This post is syndicated from the column I write in MarketingProfs and contains a summary of the panel I recently moderated at Blog World Expo with corporate bloggers from Dell, Yahoo!, Facebook and Kodak.
Since my last post on corporate blogging here, a lot has changed. I’ve had a chance to practice many of the concepts I preached, as LinkedIn’s corporate blog editor. I’ve also had the acquaintance of other corporate bloggers whom I greatly respect. So, it was a thrill to be able to bring together four of my peers for a dream panel at Blog World Expo, which I moderated. The topic: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Business Bloggers.
The panel included my friends Lionel Menchaca from Dell, Nicki Dugan from Yahoo!, Carolyn Abram from Facebook and Thomas Hoehn from Kodak. We had great participation from our audience but I’d be remiss not to share our learnings and presentation with you.
Given below are the key lessons that we shared with the audience members. See presentation here.
The 7 Habits of highly effective business bloggers
1. Status: It’s a relationship and it’s complicated
Start a corporate blog only if you’re in it for the long haul. Every panelist described the genesis of their respective blog, it’s origins, and most importantly how the blog impacted the company’s relationship with the users. I also got them talking about some of the challenges and pitfalls associated with it.
2. Tell Honest, Current Stories
As Jack Welch described the one rule of corporate blogging: “Just be Authentic“. The only way to build credibility with your users is by toning down the PR speak and amping up the straight talk. We also went over some of the privacy issues that one has to deal with while running a company blog.
3. Know your limits
Another area that you must keep in mind (this is relevant more for Fortune 500 than Inc 500 companies) are the legal landmines you have to navigate. But remember, your legal team is there to help you. So, having them support you a 100% right from the start and drafting best practices is key to ensure success.
4. Make lemonade
Social Media jujitsu is what we called it (thanks to Groundswell for the inspiration). How do you take a seemingly negative situation – irate users; and turn that over to a positive. Nicki, Carolyn and Lionel shared some pretty inspirational stories that ranged from the Facebook News feed to Yahoo! TV. Key here is putting your users first and listening to them.
5. One size doesn’t fit all
As I’ve often said before; do not start a corporate blog unless you have a goal in mind. Given that different companies start a corporate blog for different purposes – some may use it to educate their users while some others for recruitment. Thus best practices are also going to vary from one example to the other.
The panelists got into a spirited discussion of whether comments are necessary for a blog and under what conditions. Does your company have a corporate blog? And, if so, do you allow comments? Feel free to share.
6. Learn as you go
On short notice, I threw out a question to the panel on the biggest lesson learned during their stewardship of their respective company blogs. Of course, they were all able to effortlessly answer the questions with many of their answers highlighting the improvisational nature of the job.
7. It’s not just words
And, finally a glimpse into the future. Ideas shared focused on the multimedia nature of the future. As you may notice many corporate blogs are increasingly stepping into social media (which by definition includes pictures – Flickr, video – YouTube, and the likes). What do you think does the future of corporate blogging hold?
The genesis for this theme arose from the fact that corporate blogging may be close to mainstream status within corporate America, but the adopters lack a sense of how to make it work effectively. Stats in point: Between 2007 and 2008, adoption of corporate blogging among the fastest growing companies in the world (Inc 500) has doubled, while their appreciation of it’s effectiveness is at less than 50%.
The above habits were culled from a brainstorming session that I had with Lionel, Nicki, Carolyn and Tom and borrowed extensively from our experiences at our respective companies. I’d like to take this opportunity to continue the discussion we started at Blog World Expo with you. If you’re a corporate blogger, feel free to share a best practice you’ve gathered along the way. If you’d like to become one or if you’d like to start a blog for your company, feel free to ask us a question you have on the topic.