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Your Company Blog Sucks, Now What?

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How many times have we seen a company do this? They start blogging, and their initial efforts are less than spectacular. We forget that many of us had the same hiccups when we started our own blogs. It takes time and quite a bit of trial and error to run a successful company blog. By now, many blogs need a checkup.


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A few months ago I wrote an article for MarketingProfs entitled Ten Steps to Starting a Company Blog. Even as I was writing that article, I had in mind to later write a followup article that would cover what happens if a company starts blogging, and they run into problems. There's no shortage of advice available to companies on how to get started blogging, but not a lot out there to help them after the fact.
I recently was contacted by a company that wanted to improve their blogging efforts. Their blog wasn't having the desired results. But they were posting almost daily, and several members of the company, from the CEO down, were involved in writing for the blog.
The problem was, the blog wasn't positioned from the reader's point of view. It was presented as an "online brochure," with every post focusing on one of the company's offerings. There was zero interaction with its readers, and no reason for the readers to interact with the bloggers.
How many times have we seen a company do this? They start blogging, and their initial efforts are less than spectacular. We forget that many of us had the same hiccups when we started our own blogs. It takes time and quite a bit of trial and error to run a successful company blog.
The natural inclination for many companies is to use their new blog as a promotional tool, which is exactly what will turn readers off immediately. And many don't understand how valuable it can be to receive feedback from readers, or how to encourage that feedback.
And these are some of the reasons why I wanted to write my latest article for MarketingProfs, "Eight Ideas for Revitalizing Your Blog," which published today. I want to encourage companies to start communicating with their customers via their blogs, but I also want to see that they get solid advice so that they can stick with it if the effort isn't netting the results they were hoping for. I know I made plenty of mistakes when I started blogging, so why should companies be any different?
What are some of the blogging mistakes that you see companies making, and how can they correct them?


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Mack Collier is a social-media strategist based in Alabama. He helps companies build programs that let them better connect with their fans. His first business book, Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans, was published in April of 2013 by McGraw-Hill.

Twitter: @MackCollier
LinkedIn: Mack Collier

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  • by David Reich Tue Apr 17, 2007 via blog

    Good info here, Mack. The biggest complaints I have about some company blogs are among those you've cited: Lack of updates. Too much company "sell." I've also seen some blogs where it's hard to leave a comment. If a true dialogue is wanted on a blog, the blogger should make it obvious and easy for comments to be posted. I don't like having to register in order to leave a comment. I certainly understand not wanting ananymous comments, but don't make us go through hoops to leave a comment.

  • by Maureen Rogers Tue Apr 17, 2007 via blog

    Mack - I found your post (and the linked-in article your wrote) very interesting. While I rarely read corporate blogs, nor do I write for any,last week I did find myself looking at the Bigelow Tea blog. I did so because their name came up as a sponsor of the Don Imus Show. Thus, they were involved in the whole Imus brouhaha. As I tea drinker, I was surprised to hear that they were an Imus sponsor, so I went over to their web site to see what they had to say. Their blog is actually very interesting, with frequent posting of interest to tea drinkers: info on tea, tea recipes, etc. It looks like a pretty effective blog. They also used it - quite well in my opinion - to address their position on the Imus controversy. In any case, today they're back to "tea stuff" (drinking black tea reduces stress), but all in all it looks like a pretty good corporate blog and I'd be curious what you think.

  • by Mack Collier Tue Apr 17, 2007 via blog

    Maureen I had honestly never heard of Bigelow Tea till your comment. And of course they have been muddling through the Imus backlash/mess in recent days. But having said that, I agree that it looks like Bigelow Tea is doing a pretty good job with their blog. It seems to be aimed at tea lovers, and Bigelow isn't using the blog as a way to constantly promote their own products. It would be interesting to see how much, if any, time they spend on the blogs of the readers who comment, but I agree with you that for a corporation, this appears to be a pretty good blogging effort. And a big reason why, is that it appears to be positioned to appeal to tea lovers, instead of simply being positioned from the company's point of view (ie, purely promotional).

  • by Kris Hoet Tue Apr 17, 2007 via blog

    Interesting post Mack, this is indeed a good point. When I think of corporate blogs today, and why many of them don't seem to work I think there are a few reasons: (1) how much did a company too quickly buy into an idea of an (internal/external) wizzkid/agency? and (2) do they understand the conversation or is it just another tool to communicate about their own stuff. On the defence of companies trying I have to say that it's not easy either to convince all internal stakeholders to open up like this, something I witness regularly as well.

  • by Ann Handley Tue Apr 17, 2007 via blog

    I like the way one of my favorite companies -- Stonyfield Yogurt -- approaches blogging. They host two blogs, here: http://www.stonyfield.com/weblog/ One ("Baby Babble") is geared to new parents. It's not about "Yogurt and New Parents"... it's simply a gathering spot for a significant percentage of Stonyfield buyers. The second blog ("The Bovine Bugle") is penned by an organic dairy farmer in Vermont who supplies the milk that makes the yogurt. Right now, he's talking about maple sugaring and posting videos of newborn chicks. I love the Stonyfield approach because they aren't blogging about yogurt... but rather engaging their community in a broader sense. It's smart.

