A commenter to one of my recent posts asked whether more personal, “slice of life” style content — such as posts about staff days out and/or office antics — is appropriate for a corporate or business blog. Here’s my response.
It depends on your goals
Every blog needs to have a reason to exist. Let me suggest a few:
- Inform or educate the public
- Encourage dialogue with current and potential customers
- Convey a sense of company personality and culture
- Entertain readers and customers
If either of the last two are goals you have for your blog, such “behind the scenes” content could (and should) be included.
It has long been established that blogs are useful relationship-building tools. They put a human face on a company and allow customers to connect with real people, not just brands. As Future Buzz blogger Adam Singer put it, “On the web, people are what matter, not brands.”
Frankly, I believe that people would rather do business with people rather than businesses and, better yet, people they know. While that may seem to be less important where B2B is concerned, think about this: It is not so much a matter of making prospective customers like your company, products or services, but helping them to like you and gain a greater sense of loyalty and trust as a result. What better way to do that than through your blog.
One client of mine a few years ago, a fitness equipment manufacturer, maintained a blog largely focused on fitness and health tips. Its goal was to do #1 from above, educate and inform.
On occasion, however, posts would be included that share some insight about the people who made the products. Those posts were at times informational, inspirational, or even humorous. One that was especially memorable showed a photo of the CEO sliding down the rail of an escalator at an airport while on his way to a tradeshow. That photo told a story and gave readers insight into the CEO’s personality. (“He is a fun guy.”)
Not only that, but now that brands are connecting on what is the most personable of social networks, Twitter, there seems to me to be natural relevancy to including some anecdotal-style posts.
How much is enough
Whille there is no rule-of-thumb to what makes for a healthy balance of informative posts vs. slice of life, let me suggest that “less is more” and “a little goes a long way.”
One B2B company that does a great job of mixing fun posts with informative ones (and sometimes a given post is a mashup of both) is Hubspot. Their Hubspot TV video series is affable enough to tickle anyone’s funny bone (take their You Oughta Know video as a case in point), yet doesn’t predominate, but fits comfortably in with more informationally-oriented ones.
We’re attempting to use the same tact with our company blog at Bizzuka. Mixed in with posts on CMS workflow management and announcements about new sites and platform components you’ll find a post about snow in south Louisiana, our COO’s trip to Alaska and an inspirational one about Thanksgiving. While I admit it’s a bit hodge-podge, the blog serves each of the purposes listed above.
Keep it in good taste
I realize that is a) stating the obvious and b) very subjective. My preference is to err on the side of caution. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. It’s not just a matter of taking care not to offend customers and prospects either, but members of your board and investors as well.
Search engine optimization issues
Not only are blogs useful for relationship marketing, they serve a vital SEO role as well. Sometimes, those two benefits can run counter to each other. In an effort to tell your company’s story from both more personal and professional angles, you can send mixed signals to Google.
For the sake of search engines, it’s best to keep your company blog singularly focused. That does not, however, prohibit the occasional inclusion of ancillary information. Again, I reiterate, “less is more.”
The aforementioned commenter included this well-stated remark: “It sounds as though the best thing to do is to try and strike a happy medium between the individuality and character of a social blog and the professionalism and content of a business blog. Am I on the right track?”
Again, depending on your company’s goals, I’d say the answer is yes. What do you think?