At my firm Strategic Communications Group more and more of our client work is in the social media arena. Usually a piece of the strategy involves helping the client launch a company blog. This can be a very valuable tool for thought leadership, spurring conversation and awareness and eventually for producing leads that support revenue generation. My colleague and Strategic founder Marc Hausman wrote recently about what he calls the three stages of social media maturation here: http://tinyurl.com/cmg4xf
Over the past 12-18 months we’ve stood up blogs for clients such as BT, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Inmarsat and GovDelivery. These implementations have led to a short list of best practices and issues to address prior to launch. The technology platform is the simple part. There are more fundamental questions to answer before launching a corporate blog — you can’t just “throw it up” and hope for the best.
Here are the issues most of our clients have grappled with (successfully) as they launched their corporate blogs.
- Are you willing to take a stance? Many companies tend to be very careful with public statements, which is often a smart course. But middle of the road, consensus driven content doesn’t attract a strong readership. A company needs to be ready to take a clear position and welcome differing opinions.
- Response time needs to be swift. Responding to breaking news can be a very productive source of timely blog content. But if the marketing content must track down a subject matter expert, who then has to get his or her comment cleared, that’s not going to happen fast enough. Companies need to designate approved commentators, and they need to be accessible.
- Is everyone internally on the same page? Sometimes ownership of the corporate blog becomes a bone of contention between the IT department and the marketing/communications staff. Lines of responsibility need to be clear and agreed to prior to launch.
- Reasonable and clear metrics of success. These can vary greatly depending on the nature of the content and the audiences targeted. Consistent growth in traffic is usually the best indicator. Sometimes clients focus on the number of comments, which are harder to garner due to the increased effort required of readers.
- Finally, respect the time investment. At Strategic we have weekly calls with clients totally devoted the blog editorial calendar, and direct access the senior executive contributors as needed. If a company isn’t ready to dedicate the time and access required for quality content, they should reconsider launching a blog.
Here’s an interesting graphic courtesy of Matt Dickman at Technomarketer that illustrates some of these points well:
As communication professionals it is our responsibility to bring these issues to our clients early on and make sure they are successfully addressed. Companies that truly make the culture shift consider themselves as publishers, and bring that sort of serious consideration to their content.
With the decline of the technology trade media, quality corporate blogs can fill an important vacancy in technology coverage and become a trusted source of information in their specific market.
Got a story about a great company blog, or want to add to the list above? Please drop a comment or contact me directly.
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