How to run a successful corporate blog

There is an interesting article at Reputationonline by Stephen Waddington. The premise of the article centres around the poor delivery of UK corporate blogs, which is in sharp contrast to US corporate blogs. Having played around with blogs since around 2000, I have some very simple observations to make in this debate:

1. Blogging is hard (in the sense of doing it to best effect) and hard work (in the sense of delivering good quality posts day after day).

2. In my experience many companies have set up a blog without the first clue of what they plan to use it for. Which is never a good way to go about anything.

3. Many companies that do offer regular content, completely ignore the fact that people simply won’t bother to read it (or link to it) unless the content is interesting. So corporate centric pronouncements on new management appointments are going to have very little resonance with anybody.

4. The staying power of many UK companies is incredibly limited. A well known saying in the blogging community goes along the lines of “the point at which you feel you want to give up on blogging, is always the point your blog is about to take off”. I have encountered this many times myself, with the “mid blog crisis” usually coming around the 6-12 month mark. In almost every instance I have persevered and been rewarded with traffic, links and a degree of recognition in my chosen niche.

5. Many companies do not fully understand the benefits of blogging. Ok they might think it’s possibly helpful in a nebulous SEO context – although in my experience that is still a rarity. But in terms of things like: online reputation management, internal link structure, long tail keyword targeting and improved crawling rate of search engine spiders (amongst many other things) – corporate awareness is patchy at best.

So there you go. The UK corporate community is generally pants at blogging and the above gives you some reasons why. But there is hope:

My solutions for better corporate blogging

• Companies need to have a full understanding of the reasons for blogging. A comprehensive knowledge should help in terms of maintaining belief and momentum. This stems from good training and experimentation.

• Companies should not blog exclusively about themselves. Blog on a broader front and try to add genuine knowledge and value to your content. This includes taboo things like talking about competitors, or fessing up when things go badly wrong!

• If you build it they will come…..  Many companies fail to realise that you have to get your blog on the radar of the blogosphere, by promoting content and building connections. If a corporate blog is properly promoted, the results in terms of inbound links and traffic can be staggering – exposure then becomes self perpetuating.

• Companies should recognise when they do not have the expertise or time to run a blog.  Outsourcing to experienced bloggers can dramatically accelerate traffic growth and help a company focus on day to day business activity.

• Have a content strategy that identifies blog objectives, type of content, target keywords, blogs to align with in the blogosphere, linkbait ideas, content promotion though social bookmarking etc.

• Companies should blog at a certain rhythm and then stick to it for a prolonged period of time. Fluctuating levels of blogging do not make for a good blog…..

• Check, understand and utilise metrics to build your blog traffic.

• The likes of Google and Microsoft have long understood the value of having corporate bloggers who have some degree of freedom and latitude in terms of content and views. Ok I imagine Robert Scoble when he was at Microsoft and Matt Cutts at Google had guidelines – but it is also clear that there was freedom of expression, tempered by large doses of common sense. There is a balance to be had here in terms of sensible controls and strangling bureaucracy.

• Finally, be different. Whether it’s offering new insights, new research, or simply a completely different tone to anybody else – this is the kind of thing that can really set a a corporate blog apart.