FREE eCOURSE ON
    BUSINESS BLOGGING

    Everything you need to set-up, develop & promote a successful Business Blog

    Full Name

    Email

    Referred by


    FULL COURSE DETAILS HERE

  • Warren: Blogging and Social Media definitely go hand in hand. Having a successful social presence can do a lot for a...
  • Jennifer Rai: All points mentioned above are very well put together. Blogs having purpose and a focus on certain...
  • jessica@lukeroxas: I ran a small home based business, and lately I’ve decided to put up my own website,...
  • Rob: Rather weird that a blog on blogging hasn’t been updated since 2009!
  • Ayala Land: Perhaps I was one of those companies who, as you put it “think they can avoid it” but thanks to well...

    Join me on Twitter at @BlogCoach




    Building a successful blogYou want to have a blog which benefits your business – yes?

    You want a blog which people are going to want to come back to time and time again – yes?

    Essentially, you want a blog which is going to be successful – yes again?

    Well, to give you the best chance of a successful business blog, then you’re going to need to make sure that you tick all the boxes to ensure that all of the underlying elements are in place to make that happen. It’s not difficult but it is important.

    For me, there are 5 elements which are like building blocks that make a blog what it is, 5 layers if you like that constitute the makeup of a blog and so 5 key aspects that you need to keep in mind as you plan and develop your blog.

    1. Philosophy
    Underpinning everything else are the general philosophy needed for blogging – you’ve got to be comfortable with the basic ideals of what people expect from blogs or else you’re going to fall at the first hurdle. The key one is that of openness – if you, or your company, are not willing to be open and honest in dealing with the readers of your blog then the likelihood is it will not achieve the goals you have for it. Be transparent and honest, and you’re off on the right foot.

    2. Technology
    You need to build the blog on the right technology base so that it supports what you want to do with it. It has to be one that will help your blog achieve the requirements that you have for it, both now and in the future. Making sure that it can grow with your ongoing needs is key to effectively future proof all the work and effort that you’ll be putting in. There are a number of excellent blogging platforms available – my own preference being for the full self hosted WordPress – but just ensure that you pick one that will be able to grow with you.

    3. Business
    Getting the business elements right means that you are treating the blog as the business and marketing tool that it is rather than as a piece of technology divorced from the company’s aims and requirements. Getting the business part right means that you’ve planned your objectives and aims for the blog, know how you intend to promote it (including with social media tools in place) and have answered the 3 key questions in the planning phase which are:

    • i) What do you want the blog to be used for

    • ii) Who is your target audience and what do you want to attract to your blog

    • iii) What you want to achieve with it and how to measure that?

    4. Layout and Graphics
    The so called “look and feel” layer focuses on how the blog will be laid out and takes into account not only the graphical elements and branding but also how the layout and structure can reflect the goals of the blog and the company. In addition, the layout should support the business goals by ensuring that the key “real estate” areas are used as effectively as possible and navigation remain intuitive and compelling giving a “stickiness” to the blog.

    5. Content
    Finally the content is ultimately where your ongoing focus needs to be, with all of the other elements essentially being there in place to support and market what you write about. This is of course the key part which needs to have our ongoing focus since all of the other elements will ideally be planned and implemented in the planning and preparation phases.

    While the content element does rightly get the lion’s share of our attention and much of the online advice on setting up and writing blogs, the content will only work to its full potential in a blog built with a foundation of the other elements outlined above. They are what ensures that the content is correctly focused, distributed, read and shared – essentially delivering you a successful blog in the process.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    18 Comments 
    Tags: , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Anatomy of a Corporate Blog: Layers and Building Blocks
    2. What makes a successful business blog?
    3. Diary of a successful Business Blog (Part 2 – the preparation)
    4. Planning your Business Blog
    5. Business Blog Design: Generic Blog Templates

    SEO in business blogs for rankingIt really is a total waste of effort setting up a business blog if your sole intention is to use it to enhance your Search Engine rankings. If you do, then youre not just missing out on the important benefits that blogs offer, youre also missing the point of blogs altogether. Oh, and in the process, youll also be jeopardising the success of your own, right from the word “Go”.

