Earlier this week I was meant to be speaking at the MIPAA bloggers’ brunch, but owing to a family emergency I couldn’t be there.
I was going to talk about the basics of business blogging, so I thought I’d post the outline of my presentation here in case anyone finds it useful:
What makes a blog?
- Usually a series of articles on a website, ordered with the most recent ones first
- A personal tone – either from a person (or a group of people) – companies don’t blog, people in companies do
- Functionality for conversations through comments (and quite often trackbacks – links from other blogs)
- A tendency to link to other information useful for readers, even if it’s competitive or conflicting
- Provision of RSS feeds – that people can sign up for to get updates when a new post is published
Blogs are just one type of tool that’s available to corporate communicators – the real challenge before setting up a corporate blog is to understand how it fits within an integrated communications strategy.
Only set up a blog if you know what it can do for you that other tools can’t, and only do it when you feel you have a good understanding of blogging etiquette and how the blogosphere works.
Seven points to think about before embarking on corporate blogging:
- Culture – is the company’s culture ready for the transparency, scrutiny, speed and two-way conversations that genuine blogging brings?
- Employee policies – is the company clear on what it will allow its employees to do and not do in the blogosphere?
- Technology platform – what’s the best system to use to manage your blog? And how do you engage your IT department to support you?
- Bloggers – who are the right people to be blogging? Is it your senior execs, the public relations team or indeed anyone who wants to?
- Ghost writing – a hot topic in the blogosphere, with strong supporters and many people against it too. For me, ghosting’s fine, but the transparency of the blogosphere means it’s best to disclose it.
- Comment moderation – will you moderate comments, on what grounds, who will do it and (importantly) how quickly will it be done to avoid suggestions of censorship. Be clear and transparent with blog readers on how you will moderate.
- Frequency of posting – the most effective blogs are updated frequently. Can your organisation devote the resources to regular blog posts? A blog that has obviously not been updated in a long time reflects badly on the author and their company.
Companies running blogs also need to think about the legal and professional standards that they need to stick to. In the UK there’s history of the Advertising Standards Agency ruling on blogs that don’t meet its CAP code, so it’s clear that corporate blogging is regulated along the same lines as traditional advertising.
Other professional standards worth checking out include the CIPR social media guidelines and those from the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).
I’ve posted a number of relevant useful links on del.icio.us – including good and bad examples of corporate blogs, guides to blogging/social media and some good case studies.