Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

3 Questions to ask before you start a corporate blog

One of the first questions asked at our recent SXSW panel on corporate blogging was “should my company have a corporate blog?”. Wrong question! Time and again, I’ve repeated, don’t start with a tactic in mind, always start with a strategic goal and then find out what your options are. So, I was rather pleased to read a recent article by Neil Davey, editor of MyCustomer.com, which agreed with this key concept as he outlines simple steps on what companies should consider before entering the corporate blogosphere!

Three questions to ask yourself and your team before you plunge into the world of the corporate blogosphere (after the jump).


Companies’ deadly mission: To crack the forbidden kingdom of the blogosphere!

So, what exactly are the three questions you need to ask yourself before you start a corporate blog. We asked them at LinkedIn and I’d advise any company asking themselves the questions since the decision has to be ratified at all levels and you better have answers before you take this idea to your boss.

1. Why are we starting a corporate blog? What are the goals?

Pretty obvious question to ask, but you’ll be surprised how many companies don’t ask this question before they start a blog. At LinkedIn, we did have a couple of primary goals; we wanted to have a site for (1) user education and (2) customer engagement (feedback). Traditionally, goal #1 would be achieved through a corporate website, but what the blog allowed beyond that is a constantly updated 2-way communication vehicle (which is what baffles me when companies have blogs without comments!). Equally important is the fact that these goals (primary & secondary) should fit into your company’s wider objectives. As Tom Nixon, says in the article:

“It needs to feed down from the wider corporate objectives,” adds Nixon. “Look at what the company’s overall marketing plans are and then find out how you can feed off that. So for example, if the company wants to improve awareness of its brand, then a blog – if it is good – can be picked up by other people who link to it and slowly it spreads the word about your brand.”

Always, start with the goal in mind.

2. Where are my users?

Here’s something else that companies forget. A blog may traditionally be far more utilitarian to a computer software company vs. a brick-and-mortar one (although, I believe that’s changing rapidly as well). But ask yourself, where exactly are my users online. Where do they congregate and how do they find answers to the questions they have?

In our case, most of our users where tech savvy and could be found online, so it made a lot of sense to focus our efforts on a corporate blog as is the case for most web 2.0 startups, I’m sure.

3. What is the internal and external culture?

And, finally, let’s not forget that after all blogs are nothing more than a vehicle that makes more porous the membrane that exists between the individuals who create your products and the individuals who use them. (Thanks to Hugh for the concept). You’ve got to make sure that a blog is not just about that “chief blogger” but more about everyone within the company who can blog. In LinkedIn’s case, almost 18% of our workforce has blogged. That’s nearly 40 of my colleagues, which includes key members of the management team as well.

Next step: So, if based on answers to the above three questions you’ve decided to start a blog, kudos! There’s another post in the making as to what steps to follow once you decide to start a blog. If you can’t wait to read that, check out Neil’s post where he talks about that in brief. (Read post here)

Got questions. Leave a comment.

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Filed under: Business Blogging

5 Responses

  1. Mario:

    For me, the feedback and osmosis portion of your description is vital. In the corporate world, we live in that corporate culture. We try to imagine who our customers are and what they think and do. But, all we normally see are market research reports which are filtered through someone else’s cultural filters (the market research team’s).

    But, blog comments are a direct (from-the-horse’s-mouth) media which is freely available for those inside the corporate culture to get a feel for the customer’s world. A popular corporate blog provides a continuous stream of that cultural ‘intel’ so that we have more of a feel of what’s happening in the marketplace.

    Rodger

    Like

  2. Mario Sundar says:

    @rodger

    Glad you feel that way. Do you blog for your company?

    Like

  3. […] are three simple questions you ask yourself before you start a corporate blog. Let’s see how Apple […]

    Like

  4. nancy says:

    Can an individual open a corporate?
    What type of corporate that would be S corportate or something else?
    what are the advantages or disadvantages of corporate?

    Like

  5. Mario Sundar says:

    @Nancy,

    Not sure I get your question?!

    Like

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