    “But I thought a business blog would help my Search Engine rankings!”, I hear you cry. “Absolutely”, I reply, “it will. Enormously so!”

    The thing is, thats not the point.

    Running a blog will give you the chance to do so much more, whether you are looking to use it to initiate dialogue with your readers, build trust and foster new connections with customers and prospects, carry out market research or customer service, or indeed any of 101 different business uses that blogs can be put to.

    And thats where your focus, effort and attention should be directed – your readers – not simply on helping your SEO efforts!

    However, if you do spend the time to keep the content of your blog focused on what your target audience wants then, believe me, the much lauded “Google Juice” will flow naturally because of what you write and the way that you write and structure it. However, it will do so as an automatic by-product rather than the sole aim.

    The same values hold good in all areas of social media – concentrate on the people you are talking to and what you are talking about and youll go far. Social networking sites, for example, are called that rather than Google Ranking sites for a reason. If Google is your main reason for being there then the networking activity will ultimately die, killing your presence on the site along with it.

    I might add that if you use these tools to do nothing more than sell, then youre also missing the point and once again youll find that this comes back to bite you. Using social media to employ the same “old school” marketing tactics that we, as consumers, are rejecting en masse shows a lack of understanding in my book not only of the medium but of people.

    Anyway, enough ranting about this – back to my main point. Business blogs are great in providing enhanced Search Engine opportunities but try not to focus on this to the exclusion of everything else or you risk losing everything. Focus instead on your readers and I guarantee that your SEO desires and requirements will follow.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    10 Comments 
    Tags: , , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Don’t use blogs for SEO!
    2. Business Blogs, Social Media and Welcome Mats
    3. Blogs as Mat Making Machines
    4. Blogs and Search Engines – is the love affair over?
    5. Where do readers of your blog come from?

    Business Blogs Grow UpI’ve been running this blog for nearly three years now and have seen a lot of changes in the acceptance and usage of blogs in business during that time, first in the US and then more recently here in the UK as well.

    Unlike many, I never really entered the blogging fray with a truly personal blog which was designed simply to broadcast my opinions – that wasn’t of interest to me. Personally, right from the start I have approached blogging from a standpoint of it being a business tool – hence the name of this blog – and wanted to share those business possibilities with others.

    Blogging is Dead, Long Live Blogging

    Latterly, I’ve seen a spate of articles about the death of blogging, most notably one on Wired – however, I have been encouraged by the quantity of comments on these posts which in the most part have been supportive of blogging. For me, blogging as I perceive it (ie. in business terms) is not only not dead, it is still to reach its prime – in terms of the Technical Adoption Lifecycle, I see it still very much in the Early Adopter phase, particularly in the UK.

    This was made abundantly clear to me last week in two very different situations:

    • in the first, I was giving a presentation to a group of marketing managers on “Blogging and Social Media” at a workshop run by Generate UK. For most of the attendees, blogging was still something which they were planning and preparing for rather than tiring of it.
    • Equally, in the second, a meeting with a FTSE100 company demonstrated their desire to fully engage with blogging, but only subject to demonstrable benefits and previous examples. Once again, classic drivers for companies in the early and late majority phase.

    In both instances, after discussion, it was clear that there were still huge benefits to be had for them from starting a corporate blog, supported by other social media activity we looked at.

    A great response

    The best overall response to the “Blogging is Dead” theme, though, came from the Economist in an article entitled Oh, Grow up with “Blogging is no longer what it was, because it has entered the mainstream” as its subtitle.

    Spot on – that’s exactly what has happened.

    I particularly loved the analogy that was made with PDAs, not least because I was working at Psion as handheld computers went through their initial boom and bust phase and so have first hand experience of the way that particular market morphed into what we see today.

    “Gone, in other words, is any sense that blogging as a technology is revolutionary, subversive or otherwise exalted, and this upsets some of its pioneers. Confirmed, however, is the idea that blogging is useful and versatile. In essence, it is a straightforward content-management system that posts updates in reverse-chronological order and allows comments and other social interactions. Viewed as such, blogging may “die” in much the same way that personal-digital assistants (PDAs) have died. A decade ago, PDAs were the preserve of digerati who liked using electronic address books and calendars. Now they are gone, but they are also ubiquitous, as features of almost every mobile phone.”

