This post has been written before. ReadWriteWeb has a guide on community management which includes info on blogging. I’m pretty sure either Rohit Bhargava or Jeremiah Owyang wrote about this too (both good reads if you like what I have to say). But I’m going to say it again simply because there are too many bad company blogs out there. There are too many employees who are miserable because no one reads what they write and too many companies not understanding how much money a blog can actually make you.
THE #1 BIGGEST MISTAKE: Leaving the blog up to the intern or newbie
The #1 biggest mistake people make with their company’s blog is they hire the wrong person to write it. Think of a blog like you think of a Formula One car. You can spec out an amazing machine but if you don’t put Michael Schumacher or someone else who actually knows how to drive behind the wheel, the car is going to get lapped or crashed. Period.
People are anonymous on the internet. They are cruel and they don’t care about you. If you put the company intern in charge of the blog, people will either a.) ignore it (meaning you get lapped by better blogs) or b.) some troll will rip your poor little blogger to pieces (meaning your car gets crashed).
Your blogger should be able to talk about your products and your industry better than anyone else in the company. This person is a spokesperson for your brand. I am a fan of promoting an expert within your company to become a blogger versus hiring someone simply because they claim to know how to blog. Teaching someone to blog and tweet is the easy part. Teaching them about your products and your industry is not. Just like it would be insulting to pay to see a Formula One race only to see teens in drivers ed, it is even more insulting to expect your customers to read some garbage you throw out there because “the marketing books say we need a blog”.
By the way, this person needs to be paid well, since you are turning them into a public figure. That’s another mistake I see.
MISTAKE #2: TALKING FIRST, LISTENING SECOND
Hi, guess what? Your blog might be new, but there are literally millions of blogs already in production. You are a rookie. As a rookie, you need to understand your place. Don’t even talk about promoting your blog before you do these things:
1.) Listen. Go to blogs in your industry. Theoretically, anyone you hire to become your blogger should already know these blogs because you hired an expert, right (see #1)? See what is being said and what needs to be said. What can your place be in the blogosphere?
2.) Participate. Hey rookie, you don’t lead first. You follow first and then people learn to trust you. So go to industry blogs and leave comments. Reference useful posts within your own posts. Add to the discussion and people will get to know your name.
3.) Then, you can lead. Most people want to step right into this one. If you haven’t established yourself though, no one cares about you but your mom. I doubt her commenting on your blog is really going to drive the notion that you are a thought leader in your space.
MISTAKE #3: TALKING TO YOURSELF
If you look at this post, I have referenced three bloggers with links. Blogging is a social activity. It is a pure misconception that bloggers sit around in their PJs all day.
If your blogger isn’t referencing activity often referenced by other bloggers, then they are probably very arrogant in real life. Or, they could be totally oblivious or a combination of both. The beauty of the blogosphere is that it behaves like academia. Smart bloggers don’t invent something from scratch–they reference others’ posts and then add to them.
To think that you must always write your own content means you probably don’t read much. Which means, unless you read actual print, you are probably not a very good writer. So why would anyone read your blog?
MISTAKE #4: NOT BEING TIMELY
This mistake often ties into #1. If you hire an intern or a newbie to write your blog, they cannot form a relevant opinion fast enough to be timely. You are going to get lapped by bloggers who actually have something relevant to say.
You don’t always have to tie your posts into current events (this one isn’t although my last one was), but it does help because you are feeding into a current conversation versus just trying to stir your own.
MISTAKE #5: HIDING YOUR BLOG
If you bury your blog deep in some obscure navigation within your company website, of course you aren’t going to get a lot of traffic. No one knows it exists. Put your blog somewhere visible on your site (Pat Ramsey showed me a way to integrate it into your WordPress CMS so the headlines update on your website–very cool). Put it on your signature. Reference it in newsletters. Most people aren’t psychic enough to know to read your blog, and if they were, they wouldn’t need to actually read anyway. That would be cool. But I digress.
I’ve got more to say on this subject but I’m violating another good rule of thumb: keep it to 500 words. I have been told I have smart readers, so if you have further suggestions, put them in the comments!