Reviving your corporate blog with community in mind
All you have to do is google “CEOs and blogging” and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about: more corporate and executive blogs than you can count. As a marketer, chances are you have your hands into some aspect of your businesses blog (s) or your executive team’s approach to blogging. Also likely is that sometime in the recent past or near future you have or will receive the call to ignite a better blogging campaign for your C-level executives.
For most interactive marketers, blogging isn’t a foreign concept. It’s something you get, you’ve done and kick-starting a corporate blogging program is par for the course. What I’m also going to assume is that for most marketers Wordpress or a similar blog platform has been the go-to choice. But here’s the challenge I see. Corporate blogging is taking on new dimensions. All too many CEO blogs have become one way messaging channels. No real interaction or engagement with partner, customer or industry communities. Don’t get me wrong- there is that elite group of CEO power-bloggers who have been able to attract a following. But if you consider that number versus the thousands, if not tens of thousands of corporate blogs established, the community-engagement among CEO blogs is rather small.
So, if you’re a marketer reading this I’m going to offer you my top 3 tips for starting or restarting your company’s corporate blog with community in mind.
- Think of the blog as a conversation hub, not a distribution channel for corporate news: Too many CEO blogs I’ve seen quickly morph into corporate news channels. And I guess I can see why this happens. Using the blog as a distribution channel for news and other high level musings is safe. It’s moderated, responses are relatively predictable and content is limited to a few frequencies so it’s easy for marketing and communications to mitigate it. But this invariably turns into a stale, one-dimensional channel quickly. And quite frankly, your CEO may quickly lose interest in blogging if he’s not seeing real engagement. I’d recommend thinking of your CEO’s blog as a center of dialogue. Encourage participation from the blog’s intended audience. Pull in Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn so that you have multiple channels feeding and informing the discussions your CEO puts forth. Align the blog with other marketing and communications sites you have built so that all are linked into a central brand community.
- Consider the role your customers and partners will play: I realize, you don’t necessarily want your CEO’s blog to be the sole sounding board for customer feedback. However you need to connect your executive to the audience that ultimately informs and shapes his/her viewpoints and decisions. So, make sure your blog has a customer engagement component. Invite partners to blog alongside and in response to your CEO’s viewpoints. Incorporate user-communities and the real-time social media channels they use directly into the discussions you post. The wider you extend your content net, the tighter and more powerful, the blog’s community will be.
- Wordpress isn’t your only option: I completely realize that as I write this blog, there is a swell of chatter and buzz about the release of Wordpress 3.0 (and in some cases head to head comparisons with Drupal Gardens). I also realize that because we play in the same open source sandbox, Wordpress is something that many marketers have grown to understand and feel comfortable using. Wordpress is a great blogging platform, no question. However don’t underestimate the opportunities Drupal offers when it comes to establishing communities. When you’re thinking about your blog, think about incorporating the building of community at the same time. Drupal is made for this and the combination of being able to integrate your blog, build your community, and have your marketing messages all within one platform is invaluable. I can’t tell you how many conversations I have with marketers who end up with one platform for blogging and one for building community. Drupal 7, and now Drupal Gardens) gives a big boost to the usability credentials for Drupal. So again, I urge my fellow marketers to explore their options and realize that when selecting their blogging platform, community engagement is at stake.
What have your experiences been?