Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Setting goals for your corporate blog

Think of your company’s blog as your store window (and just like store windows, it is a good thing to have more than one). It should have a narrow focus and appeal to the corporation’s customers, partners, investors, and employees. Its purpose is to build the business by building new relationships and reinforcing existing ones.

Like your website, your blog is an online extension of your existing marketing effort. The people you meet at business events, the recipients of your direct mail, and the audience for your existing advertising, are people who would be interested in your blog.

Begin by reading the blogs in your field. Go to Technorati, Blogpulse, or some other blog search tool, and do a search on some key words, such as content management, GIS, or xml. You should also do a search on your company’s name and URL to see if anyone is currently posting about your company.

Choose the name of your corporate blog carefully. Incorporating your company’s name into your blog’s name is a good choice. Whatever name you chose, be sure that it focuses attention on your business.

Use your sidebar to define your blog. Link to industry associations, publications, and blogs relevant to your industry. This helps to build community.

Linking is a great way to gain attention. Want a reporter to pay attention to your company? Link to their reporting. Want an industry analyst to notice your company? Link to their blog, or if they don’t have one, link to an article that quotes them. Analysts do regular searches on their names, so sooner or later they will notice that you are linking to them in a favorable context. The same is true for investors or anyone else you may wish to cultivate. (Note – however much you may wish to cultivate a politician, do not use your corporate blog for such a purpose, that is what your government affairs division or lobbying firm is for.)

Search engines love blogs; merely having one will instantly raise your search engine visibility. It will not put you at the top of results, nor should you attempt to use your blog for that; but it will increase your visibility. After you have been posting regularly (Two to three times a week) you should see an increase in site traffic.

The most important thing a blog will do is pre-qualify prospects. As I said at the beginning, a blog is your store window. Readers will have a chance to get to know you before you contact them. They might even contact you.

Edit -
Stephen Turcotte has written a terrific post on this same topic:
One of the strengths of social media is that it attracts enthusiastic and influential community members into publicly accessible & searchable networks. Within these networks, people share thoughts and observations and engage in conversations, sometimes directly coinciding with a particular need for a product (like a discussion where someone mentions difficulty in finding a good Internet access provider in the area, for example). Other times, the conversation may relate more to practical issues that identify a person or group as part of a certain target market or segment (for example, an active blogging community discussing farming conditions in a region, or broader farming related topics). These conversations not only provide insight into the community at large, but also provide an opportunity to research, target, and positively engage with an audience.

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