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7 Secrets to Effective Corporate Blogging

By May 21, 2012 March 27th, 2018 No Comments

technology public relationsGuest blogger, Jeff Vance, writes on next-generation technology trends for publications such as CIO and Network World (hyperlinks feature Jeff’s coverage from Interop). Jeff also runs Sandstorm Media’s Story Source Newsletter, a free service for PR and marketing pros which provides regular updates on stories he’s developing for the tech media.

Jeff (follow him on Twitter @JWVance) is often asked while covering trade shows about the value of corporate blogging. So following Interop this year, Jeff posted this list of his 7 secrets to effective corporate blogging:

7 Secrets to Effective Corporate Blogging

While at Interop, one of the questions that vendors asked me over and over again was about how to create a corporate blog that people will actually read. Many of the blogs that I looked at were hot messes. They had no continuity, no voice, and offered little incentive to stop by more than once.

Corporate blogs are at a disadvantage because readers expect that they will be little more than veiled sales letters – and so many of them are. However, a corporate blog done correctly can engage prospective customers, help them with their trouble spots and convince them that you are there to help them, not fleece them.

Here, then, are 7 secrets to effective corporate blogging:

1. Stop Selling.

If you consider your corporate blog a sales tool, you’re doomed from the start. Blogs do fit into the sales process, but they fit very, very early in the sales process. This is the stage where customers are skittish and skeptical. They are looking for reasons to bail. The minute you start selling, you’ve given them one. If you sell before you establish trust, you’ve already lost the sale.

2. Stop tooting your own horn.

Many, many corporate blogs look like glorified CVs. The minute the company wins an award, is covered in the media, or is looked upon favorably by an analyst, someone turns it into a blog post. For readers, this is like looking at someone’s trophy case. We don’t care. The trophies mean nothing to anybody but the recipients.

Imagine you stopped by a friend’s house and he gives you a detailed explanation of every trophy he ever won, including his beer league softball trophy. You’ll find an excuse to leave quickly, right? That’s exactly what readers do as well .

3. Zero in on your audience’s pain points.

Every product under the sun seeks to solve a problem. A shovel solves the problem of needing to move dirt. A vehicle helps you solve the problem of getting from point A to point B. Those hair restoration programs advertised relentlessly during hockey and baseball games solve the problem of baldness – and low self-esteem. Even something frivolous, like a mobile game, solves the problem of being bored.

What problems do your client’s products solve?

With complex technologies, complexity becomes an advantage. For instance, if you are in the security space, you can help prospective customers solve all sorts of problems that are related to your products. You can offer advice on mobile security, cloud security and even SOHO security practices.

Of course, you don’t want to give away everything that you do, but there are plenty of security best practices that people can implement without buying a product. Discuss those.

4. Turn yourself into a go-to resource.

Once you offer credible, actionable advice on problems that your prospective clients have, they will stop thinking of you as a “vendor” and will, instead, start thinking of you as a resource. You are there to help them, and you prove that fact each and every time you post a new blog entry.

Then, the rule of reciprocity kicks in. We humans are hard-wired to return favors – especially when the person doing you the favor doesn’t expect anything in return.

When someone gives us a bunch of free, useful advice, who will we think of when it comes time to buy a product? That’s right, we’ll think of the vendor that took the time to help us out. We’ll return the favor.

5. Put a face to the blog.

Too many corporate blogs suffer from too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen syndrome. If a dozen different people contribute posts, your blog will lack consistency. It will lose personality, and readers will have a harder time engaging with it.

If you have a dozen or so writers, you pretty much have to treat your blog like an e-zine, with an editor, specific beats, and an editorial calendar. Otherwise, it will be chaotic, and readers don’t respond well to chaos.

For those who don’t have the resources to hire a blog editor and a bunch of staff writers, a better strategy is to have a dedicated writer or two. People connect with people, not with faceless corporations. The more you can do to put a face on your content, the more engaged your readers will be.

6. Write with a distinctive voice.

If each blog post goes through five layers of approval before seeing the light of day, the voice will be stripped from the blog.

What exactly is voice? It’s the unique words and phrases that a particular person uses, but it’s more than that. It’s a person’s attitude. It’s personality expressed on the page. It’s a worldview.

Too many corporate blogs try to tamp down voice for fear of offending people. The truth is that if you aren’t offending anyone, you’re not doing a very good job.

Many of my stories get negative comments on them, and, typically, they are negative comments I wear as a badge of honor. If I’m not pissing off the content trolls out there, I’m not doing my job.

More specifically, I recently wrote a story for Network World about how to make Android better than iPhone. If the iPhone lovers didn’t slam the story, then I didn’t do enough to make them uncomfortable.

7. Read blogs you admire and steal from them.

In this age of copyright paranoia, I’m not suggesting that you actually plagiarize other blogs. But you should keep a swipe file of provocative posts that you wish you would have written.

Whenever I’m stuck and don’t have a topic for my blog, I read Copyblogger, Duct Tape Marketing, the Content Marketing Institute blog or any of several others that I really like.

When I see a post that really makes me think, I bookmark it. When I read one that I think I could have done better, I go ahead and do so. When I read one that I completely disagree with, my mission is to write a post that offers a better approach.

If you read enough, you’ll never have writer’s block again – especially if you take the time to slow down and think about what you’re reading. For more corporate social media tips, check out my blog at http://sandstormmedia.com/home/blog/.

Share with us: What have you learned from your corporate blogging efforts? What corporate IT blogs do you follow?           

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