Getting Ahead of the Blogging Bandwagon
In an age when everyone from housewives to celebrities call themselves bloggers, it hardly seems worth it for professional organizations to jump onto the overcrowded blogging bandwagon. Even the most seasoned marketing experts have more questions than answers about the rules of play for businesses blogging. Who writes the blog? What do we write about? How do we monitor the comments posted on the blog? Who monitors the comments on the blog? As if the seemingly infinite amount of material on the internet weren’t overwhelming enough, the blogosphere sometimes looks like the Wild West to many observers. As a result, many organizations ultimately abandon their blogs or altogether avoid them.
Obviously, you wouldn’t be reading this right now if we weren’t fond of the whole blogging experience! Blogging is a great way to bring a business’s team of experts face-to-face with consumers and prospects. (This answers the “who” of the blogging conundrum). For example, one week a bicycle shop’s sales associate might write about the newest line of mountain bikes, while the next week the bicycle technician might post bicycle maintenance tips. This type of information exchange not only helps establish a particular organization as an industry leader, but also promotes employee morale and team building. Generally speaking, people love talking about what they do and sharing it with the world.
Furthermore, a blog is an easy way to generate fresh site content right on the spot. Perez Hilton, the most infamous blogger of all time, built his celebrity news empire by being the first to post up-to-the-minute gossip on a little blog he operates from the comfort of his own apartment. Our bike shop owner might want to announce the impending morning shipment of new Schwinns from her home office the night before they arrive, instead of waiting for the web administrator to update the site for her. She can post new information anytime from anywhere; in her own words.
The focus of each blog post doesn’t have to revolve around specific products or services. Blogging can simply be a conversation about related topics or events. For example, our bike shop owner might decide to blog about the latest local bicycle race or the importance of elementary physical education. This type of blogging enhances the customer brand experience, showing that the shop is not just a place that sells bikes but also a hub for bicycle enthusiasts and their families.
Now for the not-so-fun part: A blog does require some oversight and maintenance. Editing blog material is crucial, as poorly written posts will tarnish an organization’s professional image. Comments also need to be monitored so accurate information is released into the blogosphere. The good news is that blogs can be built to require administrator approval of all comments before they are published for public viewing.
Also, a couple of minutes per week should be spent doing a quick search of the blogosphere to see what other bloggers are saying about a particular product or service. (Google provides a decent blog search engine). Dell learned this the hard way when a couple of years ago an irate customer blogged about his experience with their customer support department. Checking out what others are saying on their blogs allows an organization to quickly respond to criticism or bask in praise.
Finally, blogging is a way to stay ahead of the competition. Even if your biggest competitor is already blogging, you have the opportunity to make yours as unique and up-to-date as you want it to be. It can be fun or serious, tame or controversial, big or small. You call the shots.