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On the subject of corporate blog

Rob

March 26th, 2010.

Write a blog to help your business

It is a difficult thing running an online business.

The number and variety of companies offering comparable products and services can make it difficult to stand out in a crowd.  Your site has to look the part and match the expectations of your target audience. 

Your offering has to be priced on a par with your competitors, or the premium justified by quality, environmental friendliness, scarcity, or some other characteristic that matters to your customer.

And then on top of all that, the customer has got to trust you enough to hand over their hard earned cash.

How is a blog going to help?

Within most B2B and B2C websites, there are only so many opportunities to talk about your organisation. You have the product/services pages, the FAQs, press releases and so on, but there comes a point where it looks like you are creating pages just for the sake of it

Blogs have become mainstream due to their personal feel, and writing without a corporate angle means that the content will not appear awkward or contrived.

Yes they require effort and time to maintain. Agreed – you have to think of interesting things to say. OK maybe your competitors don’t blog and they seem to do all right without it.

Here’s why we blog

  • it adds extra unique pages to the website
  • our blog posts allow us to explore topics at length that don’t necessarily “fit”   within the core pages
  • well written content attracts links to the site which improves rankings in search results

Still not convinced?  Try searching in Google for Twitter small business guide , or emailing cold contacts.

Getting started

There are a number of choices out there when it comes to blogging, and your web developer may even have their own bespoke software.

We use WordPress  for our blog – the software is free (a perfectly sound reason in itself), it can be configured to behave exactly as you want, and WordPress posts get picked up very very quickly by search engines.

Plan your first posts

List some topics that you are knowledgeable about and feel confident enough to write on.  You may even find that some areas need a separate piece in their own right.

Don’t force a style

After you have written a couple of pieces, the articles develop a rhythm of their own. The content will influence the tone and certain topics will lend themselves to humour, sarcasm and so on.

Set a schedule you are comfortable with

You don’t need to publish a new post with clockwork like regularity, and inevitably there will be other things during the working week that require your attention. The more frequently you post the better of course, but keep an eye of the quality of the article.  Ask yourself “Is this interesting / useful / important information that my customers should know?”

Have a point of view

You are not the only operator in your market, but your (well presented) opinion is valid. Stay on top of goings on within the industry and have an eye on events at the periphery. In doing so you’ll start to garner the trust and respect of your audience, and they will have confidence in what you say.

Your blog is not a direct sales tool

It is all to easy to list your latest product, special offer and so on in the blog. Don’t. Your blog is an indirect marketing channel and you are writing content that is supposed to get them interested in you, and your ideas. Keep it interesting, resist the  urge to sell directly, and your audience will engage with you over time.

If you use the above ideas as a springboard you’ll have the beginnings of a great blog.

Now isn’t there something you want to say to your potential customers?

Matt

September 17th, 2008.

Corporate Blogging – What’s The Point?

Corporate blogs have become far more commonplace over the past few years as companies begin to realise their importance in the marketing mix and how valuable they can be as a communications channel. Some of my favourite business efforts include,

Kodak – I love this effort as it doesn’t focus on cameras, but what it’s target audience is interested in, the photography.

Innocent Drinks – Kind of wacky and crazy, just the kind of thing you would expect from the company really! It does a good job of keeping things interesting and engaging the audience.

Southwest Airlines – A really nice showcase for the company, great design, interesting content and does a good job of passing company news while keeping things light-hearted.

ASOS – A good example of what can be done with an ecommerce site. It does a good job of focusing on products, but also scatters in industry news.

BBC – Obviously the huge manpower at their disposal and being able to tap some the finest journalistic minds gives the BBC an unfair advantage, but their blog network is among one of the best online.

Marriott – A self-confessed technophobe Bill Marriott proves that it’s never too late to start blogging. Not only that but the resulting blog is an extremely useful communications channel.

Waitrose – A great example of what can be achieved when a not so traditional web company takes blogging seriously.

I deliberately left out examples of tech and web based companies to prove that it can be done well for traditionally non-web based companies.

Okay, so what is the point?

Audience engagement – Blogs are a great way of engaging your audience with topics that you wouldn’t normally cover on the main section of your site. You can keep company news and conversation clearly defined from the ‘corporate’ sections of the site while at the same time offering your audience more in-depth information should it be required.

Information gathering – Blogs can be used to gather opinions, get product feedback, collect email addresses and collect RSS feed subscribers. Over time a growing audience is a valuable commodity in itself.

Communications channel – Corporate blogs have been used as an instant communications channel between retailer and customer. Product information, manuals, corrections, notifications and recalls can be made available instantly.

Content creation – An increased number of pages of your site will generally increase the amount of content leads to an increase in the number of search engine visitors. With clearly defined calls to action this should lead to an increase in sales.

Social media – Blog are a great way of opening up the marketing power of social media sites. Visitors can easily submit posts to sites like Digg and Stumbleupon, this directly leads to an increased number of visitors, links and the visibility of your site as a whole. Active blogs generally encourage more incoming links from other sites, so can be a great way of supplementing a link building strategy.

Things to remember….

  • Get started using a simple blogging script like WordPress. It’s pretty much the industry standard, it’s easy to use, and best of all it’s free.
  • Keep the blog on your commercial domain. You’ll get little benefit from using a hosted blog or a seperate domain altogether. The idea is to get additional visitors to your commercial site. blog.company.com or company.com/blog is ideal.
  • Define a writing policy. Be clear who your audience is and what will interest them. Also be clear on exactly how much information you’re going to make public.
  • The writing style is important. Traditionally visitors expect a less corporate and more conversational writing style. The use of humour can work well. Ideally your posts should be short and punchy.
  • Avoid over promotion. It’s fine to link to your products and services from within your posts, but visitors won’t come just to read a rehashed product catalogue.
  • Keep things fresh. Your blog should be regularly updated, sharing writing amongst your staff is the ideal solution, outsourcing the writing is another, though is no substitute for your staff knowledge and expertise, staff participation should be encouraged.
  • What do I write? Traditional topic areas are company news, staff news, product news, industry discussion and thoughts, how to’s and resource lists. Ideally the more diverse the topic areas, the easier you’ll find things to write about and the bigger the potential audience.

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