Corporate Blogging Best Practices

Although I find myself tweeting more often and blogging less, I remain amazed by how many organizations and senior leaders in particular have yet to see the value of a corporate blog as the central hub for their ideas, perspectives and candid responses to market dynamics. In short, a blog is a fundamental platform for their voice!

The same principles that apply in any business apply to the gases and welding industry. Distributors need to put themselves out there for customers to find. As such, here are some best practices from our work with a multitude of corporate clients and senior leadership teams:

1. Find Your Focus—The broader market is not your market. Pick a focus or two and discuss your unique perspective both in a strategic approach and a more practical, pragmatic and tactical manner. Remember, audiences love tips, techniques and best practices.

2. Share Your Corporate Perspective—What do you think? What are you reading? How you tackle tough challenges? What do you adamantly object to? What do you feel is unjust or inappropriate? Customers want to hear your voice, unfiltered by the HR, legal and political correctness departments, without exposing yourself or your company to unnecessary risk.

3. Manufacture Content, Don’t Just Distribute—I already read Fast Company, Inc., Forbes, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and dozens of other blogs, e-newsletters and Twitter feeds. The reader wants you to be a free thinker and create fresh, compelling content.

Excite or disturb me to change my perspective; I want you to stand for something with passion and conviction! You weren’t born in a suit, so take off your jacket, roll up your sleeves, loosen the tie and write like you believe in something!

4. Establish Your Thought Leadership—Consistently original, high-quality content puts your stake in the ground as a formidable expert. Without the expertise, you’re an empty suit. With the expertise and no platform, you’re unknown.

5. Know and Cater to Your Audience—Mine is “C- and V-level” execs and board members, many of whom don’t read blogs. Guess what? Their lieutenants and trusted advisors do. It’s the same with your industry. The company owner might not read blogs, but his management team does. I love getting calls from them where they may even completely disagree with my point of view, but appreciate the perspectives
and insight. Focus on becoming an expert with visible credibility—those who matter will find you!

6. Your Online and Offline Presence Must be in Line—Said another way, the person and the organization your audience perceive you to be in the real world must be consistent with the perspective they will read on your blog. Otherwise, you’ll confuse your market.

7. Provide Options—Sometimes you’ll want to simply convey your point of view. Other times, you’ll want to give the audience a chance to further explore a topic. As such, I’m a big advocate of providing options such as links to other sources, embedding video or audio, or asking guest bloggers I respect and trust to contribute. If you’re always the hero of your stories, your blog will get old in a hurry!

8. Moderated Commenting—The whole purpose of blogs is to create a conversation. I don’t understand corporate blogs where commenting is not available. Isn’t that the whole point? You want comments from your audience as a channel for them to give you feedback, share their experiences and add perspective. Notice, I advocate “moderated commenting.” You’re welcome to comment on any of my blog posts, but I reserve the right to approve or delete your comments.

9. “Build it and They’ll Come” Is a Failed Strategy—You have to promote it, reference it, raise awareness and drive traffic to it. Whether within the organization or external to it, “unless you toot your own horn, there is no music,” as one of my mentors likes to say. Link your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter profiles to your blog; drive the RSS feed to your profile on RENetworks, include a link to it in your e-mail signature, put a link to it on your corporate bio page, use Twitterfeed to populate your Twitter account with your blog posts, create both inbound and outbound links to other blogs you like and respect. Package, market and sell it!

10. Aim for Quality vs. Quantity— I’d rather see you blog less often and blog with much greater quality of content. Don’t get me wrong, you still need some consistency on the blog— ideally, once or twice a week. But daily entries can get annoying. Not to mention, the pressure to produce more often may dilute the quality of your ideas, perspectives and overall content value.

Bonus: Get an Independent Perspective—I often ask another set of eyes to read my posts; not only for grammatical corrections, but also, did it capture my point of view, perspective and voice. Did I rant and rave too much, or did I passionately make a valid point? Make sure it’s someone you respect and not a “yes man.”

Study Reinforces Value of Social Media

Over the last 12 months, GAWDA has put a major focus on social media. In 2009 alone, the association launched its interactive GAWDAwiki site, introduced an industry blog and started its own LinkedIn group. Also, GAWDA Edge, Welding & Gases Today and GAWDAwiki are now on Facebook and Twitter.

As important as the medium has become for the association, it has become equally important to small businesses. A recent study by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research titled “Social Media in the 2009 Inc. 500” reflects this sentiment. The study measures social media usage among the Inc. 500, and its results are staggering.

Social media usage among the Inc. 500 is increasing exponentially. The same study was carried out in 2007 and 2008 and the numbers keep growing. For instance, in 2008, 27 percent of respondents used social networking—today that percentage is 91. Furthermore, 95 percent of respondents successfully used wiki sites in 2009. As a GAWDA member, you have countless social media options available to you. It’s undeniable that the business world is taking advantage of the phenomenon. Are you?
Types of Social Media Used Successfully by U.S. Companies

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
David Nour Meet the Author
David Nour is president of The Nour Group and an expert on all things social media. He can be found on the Web at www.relationshipeconomics.com.