Blogging is becoming an increasingly popular tool and your executives should be online, says Alex Malouf.
There’s no doubt about it, blogging is huge. On blogging platform WordPress over 409 million people view more than 20.6 billion pages each month. There’s even more blogs on the Tumblr (275.1 million blogs and 127.9 billion posts as of January 2016). While blogging may not hug the headlines as much as social media, the online writing format continues to grow.
Similarly, blogging has become one of the most popular tools among corporations in a number of geographies. Research by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts has pointed to growth across the Fortune 500. In 2013, 34% of the F500 was hosting a public facing corporate blog. While numbers have dropped, 21% of F500 companies are still blogging.
For a pastime that was once considered on the fringe of journalism, blogging is a pivotal online media channel for breaking news, sharing content and developing an audience. Blogs are often quoted in the media and it allows a corporation to control the message and yet promote a healthy dialogue with its internal and external stakeholders.
There are many reasons for starting a corporate blog, but I’m going to focus on the five basics which should underline to your CEO the value in having a blog for your company and including blogging as part of your communications strategy.
1) It’s all about transparency
We all want more information, yet corporations often keep too much of a lid on what external stakeholders see and know. A blog allows you to let others look inside the company and give them a better understanding of any and every issue you care to tackle, from sustainability to product development and customer relations.
The benefit of transparency is increased trust. Your customer base should better understand why you do what you do. Customers and investors will feel much better informed and they may be more willing to buy your product and invest in your company.
However, don’t take transparency to mean republishing your press releases. Some of the most successful corporate blogs are those that take a nuanced approach, that tackle the good and the bad. The less biased you are, the more likely you are to be trusted when publishing a blog.
2) Bringing some humanity to the corporation
Corporations are often seen as soulless, grey worlds. And the same can often be said for a corporation’s communications approach; the bland press releases and the staid website. As people we all thrive on interaction and dialogue and that’s why blogs are so successful. They’re your corporation’s personal voice, a voice that need not use corporate-speak and jargon but instead adopt a tone that is more informal and conversational.
Your blog will need a face. It could be the CEO or another senior person. But a blog doesn’t need to be written by an executive. Some of the most insightful blogs are written by product managers, researchers and others who are passionate enough to make what they are saying interesting. Let your customers know more about you than just your product line-up and they’ll begin to become more loyal to your brand.
3) Starting a dialogue
Unlike many other forms of communication, blogs are there to receive feedback as well as to be a voice for the company. When you engage readers and respond to dialogue – both positive and negative – you’ll be doing much more than just promoting your company.
Blogs are a great way to test the water, to understand your customers’ perception on certain issues. And even if the comments are negative, at least you’ll know what your customers are thinking and be able to respond and bring them back on board. Get talking on a blog and even those stakeholders who may not agree with your company’s strategy will appreciate your efforts to talk with and about these issues in a forum that allows for and encourages debate.
4) Drive that web traffic!
Want a business reason for blogging that your sales team can measure? How about the web traffic that a blog will drive to your site? Many web engines such as Google rank sites based on content, on relevance and popularity. A blog that is updated regularly, that has content which is popular and links to other sites you’ll find your own corporate site being ranked much higher by search engines such as Google. Once your own blogging site has become established you’ll find others linking to you, which will further propel your blog to the top of the search rankings and towards the nirvana of a first-page listing.
5) Measure your blogging success
The beauty of communicating on your own site is that you can analyse your visitor statistics, to understand where your visitors are coming from, what they’re doing on your blog, what they’re using to read your blog (are they viewing your blog on a PC, a tablet or a mobile?) and how they’re reaching your site. The beauty of web analytics is that the more you have, the better you can make your blog and improve your visitor numbers. From there you can start defining your blog’s goals and measure your goal conversion, review how you’re promoting your blog and understand which topics and keywords are the most successful in driving traffic to your site.
About Alex Malouf
Alex is corporate communications manager for the Arabian Peninsula at Procter & Gamble and has spent the last 10 years in the Middle East. His expertise spans communications for both multinationals in the energy, technology and FMCG space as well as several Gulf-based government institutions. When he’s not putting pen to paper, Alex can be found advocating for the region’s communications industry through not-for-profit organisations, with other like-minded comms professionals.
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