In light recent comments on my blog, I offer these tips for corporate blogging, from Matthew Boyle of Fortune.
First, know thyself
The most important question to ask is whether your company should even blog at all. “There are some corporate cultures where blogging is not going to go over very well,” says Sifry. Cultures where blogging thrives, he says, are ones that “have faith in their employees, rather than fear.”
If your culture supports blogging, then determine who’s best to compose your blog. Choose someone who writes well, with a conversational, authentic, yet authoritative tone. Most likely, this person is not your CEO.
Then, know your audience
If you cannot find something to blog passionately about, your blog will be no more than a corporate PR organ.
Learn what your customers care about (it could be nutrition, or home improvement) and figure out a way to participate in that conversation credibly.
Engage your audience
The best part about blogging is that it’s a conversation. Absorb what people have to say, and reply to their comments. “It’s the ultimate zero cost focus group,” says Debbie Weil, author of “The Corporate Blogging Book.” “My policy is never to delete comments, even ones I disagree with,” says Microsoft’s Scoble. “I want our customers to feel free to tell us what they think.”
That said, you might want to have a feedback filter so you can eliminate spam and so-called “drive-by shootings” — blog-speak for anonymous negative posts. If someone wants to blast your company, Sifry suggests asking them to write the critique on their own blog and then link to yours. That way, the critic is accountable for what he says, and the discourse will remain civil.
Update your blog often, and make liberal use of hyperlinks. The more sites you link to, the more sites will return the favor.
Cover your rear
Whoever does end up writing the blog, don’t keep them anonymous or hidden behind some cutesy character. For example, if you blogged for Coca-Cola, don’t be “The Coke Guy.”
Other tips: Don’t shut down existing employee blogs. And don’t use search engine trickery to boost the profile of your blog. People will find out.
Finally, a blog is a tool, not a panacea — don’t expect it to turn your company around. “I don’t think GM’s blog is going to save GM,” says Weil.