The Blogging for Business Conference was held 22 October 2007 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Should Company Employees Blog?
Cheryl Snapp Conner et al., Snapp Conner PR
If a company blogs, expect reactions. Be open to that dialog, be open to that conversation, be prepared to engage with it to go with it.
If your company blogs, blog consistently. Have something to say—make it interesting, compelling, relevant. Make sure it’s something worth reading about. Don’t just use company brochure material, people. Otherwise, save your breath.
It’s important to monitor the blogosphere—watch your employees.
- Personal websites and blogs are positive—they’re a chance for the company to spread its “good news” far and wide.
- Create a policy to give to your employees, explaining what they’re allowed to talk about on their personal blogs.
- Tell employees to include disclaimers on their sites explaining that they’re employed for such-and-such a company, but you’re not a legal representative and don’t speak for the company.
- Let employees know that you’re watching the blogosphere and that negativity (not to mention illegal statements) can result in termination.
Ask yourself: Why do we want to blog? Make sure you have a purpose—Educating clients? Communicating with customers? To provoke conversation and improve client relations (garner new clients/build trust with existing). By creating that blog, you’re allowing the people that you associate with (clients, customers, media) to let them know that you do know about the topic that you’re promoting.
It’s an open forum—there will be people that make comments and ask different questions and start creating a question there. Have the blog start a conversation. By doing that, it’s not going to be just you talking, but it will be other people as well.
Chris Belden, Politis Communications
Considerations when starting a blog
It’s a versatile tool, and it’s not a bad idea to consider it. Things to keep in mind.
- time: blogs are time-consuming (in the end it can be beneficial—Three little letters, ROI). You could also consider team blogging.
- Content: be passionate about your topic; if you aren’t it’ll show. If you are; it’ll show. Choose something you want to write about. Larger sites have content strategies.
- Comments: on/off? (“As a purist, I tend to think they should be on. They could be moderated, but they should be on.”) Comment from Director of Interactive Media at KSL.com: “It’s a constant debate for us. It’s ‘darned if you do, darned if you don’t.’ But usually in the comments you’ll get the real story.”
- Ghostwriting: “As a purist, I’m against it. What I do agree with is ‘Ghostediting.’ Client writes it, I edit it. We don’t write for the 80% who don’t know how to write; we write for the 20% who do.”
- Frequency—his rule of thumb: 3-4x/week (moblogging, twitter may change that)
- Plugins. Plugins that can make things a bit easier on the technologically impaired (talking WP)
- SEO—don’t miss an opportunity to boost the visibility of your site. The basic techniques: headlines (catchy) (and use keywords!), keywords, links—sparingly (depende).
- RSS—keep in touch with your visitors without them having to visit your blog all the time. Ties back into #7—catchy headlines = clicks
- Team blogging—in-house project. One way to get it done. Pass the buck, but have internal policies.
On Receiving Negative Comments
If you’re scared about receiving negative comments—then what’s wrong with your product? People are going to talk about it; why don’t you want to hear about it?
- Have a strong comment policy
- Blogs are lightning rods
- You can choose on a per-post basis with most blogging software.
- Respond on others’ blogs! (Good, pertinent, respectful comments—and if you got that turned into a post on their blog?! Woot!)
- Good PR will sink a bad product or a bad company faster than anything—you have a crappy product and get covered on the Today show, you’re a goner.
- Use well-known bloggers in your area: find them on Technorati, Google Blog Search.
- Bloggers tend to specialize, be a bit more cutting-edge. Turnaround time may be faster, no deadlines, good SEO, good links.
- Some bloggers influence mainstream media. One blogger promoted a product on his blog, and then on a radio show that afternoon (wow!)
- You can also build good, long-term relationships with bloggers. Be judicious!
The web is changing a lot of what we do in our industry. They’ve moved from the trend phase. But in the end it has to be a decision—how is it going to affect you, bottom line, etc.
What Your Attorney Hopes You Know About Business Blogging
Making ‘Sticky’ Business
7 keys to a blogging relationship
- Show up whole and human—recognize all the individuals that come; show up with your head and your heart. If you’re just an information blogger, they’re not going to feel there’s a human on the other side of the screen. That’s the key to having a community. People want to feel that there’s someone on the other side of the screen listening.
- Talk in your authentic voice.
- Tell your own truth.
- Have room for folks to tell theirs, too.
- Don’t try to tie ideas up in a bow. Liz calls this her biggest mistake in blogging. She comes from educational guide publishing—highly structured, tied up neatly in a bow writing. That’s not how conversations work! Leave a list at seven—let your readers finish your top 10 list! If you finish the job, all they can say is “cool.” If you don’t fill it all in, they get to participate.
- Half the show is in the comments—where all the relationships happen. A blogger reads the comments; a nonblogger never reads them.
- Be helpful, not hypeful. . . . . make everything about them, not you. You can talk about a product, even, but you have to be helpful. Everything has to be about them.
What makes it sticky? (from Making it Stick by the Heaths, she thinks?)
Sticky shorthand—What you really need to know
- Your head
- Your heart
- Your life—why should I care? What’s its meaning in my life? Why should I want to? What is the compelling story that makes me fall in love with it?
Story from The Tipping Point:
Educating two groups of students about tetanus shots: group 1 gets a nice talk about how it’s good for you; group 2 gets scare tactics. Both groups convert at 3%. Repeats the experiment, adding a map to the student health center and the health center’s hours to the literature. Conversion jumps to 28% (both groups).
The additional information changed what the students were getting from a lesson and information to make it personal and practical. It showed them how to fit it into their lives. Now they knew it wasn’t a lesson anymore; now they knew how to use it. (98)
Any product that works—if you look at it and say, “but how do I fit this into my life? Why would I want to use it?” Those are the two key questions.