Corporate Blogging 101

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You’ve decided to add blogging to your online marketing mix. Now what?
The basic rule to blogging is that any new addition to the blogosphere has to be cognizant that there is a community already established. There are no ‘rules’ per se, but there are underlying guidelines that will make or break your acceptance into the overall community. If you want to run a successful blog that is well-read and well-received, it is important to remember these general guidelines.
h2. Be authentic
There are many examples of companies who have failed when introducing ‘fake’ blogs – either through fictional characters (a.k.a. Character Blogs like “Captain Morgan”:http://adweek.blogs.com/adfreak/2005/03/argh_captain_mo.html and “Uri Planet”:http://www.uriplanet.com) or the fabrication of ‘real’ people (a.k.a. Flogs “Vichy”:http://redcouch.typepad.com/weblog/2005/06/case_study_the_.html and “Sparkle Body Spray”:http://utopianhell.com/blog/fake-blog-fake-bloggers). These companies ventured into the blogosphere assuming that either people that read blogs would be amused or they would be fooled. These blogs achieved neither outcome. These blogs did get a great deal of airtime on other blogs, but the result was not positive for the brands being promoted.
h2. Be interesting
Everyone is interested in different information. You don’t have to produce lengthy articles and personal anecdotes if doing so is laborious (in fact, you shouldn’t – you run the risk of being inauthentic). You can post product modifications and releases, news on upcoming events and demos, answers to frequently asked questions, customer feedback (both positive and negative), job postings, links to mentions in the press and any other information that may be interesting to a reader. The more you post, the easier it becomes. You’ll find yourself in a meeting one day thinking, “I should blog this” and you’ll know that you are a full-fledged ‘blogger’.


h2. Be conversational
Your customers, vendors, staff and general readers are more than willing to offer opinions on issues. Perhaps you are stuck on why a certain promotion isn’t working or why a product’s sales dropped off drastically. Maybe you are trying to make a course or a workshop appeal to a certain market. Whatever the issue is, take it outside of the boardroom and ask your readership what they think. You may be surprised at the amount of useful feedback you get.
h2. Be considerate
On a personal blog, people have the freedom to voice their opinions. On a corporate blog, you have to remember that you are speaking for an entire organization, the customer and the readership. You may not agree with a recent Supreme Court ruling or the results of an election, but that doesn’t mean the corporate blog is the place to post it. Unless a topic is related to your product, service or industry (e.g. you are the Meat Packers Association of Canada and you disagree with the United States closing the border), you may want to save your comments for private conversation.
h2. Interact with the blogosphere
Link, then link some more. Read other blogs. Read what people are saying about your company and your blog. Read the blogs of the people who comment on your blog and who ping you. Read your competitors’ blogs. Read your vendors’ blogs. “Ping”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ping them back. Comment on their blogs. Post comments on their posts and link to them. Invite the competition to a conversation. Set up an RSS feed on your desktop and add all related blogs to it. Keep on top of what everyone is discussing. Interacting will not only create goodwill in the blogosphere, it will also drive traffic to your blog, which, after all of this work, is exactly what you want.
h2. Don’t sell
The furthest thing from interesting is sales. Seriously. Of course, the reason you decided to blog in the first place is to increase sales, but that doesn’t mean that it should look that way. The blogosphere knows you want to sell. Online people are well aware that your company has to make money. If they like you and your product, it will happen, but very few people like reading sales pitches.
h2. Post frequently
Once a day during weekdays is the minimum you should be posting to your blog. In the beginning, this may seem difficult, but once you get into the swing of things, it’s a breeze. In order to make the initial adjustment, you may want to jot down some topics to cover over the first few weeks, then keep a pad of paper and a pen handy to just keep track of possible posting ideas.
h2. Have fun!
This is the most important guideline of all. The more you have to labour over writing, the less people will enjoy reading it. The beauty of the blog medium is that it allows for human voices, complete with less-than-perfect grammar and emotion. Blogs go deeper than the official company bi-lines and press releases. A corporate blog is a bit more formal than a personal blog, but your readers will appreciate it more if you speak from the heart rather than just your head. Your passion for the company will be infectious.
There are many online resources available for free for those interested in learning more. Debbie Weil is “blogging her book BLOG”:http://blogwrite.blogs.com/book/. “Seth Godin”:http://sethgodin.typepad.com/ has tips on his blog. Another excellent resource is “Naked Conversations”:http://redcouch.typepad.com/weblog/, a collaborative online text on corporate blogging written by “Shel Israel”:http://www.itseemstome.net/ and “Robert Scoble”:http://radio.weblogs.com/0001011/.
Happy blogging and drop us a line (comment below) to tell us how you’re doing!

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