    I see blogging as such. The way in which I see blogs and websites merging more and more reaffirms this small businesses I work with are now deciding not just to set up a blog but rather use the technology to run their whole site giving them control over updates, the ability to post and distribute information as required and of course the all important interactivity.

    For me, the research by Gartner reiterates this in their Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies. They also position Corporate Blogging at the start of mainstream acceptance and use as you can see in their diagram below.

    Business Blogging by Gartner


    Where do we go from here …?

    Well, if I had to sum all this up, I think that I would have to say, that if you are looking to start a business blog because you think that itd be a cool and trendy thing to do then youre probably a couple of years behind the times now. Have a look at Twitter instead (in fact you should anyway – follow me for starters at www.twitter.com/BlogCoach) but be prepared to move to the next up and coming technology when it arrives.

    However, if youre starting a blog because of what they can bring to your business, and you want a tool that will really help your relationships with customers and prospects as well as generate new business for you, then you have found the perfect time to start a blog for your business. Just make sure you plan ahead and set it up to future proof your investment.

    So now, without even an small tear of remorse in the corner of my eye, I can happily announce that blogging is now all grown up – and rearing to show you what it can do!

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    12 Comments 
    Tags: , , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Reasons for not Business Blogging are entirely valid … for some
    2. Business Blogging at the Beeb
    3. Who will be blogging by the end of 2006?
    4. History of (Personal) Blogging
    5. Is blogging peaking … or plateauing … or not?

    Google Blog SearchGoogle Blog Search has just had a bit of a facelift, though it’s not so much of a ‘new look’ as a ‘news look’ given that they have essentially taken the format that they use for Google News and applied it here.

    In many respects though, that’s a very sensible route to take. Blogs do tend to fulfil a dual role of providing the latest news on topics where timing is critical as well as being a type of interactive website where good information is always in demand no matter when it was posted. In the case of Google Blog Search, their results are skewed massively towards the most recent information posted – even when sorted in terms of relevance rather than date. Probably better this way or we would simply be looking largely at a rehash of Google’s main index and that’s not what we are after here.

    So what Google Blog Search is good at is letting you find the latest information appearing in blogs – does very much what is says on the tin, so to speak – and so the redesign is clearly playing to its strengths. It also benefits from Google’s general uncluttered approach which I sometimes think that Technorati might like to be mindful of again. So check it out and don’t forget to use the RSS feature – will save you masses of time!

    A quick run through

    So what do you get for your beta now and how can you use it. Well, on the homepage, you now get a pre selected set of blog posts in the main results area and, in the lefthand sidebar, you can select one of 11 other pre-ordained categories to look at. Alternatively you can of course head straight for the search box at the top.



    Once you’ve searched on a term, you’ve got the chance to do some filtering, essentially on how recent you want the results to be – you can also sort the results either by relevancy or time, though this makes less difference than you might think. From a business perspective, a really important function sits rather inconspicuously at the bottom of the lefthand sidebar where you can quickly set up either a Google Alert or an RSS Feed for the search terms you’ve just used. Can save you loads of time and keep you up to date!


    So overall, it’s a change but not a revolutionary one by any means – more a shuffle forward and to the side rather than a giant leap. I do, however, find myself using it more than Technorati now for general searches, although to track links etc I still return to the Big T.

    As an aside, at this time of intense political as well as economic debate over in the US, I like the fact that Google chooses to re-iterate at the bottom of the homepage “The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program”. So that’s all okay then …

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    2 Comments 
    Tags: , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Google spreads the word about Blog Search
    2. Google Blog Search: advanced search capabilities
    3. New blog search engines: Ask.com and Sphere
    4. Google and UK Blog Search Results
    5. Researching business blog topics – use Google Alerts

    Business Blog post IdeasOne of the key concerns I get asked about by people writing their business blog is what they can do when they are looking for topics to write about. Don’t worry! I can guarantee that this will really not be a problem unless you let it be one. You know your subject inside out (or else you wouldn’t be writing about it) and you have a huge resource of information that will be useful to them – it’s really a question of picking the right topics for your readers.

