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    Start or set up a blog: Key question 1This is part of a 3 part mini-series looking at the planning phase of setting up and starting your business blog.

    Each post will focus on one of the 3 key questions that you should have clear answers for as you set up your blog before you start to write it.

    Question 2:
    Who are you writing for?

    Unless you are writing a personal blog, and thats really not what we are dealing with here, then you are writing your blog with a business purpose in mind just as we looked at in the 1st Key Question. This in turn means that you are writing for someone, for an audience, who you are hoping will not only read your blog but react well to its content and to you as the author.

    To achieve this, need to be clear about this audience – your readers – and what they are going to expect from you and from your blog. You’ll also need to know how best to go about getting those reactions and building on them. This knowledge needs to influence every aspect of your blog including:

    • what your blog looks like

    • the content of your blog

    • the style of how you write it

    • the length and frequency of the posts

    • how you elicit comments and feedback
    In fact, what you are looking for is to encourage your target audience to engage with you and your blog in what I term the 5Rs:
    • Read: first of all you need to create subject matter which will encourage people to visit your blog and then read what youre writing about.

    • Return: once they have visited for the first time, you have the opportunity to give your readers something theyll wish to read more of, hence encouraging then to return to your blog.

    • Reply: you are looking to encourage dialogue and communication so you must find subjects and a style which encourages them to express an opinion about it and reply to the post.

    • Refer: provide your readers with enough compelling, relevant and interesting content and they’ll want to recommend it to everyone.

    • RSS: encourage them to sign up and receive what you are writing as and when it appears using RSS either directly or via email.
    So just how do you find out what they want? Well, first and foremost, you are as much a part of the target audience as you are the author! Its your area of specialism, so bear in mind your own areas of interest as you write, but a also look at what you are doing and writing with a critical eye from time to time and check you are still on track. In addition, take the time to listen to your readers. Listen to what they are saying in the comments they post on your blog or in the emails you receive from them. When you are at conferences and exhibitions, note down what are the hot topics that everyone is talking about they are literally giving you your killer content posts on a plate!

    But do remember that different blogs have different aims and therefore very different audiences. An internal blog, for example, will be aimed at talking primarily at employees, while an external blog with a customer support focus will need to provide exact information and specific answers within tight timeframes. Of course, the more than you can prepare for this in advance of starting the blog, the better focused and (probably) more successful it will be.

    To take a look at how all elements of a blog come together to fit with the audience it is targeting, Id like to recommend that you take a look at Sony and the two blogs that they launched last year for different parts of their business and for very different audiences.

      1. The first was the Sony Playstation blog which is heavily branded with a very specific topic range and audience in mind which has been attracted in droves to the site. Everything about the blog caters to this audience, their interests and ultimately the games that they are being encouraged to find out about and buy. Language, content and imagery all support this beautifully.

      2. The second was the Sony Electronics blog dealing with a very different part of the business, a very different product range and therefore a very different audience in terms of both interests and priorities. The frequency and content were both targeted towards their expected readers and they responded in their own way which, of course, also needed to be handled correctly.

    In summary, you need to ensure that you are always encouraging your readers to act on an appropriate aspect of the 5Rs. So, make sure that your business blog has a well defined theme and, once you have decided that, write your posts with it firmly in mind (remember keeping your aims on your monitor). Dont forget to use your RSS reader to keep up to date with what is happening in the areas that your blog covers and keeping offering your opinions on relevant and interesting items in your posts. Finally, keep encouraging feedback from this target audience and make sure that you respond to the comments that your readers leave.

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

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    Sony BlogsWell the last time I looked at a Sony blog, it was with mouth open wide in disbelief as the ill conceived and executed ‘All I want for Xmas is a PSP’ fake blog hit the blogosphere and was in turn hit by it.

    Things have moved on and, over the past two months, Sony has launched two new blogs for different parts of their business:

    • one is the Sony Playstation blog aimed fairly and squarely at game players and developers of the Playstation product range;
    • the second is the Sony Electronics blog from that arm of the company which intends to focus on “Electronics-related activities, products and customers in the U.S.”.
    Two very different blogs, aimed at different audiences and done in very different ways but both ostensively Sony corporate blogs.

