19 Feb 2013
By Karen Geier
There was a time when all start-ups had a company blog. This was mostly to help boost SEO (search engine optimization) and to help people who have never heard of their company get a sense of what that company was “about.”
Flash forward to now, where even the most established companies have not just one blog, but multiple blogs, which a team of writers contribute to weekly.
What are the advantages of having a company blog?
Every brand has a point of view, and an approach to the vertical their business resides in. Putting that point of view to practical use in your own company blog is an excellent way to begin content marketing. With great articles, and great commentary on vertical-related news, you can establish your brand as an expert in your field. With the SEO benefits of a blog, you can also dominate the first page of Google results in your field, giving your company increased credibility. If you plan and execute your blog correctly, you can boost your company’s reputation in a meaningful way.
There are a few guidelines you should adhere to if you want to get the most out of your company blog:
Remember your audience: Your audience is never going to be “everyone.” Your primary audience focus should be your ideal client or customer. With this in mind, you can still post “off-topic” articles, but you need to give your customers a reason to care about your content and keep coming back. Focus on a core demographic, write content that appeals directly to that demographic, and at times hits a broader audience.
Plan a core group of topics you will cover: It’s important that, just like your brand has a point of view, so should your blog. You should decide as a brand what types of stories you will cover and comment on, and which ones you won’t touch. This doesn’t mean shying away from controversy, it just means knowing and adhering to a focused editorial position. This can shift and change once you see feedback from your community, but you shouldn’t make any drastic pivots.
Assign a team to contribute to your blog: Blogs don’t write themselves, and you should absolutely not hire an outside team to write for your blog. Your best assets are internal team members from various disciplines who can contribute their perspectives to add a personal touch to the blog. Make sure you budget time for these team members to contribute 1-2 times per month. You also need to budget time for them to read and respond to comments. You can rotate contributors using a content calendar.
Create a content calendar: It’s important to have all of your topics, themes, and people organized, so you don’t have any down periods in your blog. Even on days when you’re not sure what to write about, you should have a guideline to keep your momentum going. It doesn’t need to be fancy. A simple spreadsheet by month will do.
Diversify your post types & make your content sharable: Certain posts resonate more easily with your readership than others, and are shared more often. Image galleries, top 10 lists, short posts, and commentary on other blog posts are all quick, easy-to-consume types of content. Readers easily connect to this type of content. This doesn’t mean you should shy away from longer-form content, but you should mix it in with a larger proportion of easier-digested post types.
Manage your comments: As you build an audience, they will begin commenting on your page. Make sure your blog authors read, moderate, and comment back to these posters. It’s also important they escalate any issues or feedback directly to company stakeholders.
Build forms/make yourself contactable: The goal of your blog is to make your company more transparent. Make sure you have a form or contact information available right from the blog so readers can get in touch with you. But ensure the form doesn’t connect to an “email@example.com” address, or an address that isn’t monitored. You need to be actively responding to these messages. Don’t let this account go more than a week without responding, even if the response is, “We’re looking into it, and will continue to update you as more information becomes available.”
Choosing a Blog Host: Depending on your needs upfront, you may opt for fewer features until you can gauge what your business needs are. Here is an overview on the pros and cons of a few blog providers:
- Tumblr: The easiest plug-and-play solution to get you started blogging immediately. Used by such large companies as IBM, Tumblr is an easy-to-use, social blogging platform and has a built-in community. You can choose which Tumblr theme you would like from their Theme Garden of hundreds of free or cheap Themes, or you can hire a pro to design one for you.
- Squarespace: Another plug-and-play method, this blog platform is less community-focused, but more “professional-looking” than Tumblr. Its intuitive interface lets you quickly pull together the elements you need (including forms, social feeds, etc.) so you can concentrate on building content. Not free. Subscription prices vary.
- WordPress self-hosted: The most robust and customizable solution. You host WorPpress on a third-party server, or on an in-house server (if your IT policy dictates you must.) There are millions of options for features and plugins, billions of ready-made themes (or for a fairly reasonable price, you can get one designed). Not as simple to learn out-of-the-box as Tumblr, but the flexibility makes up for it.
To truly judge popularity of your posts and general success, you should track activity on your blog. All three of the blog hosts mentioned plug into the free (and increasingly good) Google Analytics. What you should look for as base measurements are # of page views, # of returning page views, where your views are coming from, and how many comments each post gets. These are all great measurements that will help inform your editorial focus, and help you plan for more success as you continue to write.
Company blogs needn’t be scary. By implementing some simple best practices, getting team buy-in and planning (and measuring) for success, you can build your company’s reputation and SEO scores, helping your brand become a trusted source of information in your vertical.