    For me, there are two main sources of ideas: you and everyone else.

    Blog Post Ideas
    – You’ll want to make sure that you don’t forget any of the ideas that come to you during the day and personally I use a nice and easy solution for this: quite simply, I keep a notebook with me at all times. Why? So I can jot down ideas that occur to me – and, let’s face it, they can come at the weirdest moments. Anything could trigger them – something I see which sparks a connection or perhaps a comment that somebody makes to me. I note down the idea and any other thoughts that crop up at the time which I can go back to, review and use as and when I need to.

    Blog Post Ideas – Everyone Else

    When it comes to “everyone else”, the best people to take ideas from are your customers, your prospects and your partners – these are all the sorts of people who are likely to ask those questions which others would benefit from as well, so can be a great source of inspiration.

    So, make a note of the main ones and make a point of talking about them on your blog. Treat it in the same way as you would when you take questions from the audience during a presentation – that’s to say, repeat the question that has been asked so that the rest of the audience can hear and then go ahead and answer it.

    Do the same in your blog – you will be providing information which will answer relevant and real questions that should help your customers use your product better and help your prospects to understand its potential better.

    So that you have this resource developing on an ongoing basis, I suggest that:

    • you keep a folder in your email system and make a copy of both the question you receive and the response you send back – this will in itself form the basis of your business blog post;

    • after meetings with clients, prospects or suppliers, note down some of the key questions that they asked and which were clearly on interest to them;

    • at Conferences and Exhibitions, keep a record of the questions or the areas that visitors to your stand keep asking about and are showing most interest in.

    You’ll soon find that you have topics for your posts planned out well in advance and as you write the posts, you will hopefully also start to receive comments which will start to take the discussions and questions in other directions as well.

    In the meantime, here are some of the ones that I tend to use.

    Write about current events

    Something that you probably do on an ongoing basis is keeping an eye on what is being written about your industry, perhaps through various news media and ideally with the help of RSS feeds which of course saves you a load of time and gets you the news in double quick time. So just choose an event or piece of information which is of interest to you and your readers and give your comments on it and perhaps its implications. Don’t forget to reference the article and the site where appropriate though.

    Read other blogs

    Keep an eye on other blogs and what they are talking about you will probably find subjects that you wish to develop further, ones that you wish to comment on in your own blog (dont forget to use a trackback!) or ones that simply spark new ideas that you can write about. Other blogs are great sources of current thinking and new potential ideas.

    Write a Series

    Select a topic and write a set of posts around the theme you have selected. Try to plan the series out in advance (at least the titles) and then write them as you need them. Alternatively, once you get into the series, you may find that you write a number of them all at once. That’s great! But don’t get carried away and post them all together, instead postdate them (in WordPress, just change the “Post Timestamp”) so that they publish automatically a few days apart.

    Revisit old posts you have written

    Check back over some of your old posts and see if there are ones that could be developed more fully. You may feel that there are now updates or new information that you would like to add to them, so do so in a new post which references back to the original one and develops the ideas further.

    Answer Questions from Comments on Posts

    Use contacts from people who have asked for information or have asked questions which have developed on your original post and opened up in turn new areas or topics. Take these questions or the points that they raise and develop the answers into new posts.

    Get a guest blogger in

    You do not need to write all of the posts yourself, many Business Blogs will in fact have two or even more people working on them. However, if you dont have people who post regularly, you can still have a guest blogger who might come in to post on a particular subject where they have a specialist knowledge.

    There is of course a final option – simply take a break from posting for a few days. Theres no issue with that – just let your readers know and theyll be waiting for your return with bated breath.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    9 Comments 
    Tags: , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Ways to gather ideas for your blog posts (from Twitter friends)
    2. Blogging Tips: Carry a Notepad
    3. 17 types of posts to strengthen your business blog
    4. Time managing your blogging
    5. eCourse Part 6: Successfully writing your Business Blog

    Statistics can improve your business blogIf you want to improve the focus of your blog and make sure that it’s doing its job, then the best place to start (as well as asking your readers directly) is to check on your stats or analytics package. It contains a mine of useful information which will allow you to target areas which could do with a modification (or an overhaul) on your blog.

