A relatively recent study of corporate blogging practices found that about 20% of Fortune 500 and almost 40% of Inc. 500 companies have public-facing blogs.Â While Corporate America has been relatively slow to adapt, many who have implemented blogs have found the effort rewarding.
Corporate blogging can be a great way to interact with your customers, build brand awareness, and attract new prospects, but it requires an investment (more in people time than anything) and planning.
The following are some keys to launching a successful corporate blog:
- Blog For The Right Reason. Don’t do it just because your competitor is or your CEO read an article about blogging in BusinessWeek.Â Set clear objectives and ensure that everyone understands the purpose of the blog – the raison d’etre.Â A corporate blog that just hawks product or is another outlet to publish traditional press releases will likely fail.
- Content Is Still King. Whether it be Twitter, email marketing, or a blog, good content is still the key to success.Â Be certain you can provide something of value – insights, hints, etc.
- Develop A Social Media Policy. Even if you don’t have a corporate blog, it is good to have a social media policy.Â A good policy is not about control but instead gives clear guidelines about what employees can and can’t talk about (e.g. competitors, future products, etc.).
- Make It A Priority. Find someone at a senior level who is going to champion the blog and make sure that the people who are involved get recognized for success.Â In most cases, those who should contribute already have a full plate and encouragement and recognition will only help.
- Cultivate A Stable Of Authors. Sometimes companies are nervous about letting the ‘rank and file’ employees blog so they limit the pool of authors to senior management.Â In most cases, I think the more people you can get involved the better. The more authors, the more perspectives, the more the workload is shared, and the more diversity in subjects covered.Â The real criteria for someone to post should be that she has something to say of interest to your audience (i.e. blogworthy) and she is going to be passionate about what she writes.Â Don’t be shy about recruiting people, as some may need a small nudge to get started.
- Figure Out the Process. Are authors going to be able to publish immediately or will there be an editor that approves all posts before they go live?Â Your process depends on many factors such as who is blogging, how sensitive your material is, and the purpose of the blog.Â If you do need an editor, make sure whomever is responsible for that role can be responsive.Â You don’t want blog posts setting in limbo for weeks before they are published.
- Discuss What Makes a Blog Post Good. Don’t assume that because someone has written marketing copy, a press release or a Facebook post, she will inherently know what makes a compelling blog entry.Â Get your pool of bloggers together and talk about your audience, the blog’s purpose, and the type of content that people will find interesting.Â Share examples of good blogs and discuss what make them interesting.
- Measure, Learn, and Adapt. Track which posts get high viewership and generate good comments and determine what differentiates them from those that don’t.Â Do the successful ones get picked-up by search engines, tweeted, digged, etc.?Â If so, why?Â You might be surprised what types of blog entries your audience finds engaging.
- Embrace Comments. Comments are one of the best things about blogging – they help create a real discussion with the audience and you get great feedback.Â You do need to decide whether you are going to review (moderate) comments before they are posted live.Â Ideally, you will have comments posted immediately because that provides a better experience for the reader.Â However, there are valid reasons to review comments first, and if comments are moderated, ensure that comments are reviewed in a timely manner.Â Also, make sure the authors know they should respond to comments and they understand the best way to do that (e.g. don’t get defensive).Â Also, before the first post is published, discuss how you are going to react to negative comments.Â Make sure everyone is clear that you will get some negative comments and those shouldn’t be deleted if they are just critical of the company (vs. use profanity, etc.).
- Develop a Schedule. I think about corporate blog entries in terms of scheduled and impromptu posts.Â Scheduled posts are those that are planned in advance – the topic, author and date are all set.Â Scheduled posts help ensure that you will have a steady stream of blogworthy updates (e.g. one a week) and key topics are certain to be covered (e.g. seasonal items).Â Impromptu posts complement scheduled posts. They are any blogworthy idea that employee wants to write about.Â One of the challenges is to get people thinking “I should blog about that”.
- Promote Your Blog. Don’t forget to promote your blog and posts in your email marketing, through other social marketing (e.g. Twitter), on your website, in print publications, within your organization, etc.Â Also, remind authors to promote the blog and their posts to their own network.
What do you think?Â Did I leave anything out?