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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Success in [Corporate] Blogging

Megaphones originally uploaded by djfoobarmatt.
What makes a successful [corporate] blog?

Dan Greenfield from BernaiseSource recently drew my attention to a Wall Street Journal post titled Most Corporate Blogs Are Unimaginative Failures from 6/30/08. It referred to a Forrester Research study (How To Derive Value From B2B Blogging) about corporate blogs.

Dan replies with New Forrester Report Critiques Corporate Blogging, including successful corporate blogger perspectives from companies like Yahoo and its Yodel Anecdotal B2C blog and eBay with its eBay Ink blog. He also shares experience and advice from his time at Earthlink. Pay particular attention to his list of blog guidelines. [BTW, I'm honored that Dan refers to my comments.]

These are the summary points that Corporate Blogs Are Unimaginative Failures mentions: "Forrester found that most B2B blogs are “dull, drab, and don’t stimulate discussion.” Seventy percent stuck to business or technical topics, 74% rarely get comments, and 56% simply regurgitated press releases or other already-public news."

I haven't read the Forrester Report; however I do have observations stemming from Flooring The Consumer and The Carpetology Blog, and also the Wear-Dated website Newsroom.

Blogs and blogging platforms can make for excellent [corporate] newsrooms. Todd Andrlik has done this for Leopardo Construction, for example. The Wear-Dated website Newsroom is another example. In those environments, the posting of press releases is appropriate, mandatory, necessary and relevant.

Otherwise, the point of a blog, corporate or otherwise, is to put forth a perspective, develop an opinion, bring together relevant resources, develop insights and generally offer your audience and marketplace value. It's an opportunity to explain how what you do is relevant to the needs of your audience.

Look at what Tim Jackson has done via MasiGuy for bicycles! In fact, MediaHunter just published Social Media Success Stories: Tim Jackson, Masi Bicycles. Perhaps bicycles aren't your thing, but the humour and passion Tim conveys in his blog are guaranteed to capture attention.

[Do read the comments to the WSJ blogpost; they include links and good advice. Do check out Toby Bloomberg's formal response What Constitutes A Successful Business Blog? - and John Blossom's Is "Greg the Architect" the Solution for Corporate Blogging?]

Let's not forget an interesting aspect about what blogs epitomize: they aren't traditional, push-based mass communications. That's what makes them so powerful. They enhance your traditional marketing, as MasiGuy explains. And, although not everyone will be interested in your musings about screws, widgets, carpet or bikes, those who are will stick with you. They will subscribe; they will come back. They may even comment. Or not. They may email you instead, or speak to you when next you meet. Or simply faithfully listen, and tell others.

In many ways, blogs, corporate or otherwise, simplify your communications; they strip down all of the veneer and allow your voice to come through loud and clear. Your voice must be true and strong, it must be consistent, audience focused, and open to others' perspectives. And, you must have something to say, with passion.

If you have no passion to share, don't even get started.

But, if you do, and - borrowing from Dan's guidelines - you communicate authentically, accurately, respectfully, regularly, openly and commit to being relevant, you will be successful with [corporate] blogging.

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Tim Jackson said...

Thanks for the mention CB!

A corporate blog CAN be very useful and powerful... and it can fail too, but I have to ask the obvious; How is this different than any other form of marketing?

Blogs frequently get kicked to the curb because nobody really knows what to think of them or what to do with them. It's not like saying "we ran this ad and people know who we are now". A blog is more subtle, but in this ever-shifting world of marketing and reaching target audiences, blogs can do things that an ad simply can't; create community around a brand and foster conversation.

In my opinion, that's a little more important.

CB Whittemore said...

Tim, I'd say it's a lot more important. But, not everyone gets the value of having a conversation and creating a community around a brand especially using something not mainstream traditional, that involves more personal involvement and that really can't be delegated to support organizations.

Thanks for commenting.

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Reminder: Please, no self-promotional or SPAM comments. Don't bother if you're simply trying to build inauthentic link juice. Finally, don't be anonymous: it's too hard to have a conversation. Thanks, CB

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