Are you getting ready to launch a corporate blog? Do you have one already and want to freshen it up a bit? There are many factors that can influence the success of your corporate blog, and some really are more important than others. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to make choices along the way, which of course means you’ll make a few mistakes, too. Just getting started is an important step, but everyone knows you don’t get evaluated on an honest effort. You need to succeed.
In an ideal world, you’d have infinite resources to generate an astounding return on investment in an appropriate timeframe. As you know, this world is far from ideal. That said, it can be helpful to think about what an ideal corporate blog would look like. This will help you understand the full range of alternatives available to you. From there, you can make the hard decisions necessary to implement your corporate blog and generate sufficient value to justify your time and its existence.
So, to kick this process off, let’s look at the 10 most important “ingredients” in a corporate blog:
1. Content: Let’s be realistic: you need a lot of content to make your corporate blog effective as a marketing tool. While you don’t need every post to be world-changing for your clients and prospects, roughly one out of five should be. In an ideal world, I’d suggest running multiple posts a day. Do the math on this. You need solid writing and editing capabilities.
2. Perspectives: how many people are contributing to your blog? While you may only have one writer, you do need many sources of information. Talk to executives and experts all over your organization. Ask them to contribute time for an interview, data for a chart or even bullet points for an article.
3. Talent: not everyone is a writer. It’s sad but true. It’s natural for people to want to express themselves, but a corporate blog isn’t a platform for that. Rather, it’s a tool for communicating a message. Remind your contributors and other corporate blog stakeholders of this fact. Hire (or otherwise engage) a talented writer to do the actual writing. This will make your content more accessible to your target market.
4. Accountability: yes, it’s an ingredient. In fact, it’s probably the most important one. There needs to be one person in charge. This person is ultimately responsible for ensuring that objectives are hit and that the process runs smoothly. Communication by committee is stupid. Process management by consensus is idiotic. At the end of the day, there must be a “single throat to choke” (to borrow the indelicate words of a former client).
5. Design: when I got started in corporate blogging, I downplayed the importance of visual impact. In the five years that have passed, I’ve changed my mind (take a look at this piece I wrote late last year). Include lots of visuals. Charts are best, but reality is such that you probably won’t have the resources to produce an endless supply. Photos and videos are great, too. When in doubt, even a closely related video on YouTube can be useful.
6. Editorial plan/calendar: I don’t care what you call it, as long as you know you need one. It doesn’t need to be etched in stone, but you should have a decent sense of when your major stories will be published. You can be flexible, especially with “filler,” but direction is crucial. Remember that you’ll be vying for the time and brain power of busy executives and experts – your editorial calendar will help you give them sufficient notice to contribute effectively.
7. Innovation and growth: your blog should look different every few years (or sooner) – and that includes functionality. If you have text and images now, plan for audio and video in the near future. Maybe you’ll want to protect some content behind a registration wall. Like your editorial calendar for the content side of your corporate blogging operation, you should have an upgrade/new features roadmap that you’ll use to mature the environment.
8. Public/media relations: you need to get the word out about your blog. You want readers, press pickups and so on. PR can help. Make sure you invest in developing the right (targeted) media contacts. The goal is to get them to see your corporate blog as an excellent source of ongoing story material.
9. Advertising: PR will get you only so far. Invest in some advertising on the likes of Google, LinkedIn and Facebook. Experiment with different environments to see where you get the best results. Over time, you’ll be able to modify your approach to maximize value.
10. Marketing integration: no blog is an island unto itself. As the PR and advertising points above suggest, you need to integrate your corporate blog into your broader marketing operation. Make sure everything is sync’ed up!
Now, this is what you need for your corporate blog to be ideal. Few can commit the resources to hit that level. So, adjust from this lofty goal based on the specific objectives, resources and capabilities your organization has. You don’t need to be perfect to be successful!