I guess that this is probably the key question for any organisation looking to create their own corporate blog. My answer: one which fulfils the purpose that it was created for.
This may sound evasive – a “cop out” if you like – and I suppose that, in a sense, it is. However, with so many different types of corporate blog, it’s simply not possible to give a single definitive blueprint for creating one.
For example, the style and goals for a so-called CEO blog are going to be very different from one designed as a product blog. Likewise a corporate blog which brings together a community of users and developers for market research or product development, will have a very different definition of successful from an “expert blog” written by a specialist lawyer looking to directly improve his/her profile and reputation.
However, what they will have in common is likely to be a clear set of objectives, albeit all different, which they are focused on achieving. These objectives would have been identified as part of the planning process and should always be in the back of your mind when writing and promoting your corporate blog.
What might your objectives be?
Ideally, aim for specific objectives and where possible ones that you can measure – attempting to quantify the ROI of a blog may seem a long way down the line when you start but believe me you will be asked the question at some point! However, in reality, you are more likely to have a mix with a number of general objectives and some specific targets thrown in.
In most cases, people start with general objectives such as increased branding, improved reputation or a greater level of recognition. But, if you can add in areas where measurable results are possible, then this will help determine whether the blog meets those objectives and hence “qualifies” as a success.
Some possible metrics that you could consider, include:
- Increased enquiries generated through the blog using specific email addresses or forms
- Incremental sales which can be tracked back to the blog
- Sign ups either to your newsletter, white papers or other sources of information
- RSS subscribers to the blog or individual categories within the blog if the level of content warrants it
- Inbound links generated by the blog when others reference and link through to the content
- Better Search Engine positioning because of the blog’s regularly updated content, internal structure and inbound links
- New products identified and developed through the market research or product development carried out on the blog
- Customer queries answered leading to reduced customer service or technical support calls
Of course, not all of these will be relevant to you so use specific criteria which focus on the reasons for establishing the blog in the first place. In some cases, there will be a single overriding criterion which will be the sole indicator of a blog’s success or failure.
Some pointers for your Corporate Blog
If I had to make some suggestions as you start a corporate blog, which I believe will help it to achieve the goals that you have set for it, then I would recommend:
- Don’t try to be everything to all people: the best type of corporate blog will identify the people it wishes to appeal to and will be written in such a way that it attracts, retains and develops that audience;
- Plan, focus and stay true to your goals: you planned your objectives when you started, so try not to be distracted from them. If those are what you want to achieve, then make certain that you concentrate on them and don’t get pulled off in different directions;
- Write interesting, compelling, focused content: you know the audience you wish to attract and hopefully you also know what will interest them. So try to present them with that information in a way which is authentic and which communicates the passion that you have for the subject;
- Launch it properly: Plan the launch and make sure that you use all of the means at your disposal to tell people about it. Get your Foundation posts in place, use your mailing list, pre-announce it if applicable, create online press releases to support it and ensure that you put some weight behind the activities. If you believe it’s worth reading (and let’s hope you do!) then tell people and enthuse about it;
- Market it religiously: there is no point in having a blog and just letting it sit there – tell people about it. Use all the methods available both online and offline, generic and blog specific and then use all of them again! While your writing will hopefully attract readers over time, you should still “spread the word” at every opportunity.
Ultimately, the person best placed to judge whether the corporate blog you are running has been a success is … you! So give yourself the best chance to make it a success by knowing what you want to achieve with it and then going all out to make it happen.