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Corporate Blogging 101: 10 Easy Steps to Get a Corporate Blog Up & Running

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Running a corporate blog is a totally different ballgame from running a personal blog. Based on my experience starting the LinkedIn blog, here's a quick primer - just 10 easy steps (encompassing strategy, tactics and measurement) that you need to focus on to get any corporate blog off the ground. The following steps may or may not be applicable to every company so if your company has a unique challenge feel free to leave a comment.


STRATEGY
1. Define your vision: So, let's assume you're at a company that's not gotten around to the idea of a corporate blog yet. I'm sure your idea of starting one, will be met with "Why should company X have a corporate blog?" For starters, some forward thinkers would say that the corporate website is irrelevant, which may surprise a few. Some others will say it's necessary to start a conversation with our users. Right on both counts, but how do you convince upper management that it's the way to go. Working for a company that embraces that conversation definitely makes life easier and once they do, get to the next step.
That's when defining a vision for a corporate blog comes in. Different situations call for different measures. You could use a corporate blog as a) an educational tool, b) a feedback loop, c) conversation starters (for the blogosphere as well as other media), d) a focus group, e) a crisis management tool etc...or even e) a combination of the above. I'm sure each company could find it's own unique application of a blogging platform. At LinkedIn; it's used as a combination of factors a through c with the ultimate goal of becoming THE resource when it comes to all questions related to LinkedIn.
So, when you search for "LinkedIn" or any product feature for that matter, you should be directed to a blog post on that particular topic. That's the ultimate goal. The blog is currently the fourth result when you search for "LinkedIn".
2. Designate an editor or chief blogger: Well, this is really critical since blogging takes a concerted effort involving time, persuasion and editorial skills. This role definitely cannot be placed on the CEO, since he/she has far more important goals to accomplish. In my case, I was a blogger before I started at LinkedIn and it definitely is worth considering an experienced blogger to take on that role.
3. Earn the approval of your internal teams: Strategically, this is THE most important aspect of corporate blogging, because connecting with your internal teams is as important as establishing a connection with your target audience. A good way to start and keep the internal conversation going would be to have an internal blog. Every team meeting or "happy hour" is a chance to find out how different teams would like to communicate to the end user. The blog editor's job is to facilitate that communication through a unique calendar of blog posts.
TACTICS
4. Define your categories: Once your vision is clear, it becomes easy to create the buckets of content that you'll start populating the corporate blog with. In LinkedIn's case, our goal is to create content under 10 categories; simple yet comprehensive. The categories should be a direct result of your vision and goals. If it's to educate your users, then automatic choices would be "product features", "tips and tricks", etc...
5. Enlist contributors and plan posts: Before you start blogging, it's always good to have a list of possible blog contributors from within your organization. As far as specific products are concerned, it's good to enlist the product manager of that team and for posts on vision and announcements, C-level executives would be appropriate authors. Also, if there are bloggers within the company, do reach out to them and make them a part of your blog team.
6. Create a blog calendar: Now that you've earned the confidence and approval of internal management and teams, it's time to get into action. Unlike your personal blog, where you could craft any random post depending on the day's zeitgeist, a corporate blog is built for a specific purpose and so a calendar of posts is essential. The calendar can also be built around the different categories/tags you've envisioned and that way you'll have a steady flow of posts.
7. Define your template/layout: A blog template has to be in consonance with your company brand. As you can see, LinkedIn's blog template was carefully crafted keeping in mind the simple aesthetics of our website. Yahoo! blog, Yodel Anecdotal has the colors and branding of Yahoo! and so does the Facebook blog.
8. Stick to the categories: As my friend and web strategist Jeremiah often says, "Laser like focus" is an essential prerequisite for any blog, more so for a corporate blog. Once you define the categories or tags, NEVER veer away from them and start creating content on a regular basis and keep increasing the frequency. The LinkedIn blog started at 2-3 posts a week and we've slowly moved onto 4 posts a week. Increase the pace in slow increments and don't turn back.
9. Veer towards content that provides value: Crafting 5 posts a week from 10 categories, means you'll be veering towards content that has increasingly provided more value for your audience. If your blog is an educational tool, then start focusing on posts that encompass outline tutorials and keep augmenting the value. Maybe, start enhancing your tutorials in multi-media to add to the text based posts.
MEASUREMENT
10. Measure progress: Now this could be a separate post in itself, one I've covered in the past and will revisit in the days to come, but once you start your blog it's always good to invest in an analytics software that can help you track, plan and measure the growth of your blog. This in addition to the feed stats measurement tools. The first few months of blog growth can be measured by the following four stats: 1. Technorati ranking, 2. Alexa ranking, 3. Comments, 4. # Subscribed to your feed, etc...
Feel free to leave your questions, comments or suggestions.