    Sony blogs: Sony Playstation blogSony Playstation Blog
    The Sony Playstation Blog is run by Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) and is a highly stylised blog built on a WordPress platform which is being written by a host of authors across a range of different departments within the PlayStation division. Development was carried out externally by Josh Hallett together with marketing firm Clark/Nikdel/Powell according to The Ledger.

    Posting is both regular and frequent as you would expect with the number of authors (though that takes a real level of organisation, I can assure you), but that is no more than the readers would expect in this market sector. The content is generally good with a mix of games information, firmware details and a more strategic view in some posts from “the top”. Good use of imagery and linking as well.

    The blogs colour scheme uses a black / dark grey background with the white text and the colours from the Playstation logo featuring on top. Altogether, very slick and supports the overall branding really well – though a slight concern that the colour scheme might prove difficult on mobile devices due to the smaller screen size, something that might be relevant considering the blog’s target audience.

    Even in its structure, the blog has been nicely put together with friendly permalinks, judicious use of categories and emphasis in the sidebar highlighting the comments that the posts are attracting a nice way to both encourage and emphasise them.

    Sony Electronics BlogSony Blogs: Sony Electronics Blog
    The Sony Electronic Blog has a totally different feel to it, not only in look (obviously!) but in the way that it is put together and presented. This would be fine it has a totally different target audience after all but there are aspects which struggle in its current state.

    Like the Playstation blog, this is also built on WordPress and while visually clean, the overall look and feel is relatively standard and uninspiring. It also gives the feeling of not yet being finished with:

    • the URL as part of news.sel.sony.com rather than its own domain;
    • calling it the “SEL External News Blog” in the Title Tag rather than using any specific Sony branding;
    • no link back to the blog homepage on the blog itself;
    • and, indeed no real homepage but instead going directly into the latest posts.
    Reinforcing the lack of posts with a (current brief) Recent posts box at the top of the sidebar is probably not the most sensible move either.

    In this start up period, there is a single writer who is Rick Clancy, the head of Corporate Communications for Sony Electronics. While clearly someone skilled in writing and who has both the ability and the authority to speak openly all good characteristics for a corporate blogger he is currently writing alone and the resulting weekly post is probably not sufficient for the sort of blog that this is trying to be.

    In short there needs to be more content though the quality of what is there looks to be good and certainly has managed to elicit responses and indeed readers leaving detailed comments, appraisals and criticisms. It’s difficult to know whether there is a follow up which is going on off blog to answer the comments but that would probably be sensible – perhaps some additional resource required? In any case, they are certainly throwing up topics which warrant posts focusing on the areas being asked about, thereby allowing Sony to put their side of the story.

    Summary
    I should start by saying that it’s great to see Sony using blogging to communicate with its customers and developers – for a company which is not known for its openness, this is a great move and one that I hope we will see others following.

    However, in looking at the two blogs, you will have no doubt gathered that, as they stand, I consider that the Sony Playstation Blog to be an excellent example of a well constructed blog while the Sony Electronics blog has had a less auspicious launch.

    And yet, which has the greatest potential? Well, this time my vote goes to the Sony Electronics blog and not just because of the relative position it is starting from. Its Playstation neighbour is vibrant but may find it difficult to create a real central personality because of the large number of authors and the nature of the gaming industry.

    Conversely, I get the feeling that the SE Blog has a potentially important role to play in the Electronics side of Sony’s business and presents a huge opportunity. The type of comments coming in show the areas which are most of interest to the readership and are giving Sony the chance to address these concerns for a whole raft of their customer base – what an opportunity and the ideal mouthpiece to achieve it through at their disposal! Let’s hope they grab this opportunity with both hands!

    As it stands: Sony Playstation Blog, a straight A grade. Sony Electronics blog, a C but with signs of real future potential if handled correctly.

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

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