It sometimes seems that one of the most deliberated over points in business is whether and how to blog. Isn’t blogging really self-indulgent nonsense for a company, which is more likely to get the blogging employees in trouble than it is to improve business? If goes through official channels, doesn’t it lose its sincerity, become sanitized, and slow down the rate at which blog posts occur, and therefore its effectiveness?
Yes to all of the above! A successful corporate blogging strategy has to do with solving all of the above issues. Sometimes, you go the sanitized and editorial route if you have the resources, and can still make an excellent user experience and keep up the posting rate. Not all companies have this luxury. If the company chooses to pick a company evangelist, and give him or her to blog away with unfiltered sincerity, the company must be wise in choosing the person, and comfortable with any liabilities it may incur. But the gritty feel could bay back in spades from a public relations standpoint. Conversely, shallow attempts at manipulation through blogging are often called out as such and end up with angry customers blogging their mind on THEIR OWN blog site. This happened with Juicy Fruit, but I cannot help but think it STILL ended up selling more Juicy Fruit.
Joining the online discussion is always risky. Merely by virtue of being out there, you might tap into long latent sentiments that people were just dying to have a forum for. You can turn off comments, but then you might drive them to post where you cannot control. And if they’re search optimized on some relevant word… sheesh! But more and more, companies are finding they must take that risk, because by not engaging your customer base, someone else will. And the best way to join the discussion is in a blog YOU CONTROL.
That’s right. Often times, a corporate blogging strategy is thought of as traveling around to all these far-flung discussions and posting comments there–often time posing as someone NOT from the company. It’s dishonest, not worth the risk, and frankly not as effective as running your own blog and hosting it directly on your corporate website. Why?
You want your blog to be influential. You want your blog to be the center of the discussion. You want to be building up the overall effectiveness of your own site, and not someone else’s. You want control over published content related to your company, and not for someone else to have it. You want to be building up a permanent company asset. And you want a vehicle that can be used to defend your brand as forcefully and nimbly as even the most disgruntled blogger.
That’s right. The same “long tail” effect that makes it so easy for you to capture a mass of small hits on obscure but important little terms, makes it so easy for a disgruntled customer to have an disproportionately loud voice. In the past, one angry customer could be relied on to tell five others. Today, one angry customer has the ability to tell many thousands… basically, anyone who happens to search on that precise same topic.
But it can work exactly in reverse, and a product can get the reputation for being the best and only choice in some niche space. Recently, I needed to podcast (technically, PowerPoint/Camtasia/Flash-cast), so I wanted to buy a decent microphone. A bit of searching right now will turn up one, and only one choice: the Samson C01U professional condenser USB mic. Go ahead, do the test. Search on podcasting microphone. Sure, Derrick Story, an O’Reilly writer published the first article. But the point is that this is a perfect example of a long tail keyword. A market exists. It’s globally dispersed. The product is non-mainstream, and will HAVE to be shipped (unless you live walking distance from B&H; A/V like me).
But I’m here to tell you that “the ultimate podcasting mic” is only the beginning of the infinite variations that will attract customers and drive sales. How may “ultimate podcasting microphones” are metaphorically in your business? I would guess lots. I would also guess that your marketing department has no idea what they are, and that brainstorming and tools like WordTracker are the only readily flowing source of possibilities.
What if the long tail keyword suggestions just came flowing in? What if they had a special advantage in that you knew they would work if used? What if you knew some tiny amount of traffic had already been produced on those terms when you didn’t even try? What if it provided a steady enough flow of ideas that you could keep a person in marketing blogging away full-time, and in a year or two you would be free from your CrackWords addiction, while your competitors were not? What if doing so had the side effect of defending your brand by keeping disgruntled posters from ever getting a toe-hold in search?
I would say that was the foundation of a pretty effective corporate blogging strategy.