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Mario Sundar has over five years experience in leadership roles both in Marketing as well as in Software Development. Mario currently works at LinkedIn, the World’s largest online professional network, as Community Evangelist. Prior to that, he helped develop & manage marketing initiatives for Fortune 50 high-tech brands. Mario is also on the board of the American Marketing Association (Silicon Valley Chapter).

In May 2006, Mario launched his marketing blog where he discusses customer evangelism, community marketing and social media strategy. Ranked as one of the fastest growing Wordpress blogs in July 06, “Marketing Nirvana” continues to expand its readership each week. The blog currently (as of 04/07) has a Technorati Rank of 7,113 and an Alexa Ranking of 142,830.

Mario’s Blog: http://mariosundar.wordpress.com/
Mario’s LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/mariosundar

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Comments

  • by Nathan S Tue Jul 17, 2007 via blog

    Great post & info, Mario! I recently took very much of the same steps you mentioned above to get a blog going (as it was quite nearly necessary) at the company I work at. Step #3 really is key, as you describe. I would venture to say, though, that it shouldn't just be approval but understanding as well. Helping them know just what value a blog will bring. If I may also ask a question. What are your thoughts in terms of linking in a company blog with social sites? For example: On a personal blog you might have your twitter feed, flickr feed, etc. Do you think having these on your corporate blog (assuming the company has a flickr feed and a flickr feed, etc) detract from the blog itself or enhance it? Thanks!

  • by Elaine Fogel Tue Jul 17, 2007 via blog

    Great advice here, Mario. Thanks!

  • by David Reich Tue Jul 17, 2007 via blog

    Excellent information here, Mario. I'm going to hold this for next time a client asks about blogging. This shows the level of commitment that's needed to succeed. What about such issues as dealing with sensitive subjects, or moderating comments? Do these subjects need to be part of the start-up steps as well? Thanks.

  • by Marcia Sutton Tue Jul 17, 2007 via blog

    From a risk management perspective, newly developed corporate blogs would also benefit from a formalized vetting process. Corporations naturally tend to have a review process for offline materials but in the zeal to post blog stories quickly, sometimes this review process gets cast aside for blogs. As we all know, once you put material on the Internet, it tends to always be accessible in some way. So, online content definitely deserves the same level of care as traditional print. That said, it can be difficult to balance the time constraints of a review process with the blogging medium. If a corporation can't get a review structure set that meets the posting frequency timeline, then it should at least set up some parameters for bloggers to follow. Setting up some guidelines and/or a review process, could save the corporation from lawsuits. Further, corporations can by blog insurance. It may already be provided under their existing professional liability policy. But don't assume. Check.

  • by Nicki Dugan Tue Jul 17, 2007 via blog

    Hey, Mario: Thanks for the props and great primer on corp blogging 101. Wish I'd had that when I navigated the wild and woolly world of launching Yahoo!'s blog last summer! I have to say the category designation process was surprisingly one of the toughest tactics and there are some I wish I'd split out differently, in spite of having an Excel sheet full of literally dozens of potential story ideas in advance! @David Reich: To Marcia's point, make sure your risk-averse friends are comfortable with the notion of allowing comments and as well as your moderation policies. Because a blog without comments... well, it's not a blog. Definitely worthwhile to have that discussion in your earliest strategizing stages. Thanks!