    Most of the the stats packages worth their salt will offer a range of statistics covering your readers, their journey through your blog and how they found it in the first place. It’ll give you details of who is reading what, which are the most popular (and unpopular subjects) that you’re writing about as well as showing you what are the phrases being used to find you. It’ll also let you see how easy it is to find information on your blog – we all know where to find it on our own blogs but can other people?

    Make it part of your routine

    Analysing and using this information is best done as part of a circular flow which we carry out on our blog, not on a daily basis, but at least regularly. By doing this, we can make sure that we’re keeping up with what our readers are demanding of us … even if they don’t really realise it! :)
    Blog Development Wheel

    I’m sure that we are all aware of the Research > Write > Promote of the equation, although we probably all know that there’s more that we could be doing … well, that’s certainly the case for me anyway. However, the Analyse and Modify might be less automatic. For me, this means getting the information I can from the stats available and then modifying either the blog (to better suit my business aims) or the style and perhaps the focus of future posts. A useful exercise though not after every post!!

    Getting down and dirty with your Stats

    So what should you look for in your stats and what can you do with the information you find? Well, personally, I focus mainly on three things, though no doubt all of the figures they provide can be put to good use one way or another:

      i) what people are reading most of

      ii) what keywords they are using to find my site in the search engines; and,

      iii) which other sites they are coming from.

    i) What people are reading most of (coupled with the figures I get from Feedburner for my RSS feed) helps me hone my content and lets me try to write more articles which will appeal to my readers. Obviously you can’t do this exclusively or the blog posts get very “samey” – and that’s got to be negative – but catering to your audience is a good thing, so use the information to help you write on relevant topics but don’t be dictated to by it.

    What is also does is help me introduce them to relevant services I offer – if a post on Blog Optimisation is getting a lot of interest, then it makes sense for me to promote my Blog Consulting services alongside that post. Relevant information for people clearly interested in a topic I cover.

    ii) When I see that there are certain keyword phrases which bringing new readers to the blog (particularly when they go on to visit other pages), I can presume that I’m ranking well for them and that they are relevant to my target audience because they are finding other articles of interest. This lets me know that, while I should obviously continue to write on this topic bacuse it’s popular, I should concentrate on other keywords as well if I want to widen the scope of my ranked pages in the search engines.

    iii) Finally, when I see that there is a lot of traffic coming from a certain site, then the likelihood is I’m going to check it out. If it is a link from another blogger or an article referencing my blog on another site, then this is an opportunity to get in touch, make contact and thank them for referencing my site. There might also be other opportunities for collaboration on other topics or even projects. If the link is coming from a social bookmarking site such as Stumble Upon or Digg, then again I know that an article has struck a chord and that my own blog promotion efforts are working, giving me additional focus for the future.

    Some Stats packages

    There are a couple that I use primarily: as an overall package Google Analytics is a good bet. It’s free and comprehensive in the figures it feeds back, if a little overwhelming at times. The only downside is that the figures take 24 hours to come through, not too much of an issue if you are looking at overall trends but not so good if you want to track a campaign you have in place as it happens. For this, I run Statcounter which has a free service and then a paid one for extra capacity – also recommended is GetClicky which again I have had good feedback about. If you are using WordPress, then there are also a number that you can run internally – as a start point you might like to check Mashable’s article from last year or WordPress own Plugin directory.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    5 Comments 
    Tags: , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. 17 types of posts to strengthen your business blog
    2. Time managing your blogging
    3. Researching business blog topics – use Google Alerts
    4. Separate blog or blog on my own website?
    5. Where to get ideas from for your Business Blog

    Online Participation GuidelinesAlthough perhaps influenced by watching the wonderful “Yes Minister” in the 1980’s, my image of the British Civil Service conjures up an image of leather armchairs, men only clubs and political machinations. It would not have been where I would have first thought to look for a set of nicely concise guidelines about “online participation” as they so succinctly put it. However, there they are!

