What’s surprising to me is how much people are surprised by this news. I am in complete agreement with this comment from RWW:
It also depends on the brand of the company itself. Let’s take Walmart as an example. It’s one of the corporate blogs listed above by The Blog Council. It’s fair to say that Walmart isn’t the most loved brand in the U.S., so I’m probably less likely to trust its corporate blog as a result. The style of blogging unfortunately doesn’t do any favors to Walmart either. Would you trust the following product recommendation from Walmart’s Checkout blog?
“As you know, I am an Apple fanatic, but this deal even has me looking twice. Our computer buyer has put together this!
It seems like it’s all so easy, but I guess it isn’t. Joe Wilcox from eWeek wrote a blog post that pretty much sums it up in the title: Make Your Corporate Blog Believable. That’s it folks, that’s the entire ball game. I have no specific tips on how often you should blog, nor the length of a post. It’s utterly irrelevant if you can’t decide on using your blog as a genuine, authentic voice of your company.
The Wall Street Journal has a piece today on “The Secrets of Marketing in a Web 2.0 World.” I can summarize it fairly quickly as well (and I don’t have to say either “Web 2.0″ or “social media” to accomplish it): the Internet has made it too hard for you to hide your dirty laundry, so you’d be a lot better off getting out in front of it. Incidentally, that sentence summarizes the output of months of work from most high-priced social media consultants.
So back to the “how-to” part of this post. Here are some tips we give our clients:
- Commit. Regardless of posting frequency, it’s important to view your blog as part of your marathon run, not your sprint. Except there isn’t even a finish line to the marathon. The only upside to this is it’s okay to make it a relay race (more later).
- Focus. You can use your corporate blog for product/company news (new products, technology, staffing, events, etc) – I’d call this a “marketing” blog, since you are really using it as a marketing vehicle. Another option is to use your blog for thought leadership, getting involved in bigger topics/debates online. The two aren’t mutually exclusive by any means, but you might want to maintain two separate blogs (or more) depending on the frequency of updates.
- Interact. Having a blog, but not allowing commenting is just plain ridiculous. But allowing commenting and not responding to commentors is just as bad. By no means do you need to engage with every snarky jerk who leaves a nastygram for you, but you should be generally interactive.
- React. The blog is not the end-all/be-all of your interactivity online. If you see others writing about your company, or you are “in the news”, or basically anything important is happening out there, you should address it on your blog. Remember, this is about enabling two-way discussions between your company and your customers, so the blog is one of the ways you should engage with those discussions.
- Spark. Don’t just be reactive to content, your blog is a great way to spark conversation. Maybe you have a new technology you are using/developing. Maybe there’s a policy debate about something that pertains to your company. Share your thoughts and opinions on the topic.
- DON’T sell. I think the Wal-mart example above is apropo of what’s wrong with selling on your blog. Your company should have enough other vehicles for “selling” your product. It’s fine to be gung-ho and a believer in what you are doing, but let that come through naturally. You don’t have to weave “why we’re so awesome” into every conversation you start.
A last thought on all this: pretend your blog post is the summary of something you talked about at a cocktail party (prior to your fourth appletini, that is). While at the party, you probably had interesting conversations about something related to your business. You probably spoke excitedly about some new innovation you are excited about. Maybe you talked to someone who had a really fascinating perspective on something tangential to your company.
You certainly didn’t whip out a credit card machine.