So, you want to start your blog

BloggingForDummies So, your company wants to start a blog?

You’re saying, “Awesome. I’ll finally get to do something fun,” but before you jump right in, let’s make sure you get a few things straight.

TYPE OF BLOG – Determine well in advance what type of blog you will be running. I find that the best company blogs are about the people and not about the company. I hear all about your products in your commercials, display advertising, and product listings on retail sites, and if I wanted to know more about how green you are or who your CEO is, I could just read your Wikipedia entry or About page, so let’s leave all of that to your PR and product marketing people. Instead, focus your blog on the people in your company. Some great company blogs have nothing to do with the business of the company, but instead draw you into the story or drama of the office – of course, you won’t want to include too much drama. ;-)

WHO CONTRIBUTES – Everyone should contribute. That is just an ideal, and in reality, it never works out, but before you even start the blog, get the support of multiple departments, and get their commitment to contribute on a regular cadence. If you end up being the only blogger, and you happen to be good at it, great. BUT, you could have just gone out and started a blog on your own. This is a company blog, not an individual’s blog.

WHO EDITS – You. This is a blog, not a PR center, so don’t get tied down in a lot of red tape that requires new posts to go through your hands, to legal’s, getting the signature of the CEO, and then back to you for posting. If you are the subject matter expert, you should be able to edit the posts. Besides, if they need to go through multiple hands, you’ll never be able to respond quickly to trends.

WHO DESIGNS IT & WHERE IS IT HOSTED – If you’re just getting started and do not have a strong backing within the company, get yourself a free Wordpress or Blogger blog, set the color scheme as close to your website as possible, create a few reciprocal links, and get rolling. You can always install Google Analytics, Sitemeter, Statpress, or some other free analytics tools and then use those to make your case for a professionally designed and hosted site later. Ideally, you want the same design and layout as your company website, but that often costs money or takes some in-house designer’s time, so get rolling with what you can now. Don’t wait for perfection before you can get started.

WHAT TO CALL IT – If you work for Company A, it is “The Company A Blog.” When someone reads your blog and then asks a friend if they’ve read it, you want them to share that it’s your company’s blog, right? Then, if you happen to be in the plumbing industry, why would you name it “Plumbing the Depths” instead of “The Plumbing Company Blog”? “The Plumbing Company Blog” = clear relation to your name and brand; that is another positive impression and word-of-mouth mention of your brand. “Plumbing the Depths” = no clear relation and no impression of your brand; it necessitates the person taking more time to explain that that blog is produced by your company. Make it easier for them and just name the blog after the company.

HOW OFTEN DO YOU POST – At least once each week. Some companies and individuals get by posting multiple times each day, but almost no one – except for maybe Tim Ferriss – gets by posting less than once each week. You have to realize that most of your readership will come from people randomly checking the blog. Most people do not use RSS nor email subscriptions, so be predictable with your post frequency and give them an idea of how often to check back.

HOW DO YOU PROMOTE IT – Along the top or sides, prominently display RSS and email subscription buttons, and remind your readers frequently why it is valuable for them to subscribe. Along the side or at the end of posts, include sharing buttons for places like Digg, Yahoo! Buzz, StumbleUpon, and wherever else you feel your readers might share your content. Tweet about new blog posts on your company Twitter account. Post links in your Facebook Fan Page, or use Social RSS to import the post.

FINDING MATERIAL & ACTUALLY GETTING STARTED – Almost all blogs/bloggers have a ton of content and ideas upfront and then fizzle out within a few weeks or months. Ultimately, follow these steps: 1) Get participation from multiple people. 2) Create your free blog and get it customized. 3) Create a schedule for posting. 4) When you run out of content, “steal” ideas from other blogs. Don’t steal their content, but take their post subject and apply it your company.

Wrapping it all up – Blogs are your best opportunity to give insight to and get it from your customers and industry, so when you launch your social web presence, don’t skip over it because it happens to be more work than Facebook or Twitter. Check back here (or better yet, subscribe via RSS or email at the top and bottom of this page) for the follow up posts on your other social media presence opportunities, and as always, shoot me an email or comment below with your questions.

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  • Good stuff Eric. The cadence think is a difficult challenge…
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