  • by Damon Billian Tue Apr 17, 2007 via blog

    If a company is going to talk about its products on a blog, they should be sure to solicit feedback with open-ended questions. The other issue is that not all products are sexy enough to blog about.

  • by Mack Collier Tue Apr 17, 2007 via blog

    "I love the Stonyfield approach because they aren't blogging about yogurt... but rather engaging their community in a broader sense. It's smart." Bingo! This is what so many companies can't wrap their minds around, they think if they aren't directly promoting their products, that a blog is a colossal waste of their time. Stonyfield is finding a way to not only broaden the appeal of the blog, but put a human face to the corporation(the organic dairy farmer). Both ideas are extremely smart.

  • by Claire Ratushny Tue Apr 17, 2007 via blog

    Ann, Damn it: you beat me to the punch. I second that motion: I love Stonyfield Farm's blog. Of course, SF is one of my favorite brands, period. I love everything about the company, the products, the marketing, the mission and vision of the company. . . how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. . .

  • by Ann Handley Tue Apr 17, 2007 via blog

    Sorry, Claire! I'm a huge Stonyfield fan, too. Here's another great blog. I'm including this one because B2B companies always whine.. "yeah, but how can B2B companies take a similar approach? How can we publish a blog that's nearly as interesting?" Well, here is one company that does a great job with its blog... and they are a sheet metal manufacturer, of all things: http://www.butlersheetmetal.com/tinbasherblog/

  • by Bob Glaza Tue Apr 17, 2007 via blog

    The TinBasher - where DO you find these?!?! what a scream - they get it by having fun! I have to echo David and Kris - too much "sell" and jumping in not giving the idea a chance to grow. Lack of engagement will stop just about anything dead in its tracks. One of the arguments you'll hear is there aren't enough "resources" to follow the comments. I'd suggest what a nice position to be in - so many comments you can't keep up.

  • by Toby Tue Apr 17, 2007 via blog

    Mack great post. Coming from a strategic marketing background, I'd like to add - know what "success" means before you hit publish. It's one of the biggest mistakes that I see happening with corporate blogs. People seem to think that launching a blog will solve all of their marketing challenges. If they don't understand the culture of social media it can do more harm than good. My new favorite corporate/ceo blog is from Bill Marriott, CEO of Marriott. I think Mr. Marriott will prove to be one of the best. His writing in engaging, from the heart and even when he's posting about a company policy I feel as though I'm involved in a "conversation." No, I am Not consulting for Marriott .. but I have become a fan of Mr. Marriott. (smile). http://www.blogs.marriott.com/

  • by Damon Billian Tue Apr 17, 2007 via blog

    I was once talking to a company with an unusual (easy) name that has a passionate customer base. I think that could be one easy way of starting the conversation with your customers (why you chose the name,what does the name mean what motivated you to start the company, etc.). I also think focusing on things like that focuses on the personality - not products - of the company. From a company perspective, I think many focus on the product(s) because of the obvious SEO benefits of blogging.

  • by Mack Collier Tue Apr 17, 2007 via blog

    Toby I like the Marriott blog, except for the fact that Bill Marriott doesn't appear to be replying to any of the comments. Which is a shame, since the commenters seem to respect him, many referring to him as 'Mr. Marriott'. Even an occasional response would be a great way to boost the number of comments. Besides of course encouraging more constructive feedback from readers.

  • by Kris Hoet Wed Apr 18, 2007 via blog

    Same here, the Marriott blog seems very good, but it still feels very much one-way with Bill Marriott not stepping in at the comments section. It still doesn't feel as a conversation to which both parties are actively engaged in.

  • by Brett Wed Apr 18, 2007 via blog

    Great tips here. I think the temptation to get a little "salesy" in your blog copy is all too common for the corporate blogger. It's hard for us corporate folk to remember that the point is to start the conversation and satisfy those most-interested, not to trick people into buying your product. My company just launched www.SupplementalScience.com this last week, and I've already caught myself and other writers in getting too promotional in our writing. I think another thing to keep in mind is that you can't get too obsessed with traffic to your corporate blog. It will succeed best because your top 5% of people who are passionate about your company visit on a very regular basis, and then they spread the word.

  • by Mack Collier Wed Apr 18, 2007 via blog

    "I think another thing to keep in mind is that you can't get too obsessed with traffic to your corporate blog. It will succeed best because your top 5% of people who are passionate about your company visit on a very regular basis, and then they spread the word." Exactly Brett, this is why I think it's important to reach out to readers that comment by visiting their blogs and commenting at their place. That encourages that they will evangelize your company blog, and encourages them to come back to your company blog and leave more comments, which means more feedback. Brett I checked out Supplemental Science's blog and like you said did notice some self-promotion, but nothing terribly bad. Since you're just getting started and don't have any comments yet, might I suggest linking to some other health-conscious blogs? By doing so you will be approaching the blog from the reader's point of view, by making an effort to give the readers the best information possible. And maybe as you are looking for other good health-oriented blogs, you could leave some comments on the blogs you find, which is another great way to encourage those bloggers to visit, and link-to, Supplemental Science. As I said, decent effort to start with, look forward to seeing where you go from here Brett!