    Their guidelines, the main points of which I have reproduced below, cover general participation online no matter what the medium – however, the advice I find to be particularly applicable to corporate blogging or indeed blogging in a small business environment as well. They are clear and to the point which is key when you want to get your message across to people in your own organisation, but reflect most of the ideals that we should bring to interaction online.

    1. Be credible: Be accurate, fair, thorough and transparent

    2. Be consistent: Encourage constructive criticism and deliberation. Be cordial, honest and professional at all times.

    3. Be responsive: When you gain insight, share it where appropriate.

    4. Be integrated: Wherever possible, align online participation with other offline communications.

    5. Be a civil servant: Remember that you are an ambassador for your organisation. Wherever possible, disclose your position as a representative of your department or agency.

    (Full details of the guidelines can be found here)

    However, for me, just as important are some of the follow up points additional points that they highlight in text which follows that. They are so relevant to all we do online that I thought you might like to print them and stick them to your monitor.

    Just to reiterate: don’t think of blogs and online media any differently in terms of what you should or should not say from when you are representing your company in any other situation. However, do remember that online everything happens at breakneck speed … for both the good and the bad things. Backtracking is not an easy option when the information can have immediately been distributed far and wide. Speed and breadth of distribution are two of the key benefits of blogging and online media … unless you want to withdraw something!

    So, as you participate online or as you draw up your own company blogging guidelines, you could do a lot worse than refer back to the points made by the Civil Service about how to conduct yourself. Stuffy and British? Not really … more sensible and corporate.

    (Hat tip to Laurel Papworth for the find.)

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    Comments Off 
    Tags: , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Corporate blogging guidelines and transparency
    2. Olympic and Corporate Blogging
    3. Treat your Blog as your online home
    4. Social Media – coming ready or not
    5. Predictions for 2007

    1. STOP!!
    Before you rush in and publish your first post on your new blog, stop. Thats right, stop, hang fire, wait, take a chill pill, or whatever phrase you care to use. First, lets do a little bit of thinking and, heaven forbid, planning before we rush over to the nearest free blog site to register an inappropriate name, choose a bland design and start to write things your customers dont have any interest in.

    2. Plan what you want to use it for
    [Sorry to mention plan again so early on] If the answer to this is that you dont know, its just that your competitor has just set one up, then go straight to jail, dont pass Go and dont collect 200. You need to be clear what you want to do with your blog right from the start or else you are quite simply planning to fail and join the ranks of businesses with forgettable (and most likely forgotten) blogs. At a basic level, decide if you want to focus on company branding, or perhaps differentiating your services by writing about your specific expertise or perhaps carrying out market research with it in fact any use other than Well, Im not really sure.

    3. Decide who you want to read it
    Everyone anyone someone?! Try to be all things to all people and the likelihood is that youll fail to appeal to anyone. The best types of business blogs tend to be specific in nature so, if you know who you are writing for, then you should be able to write things that are going to interest them. If they are interested then theyre going to come back and read some more and maybe even pass on the news to others that theyve found a company who really knows what theyre talking about. Sounds like a plan to me! (plan sorry)

    4. Check out other blogs in your market
    When you move to a new neighbourhood, youll always want to visit the area first, have a look at the other houses, see whats going on, maybe talk to some people and listen to what they are talking about. See who people take notice of and who runs the local sports club that you are interested in. You get to know the place before you move in. Do the same with blogs get to know the blogs that already exist in the market you are going to be writing about. Use a Blog Search Engine like Technorati or Google Blog Search to see whos talking about what and how the blogs are being used. You might get some ideas for when youre planning and putting together your own!

    5. Decide what you want the blog to achieve
    And while we are thinking about the blog from a business perspective, how about some targets? You just know someone, sometime, somewhere is going to ask about Return on Investment (particularly in corporate blogs) so make sure you can tell them what you planned to achieve and whether it hit those targets. Youll need to measure the results of course and decide on your criteria – sales enquiries, newsletter signups, referrals, reduction in customer support requests or reader numbers are just some of the ones you could use. In any case, if you dont know what you want to achieve then how can you tell if you are doing the right things?

