I see a lot of brand blogs in my Web travels. Wish I’d see more that at least jiggle my excitement meter.
A few big companies have a keen grasp of how a blog can build a bond with their brand unavailable in any other medium. But a lot of them treat their blogs like a chore, up there with sweeping the shop floor. They write about stuff they care about instead of what their customers care about. They post erratically and generate few if any comments. They talk in jargon, corporatespeak and buzzwords.
These are the five things I see in brands blogs that impress me:
People read blogs because they connect with the blogger, who writes with authority in a voice that makes a personal connection. The writer uses vivid language and speaks to issues on the reader’s mind.
I see a lot of brand blogs that read like they had to pass muster with the Central Committee of the Soviet Union. Content by committee never works because no two people agree on how something should be said. Better to just hire a professional writer and let her do her job.
If you make hundreds of products, you generate thousands of questions from your customers. The best blogs answer those questions.
I’m less interested in your CEO’s favorite charities than I am in the little fit-and-finish features that make your widgets superior to those of your competitors. If I’m a really geeky fan of your products, I might even want to read an interview with the people who designed them.
The buzzword is “engagement”; tired though it may be, it simply means saying things in public that encourage people to respond. That means getting a little outrageous, maybe taking unpopular stands on behalf of your customers.
It also means generating original, entertaining content that strikes a chord with readers. It’s hard to make that happen when 27 people have to sign off on the content before it goes public. But it’s worth the trouble of making it happen.
This really drives me nuts: having to click through two or three links to even find a company’s blog. Like they think I need the exercise. Thanks but I’ll get my cardio on the trail, not in your user interface.
Invariably, brands that get blogging include a link to their blog in a prominent place on their homepage. One click and I’m there.
The best brand blogs are like the best free-range bloggers: they want an audience, they recognize that frequent updates are essential to building an audience, and besides, they have a lot to say and a fervent devotion to saying it.
How much is enough? Depends on your industry, but a weekly blog post should be considered mandatory.
Of course the real key to effective blogging is to hire bloggers who understand how the medium works, how to connect with readers, how to build an audience and to develop relevant original content. Once you’re putting some money where your blog is, you’ll be more motivated to making it succeed.