The Fine Points of Blogging

By September 8, 2008 No Comments

As blogging in the workplace becomes increasingly common, some practical “do’s and don’ts” have surfaced to help make blogging stress-free and optimal.

With this first entry, I begin a series of blogs about the fine points of blogging. Each week, I will present up to three important topics for an effective blogosphere presence. First, let’s start with:

The Do’s

Do know your company

I would say that the most important question to ask is whether your company should even blog at all. “There are some corporate cultures where blogging is not going to go over very well,” some experts contend. Cultures where blogging thrives are ones that have good faith in their employees, rather than fear. I was a subject of a recent article about companies who have fear of employee blogging.

Here at Ninthlink, there is no fear; we encourage our employees to blog – in fact, we thrive on it for the culture we are advocating and helping to create.

So: know thyself. Should your company have a blog? I would say, in most cases, yes.

Do know your audience

If you cannot find something to blog passionately about, your blog will be no more than a corporate PR organ. For technology companies, that’s easy — software makers like Microsoft and Intuit (makers of Turbo Tax) both have a plethora of knowledgeable users eager to talk about their products. But what if you make, say, cooking oil, or dust mops? Or your product is an intangible Internet-based software? Well, there may not be as much to blog about a dust mop as there is to blog about a new search engine, but the blogging platform is there. Who is your target audience for the dust mop? Write a blog about surveying women who need your dust mop in their homes. Tell personal stories. People love to read stories.

Do engage the audience

The best part about blogging is that it can become a conversation. Absorb what people have to say, and reply to their comments. “It’s the ultimate zero cost focus group,” says Debbie Weil, author of Robert Scoble, who holds the title of Technical Evangelist there. “I want our customers to feel free to tell us what they think,” he adds.

Is there Freedom of Speech in blog comments? I will discuss more about commenting in a different blog.

Do stay current

Update your blog often, and make liberal use of hyperlinks. The more sites you link to, the more sites will return the favor.

Do have good layout

The design of your blog should be simple and pleasing to the eye, with an easy-to-read font (Times New Roman, Courier, etc) and easy-to-navigate page. Keeping it simple and easy will keep readers coming back.

Do keep articles brief and to the point

Don’t ramble. Say what needs to be said, put in some links, and there you have it, the prefect blog. Easier said than done, right? Again, simplicity takes over here.

Do have keyword presence

Put them in titles, tags, categories and page copy. First 10 lines are most important. Use emphasis to highlight important keywords. I will discuss the importance of meta-tagging in another blog.

Do have sincerity

The bloggers should not only have passion, but should be sincere when discussing products or the company. Readers know a con when they read it – the truth in language shines clear.

Do have ground rules

Creating rules of the road for your company’s bloggers is recommended. Microsoft (Research) and others have corporate blogging guidelines that detail what’s allowed and what’s not. Weil suggests letting the policy bubble up from below, as things go along. Mistakes will be made, but we learn from those. 

The Don’ts

Do not try to sell your products

Writing on the blog has to be natural and colloquial. Avoid using cheap marketing arguments. Don’t even think about listing the qualities or benefits of your products. A blog, let alone an expert blog, is not made for this, but to establish expertise and reputation. 

Do not have typos and spelling/grammar mistakes

This is a very common mistake. A lot of bloggers think that, because you’re in a hurry, you don’t have to worry so much about spelling or grammar — blog “typo-ese” is okay for personal blogs, but not work blogs. This is a very bad habit to fall into and easy to so. The writing has to be natural, which doesn’t mean that it has to be bad. And if your articles are very pertinent and interesting but badly written, you will attract many impertinent and unpleasant comments. Clients may lose faith. Being a corporation also helps as it should enable you to get others to proofread your text. However, I strongly recommend that you avoid rewriting expert text to give a “communications” flavor to it, because it will sound fake. Hiring a professional copy writer is often the best thing, preferably one who has prior experience in editing, writing, and publishing, not someone straight out of an MFA program. 

Do not stray from the topic

While employees are encouraged to blog, they are not encouraged to talk about their dates, their marriages, or their dogs. There are other blogs for that.  Keep to the topic. 

Do not wait until a crisis

Don’t let a crises be the impetus to hits to set up a corporate blog — it needs time to build up trust. Start now. 

Call to Action

Have a question about blogging for your company and how a blog will effectively create a 300% ROI? Email me at [email protected], phone me at 619-274-7735, or write in the comment box below.

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