Corporate Blogging: Rapid Ascent

Does your company have a blog? Two out of five of your competitors do.

Look, I have three years of scars as a full-time corporate blogger to show you that it just isn’t easy. It’s time-consuming, tiring and painful. At times it’s thankless … by design, as your goal should be to promote your company’s subject matter experts and executives rather than yourself. Yet, nothing beats the thrill of seeing your traffic tick higher, retweets accumulate and RSS subscriptions soar. You can measure your results on a second-by-second basis and gain a real feel for your progress. And that, quite frankly, rocks.

Given the fact that you can drive results that are easy to measure – not to mention take total control of your corporate message – I wasn’t shocked to see in the latest data from eMarketer that close to 40 percent of U.S. companies will have public-facing corporate blogs this year. It’s an astounding number, really, especially for me, as I remember in the middle of 2008 having to explain … yet again … just what the hell a blog is. And is not. And how it doesn’t bite. And how you can still have approvals. You get the idea: from the hinterlands, blogging is fast becoming a standard corporate marketing tool.

eMarketer states on its blog:

This usage is on the rise as firms will increasingly realize the value of the blogosphere to further a variety of corporate functions, such as communications, lead generation, customer service and brand marketing.

And that’s just the beginning. Blog2Print, eMarketer says, finds that close to 25 percent of the Fortune 1,000 have corporate blogs, generally run by the marketing department or an employee specializing in blogging or social media (when I did this it was first in the marketing department and next in a marketing agency – I also dabbled in it in 2005 as a consultant, but that was far too early to matter). The tone is typically set by the CEO, though some companies have taken a variety of approaches, as I preferred, since it’s easy to let issues such as “voice” bog you down.

So, what’s the key to a great corporate blog?

Well, eMarketer finds that 46 percent of respondents believe an engaged community is key, followed by daily postings (at 26 percent). In my experience, the latter was more important, as you needed to give your readers something to read. Further, the archive you develop when you post daily accumulates rapidly, giving you fodder for additional clicks, which translates to additional market intelligence.

Interestingly, half of the respondents said that they are using corporate blogs because it has become a cost of doing business. While I don’t have any data on hand about this from 2008, I can remember the sentiment back then – and it was much different. In only a few years, blogs have gone from the “Wild West” to a necessary business tool. This strikes me as nothing short of astounding (in a good way). Only 20 percent indicated that it was a way to gain new business opportunities, and only 18 percent cited it as a way to establish their companies as an authority in the industry.

This, I can tell you, is progress – swift progress at that. The only problem I see is that treating a corporate blog as a cost of doing business can cause companies to miss many of the opportunities that they offer, from media bypass through lead generation. Even if you see this as something you have to do, treat it as though you’re doing it by choice.