The blog format has mushroomed into much wider use and is now frequently found on corporate websites large and small. But it usually looks and acts completely different to its user-generated ancestors.
Corporate blogging is often approached as an opportunity to market products, or a way to display press releases. Done the wrong way, blogs can quickly become one-way channels that broadcast information without considering customer interest – a real blah blah blah scenario.
Worse still are the corporate blogs that go to seed – they’re set up with great intentions but get deprioritised and gradually abandoned, with ancient posts sitting at the top of the blog gathering dust for all to see.
To create a successful corporate blog, it’s useful to think from a content marketing perspective, planning quality content that wins you repeat visits and brand loyalty. It also pays to look back to the origins of the medium, and tap into some of the factors that made blogs so popular in the first place.
Here are some pointers for writing strong corporate blog posts:
Have a plan
- Decide what you want to achieve with your blog. Do you want to improve your credibility, build relationships, raise awareness, or maybe improve your visibility in search?
- Who are your readers? Use your website analytics, marketing research and other social media channels to help you figure out who your audience are. Then you’ll be able to plan content designed to interest them and improve their relationship to your brand.
- Assess your resources and figure out how often you can blog – it might be once a day, once a week or once a month, but it needs to be consistent. Readers should be able to scroll back through your posts and see a consistent timeline – if it looks sporadic, they’re less likely to return.
- Then you can create an editorial calendar with topics to blog about planned in advance. To find good blog-fodder, you need to keep track of news in your industry, read widely, and ask staff for their ideas on a regular basis.
Promote and measure success
- Once you know what – and who – your blog is for, you can gauge how well it’s meeting its objectives. Page views, visitor numbers, comments and social media shares are all possible metrics you can use to monitor success. Decide on your measure and keep an eye on it from day 1 so you can track progress.
- Cross-promote with your other channels. If you’ve got a new blog post up, link to it from your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Feature it in your email newsletter. If your post mentions a topic that’s covered on your website, link out to the relevant page, and vice versa.
- Write titles that will stand alone when shared around the web. Your headline needs to make readers click through when they see it in a Facebook feed or Twitter stream. Namecheck the subject you’re talking about, and add a few words that hint at your take on it.
- Write with a web user’s needs in mind. Whether you’re serving up hints and tips, thought-provoking opinion or a guide to a topic in your field, write in an accessible tone of voice and structure your post so it’s easy to scan-read.
- Make sure the topic is relevant to your audience. You can do this by researching what other blogs in your field are writing about and noting popular topics discussed within your industry on social media. If appropriate, you can also ask explicitly for your readers’ thoughts and feedback on your post, to fine-tune your future output.
- Remember, creating useful, valuable content will pay dividends, not only in terms of your readership and brand, but in search rankings too
Listen and respond
- Blogging is a form of social media, and the old social media adage of ‘joining the conversation’ certainly applies here. If you don’t have comments enabled on your blog, you’re not providing the full blog experience. Give your readers space to feed back to you on what you’ve written, and add their own ideas.
- Whatever your subject area, your blog will have peers, in the form of fellow corporate blogs, amateur blogs and depending on your sector, pro-blogs (blogs run like magazines, using advertising for income). Keep abreast of their output, and add comments where you feel you can contribute. It’s good to link to other relevant sites too.
- Moderate your blog. Read and respond to the comments you receive, weeding out spam comments and any irrelevant or abusive content. (Note – that doesn’t include respectfully phrased criticism or disagreement. No-one likes moderator censorship.) This improves the experience for your readers, and also helps you gather valuable feedback about your blog content and how well it’s doing.