Corporate Blogging For Quality Relationships
The struggle for customer share is as intense as ever, and companies need to shore up their corporate message in anyway they can. Corporate weblogs, or "blogs", are a great, cost-effective way to engage customers, fellow professionals, or merely the curious. This opportunity to reach thousands of interested people requires no hefty advertising budget, yet can significantly strengthen your client-customer relationship. Taking dialogue online means added and valuable interaction with your customers.
A corporate blog can be used in any number of ways, from an informational hub to an online diary for a sales rep. They tend to be no less varied than personal blogs are. They deliver on-point messages to anyone who reads it. Since blog entries often have a personal touch, they tend to reach readers in ways a company homepage can't. This is where creative and well written blogs can really count; quality keeps people coming back. A blog isn't a venue for the hard sale but instead a resource where resource where readers can stay informed or sign up for newsletters and emailings.
Just because lemonade stands can afford to blog doesn't mean it's not something for the big guys, either. One well known corporate blogger, Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman of General Motors, has found tremendous success with his "Fast Lane" blog. Thousands of daily readers get his thoughts daily on all things automotive, with a decided emphasis on GM. What's more, these daily readers are usually car buffs and industry and not a motley cross-section. His blog's success lends influence to his opinion and GM's corporate message. Just as many readers of Lutz's blog are in the car industry, those who'd read your corporate blog would most likely be in your field, too. It's targeted readership, just what the blogger wants.
2005 marks the year that blogs finally got hot, probably because people are realizing how valuable targeted Internet flow is. In an advertising sense, sure, that's value in search marketing. It's somewhat similar for a corporate blog, especially considering the high interest level of writer and readership. It's high quality interaction where a person and a company can do themselves good amongst some people who really count: their peers and interested customers. Blogs do not generate smorgasbords of readership that resemble radio listening audiences. This is new media, where quality trumps quantity.
Our CEO at ICMediaDirect.com, Vladimir Khomenko, has gotten the chance to implement corporate blogs for many clients. It's his belief that in the matter of less than a year multitudes of companies have identified blogging as a viable means of corporate messaging, whereas it was once a wee minority. He says, "In the corporate world a blog gets a controlled message delivered to interested parties in real time. Readers will see it either when prompted to or when just "checking in". Simple as it may seem, it still represents incredible innovation because readers of a blog are usually receptive to their message."
Strategists unfamiliar with blogging should visit blog search sites, like Technorati, and gauge the impact of the blogosphere. Technorati keeps a running tab for visitors on the number of blogs in network they advertise. They are up to 27.4 million blogs and this number ticks up, practically on a daily basis.
These numbers underscore the importance of blogs today. The blog is a mainstream phenomenon, not a fad. Corporate blogs are growing in number and importance right there with personal blogs, too. Our consulting team at ICMediaDirect.com is approached by more and more companies who wish to blog themselves and we've noticed that companies are increasingly approving of employee blogs, if not encouraging them.
Employees on blogs communicate with customers, with business partners and anyone else about a wide array of business topics. The topics of such blogs are as varied as imagination will permit. Understandably, these corporate tools tend to focus on the company and industry, but general chit-chat makes for good blog fodder, too. Because comment boxes make the blog interactive, general industry issues are often discussed.
Good blogs often have valuable perspective on business issues. None of this is to say that a corporate blog is a safe place to say anything, far from it. It would be a foolish place to gossip about your workspace or give away proprietary information (yes, people have been fired for this). Whatever content of a business blog is posted should be done with the idea that a corporate blog represents the company. It's a fine line, sure, but not a difficult one to navigate with proper consideration.
Just as the workplace has become irreversibly entwined with the Internet, so too will the blog become a part of the company message. We'll continue to see it grow in corporate importance in upcoming months and years and as it does, look to start one of own. And let me know, I'd like to check it out.