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Corporate blogging – worth the effort?

In Published articles or white papers on March 16, 2010 at 6:01 pm
Are corporate blogs appropriate and effective for your business?

By Shelly Bowen, Vistage, September 2007

Topic: Online Marketing


The range of blog topics and types online nowadays is staggering. Everyone from teenagers to politicians to rockstars has a blog. As defined by Wikipedia, a blog, short for Web log, is “a website where entries [news and commentaries] are written in chronological order”.

These entries are generally written by an individual in a personal or even casual tone of voice.
Surprisingly, even though the cost to set up a blog is relatively low, and the benefits to businesses add up, the majority of U.S. Vistage members — 81%, according to a recent online poll — do not have a corporate blog.

Why not? Are blogs inappropriate or ineffective for small to medium sized businesses?

To find out, Vistage executive Web editor Shelly Bowen caught LinkedIn “Community Evangelist” Mario Sundar’s presentation on leveraging social media, including blogs, at a recent online marketing summit. She also interviewed two Vistage members, Brian Hudson and Andrew Buerger, who both post corporate blogs, about their experiences.

The benefits of blogging, according to Hudson and Buerger, outweigh any pitfalls.

The benefits include:

Visibility

Blogs add pages of content to your site, all related to your area of expertise, making it easier for the public and search engines to find you online. Allow comments, and you’ll have even more content, created by your community. 

Credibility

“Our blog at HealthCare Scouts positions our employees as industry leaders,” Hudson says. “When clients see someone from our team write about an industry event, it gives them confidence that we have the expertise they need.”

Differentiation

A blog sets you apart from the competition and enables new visitors to get to know you and your products.

Relationship-starting

The name, “voice,” and photo of the blogger creates a personal connection with the reader. “It could be the next best thing to a personal sales call,” Hudson says.

Better interaction and feedback from customers

“Our customers provide feedback — not always good — through our blog. You have to develop a thick skin, but it gives you a great opportunity to discuss what you’re doing with the community,” Buerger says.

Immediacy

A blog allows for continuous and timely communication. “If I have something on my mind, I post it. A company newsletter or other form of communication takes too long. This is fast,” Buerger notes.

“Our blog is an educational space not only for our clients and candidates, but also our employees,” Hudson says. “We post our corporate news there, and feed it to our homepage, so the headlines are visible.” Not surprisingly, Sundar’s presentation outlined similar benefits. He also advocated inviting comments and being responsive and available if you have a blog. It makes you seem more accessible and personable to both your customers and your employees.

So what should you blog about?

Consider these topics:

  • Industry news
  • New products and services
  • Awards and achievements
  • Events you’ve hosted, sponsored, or attended

Tips to a Successful Blog

Blogs should be informal, yet clean and clearly represent the company, and be written by an identified individual who can provide some insight to your business or industry that traditional communications don’t.

Hudson encourages everyone in his 30-employee company to blog. A gatekeeper reviews all employee entries as well as submitted public comments before posting to ensure they are appropriate.

Buerger, on the other hand, writes his blog himself. “It’s a lot more work than I thought,” Buerger says. “Make sure you have the time to dedicate to writing every week. And having a good editor helps.” He also allows comments to be posted immediately, and receives a notice each time. “We chose this route for the immediacy. If we find any comments offensive, we’ll delete it.”

Test-drive a free blog by setting one up at wordpress.com or blogger.com. But when it comes time to publish your corporate blog, it should be published in a subfolder of your own domain. That way, the content will be credited to your site — and not the blogger site. Other blog software that has more flexibility are available for a fee, including typepad.com and moveabletype.com.

Whatever you do, be unique. Don’t copy content – whether from someone else or from your own marketing and PR materials. Link to relevant content instead. Engage your reader with your own point of view, commentary, and experience, and you’ll be drawing more and more loyal readers for months to come.

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