    6. Decide where to run your blog
    And dont say Blogger! (I still prefer to have control over the information in my blog when its such a key part of my marketing.) My question is really whether you want to have it on your own website or run it from a separate domain? Lots of variables you can take into account but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, if it complements what you have on your website then integrate it; if you want to take a different stance in your blog which doesnt sit comfortably with your main site, then use a different domain. From an SEO perspective, no issue same domain.

    7. How much time to spend on it
    Blogging takes time – there is the research as well as the writing that you need to consider and although there are lots of ways to help streamline this process, the posts still have to be written and you are going to want to maintain the quality of what you produce as well. The posts can take a number of different forms from Foundation posts at the start to long involved articles or simple link referrals – all are valid if they add value to your readers. Anyway, I digress. Plan how much time you are willing to dedicate to your blog, you’ll find it much more relevant than deciding how often you want to post.

    8. How do you want it to work with your business?
    As I mentioned in a recent post, no blog is an island, so you need to make sure that the blog can work with other parts of your business. Plan (damn, damn, damn) how you want it to work with the other activities that you have ongoing or at least that you know how you are going to achieve it. A blog can do lots for you on its own but it can do even more when used in conjunction with the rest of your business.

    9. Check if you really need a blog
    This may sound bizarre given all that I do here to help people use blogs to promote their business, but its a really valid question. Youve looked at the other points above? Have you got answers to them and, with those in hand, do you still want to run a business blog? It’s good to be clear from the start that a highly effective tool when used correctly and worse than useless if you are going to start it with lots of enthusiasm but no planning, only to let it die as soon as that initial enthusiasm wanes. However, if the answer is still Yes, then great – now you can get started properly!

    10. Plan
    As you may have noticed, there is a theme running through all of these elements and that is … planning! Planning, or rather the lack of it, is the root cause of more blog failures than anything else, either because they lose focus in terms of content or business focus, or because the author(s) lose impetus. All things that can be avoided with prior planning. So don’t fall into that trap and before you start your Business blog … stop and do the planning which will ensure your blog is a success.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    16 Comments 
    Tags: , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Help in starting to post to your Business Blog
    2. 3 Key Blogging Questions: Question 1
    3. Starting a Business Blog – BBB Quick Guides
    4. Starting to write your Business Blog – BBB Quick Guides
    5. Lessons learned when Starting a blog

    Blogging Guidelines and Blogging PolicyEarlier this month, I wrote briefly about company blogging policy as part of my commentary on a piece covering the Blogging Guidelines issued by the IOC ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

    Yesterday, I read a news story by Anne Broache at CNet News.com entitled Corporate employee blogs: Lawsuits waiting to happen? which looked at some legal issues that Cisco are currently experiencing regarding one of their managers who had been anonymously running a blog on patents where he had commented on cases regarding Cisco without revealing his connection with the company.

    This particular case is quite specific but there are certainly some lessons to be learned from it which have a more general impact on companies, irrespective of their size, which are developing blogging guidelines of their own.

    One element which Cisco has added to their own Blogging Guidelines following this case, covers the premise that where there is responsibility then there also needs to be clarity. This may be simply that the blogger works for the company in question or that they have a specific commercial role covering the subject area of their blog which means that their opinion is no longer objective. Their addition states:

    “If you comment on any aspect of the company’s business or any policy issue the company is involved in where you have responsibility for Cisco’s engagement, you must clearly identify yourself as a Cisco employee in your postings or blog site(s) and include a disclaimer that the views are your own and not those of Cisco.”

    To restate this in general terms, I’d normally advise that bloggers do not hide their identity and certainly not their business affiliations – they should also clearly state on their own blog that the views expressed are solely theirs and do not reflect those of their employer.

    This is of course presuming that they are discussing subjects related to their work – if it is on a hobby or non work related topic then clearly there is no potential for professional bias coming into play and hopefully no conflict of interest. This is nicely summed up by Bob Pearson, VP at Dell who makes the comment:

    “If someone is a fisherman and they want to talk about fly fishing outside of work, then that’s not our business, it’s personal. But if someone is going to talk about notebooks and anything related to Dell, they have to say they’re from Dell.”

