Thursday, 23 April 2009

Repost of Business Blogging Best Practices from Web Strategy By Jeremiah

These were originally published at http://jeremiahthewebprophet.blogspot.com/2005/11/learn-from-my-pain-business-blogging.html but the link now seems to be dead. However these are very useful guidelines for anyone who decides to take up blogging, not just for business purposes.

In fall 2004, Ellen Simonetti was fired for wh...Image via Wikipedia
  1. Understand and be able to articulate the concept that “The Participants are taking charge” (Scott McNeally, Sun)

  2. Understand and be able to articulate that “Consumers trust other consumer opinions over all others”

  3. Understand that a conversation about your market will occur regardless if you participate or not

  4. Understand that blogs are nothing special or nothing new. In fact, blog tools are often less sophisticated than most free email services. A blog is just a tool. The key point is that now everyone (esp consumers) can easily publish their opinion, and other can easily find it (other consumers)

  5. Business blogging is publishing and participating in the conversation in your market.

  6. Listen to the blogosphere: Start listning yourself, or consider hiring a company to monitor and report on the blogosphere. There are a variety of tools that can do this, but this really is part time to full time job. Contact me if you want some recommendations

  7. Make it clear in your organization what’s "ok" to blog about and what’s not. Create a public disclosure policy and communicate to employees. Even if your company is not going to sanction blogging. (11% of internet users are bloggers, and this is increasing rapidly, likely your company has bloggers-Pew Internet) you need to communicate what's appropriate and what's not. The level of effort to create a policy is significantly less than a 'fiasco' of leaked information.

  8. Figure out in advance your blog purpose, audience and strategy. Have a plan.

  9. Pick a topic and stick to that topic strategy. Some blogs are good for product evanglism, customer feedback, corporate image, fire control, developer code, etc.

  10. Be authentic, don't create a fake blog, you'll get flamed when they find you out.

  11. A blog is not a press release, it's an informal converastion.

  12. Consider blogging at least once a week, if not more, find someone who’s already online a lot or is willing to commit.

  13. Your blog posts don’t need to be long, in fact short quick posts to relvent articles can sometimes ‘link’ you into the conversation.

  14. An ideal blogger is someone who is already online all the time, consumes mass info, and exports mass info.

  15. Design your blog in a way that makes sense. Create a URL that is unique to your discussion, find a template the aligns with your blog strategy.

  16. Discuss best practices in your industry. You don’t need to ‘self pump’ yourself, as readers realize that you understand what the best practices are, they will assume or relate that you as well are the best practice.

  17. To gain visibility strategically cross-link. Some thought needs to go into this

  18. Format for readability. Sometimes bloggers give long hard to digest paragraphs (what I call ‘steaks’) consider chunking the text into bite sized formats, bullet points and smaller points. (I call this “shish kabobs”). Try using bolds, colors, indents and other formatting tools.

  19. Consider using images to enhance your point. Avoid using the most obvious image, think a little deeper and go for a metaphor. You want your audience to go “aha, I get it”

  20. Read other blogs in your conversation and marketplace, link to them to your feedreader such as myYahoo or google personalized, or google feedreader.

  21. Edit your blogs for grammar and spelling, but don’t have your PR department write it, use a sensible natural conversational tone that you would use if you were actually speaking to your audience at a restaurant or bar.

  22. Leave comments on other people’s blogs in your audience, provide a link back to your blog

  23. Leave comments on your advocates, align yourselves with them. Reward your advocates (doesn't need to be monatarily). Strengthen your relationship so you both prosper.

  24. Develop a strategy to counter your detractors, consider using your advocates to fight your battles.

  25. Don’t beg for cross links, figure out ways to get people to link to your blog. Keep it natural and organic. No one wants to be "marketed" to anymore, plus it's pathetic.

  26. Consider an analytics tool. A simple ‘visit count’ like I use on my site, to google analytics (also free), to a full blown analytics suite will serve you well

  27. Respond to comments on your site, keep the conversation going.

  28. Your blogging strategy doesn’t mean that you need to have the whole world linking and reading your blog, it’s about connecting with your small audience

  29. Look for a non cluttered template, sometimes having all the blog features turned on will distract users.

  30. Really consider if doing ad words is best for your strategy, will that dilute your message to your target audience? Worth thinking about.

  31. Ask permission before posting someone’s name or email content. Of course linking to people that are already blogging and are “public” is certainly normal and acceptable, as they want to be found.

  32. Don’t talk smack about your competitors, the golden rule applies. Blog wars can get nasty, be sure you really want to go there.

  33. Acknowledge your competitors, believe me, your customers already know who they are, by showing openness, you’re demonstrating your confidence and self assurance to your customers.

  34. Discuss topics that are relevant to your audience, real business or user needs. Pumping your company on every post is not what blogging is about.

  35. At a medium or large corporation, bloggers will self select and volunteer themselves. They are already on their soapbox, are vocal or are leaders. You’ll know them as they will already be preaching.

  36. Only consider bloggers that have the time to commit to blogging, and can do so on a regular basis.

  37. Allow user comments, seriously. One of the biggest benefits of a blog is to have a conversation with your audience. You can figure out a process or a way to filter or review comments before they hit your blog. I feel strongly that comments are native to the tool and communication medium, strongly consider keeping it on.

