Businesses that are attentive to their Internet presence probably know about the benefits of corporate blogging (55% more website visitors for companies that blog) and yet, companies seem to be abandoning their blogs at an increasing rate.
According to an article by Roger Yu in USA TODAY, corporate blogs are decreasing in number, and corporations are focusing on Facebook engagement instead. Some businesses have found their blogs take too much time to maintain, especially since readers are mostly attracted to original content that doesn’t sound like a pitch. Producing that type of material requires good writers and restraint on the part of the business from using its blog as a blatant marketing tool.
A survey released earlier this year by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth says the percentage of companies that maintain blogs fell to 37% in 2011 from 50% in 2010, based on its survey of 500 fast-growing companies listed by Inc. magazine. Only 23% of Fortune 500 companies maintained a blog in 2011, flat from a year ago after rising for several years.
On the surface, a decline in corporate blogging isn’t all that surprising: Blogs take much more time and expertise to produce, whereas Facebook requires only a quick, short update that will show up on fans’ news feeds. It seems as though the choice to ditch a blog and go to Facebook is a good trade-off. However, what happens when a company has rich, in-depth content that it would like to share with customers? How do companies establish themselves as industry leaders in only 140 characters?
Blogs can be a huge asset for companies willing to make the commitment; but the key is establishing a set of practical guidelines that inspire creativity, and allow you to focus on what’s most important: the needs and interests of your readers. Blogs do take more time to manage; however, if managed creatively, the rewards can be tremendous.
Erica Swallow of Mashable says:
A lot of companies with corporate blogs seem to be bogged down in [uninformed] policies and simply aren’t thinking outside the box. Afraid to take on colorful personalities or step a bit outside of their company’s happenings, many corporate blogs employ an official tone announcing the play-by-play updates of company news. This is just one mistake that businesses are making in the blogging world.
Swallow then goes on to list 10 great tips for corporate blogging, some of which seem counter-intuitive at first to businesses, but will reap great benefits in the long run. For example, Swallow says to avoid PR and marketing in blog posts. Ideally, a blog should “act as a repository of real analysis and opinions provided by your company’s fine employees.” So instead of a blog pushing how great the comany’s product is, it should inform the reader as to the quality of thought and expertise of those developing that product.
The rest of Swallow’s blogging tips are:
- Establish a content theme and editorial guidelines
- Choose a blogging team and process
- Humanize your company
- Welcome criticism
- Outline a comment policy
- Get social
- Promote your blog
- Monitor mentions and feedback
- Track everything
Implementing these blogging tips will at first take more time, and isn’t as easy as posting status updates on Facebook; however, thoughtful blog posts create a more lasting impression on the reader than a blip on social media. In the long run, the tone and content of a corporation’s blog will demonstrate its commitment to discussion and innovation.
Similarly, Yu’s discussions with business owners highlighted the value of corporate blogging, despite the statistics in the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth survey. Pete Steege, director of marketing communications and Web strategy for Rimage, spoke with Yu about his company’s approach to blogging:
Stegee says his employer receives little press coverage compared with larger competitors, and the blog helps the company articulate industry issues. ‘I just talk about customers’ problems and consciously avoid, most of the time, selling our solutions. You have to have a human voice. We’ve had a lot of feedback. Even our employees now say, ‘I get what we’re doing.’