    The same is also true of leaving comments on other blogs, something which should also ideally be covered in a blogging policy. If it is a subject related to the company you work for then you would be wise to state your connection – in these matters transparency is everything and it can be potentially damaging if you are discovered trying to pull the wool over the eyes of others. You may remember the fall out from the “Walmarting across America” fake blog – if you are leaving ‘fake’ comments in a close knit community that you want to work with, then the impact on your company’s reputation can be equally damaging. So don’t!

    For me, I think that in many respects the less formal take on it that Microsoft adopts is good, and focuses on the use of common sense. However, having said that, I have come across a noticeable absence of common sense from time to time, so their use of a list of FAQs which deals with how employees should apply existing company policies on confidentiality and other matters to the blogging world seems to be a sensible approach to take. When you create your own guidelines, do make sure that they are readable, accessible, understandable and applicable -then you won’t go far wrong.

    If you are looking for help or guidance in creating a Blogging Policy or Blogging Guidelines then please get in touch. Alternatively, below you will find some links to documents which cover either internet or blogging policies from a range of companies that you may find useful as well:

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    7 Comments 
    Tags: , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Olympic and Corporate Blogging
    2. Online media guidelines from an unexpected source
    3. Overcoming the Fear of Corporate Blogging
    4. Corporate Blogging Profiles: are you a Sleeper or a Host?
    5. Survey indicates corporate blogging taking off

    corporate Blogging and the olympicsBefore anything else, I’d like to apologise to those of you who follow the blog. As you will be only too aware, I have taken a sabbatical from this blog over the last month which should have been better announced and pre-announced to you. I am, however, back and I hope writing posts which will prove to be full of interesting news and tips which I can share with you.

    While I have been off, I have of course continued to follow the news and a story which caught my eye recently was about the guidelines which are being put in place for the athletes wanting to write their own blog at the Beijing Olympics. The very fact that the Internetional Olympic Committee (IOC) even feel the need to put guidelines like these in place demonstrates the unique position that blogs hold at the crossroads of journalism, business, corporate marketing and personal expression, particularly when they overlap in such a visible way.

    Whether they are the right and appropriate guidelines or indeed whether they are enforceable is not something I want to debate here (that’s for another time) – the thing that struck me most is that the IOC had issued them at all and I applaud them for that. What they have done is make it clear what their position is and what they expect from the athletes. In doing so, they have also given themselves the opportunity to stop those who are stepping over the mark.

    Businesses would do well to follow their example. Whether they take the route of a full blogging policy or, more likely, incorporating a section into their HR policies on both blogging and social networking, they will have stated and communicated their position and so be able to enforce it where necessary. Without it, they are in a much weaker position and employees may overstep the mark without even realising it.

    Here are some elements to consider as you look at developing a corporate blogging policy or guidelines:

    • Deal not only how to write on the company blog but also what approach employees should take if they write about the company on their own personal blogs.

    • Ensure that they are clear about the companys confidentiality policy and that they also respect the companys stakeholders (ie. the company itself, employees, customers, partners, suppliers etc.)

    • Have someone who is ultimately responsible for your companys blog ideally this will be an internal person, though they could be external

    • Ensure that there is a stated person whom the blogger can ask if they have doubts about what would be appropriate to include in their blog

    • Try to set an agreed tone and editorial policy for the company blog and also ensure that you have a stated policy on how to deal with comments left on it

    • Take the time to educate your bloggers on how to get the best from the blog, what its benefits are and also what the risks could be and how to avoid them

    • Make sure that you monitor your own blog as well as what it being said about it and your company on other blogs

    Whatever is actually in it, the most important thing is that there is one in place which is easily accessible and represents the way that the company wishes to approach the question of blogs, blogging and other social media.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    1 Comment 
    Tags: , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Corporate blogging guidelines and transparency
    2. Corporate Blogging Profiles: are you a Sleeper or a Host?
    3. Overcoming the Fear of Corporate Blogging
    4. Online media guidelines from an unexpected source
    5. What makes a successful corporate blog?

    Next Page »