  • by B.L. Ochman's weblog - Internet and corporate blogging strategy, and online marketing trends, with n Wed Apr 18, 2007 via blog

    The Myth of Not Cultivating Bloggers In a post titled The Myth of "Cultivating Bloggers," Ben McConnell at Church of the Customer says: "Save your client some money: stop pitching bloggers you don't know. ..."Cultivating bloggers like traditional media" is an old-school view of people as ...

  • by Easton Ellsworth Wed Apr 18, 2007 via blog

    Yes! Yes! Thank you, Mack, for this post. So many corporate blogs are awful, but they don't have to be. Just talk to people about your company and/or things related to what your company does, and the conversation will blossom naturally. The worst mistakes you can make are either to stop blogging without warning or to insist on blogging in a robotic, booooring fashion.

  • by Mack Collier Wed Apr 18, 2007 via blog

    "Just talk to people about your company and/or things related to what your company does, and the conversation will blossom naturally." Exactly Easton. Like the Stonyfield example that Ann and Claire cited, instead of focusing exclusively on the products, the company broadens the scope to focus on the creation of the ingredients that go into making the products, and let an organic farmer do the blogging. That makes the subject matter much more interesting, and appeal to a broader range of people. And indirectly, it helps promote Stonyfield's products, as the readers learn more about the creation process. When it comes to direct promotion on a company blog, less is often more.

  • by Corporate Engagement Wed Apr 18, 2007 via blog

    Your Company Blog Sucks, Now What? From Mark Collier:I recently was contacted by a company that wanted to improve their blogging efforts. Their blog wasn't having the desired results. But they were posting almost daily, and several members of the company, from the CEO down, were involve...

  • by Vincent Mugunda Thu Apr 19, 2007 via blog

    Mark, to say the truth, company blogs are very important, many people express themselves through them. I suggest, each company now that am in Kenya, should have a company blog for it to be able to progress in a way. Its a good tool of relaying communication.

  • by Jim Symcox Thu Apr 19, 2007 via blog

    Hi Mack, Nice post and the comments are really excellent. There's no doubt that people's judgment as to what they "should" do in blogging is clouded by the ultimate need for a firm to make profit. And yet, as the comments demonstrate the good blogs create evangelists and you and I will look up the ones that are commented here because it's our human nature to do so. Will we buy? Who knows. Will we tell others? Undoubtedly! So in posting the "yoghurt way " they're creating a lot of leads they're not even aware of. Jim

  • by Paul Woodhouse Thu Apr 19, 2007 via blog

    Blogging is only a method of presenting yourself online as you are offline. If you simply take the attitude that you're talking to your favourite customers informally over a brew or a pint then I think you might just get somewhere. It's that simple, it's almost impossible to get right. ;-) I'm almost tempted to say that if you need to be shown how to do it then you probably shouldn't bother.

  • by Tara Fri Apr 20, 2007 via blog

    Mack, terrific post. We are currently working on launching our company's blog, and for us it's all about engaging people in a conversation -- some marketing benefit might come of it, but we're more interested in what we can learn from others -- "Wisdom of Crowds" approach, I suppose. For us, it's all about creating a community of effort -- there are issues we work on every day with our clients that are closely tied to social justice issues, and we know that we only have a few eyeballs and brains on the subject, and we're willing to share our thinking in order to gain the wisdom of others. This means in addition to encouraging conversation, we're also looking at taking videos that we normally sell and posting them for free, making articles accessible, etc. (A coworker actually forwarded a post to me from 10k Marshmallows that started off "Mack Collier wrote today about..." and I said "Get out, I know Mack Collier!" Expected discussion of world smallness ensued.)

  • by Mack Collier Sun Apr 22, 2007 via blog

    "We are currently working on launching our company's blog, and for us it's all about engaging people in a conversation -- some marketing benefit might come of it, but we're more interested in what we can learn from others -- "Wisdom of Crowds" approach, I suppose." Excellent Tara! Instead of approaching a company blog as 'what can we sell to our readers', if companies think of 'what can I LEARN from our readers?', they'll be much better off. Company blogs are an amazing feedback system, if companies are willing to utilize them properly. Sounds like your effort to engage your future blog's readers will be a winner!

  • by Spike Jones Tue May 1, 2007 via blog

    I know I'm late to the party, but Patagonia recently started a blog - http://www.thecleanestline.com/ - and man, is it fantastic. They talk about people in the company, their views on the environment and the values of the company in a very real, believable, Patagoina-esque way.

  • by chris Mon May 28, 2007 via blog

    May I also point you all to "Bernie's Blog" at Annie's Homegrown Organics. Bernie has been blogging for about 2.5 years and he hardly ever mentions the Annie's products. It's the environment, global warming, community issues, etc.

  • by James Hill Mon Nov 10, 2008 via blog

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  • by ted Thu Oct 27, 2011 via blog

    He doesn't even write them dipshit...doubt the guy can even use a computer

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