Once your Corporate stakeholders have understood why Web 2.0 is more than a fad and why its marketing could benefit from it (read our 12 golden rules for Web 2.0) and once they have established how their 2.0 strategy should be articulated (refer to our interactivity matrix), quite a few questions remain: how to create a professional looking blog and how to make it known? How long does it take every day and how many visitors may I expect? Where should my blog reside, should it be hosted or should I put it on my corporate server? What should I do so that it is well indexed by Google and other search engines? What are the do’s and don’ts of Corporate blogging, what are the risks… These are some of the questions that we come across most of the time with regard to corporate blogging. In this article, we will spell out the steps which can lead to proficient Corporate Blogging and we’ll try and address the above questions.
These pages can actually be used as corporate blogging guidelines for the perusal of your corporate blogging experts and your corporate blog managers. You can even use this as a charter (namely the do’s and don’ts chapter in part three) with which you would like them in their regular blogging exercise and also get them to agree to the rules of efficient and responsible corporate blogging. A lot of the material enclosed in this article, is drawn from the experience of experience bloggers and Internet writers including myself who have been working in and around the Internet for many years (13 years in my case).
a few facts and figures
Before you delve into the particulars of this methodology and blogging guidelines, we urge you to read the following lines which will serve as an explanation for the rest of the document.
- Maybe 90% of blogs (90 not being the actual number but a ballpark figure) attract less than 50 visitors per day. Don’t raise your expectations too high mainly if your content is not up to scratch,
- user generated content is the era of empowered users who go on to the Internet hook up to a website and create a blog for free. Because you’re a corporation doesn’t mean that you own the best experts in the world on the subject that you want to deal with. Expect a lot from other bloggers who will have already started commenting on the subject. What about starting a journey by reading what they have done?
- Blogging success is established in the long term: it can take a few years before you reach the top 10 of your category. As a consequence, forget about these people who will tell you that blogging is easy and that collaboration is effortless. This is just not true,
- Your expertise might be really good, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that your blog could attract hordes of visitors. A small crowd of enthusiasts is worth a million passive users. Besides, your subject will probably be a niche subject, which is perfectly normal for expertise,
- From experience, at least 20% of blogs close within 1 1/2 years from their inception because of a lack of content or a loss of purpose. You have to hold on tight. Once again blogging success is established in the long run. Mainly if you consider that if you have many competitors today, there could be far fewer tomorrow since many of them will certainly give up,
- Writing good articles and reviews does not suffice. Quite a lot of time must be devoted to valuing the content and promoting it. The advantage of being a large organisation is that the marketing and buzz marketing can be organised by specialised teams who can free up their experts from that burden,
- Don’t do this for money, this is not the name of the game. And don’t try to sell your products this will not work, a blog is not the right forum for this kind of things,
- The quality of a blog hinges on the quality of its content, the frequency of its updates, its usability and transparency. Don’t focus on usability in the first place. Quality of content and update frequency are the main issues when you start a new blog. Transparency however is not an option. You have to be clear about your intentions and your experts have to know about this (hence these guidelines). As a consequence one will have to establish a disclaimer whereby one explains that the opinions expressed in the blog are those of your experts and are not legally binding. A disclaimer of that kind is available at the following URL: add link to Orange business services disclaimer,
- Blog visibility is established not only through surfing but also through RSS feeds. These RSS feeds are useful for your readers who want to subscribe to your content automatically. Click here for a description and explanation of RSS feeds: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS_(file_format). However, RSS feeds will not do all the work for you. Bridging the gap between your website and your blog is also a good way of bringing more visits to either of those,
- If you want your blog to be visited regularly, you will have to update it on a regular basis. There is no future for blogs in which the latest post is older than a few days, a week at most,
- It is reckoned that if you want your blog to be visible you have to generate at least 10 to 15 posts per month on average. Whereas it is understood that writing so many posts on your own is a challenge, building teams of people who will feed the system with information on a regular basis is probably going to solve the problem to a large extent. While certain experts get more busy at times than others having a roster of experts at the ready can actually help you avoid going through gaps in the feeding of your system.
What’s in a blog?
Blogs are particularly interesting insofar as they are purely content orientated, they attract visitors and help build up traffic very fast, they are also easier to link to and from than a corporate website which is more geared towards selling your products, and therefore fewer people would be reluctant to link to your content if it is valuable content. The blog will also bring dynamism, RSS, interactivity, and you may even branch into a corporate blogger programme (such as the one managed by Orange business services) which would open the doors to writers from the outside (not in the short term though).
Taken at face value, entering posts on the blog is very easy. It looks like an online word processor which enables you to publish your articles and make them available online as well as manage a few options and features. However, this is a lot more complex than you think. Not necessarily from a technical point of view, but certainly from an Internet writing skills point of view.
With blogs however you do not need to be an Internet expert. And this is certainly what makes them so successful. Besides, Google and other search engines like bogs a lot, because they are dynamic and they produce a lot of content, therefore they are great if you want to beef up your search engine optimisation (aka natural indexing). Lastly, blogs are more direct than Internet corporate websites, they look less institutional and less commercial. They are ideal to start conversations. However, they also have their limitations such as lack of flexibility over how page layout can be managed and the difficulty to fine tune the indexing for search engines (but the latter issue are less of a problem for the end-user/contributing expert).