Given the nascent stage in which corporate blogging is, it’s always good to share lessons learned so the next batch of corporate bloggers (wherever they are) can read and learn. Recently, I posted the 5 lessons learned in corporate blogging upon the 1 year anniversary of LinkedIn’s corporate blog and so I was really pleased to stumble upon another such testimonial, but this time from a large company, EMC, and their lead blogger – Chuck Hollis (Vice President of Technology Alliances).
Chuck Hollis (VP, Technology Alliances and lead blogger)
Given below is a juxtaposition of Chuck’s key learnings (in quotes), with my $0.02 corporate blog learnings at LinkedIn (wherever applicable). So, what do you think are some of these lessons learned by a large organization to the art of corporate blogging and how different is that with corporate blogging best practices at a web startup
Read on for more.
Note: Let’s also keep in mind that the lessons Chuck learned is not just about a single corporate blog like I edit at LinkedIn, but more about an ecosystem of bloggers EMC currently fosters, much like at SAP, Microsoft, etc…
#1: The right bloggers within your company will find you
People blog proficiently for one reason and one reason only: they want to.
I think a key component of a community evangelist/blog evangelist at a startup is to get product managers and engineers enthused about blogging about the latest and greatest features they’re working on, since a startup’s corporate blog could be a/the key communication tool. The onus of evangelizing the benefits of blogging to every member of the team falls on the community evangelist. And, that differs from the “blog ecosystem” concept in large corporations, where the passionate bloggers rise to the top.
#2: Non-correlation with titles and blogging capacity
Just because you have a big title or a big role in the organization doesn’t magically embue you with the ability (or passion!) to blog effectively.
I personally think every individual can blog well when it comes to a topic of their interest and passion – product managers can describe their products superbly well while engineers have their own tech needs. Part of my role at LinkedIn is finding out what those special niche interests are and getting them to blog fluently on those topics. Having said that, I do argue whether executives should blog regularly. Methinks there are far more important issues to deal with.
#3: Groom bloggers – have an internal blog playground
One of the big reasons I wanted an internal social media platform was to have a “sandbox” to groom future bloggers. Guess what: it worked!
When I started at LinkedIn, there was an internal blog which was sparsely populated with content. Also, not all eyes were on this blog and sending out group emails seemed a better way of spreading memes within the organization. Hence, it made more sense to drive all attention to the corporate blog, which was the focus of my efforts. I also make it a point to send out a weekly email, outlining top 3 posts on our blog as a reminder to the entire organization to foster their involvement. Again, in a large company the “blog ecosystem” rules and having an internal blog playground makes a lot of sense in that context.
#4: Corporate blogging is an oxymoron – keep it real
The biggest challenge of any corporate blogging initiative is “corporate” — it has this nasty way of crushing all the pleasure out of what’s essentially a fun activity.
This would have to be true for all corporate bloggers whether they are from large companies or startups. I do think however, that startups may find it easier to break through the jargon given their relevant youth as opposed to well established large corporations.
#5: A community of bloggers
Newbie bloggers get all sorts of expert, compassionate help for free. And, even established bloggers need a bit of friendly feedback and coaching once in a while — including me!
This again could be true irrespective of the kind of company. I believe blogging is a passionate past time and as is the case with evangelism, once you’re bitten with the blogging bug, you make sure that you share the message with those who haven’t blogged yet thus building this community of bloggers.
The bottom line is that blogging at a startup is quite different from blogging at a “corporation”, both with unique challenges. But, the underlying goal in both cases is simply the ability to communicate effortlessly without the barriers of a company, between the producers of a service/product with the consumers of that service/product. Period.