  • by Ann Handley Tue Jul 17, 2007 via blog

    Nicki wrote: "Because a blog without comments... well, it's not a blog." Totally agree, Nicki. A blog without comments is... well, merely a web site.

  • by Mario Sundar Tue Jul 17, 2007 via blog

    "Do you think having these (links to social sites) on your corporate blog (assuming the company has a flickr feed, etc...) detract from the blog itself or enhance it?" Nathan, Answer: definitely enhances it. From our corporate blog's experience having a flickr feed is definitely one of the coolest ideas (yet again pioneered by Nicki @ Yahoo!) since it puts a human face to the company. I'm also working on tagging each picture of someone who works at LinkedIn (LI) with their LI profile. Yet again, adding your unique brand to the social site.

  • by Mario Sundar Tue Jul 17, 2007 via blog

    @David Reich: great point on moderating and comments. Definitely something worth thinking about. I think Nicki nailed it by defining what a blog is NOT: "a blog without comments....is not a blog" :) Think hard about comment moderation for a corporate blog; the "Wild West" nature of the web as well as the legalities involved may influence a decision (Thanks, Marcia). You'll have to make that call by evaluating your goals for setting up the blog itself. But great addition to the 10 steps.

  • by Mario Sundar Tue Jul 17, 2007 via blog

    @Nicki Dugan: Absolutely! Categorization definitely helped define content and focus. Thanks for setting a great example with the Yodel Anecdotal blog.

  • by Roger von Oech Thu Jul 19, 2007 via blog

    Good stuff, Mario. I'm going to share with with my son whose startup company is pondering a blog. Best wishes!

  • by Howard D Thu Jul 19, 2007 via blog

    Many thanks for a moment of inspiration. We're about to launch into a company blog in the next 2 months targeting our global distributor team. These 10 steps provide the check list for what I hope will be a successful blog experience for us first timers!

  • by Mario Sundar Tue Jul 24, 2007 via blog

    @Howard, Roger, Glad to be of some help. Feel free to email me with any questions at mario.sundar@gmail.com. The only thing to remember is track, measure and iterate lessons learnt and of course, persevere in blogging.

  • by korkunç Fri May 2, 2008 via blog

    this blog very like. Thanks

  • by Douglas Karr Fri Oct 17, 2008 via blog

    I would push back with your category selection and ensure that you utilize categories that are keyword and phrase driven for search engine optimization. "Tips and Tricks" isn't a term that you're going to win your business, but "Marketing Tips and Tricks" is one that you can definitely get some following on. At Compendium, we don't implement a client until we've done a full analysis of their keywords and phrases and recognize whether or not they will help drive ROI to a company.

  • by Coporate Blogger Mon Feb 16, 2009 via blog

    Coporate blogging is a much overlooked area to really show off your experitise, however, more often than not in my experience, people get things wrong more than right and come across poorly - probably due to a lack of proof reading that characterises blogs. A bit like this giant sentence.

  • by lieben Fri Mar 6, 2009 via blog

    Interessante Informationen.

  • by Kevin from Affiliate Marketing Business Help Mon Mar 9, 2009 via blog

    Most companies have a policy in place that prohibits blogging about non-public company information such as financials and job-related legal proceedings or controversies.

  • by eBusinessCorporate Sun Mar 29, 2009 via blog

    Great article. Now I will share my views. What I find is that most corporates believe that internet marketing is not the top executive job and they can simply hire people for that purpose. The fact is that nothing will be as powerful as the CEO or a particular company interacting directly with the mass. Having 10-20 writers writing on the blog is not going to do a world of good. Mostly blog is considered personal and it will deliver more punch if the people feel that the top management is taking part directly. I know CEO's who outsource such work. When one particular CEO was asked a comment about one of HIS corporate blog, he had to admit that he did not write that.

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