Those who are updated on developments in the forefront of business communications largely agree on the value of business blogs for today’s companies, from the most powerful corporations to small businesses. Yesterday we cited Bob Lutz, vice chairman for global product development at General Motors, who has been writing for the GM Fastlane blog along with other members of the company’s senior management. Early this year, GM’s entry into corporate blogging was cited by Hugh McLeod of gapingvoid as the possible tipping point for corporate blogging, meaning, “the point where blogging stops being the supposed realm of freaks, weirdos, unemployed marketing consultants, unpublished novelists, political junkies and underworked cube dwellers, and starts being HUGE! An essential pillar of any corporate strategy and execution etc.” Indeed, Boeing.com features Randy’s Journal, a blog by Randy Beler, vice president for marketing. Not surprisingly, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, HP, Google and Yahoo also have their respective blogs, with some of them hosting several executive and employee blogs.
Over a month ago, Backbone Media, Inc. released results of its corporate blogging survey conducted among hundreds of companies with in-depth interviews with six top companies including IBM, Microsoft, Maytag and Macromedia. According to Backbone Media, Inc.:
“The survey discovered that for the majority of the survey sample, corporate blogs are living up to all the hype. Corporate blogs are giving established corporations and obscure brands the ability to connect with their audiences on a personal level, build trust, collect valuable feedback and foster strengthened relationships while and at the same time benefiting in ways that are tangible to the sales and marketing side of the business.”
The August 2005 issue of Fast Company has an article on “Business Blogging for Beginners” with five basic tips:
- Make introductions. Read other blogs, link your readers to those you find useful or interesting and use the trackback function to inform your sources that you have linked to them.
- Be authentic. Be yourself. Have your own voice. If you find it difficult to keep things interesting in your own voice, consider making short commentaries linked to interesting articles or discussions.
- Dress business casual. Blogs are more effective when informal, but within limits. The article cites Yahoo’s blogging policy: “Be respectful of your colleagues, get your facts straight, provide context to your argument, and engage in private feedback.”
- Don’t scrimp. Invest enough time and effort in your blog maintenance.
- Have a contingency plan. In order to earn your readers’ trust, be ready to confront the issue directly when your company faces a crisis.
For the real beginner, the very first tip should send you on your way. Read your way through the blogosphere. The comparison to being in a cocktail party is apt. You’ll find yourself involved in a variety of very interesting conversations. Chances are, you’ll find yourself itching to join in by setting up your own blog.