I was recently asked to begin contributing to my company’s official blog on a regular basis. My first thoughts were that this would be a good thing as the practice would help me to hone my blogging skills. However, given some further consideration it occurred to me that blogging on behalf of a company carries with it a different set of considerations than blogging for my personal purposes. After much research and reading of good, bad and unmentionable blogs from SMEs to big corporate enterprises I came up with a set of guidelines for myself that I believe can serve as a good guide for anyone taking the leap into blogging for a company.
First the 6 Do’s
1. Talk about more than your company or its products and/or services
There is value for your company in what you do, there is value for your audience / readership in sharing something of How You Do It. By understanding the audience for your blog you may begin to understand that their reading is for the purposes of their own eduction, if there is something that you can publish in your blog that allows you to educate your audience then there is a reason for them to come back.
2. Share something of value from your experience
By letting the audience understand and learn from what you have accomplished you are demonstrating a degree of openess with your audience that generates a trust. Its not about telling exactly how your company does things on a tactical level but more about sharing a little of the personal learnings with others to help them to understand how to do things better.
3. Be Informative
Tell your audience something that they didn’t know, use your blog as a platform to share information that is valuable. If it is valuable the audience will be sticky.
4. Be Open and Honest
Do not use your blog as a means of blindsiding your competitors with false information. The audience places a trust and a value in those that they believe are being truthful so open and honest communication is a means of establishing and maintaining the trust of the audience.
5. Keep it interesting
The odd off topic blog or different format of media has the value of keeping your audience interested in your blog. It also shows the diversity of your company and possibly may attract a different audience. And of course diverse content has a value for SEO purposes!
Lets not get it wrong, your blog is a means of giving your brand / company an audience and as such advertising your company, however you also need to remember the basic elements of marketing in the digital age – Marketing in the digital age is a dialogue not a broadcast monologue! If you are going to blog allow for engagement through the comments section and interact and respond with your customers (and your detractors) It gives them a forum to engage with your company, you’ve facilitated them through it, don’t close them off to it and lose this opportunity to show a human side and expand the message.
And now the 5 Don’ts
1. Don’t write an infomercial
In terms of TV they are those long form advertising formats that allow for long product demos and user stories. Think of it from your own experience – you are generally mildly entertained by them at first and then by the 25th mention of the product they have you desperately reaching for the remote. Too many corporate blogs are long and drawn out editorial pieces about a company’s product, they lure the reader in with a somewhat engaging story and then hammer the reader with the hard-sell – it is a sales opportunity without a doubt but will the reader ever come back? Doubtful. The purpose of the blog is the long term engagement with the brand for the customer and potential customer audience – The Softly Softly approach!
2. Don’t Backlink or Keyword Stuff
This might seem an obvious one from a SEO perspective but if you stuff your corporate blog with your brand name, product names etc it will rank negatively for the purposes of SEO. Also the stuffing of the blog with keywords or links make it also makes it uncomfortable to read by disrupting the natural flow of the piece for your readership.
3. Don’t give the game away!
While it is important for the blog to be informative and have some content of value to the reader in terms of informative insights it is also important not to give too much detail in terms of the specific actions that your company undertakes in order to succeed in its business so as to maintain the competitive edge. Remember the aim is to provide exposure for your business not to deep insights into the day to day operations and strategy.
4. Don’t Forget Who You Are Representing
A blog may be somewhat less formal than other forms of company communications however it is important to remember that much effort and probably expense has gone into the positioning and voice of the brand. It is important not to compromise this by adopting a much different tone. Consistency is key in the tone.
5. Don’t Go Near Potentially Controversial Topics
The last thing that your company needs is to have to invest time and effort and probably expense is social media crisis management or rectifying a PR gaffe. It is ok is some cases and where the company positioning allows for it, to be somewhat more edgy in blogs however it is important to remember (as above) that you are representing and speaking as the company. Engaging and stoking the fire with regards to controversial topics can have a significant negative impact on your brand value so approach with extreme caution!
I hope these guidelines are useful, certainly on a personal perspective they aid greatly in writing the correct type of blog for company purposes!
Check out my company’s blog here too.
By Simon Bell
You covered all the main points of business blogging really well here Simon – thanks for sharing.