I’m Part of The Social Media Tribe

I’ve just finished up my first post for a software publisher’s soon to be unveiled blog.

My topic?

10 Things You Need To Consider When Choosing An ERP Solution.

Yeah – boredom city.

Which is why I’m predicting that as quickly as I’ve joined the Social Media Tribe  – no kidding – that’s what they’re calling their guest bloggers –  I’ll be one of the first not invited back.

It’s not that I don’t know how to blog (I spent two years learning over at Geardiary as their Sr Editor) – rather I’m not a big fan of rigid corporate blogging where every topic is generic and meant to inspire some ultimate purchase or admiration for the company’s products.

Most of the corporate blogs that I’ve read are pretty absent of any personality. They read like one big infomercial with heaping helpings of praise laid upon the company’s own products and services.

Blogs I read regularly present both positive and negative angles to stories.

They inspire and encourage the reader to think, get angry, be happy –  and question the writers.

Where Do Most Corporate Blogs Go Astray?

Editorial approval takes forever. I’ve seen this in the print world when I worked for two of the largest CPA firms in Connecticut. A few times we tried to start printed newsletters to clients. Invariably by the time we’d circulated the copy to all 15 partners in the firm the topic was stale or had been edited down to a single boring paragraph or two.

After a few rounds of “let me edit this for you” which delayed the newsletter by months – we all gave up in frustration.

Content is boring. Most corporate blogs don’t want to rock the boat. Content tends to be bland, predictable and unnaturally upbeat. Posts tend to regurgitate the same message over and over (and over). Do you want to read that? Most people don’t. Another reason why most corporate blogs die or are hardly updated.

They write about one topic – themselves. A little variety is good for an online publication. Readers don’t want to read 101 stories about how product x solved company 1, 2, 3 …. 100’s problem.

Mix up the topics with some lighter content. If there’s an issue with a product (gasp -that never happens does it?) – discuss it.

Articles are way too technical, lengthy – and boring. Corporate blogs forget they’re not teaching a college level course.

Lighten up a little. It’s ok to have posts online that are as short as a paragraph or two. Most online visitors don’t have time to spend reading a 5,000 word dissertation.

Never admit fault – except for after the fact damage control. Why is it that most problem admissions come after there’s already been a big stink made (usually somewhere else online).

Why can’t corporate blogs get out ahead of the problem and become a conversation starter instead of a way to apologize. Does anyone really believe or get anything from a “we’re sorry we’ll do better” post?

After the initial excitement – corporate blogs die. The first three months of most blogs is also usually their last three. The newness of blogging wears off. If the blog’s exciting – corporate management dulls it down by trying to keep the sell/sell/sell focus – which in turn makes it a boring site that nobody visits.

If you’re corporate blog is building traffic – be sure to share those statistics with management. Ultimately you’re blogging for one reason – visibility. And visibility is measured by traffic or how many people visit and read your blog.

Unlike boring print media – blogging, through use of online analytic tools like Google,  can easily have the number of readers measured. Be sure to capture these statistics and use them to sell management on your continued blogging efforts.

How Can Corporate Blogs Succeed?

Write regularly. The only way to improve traffic is to deliver a steady stream of fresh, interesting content. That doesn’t mean to re-write the same “here’s why we are great” post over and over.

Whatever you do — don’t simply repost press releases over and over and over. Readers want fresh, interesting, well thought out content.

Vary the content. Nobody wants to read about the same thing every day. Nobody. It’s ok to include lighter or humorous topics to break up a more technical blog. There are some common things almost all businesses are interested  – technology being one. No matter what the topic of your blog a few articles on the latest new technology (smartphone, web sites, gadgets) are usually good posts that can vary content and keep visitors coming back.

Measure traffic. Use Google Analytics (or similar traffic counters) to see how many visitors are attracted to different types of posts. If you’re receiving few page views on a specific type of article then try changing either the headline, the content or writing about other more popular topics.

Management’s opinion doesn’t count. Rely on the traffic statistics more than management’s opinion of how a blog should be run — that is unless management has run a blog before (which most haven’t and don’t have the first idea how to).

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have a corporate blog. I think everyone should. Rather you need to make your blog standout in a crowd of what’s usually a boring collection of corporate blogs.

Vary the content. Make the posts interesting so readers keep coming back. Build credibility with your readers by admitting faults with a similar frequency to which you shower your company with praise. Doing these things tends to increase visibility and your blogs success – because ultimately without visitors and traffic there’s little reason to blog.

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