Yesterday, I met with our CEO, VP of Research, and VP of Technology about the possiblity of Aptima starting a corporate blog. I didn’t anticipate much resistance, given that the crew I was meeting with was genuinely interested in the possibilities a corporate blog could offer. I was, however, pleasantly surprised by how quickly things are going to get into motion once we all acknowledged this was, indeed, a good idea. The final items to be hammered out are big ones—who will blog and what about. An internal survey was circulated today to generate ideas about those topics.
I’ve got to tip my cap to Jeremiah here. His work and his advice was instrumental in helping me formulate an attack plan for this—though not much of an “attack” was really needed in the end. I went into the meeting with some notes, shown below. A great deal of this came from various posts by Jeremiah, and I thank him for that. I’ve included all my notes, with the exception of my section on “Recommended Next Steps.”
John Shaw, our CEO, mentioned in the company-wide email today that my WebVisions presentation was instrumental in kicking this into gear. Thanks to Aptima again for sending me there, and thanks to Jeremiah and Brian Oberkirch on giving me so many great ideas at the conference and in the months following.
And, the notes:
What is a blog?
- A simple technology
- A conversation
- A relationship
- An opportunity to share
What isn’t a blog?
- A series of press releases
- A news ticker
- A sales pitch
- A guarantee of increased revenue
What are the benefits of a blog?
- Your site always has fresh content
- Search engine optimization (search engines love blogs, improve rankings)
- Customer opinions easily published and searchable, which is good because customers value other customers’ opinions above all others
- Consumers are having conversations about companies with or without you—it is in your best interest to participate
- If you’re not participating, you at least need to listen
- Dialogue with customers proves you care about them
- Prospective employees get a more detailed look at the company
- Web research is an important stage in the purchase process
What are the keys to success?
- In your voice (be yourself)
- In your message (don’t have hidden agendas)
- To your writing schedule
- To writing with your customers’ goals in mind
- Focus (Stay on Track)
- On your own goals
- On your audience’s goals
How do you measure success?
- Web Traffic Analytics: Both for the blog and the main site
- Discussion: Number of comments on blog
- Inquiries: Track number of emails to contact addresses before and after
- Technorati: Ranking within blogosphere
- Subscribers: How many are regularly checking your site feed
- Be sure to prepare these measurement methods before going live
Who should blog?
- Someone who is:
- Available (if people contact you, you need to be able to reply)
- A domain expert
- An effective writer with conversational style
- A web user (up to date on how the blogosphere works)
- Passionate (about the topic and about sharing)
- Honest and transparent
- Committed (you have to keep it up)
- Thick-skinned (the blogosphere can be mean—customers can be frustrated)
Individual vs. Group Blogs?
- Individual blogs:
- Pros: Users can subscribe to individual bloggers within a company, get content more specialized to their needs; each blogger has a stronger identity with the audience.
- Cons: A well-read blogger could leave the company if offers start coming in because of the blog (but remember that person did open up new channel of conversation for the company); more pressure on each blogger to write consistently.
- Team blogs:
- Pros: Less pressure for each blogger to write as often
- Cons: Can come across as “faceless” if not implemented right (need to promote the individual personalities of each blogger)
- Team blog doesn’t have to be the whole Aptima team. Could have blogs for product teams.