  38. Consider your official corporate blogger to be an individual that already faces customers or the public. Blogging can reach a lot of people quickly and is persistent, often individuals that do a lot of speaking to the industry on behalf of the company are ideal.

  39. Your corporate blogger should be interesting as well as informative, they need to have a balance. No one wants to read a boring blog, but entertaining only lasts a few visits. The blogger should be a subject matter expert at the topic at hand

  40. Make sure the blog voice is authentic, but also well written. A fine balance is needed here, and it’s not easy to achieve. A balance between raw blogging, and corporate sanitation needs to be met. Talk about it in advance. Real but not raw, interesting but not polished.

  41. If you’re in a company where it may be hard to find regular bloggers, consider making a blog ‘pool’ or a general blog site that’s not attached to an individual blogger. GM Fastlane has multiple authors in their blog setting.

  42. Register your blog with indexers. feedster, technoratie, ice rocket, google, yahoo, pubsub, and others.

  43. Obtain analytics for your site, at minimum, a hit counter (like I use) or Google Analytics (free) or an enterprise tool.

  44. If you have multiple strategies, consider having multiple bloggers that focus in on each of those areas.

  45. Alert the analysts in your industry that you’re blogging, either give them a call or link to their blog (if they have one)

  46. Figure out a ‘fire team’ strategy for how to handle bad news, company crisis, or blog flamers. Do you engage, ignore, or redirect these events? What’s the purpose of your blog and image? Different companies have handled this in a variety of methods, figure out in advance what the best strategy is.

  47. On your first post of your blog, identify who you are, and your purpose. Consider elevating a short version of this in your banner or profile.

  48. Don’t believe the concept that “PR is dead” Public Relations have just started, and blogging is now part of it, blogs are the new public relations tool. When relations with your public are dead, you are dead.

  49. Don't hire any firms to help you with a blog strategy that are not blogging themselves.

  50. Don't hire any firms to help you that suggest the reason to blog is 'because blogging is hot right now'.

  51. Use language that your audience uses, avoid using terms that your marketing and corporate communications teams have created.

  52. Have a kickoff 'best practices' and 'strategy' meeting with your corporate bloggers. Have updated meetings and training later.

  53. Consider creating a feedreader with industry feeds for your bloggers to quickly scan.

  54. Inform other business units of the plan and involve them. This is very important for Corp Comm, Communications, Execs, Legal and Marketing groups.

  55. Find or train a blog guru to guide your corporate blogging strategy. This person may or may not be your corporate blogger, but find someone that can guide, provide best practices, and get the tools in motion. Often, this person is already a blogger.

  56. In addition to your regular guru, find industry blog leaders, read their work, talk to them, hire them.

  57. Attend blogging conferences

  58. Ask outsiders to provide honest and open feedback about your blog. Let them know that negative feedback as well as positive feedback will be helpful.

  59. Obtain high level approval and sponsorship.

  60. Write a detailed plan, and share with stakeholders, get approval

  61. Get a good blog book, Check out Rebecca's WebLog Handbook

  62. Disregard everything you read above, research on your own, jump in, and try it for yourself. I dare you, double-trump-crown-decker-chocolate-cherry dare ya!

  63. For long posts, it's best to compose offline. Use text editors for grammer and spelling, as well as reducing risk of losing connection. Pare down content before posting, consider running by a second pair of eyes (See full version submitted in comments from DaveU, Nov 29th, 2005)

  64. This brought to mind one other, consider using notepad to remove all text editor crap code (such as MS word) before uploading into blog tool. Use the native formatting tools within the blogging tools.

  65. Watch a webinar with presentation and powerpoint about blogging. This one is a good high quality introduction, worth turning on an listning to in the background Lewis Global PR, Breakfast Summit. I highly reccomend watching these videos to be introduced to the concepts

  66. Don't disappear for weeks on end between posts. Otherwise, your readers will disappear. Try to post on a regular-enough basis such that it gets readers into the groove of constantly wondering whether there's a new post to check out. (Submitted by Ken)

  67. Develop "thick skin" as people will slam your company, your products, your ideas, and maybe even you. This is called playing in the blogosphere, and for some, it's tough lesson to swallow. Don't worry, many of us are doing it, and there is some netiquette. More importantly, since your customers are already thinking these things and telling others, isn't it better to get it out in the open and resolve it for all to see? (Idea from Scott Anderson of HP during his address at the syndicaiton conference)

  68. Blog about timely events. Yup, releveny is important, this is a conversation so old news isnt' relevent. (Idea from Scott Anderson of HP during his address at the syndicaiton conference)

  69. Remember that blogs are conversations, avoid the long approval proccesses, 'strategic linking' and people that want to over-refine your corporate blog. There are many other marketing tools (like press releases, public websites) that you can put the polish on. A blog, should represent the transparency of the blogger to their audience. Keep it real.

  70. Be very cautious when starting a blogging program at your company. It makes sense to obtain strategy and advice from someone who is succesful blogger, not someone who's willing to dive in without proper experience


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5 comments:

Hapi said...
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Oliver said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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