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By B.L. Ochman
quality_hugh.png“What if we don’t want to put an enormous amount of time and effort into a company blog? What if we just want to have a blog that’s just good enough to help us with search engine rankings, but won’t win any bloggies,” a client asked me recently. “Can’t we just do that?”

No! The world doesn’t need one more plain vanilla corporate blog. The client’s question was based on several misunderstandings and myths about corporate blogging.

An effective company blog is not:
– an instant fix for falling search rankings
– a way to blatantly sell products
– easy or quick to create, write or sustain
– easy to build a loyal audience for
– cheap

What good is a corporate blog and why put the time, money and effort into building and sustaining one?

Constant contact
Let’s say that people now come to your website to buy your products somewhere between two and four times a year.

Email is becoming more of a nuisance every day for most people, and it’s become harder, and more expensive, to create effective email campaigns.

Your customers and potential customers undoubtedly do not pay a lot of attention to your online ads (or any online ads.)

Engaging content
A blog that is interesting, interactive, well-designed and professionally written can create daily readers who will have your company top of mind every day.

When they get to your blog, you need to be talking about what people want to hear, not just what you want to tell them. Simple as that sounds, heavy-handed selling or, worse yet, bland “don’t offend anyone” writing are the major reasons that nobody reads most corporate blogs.

Looking good
The vast majority of corporate blogs lack a compelling graphic identity. They’re bland looking and they have bland content.

They have tiny pictures or they rely on cheesy clip art. There’s no excuse for that when there are sites like iStockphoto with images for as little as $1.

Good writing is the key
Most people would rather have root canal than write several blog posts a day. And most people don’t have the skill, talent, experience, or training to write well on a constant basis. (That’s much of what’s wrong online, but that’s a whole other post.)

Posts that are more than 300 words are never going to be read unless they consist of short sentences and paragraphs; bulleted points; subheads and plenty of white space. Who has time to read 1000-word+ posts on your blog?

if you need more than 300 words in a blog post you probably should split it into a series of posts.
The answer is to have a professional writer or editor on your corporate blog.

The bottom line
Is all this going to be cheap? No! A good corporate blog costs money and time. Time to write, promote and most of all, time to build an audience over time.

Love your readers
– Give link love to people who comment on your blog by linking to their websites and blogs
– Try to surprise and delight your readers
– Give them the opportunity to create content. People love to send stories and photos and videos to blogs they like. Incentiveize them.

Blog readers are there by choice. You can’t force anyone to read a blog.
What you can do is make the blog totally fucking amazing.

Note: I have the cartoon above, by Hugh Macleod, on my What’s Next Blog business cards. If that offends you, you probably won’t like working with me. If it turns you on, and you are thinking about having a corporate blog. Gimme a call.

I do also have a polite business card, a cute one, and a funny one. I use them as needed.

One of my most popular posts, this was originally run on Sept 13, 2007