The Rules of Engagement: Creating a Corporate Blog People Want to Read
Company blogs are rapidly becoming de rigueur for corporate websites as a critical part of content marketing programs. With the demise of the trade publications, corporations large and small and in all industry sectors have turned to self-publishing as a way to establish expertise in areas of interest to customers. Blogs are also a way to keep content fresh and help boost your website’s SEO. But more than that, blogs allow a company to create a voice for themselves and show some personality.
Unfortunately, just having a company blog doesn’t immediately ensure its success. Posting a series of technical articles and calling it a blog doesn’t cut it. The key to success is creating a corporate blog people actually want to read and share with their peers. After all, blogging is not about drawing attention to oneself as a renowned journalist. It’s about building relationships and engaging with your customers.
ONE COMPANY, MANY VOICES
Some of the more successful company blogs have several bloggers with very unique voices. This allows frequent posting without exhausting one person. It also shows the company’s personality by letting different employees shine through. Each blogger is likely to establish his or her followers, and together become the public face of the company.
IBM, Applied Materials, Cadence, and Xilinx are major semiconductor companies that have all turned to corporate blogs as a way to demonstrate industry savvy to their customers, as well as give a personality to their brands. In the case of Cadence and Xilinx, the companies recruited former journalists to bring name recognition to their blog.
One thing is certain, regardless of who or how many bloggers your company blog has, is critical to establish internal blogging guidelines to ensure a consistent voice overall, and to protect the integrity of the company. Here are some guidelines to follow:
• Know and follow your company’s business conduct guidelines
• Bloggers are held personally responsible for content published in the company blog
• Bloggers should use their full identity and company title
• Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws
• Don’t site clients, partners or suppliers on business related matters without approval, or disclose company business publicly.
• Respect your audience. Use appropriate and politically correct language.
• Don’t misuse company trademarks
CREATING A BUZZ
Building an audience takes proactive measures. Don’t just expect to post on your blog and Google will magically rank it on the first page. Make sure you use relevant keywords in the title, page title, meta-descriptions, header, and alt tags. There are great SEO plug-in tools to help you get the most from your keywords. Share your blog posts on your company’s social medial platforms like Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and of course, LinkedIn. Invite your LinkedIn contacts and Facebook friends to subscribe to your blog, and send out weekly updates with fresh content. Remember, just because your blog is at the forefront of your mind, doesn’t mean others rush to check it out everyday. Periodic eNewsletters are a gentle reminder to your readers that you exist, and that you might just have something interesting to say.
Here’s one we hear often: “Why do we have a company blog if nobody comments on it?” First rule of blogging: it’s less about what you write and more about how you write it. Blogs are generally written in a casual style. Are your posts preachy and pontificating? No wonder nobody comments; you already know it all! It’s fine to have an opinion, as long as you leave room for others.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, but be ready for criticism! People who comment on blogs are often ready or hoping to discredit what you say. (Oh look, that guy, Anonymous, commented again!) Blogging is not for the faint-hearted. It requires a thick skin.
Lastly, ask for feedback. Reach out to colleagues, friends and customers (yes, email them!) to read your blog and invite them to add their comments just to get the ball rolling. That’s called practicing smart early engagement.
HOW LONG IS A STRING?
As long as it needs to be. In other words, don’t feel like you need to embellish and stretch out your blog to impossible lengths to demonstrate your expertise. These days, readers have short attention spans, particularly when reading something online. Get to the point quickly, before your reader moves on to the next post.
Frequent posts written about Relevant topics that establish a Unique voice that readers find Interesting and Timely will ensure your corporate blog bears FRUIT.