By Melanie Seasons, Account Manager at onlinefire (onlinefire.co.uk)
Kicking off a corporate blog can be a daunting task when you don’t know where to start. As pressure builds to set yourself apart from your competitors, companies are increasingly turning to social media to exhibit their thought-leadership and boost their internet presence. But how to begin?
1. Have something to say
If you’re considering starting a blog for your company, ask yourself if you really have anything to say. Don’t feel pressured to start a blog because everyone says you have to. Make sure you come up with a clear communications strategy before launching and ask yourself some key questions. What do I hope to accomplish? Will I have enough material that’s of interest? Will I have enough story ideas to update regularly?
2. Look at examples of success
Corporate blogs have been started in every conceivable sector all over the world, so there are plenty of examples to sort through. In fact, it’s largely recognised that having a blog is an absolutely essential business communication tool in this day and age.
This means that there are plenty of success stories out there, but I urge you to do a little test on your own. Read the next corporate blog you come across in your industry. Is it interesting? Boring? Take notes of what you like and what you don’t and model yours accordingly. You want to make sure that your blog is engaging enough that people are going to want to come back.
3. Don’t use your company blog as a sales tactic
One of the most common mistakes for company’s blog is to use their blogs as a sales platform. A blog is a communications tool, not a pitch. Sure you can use the blog to let people know what’s going on with the company, but if you want to win over readers you have to talk with them, not at them. When watching TV, how many people do you know that only watch commercials and walk away when the programme comes on?
4. Don’t lie
It’s pretty straightforward! Your readers are clever and they will find out. You don’t want to jeopardise the integrity of your company, so just don’t do it!
5. Be open
This is a hard one for companies to get used to as old business models often focused on a ‘keep your cards close to your chest’ mentality. You can’t exercise your thought-leadership unless you’re able to give a few tips of the trade. No one’s asking you to spill internal secrets, but people do want to know what you think. Focus on company insights, trends and opinion formers. If you should ever have to deal with a crisis control situation, a blog is the perfect tool to address any issues or put fears to rest.
6. Encourage Conversation
Blogging is a two-way street and you have to be prepared to talk with your readers instead of just at them. Better yet, encourage conversation amongst your readers. Ask for feedback, invite challenge and don’t be offended if someone disagrees with you.
7. Go outside of your blog to engage
The best way to build traffic to your blog and site is to get out there and interact with other people in your industry. When you read and comment on other people’s sites, your name is attached to your blog’s URL. It creates exposure and lets other people know you’re there. If you don’t make any noise, no one will know you’re there.
8. Monitor proactively
Whether blogging or not, you should be monitoring for mentions of your company and staff online. If you haven’t already, set up Google alerts that will e-mail you every time your company is mentioned online. Do the same for your CEO and other senior management. People talk online and you need to know what they’re saying – both good and bad.
9. Join Twitter
You’ve probably heard this no less than 100 times in the past month, but if you haven’t done it yet, there’s no better time. Increasingly, conversations are taking place on Twitter before they explode onto the blogosphere. More so, it’s a fantastic way to interact with businesses, your blog readers, potential customers (again, no sales pitches) and the movers and shakers of the social media world.
10. Know when to get involved
It’s inevitable that when you start listening to people’s conversations online, you will hear some nice and not-so-nice things. However, it’s important to remember that while you can never control the negative things people say online, you can attempt to influence or change their opinions for the better.
If someone is spouting off hateful, untrue or severely damaging vitriol about your company, you should highly consider getting involved in the conversation through your blog or through direct correspondence (just remember that anything you write privately can still find it’s way into the public domain). Don’t be defensive, don’t be whiney – just be honest and open. Acknowledge the negativity and what you’re going to do about it.
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