By Derek Scheips.
Derek Scheips , MFA, is a faculty member in the Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication and Master of Professional Studies in Digital Media programs, and a content consultant in a variety of industries.
Company blogs can be an effective way to humanize a brand and an organization. Blogs offer a chance to depart from the dreaded “corporate speak” of many traditional web site pages, so employees and stakeholders tend to get inspired to set up a blog.
And doing so is easier than ever, thanks to increasingly versatile templates.
But keeping a blog going with fresh and compelling content, not to mention keeping up with how most audiences now consume and share information, can pose complex challenges to companies of all sizes.
Here are some tips to keep a company blog on track and relevant.
1. No Currency without Currency
People make immediate judgments when clicking on a blog. Most blog entries are dated, so if your posts are not both recent and frequent, their value will be called into question and may be skipped entirely. Give employees who are your bloggers enough advance time to develop quality posts, but hold them to deadlines, otherwise the eventual posting may no longer be relevant.
2. See It, Be It
Blogging evolved from personal essay and memoir, and a finely crafted post with text and carefully selected links can still be compelling if informative or entertaining enough. But study after study shows that today’s audiences are far more likely to search for, click to, and experience content that has a visual aspect. If few people are visiting or staying with your posts long enough to absorb them, embedding pics, video clips, or other dynamic content choices can bring your blog new life.
3. Let Some Air In
Although promotion of a brand, its products and services, and even the people behind them, are to a certain extent expected (it is a company blog after all), delegate most of that sort of thing to its proper place (such as the newsroom) or formats (press releases) on the main web site. For repeated viewing, your blog can’t just be endlessly navel-gazing.
Encourage your employee bloggers to research and comment on bigger issues in your industry or the marketplace, and thus add value to a wider audience. Most of all, let people comment on the posts. Sure, there might be some negative feedback sometime, but transparency is the golden rule of social media, and the process can help you generate other posts based on questions and comments that come up this way, and all together may drive insights that improve the entire business.
4. Promote, Measure, Plan...Repeat
As suggested above, practically everyone is gung-ho at the start of a new blog, and it can be time-consuming for a team of bloggers to simply keep it filled with current material of interest to key audiences. The bad news? There are even more steps if you truly want the blog to catch fire and become something that keeps the conversation going online and hopefully offline (if you want it to have some effect on your business).
Besides the bloggers, your other employees need to keep up with the blog topics, contents, and share new post within their networks. Someone else needs to be monitoring and measuring the performance of the blog. And still another person or team need to think about using that data and feedback mentioned above to map out the future of the blog entries, and to continuously improve the blog as a whole.
5. Hey, Where Did Everybody Go?
If you are taking most of the steps outlined above, yet see clicks or viewership trailing off, you very well may be getting tripped up by perhaps the most challenging obstacle of all: the very nature of social media and overall audience preferences, as it evolves.
Though blog posts were once the fun, informal alternative to boring old corporate web copy, even when well done, or enhanced with some of the multimedia mentioned above, it’s now a reality that many viewers will inevitably view blog posting as kind of an “old-school” format to have to surf over to, when they could instead view or participate in microblogging on Twitter, view 6-second videos on Vine, look at pretty pictures on Pinterest, or linger on other visually oriented networks such as Instagram or SnapChat, or even get curated and ranked news on similar topics to your blog’s from Reddit.
Yep, your company, as well as your bloggers and employees, may need to have accounts on many of these emerging channels, if only to remind the thousands on them daily that your company blog exists and that it is worth the time to visit and experience.