Running a corporate blog is a totally different ballgame from running a personal blog. Based on my experience starting the LinkedIn blog, here’s a quick primer – just 10 easy steps (encompassing strategy, tactics and measurement) that you need to focus on to get any corporate blog off the ground. The following steps may or may not be applicable to every company so if your company has a unique challenge feel free to leave a comment.
1. Define your vision: So, let’s assume you’re at a company that’s not gotten around to the idea of a corporate blog yet. I’m sure your idea of starting one, will be met with “Why should company X have a corporate blog?” For starters, some forward thinkers would say that the corporate website is irrelevant, which may surprise a few. Some others will say it’s necessary to start a conversation with our users. Right on both counts, but how do you convince upper management that it’s the way to go. Working for a company that embraces that conversation definitely makes life easier and once they do, get to the next step.
That’s when defining a vision for a corporate blog comes in. Different situations call for different measures. You could use a corporate blog as a) an educational tool, b) a feedback loop, c) conversation starters (for the blogosphere as well as other media), d) a focus group, e) a crisis management tool etc…or even e) a combination of the above. I’m sure each company could find it’s own unique application of a blogging platform. At LinkedIn; it’s used as a combination of factors a through c with the ultimate goal of becoming THE resource when it comes to all questions related to LinkedIn.
So, when you search for “LinkedIn” or any product feature for that matter, you should be directed to a blog post on that particular topic. That’s the ultimate goal. The blog is currently the fourth result when you search for “LinkedIn”.
2. Designate an editor or chief blogger: Well, this is really critical since blogging takes a concerted effort involving time, persuasion and editorial skills. This role definitely cannot be placed on the CEO, since he/she has far more important goals to accomplish. In my case, I was a blogger before I started at LinkedIn and it definitely is worth considering an experienced blogger to take on that role.
3. Earn the approval of your internal teams: Strategically, this is THE most important aspect of corporate blogging, because connecting with your internal teams is as important as establishing a connection with your target audience. A good way to start and keep the internal conversation going would be to have an internal blog. Every team meeting or “happy hour” is a chance to find out how different teams would like to communicate to the end user. The blog editor’s job is to facilitate that communication through a unique calendar of blog posts.
4. Define your categories: Once your vision is clear, it becomes easy to create the buckets of content that you’ll start populating the corporate blog with. In LinkedIn’s case, our goal is to create content under 10 categories; simple yet comprehensive. The categories should be a direct result of your vision and goals. If it’s to educate your users, then automatic choices would be “product features”, “tips and tricks”, etc…
5. Enlist contributors and plan posts: Before you start blogging, it’s always good to have a list of possible blog contributors from within your organization. As far as specific products are concerned, it’s good to enlist the product manager of that team and for posts on vision and announcements, C-level executives would be appropriate authors. Also, if there are bloggers within the company, do reach out to them and make them a part of your blog team.
6. Create a blog calendar: Now that you’ve earned the confidence and approval of internal management and teams, it’s time to get into action. Unlike your personal blog, where you could craft any random post depending on the day’s zeitgeist, a corporate blog is built for a specific purpose and so a calendar of posts is essential. The calendar can also be built around the different categories/tags you’ve envisioned and that way you’ll have a steady flow of posts.
7. Define your template/layout: A blog template has to be in consonance with your company brand. As you can see, LinkedIn’s blog template was carefully crafted keeping in mind the simple aesthetics of our website. Yahoo! blog, Yodel Anecdotal has the colors and branding of Yahoo! and so does the Facebook blog.
8. Stick to the categories: As my friend and web strategist Jeremiah often says, “Laser like focus” is an essential prerequisite for any blog, more so for a corporate blog. Once you define the categories or tags, NEVER veer away from them and start creating content on a regular basis and keep increasing the frequency. The LinkedIn blog started at 2-3 posts a week and we’ve slowly moved onto 4 posts a week. Increase the pace in slow increments and don’t turn back.
9. Veer towards content that provides value: Crafting 5 posts a week from 10 categories, means you’ll be veering towards content that has increasingly provided more value for your audience. If your blog is an educational tool, then start focusing on posts that encompass outline tutorials and keep augmenting the value. Maybe, start enhancing your tutorials in multi-media to add to the text based posts.
10. Measure progress: Now this could be a separate post in itself, one I’ve covered in the past and will revisit in the days to come, but once you start your blog it’s always good to invest in an analytics software that can help you track, plan and measure the growth of your blog. This in addition to the feed stats measurement tools. The first few months of blog growth can be measured by the following four stats: 1. Technorati ranking, 2. Alexa ranking, 3. Comments, 4. # Subscribed to your feed, etc…
Feel free to leave your questions, comments or suggestions.