Thursday, May 27, 2010

Corporate Blog Best Practices

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Earlier this week, a colleague asked for my thoughts on best practices for corporate blogs. This was for a service provider in the digital marketing space but I think these guidelines can be applied to any business:

• Post at least once a week. Blogs are supposed to be timely. Any less frequent posting will show you're not serious about the platform.

• Have multiple contributors but one voice. No-one wants to hear only from the CEO or only from the marketing director. We want to see the different personalities and viewpoints of the company. That said, we also don't want 100 different styles or writing, contradictory POV's, etc. Create a filter that all content must pass thru. For example, before posting, always stop and ask yourself, "Would I say this to a customer?" Or, always use "we" when referring to the company and never use "they" without specifying who "they" is.

• Create a schedule ahead of time so everyone knows when they are on the hook for content.

• Always keep 2 posts "in your pocket" for when scheduled contributors are delinquent.

• Pick topics that are a) relevant to your business b) relevant to SEO keywords you want to win for and c) controversial (to generate links).

• Don't just talk about yourself. Make it personal and show your personality but it shouldn't just be a less-formal version of a self-promotional corporate website. Comment on (and link to) topics of interest for other companies, even your competitors as appropriate. To be clear, it's ok (and encouraged) to post about the goings-on at your company but if every post is a pat on the back, your only readers will be employees and their friends/family.

• Along those lines, keep your audience in mind. It includes your clients, competitors, employees, potential employees, etc. Everything you write should be meaningful to all those constituencies. If you write in a tone that only appeals to one group, you risk alienating the others. For example, I never like to use the word "clients" because that means something different to a network vs. an agency vs. a marketer. Whenever referring to corporate marketers, I say "marketers."

• Don't write in a formal tone. But don't use too much slang. And certainly mind your grammar and spelling.

• Link wherever possible to other web pages related to your topic.

• Cross-link to your own older posts as relevant. Extend the shelf-lives of that archival material.

• Create categories to bucket content into and tag each post accordingly. This helps readers go deeper on certain topics of interest.

• Make it easy for others to link to your posts. Include social-bookmarking and sharing icons as well as FB "Like" buttons. RSS Feed is also a must for people who prefer to consume that way.

• Give people a reason to link to you. Write about things that others will find useful.

• Use images (and video) wherever possible. All text blogs are boring. Also, bullets and lists are helpful. No paragraph should be longer than 3-4 sentences. Quick, puchy reads are best.

• Make sure sensitive content is not posted (eg, client data, internal memos, etc.) without the proper permissions.

• Encourage feedback and comments. Blogs should be 2-way (or multi-way) dialogues. Don't censor comments. Take the good with the bad. It's part of building a community and a conversation.

• Promote your posts. You can't just post and expect people to read. Tweet links to new posts. Ask employees to email links to relevant parties. Include links in press releases, POV's, decks, newsletters, emails to customers, etc.

• Have fun with it! If your people enjoy contributing, it will come thru to readers and they'll have fun reading it!

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