there’s a negative comment? How much time, and what resources do we devote to this? How do we measure return on investment? These questions will be answered in this and subsequent posts on corporate blogging.
Once you’ve decided to start a corporate blog, outline the goals, the author(s), format, style, writing guidelines, and measurements of success.
First, your company should be actively listening and connecting with others through online social networks. Read and provide thoughtful commentary on others’ blogs. Joining in conversations helps build company credibility and visibility in the online community, which is critical to the success of your blog.
Simply, pick the best person for the job. The author should understand blogging, be a good writer, have valuable insights to share, and be willing and able to commit the time. The author could be a company executive, or several employees could contribute to the blog on specific subjects.
Topics, Style and Frequency
Write about what you know, such as issues and trends in your industry, helpful product tips and tricks, and compelling customer stories. Give readers an idea of the topics you’ll cover through a blog “tagline,” or in a separate page about the blog and the author(s).
The writing style of the blog should be consistent with the company’s brand and culture. For instance, if your company is known for being creative or fun, this should be reflected in the tone of the blog.
Post regularly. A blog that provides frequent fresh content generates better search engine visibility and more return visits.
Typically, blogs share a common format, which enables readers to quickly find the information that interests them. A blog post includes the title/headline, date, author’s name, body of text, category labels, tags, permalink (a permanent Web address for the post to allow others to easily link to it), and readers’ comments.
Style key words, names, and other significant terms in boldface or italics to highlight important information for readers, who tend to scan online content before reading it. Embed links to related off-site content where appropriate, but don’t overdo it; you want the reader to finish your post.
Archive posts to make it easier for readers to search for interesting content. The archive is typically presented in a column to the left or right of the blog posts themselves.
Add photos, images, charts, and videos to illustrate your point and grab a reader’s attention. If you are not using company-owned materials, cite your source.
Consider “moderating” your blog to review comments for inappropriate content, or “blog spam,” before they are posted.
Blog Publishing Services
Free or low-cost tools like Blogger, TypePad and WordPress make it simple to set up a blog with just a few clicks, but be sure to connect it to your company’s domain name.
Establish a set of writing guidelines to provide participants with a common framework and ensure a successful blog. These may seem like common sense, but it’s a good idea to have them written down. Here are some suggested guidelines:
- Conduct yourself online as you would in real-life business situations.
- Think before you post. Once you post something, it can live online forever – even if you delete it.
- Online conversations should have an authentic, “human” voice; avoid sounding like a robot.
- Don’t disclose confidential or proprietary information.
- Show courtesy and respect to everyone, including your competitors and the people who comment on the blog.
- Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, or obscenity, and show proper consideration for others’ privacy (don’t mention customers by name if they haven’t given approval).
- Be sure you have your facts correct.
- Admit when you are wrong, fully and without delay.
- Honor copyright laws. Cite your sources.
- Quality matters. Use a spell checker, and review copy to correct grammatical errors.
In addition to the Education Vendors listed on our blog roll, look at these corporate blogs for inspiration:
The next post in this series will cover writing tips, ways to increase readership, and measurements of blog success. If you have other suggestions on corporate blogging, please share!