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Tips and tricks for corporate blogging

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The cover story about blogs in last week’s Business Week (magazine cover date today, 2 May) has been widely commented on in blogs around the world.

Tips And Tricks For Corporate Blogging
Blog conversations virally spread

Link: Business Week

For instance, a Technorati search of blogs that link to the cover story shows over 170 blog posts so far.

Even more interesting, though, is seeing the conversation thread that started when news about the cover story – the ‘seed’ post that starts a conversation – began trickling out. Take a look at this output from BlogPulse Conversation Tracker – a pretty dynamic way to see how a conversation virally spreads. And this output is based on only a depth search of 250 from 22 April, when the story was published online, up to today. I would imagine the actual conversation depth is far greater.

One big tip for companies – use tools like the BlogPulse Conversation Tracker to see what’s being said about you, your product or your service, by whom, and how that conversation spreads.

That’s a bonus tip!

What I want to mention is some excellent additional content in Business Week’s online edition that’s not in the print edition, and to highlight specific key points. I read this additional content last week but this morning, it showed up in my Business Week RSS feed:

Six Tips for Corporate Bloggers

1. Train Your Bloggers.
Key point: Who’s on your communications team? It used to be a small group, but now everyone who blogs at the company is spreading the message. And it’s important that these people be trained. [...] If bloggers become part of a company’s communications effort, what does the old PR department do? Increasingly, it’ll train and coordinate the bloggers.

2. Be Careful with Fake Blogs
Key Point: Pseudo-blogs are risky because many of the most passionate bloggers view them as an affront to their community, and each one stands out like a billboard in Yosemite. When the blogosphere gets hold of a fake, it can turn it into a public roasting of the company. [...] The upshot: Your choice on fakes, but the risks are high. [This is also to do with so-called character blogs on which I've clearly stated my views (against), in this post as well as in recent editions of The Hobson & Holtz Report podcast.]

3. Track Blogs
Key point: This is the easiest and most important step. First, poke around online and find the most influential bloggers following your company. Read them every day. Then do automated tracking of discussions. Companies ranging from startup PubSub to tech giant IBM can help, since they offer services that comb through this mountain of data, turning it into market research for customers. [And see the bonus tip above.]

4. PR Truly Means Public Relations.
Key point: Blogs knock down the barriers between a company and its customers. Businesses need to take that into account and adapt. [...] Netflix figured this lesson out after a rocky start. A fan named Mike Kaltschnee started a blog called Hacking Netflix that was full of news about online movie-rental company’s services. Kaltschnee asked for a closer relationship with Netflix, including access to executives and briefings on news releases. Netflix didn’t pay attention to him – until he wrote about his frustrations on his blog last June. The posting was picked up and spread madly through the blogosphere. Talk about bad PR.

5. Be Transparent.
Key point: No hard and fast rules for navigating the worlds of blogging and marketing exist. Still, a few principles are emerging, including the importance of full disclosure. Being open about the kind of marketing you’re doing is critical. [...] In November, Marqui began paying some 20 bloggers $2,400 each to write about the company once a week for three months. Everything about Marqui’s blog program is up on its site, including the contract, a list of the bloggers working for Marqui, and background material Marqui sends to bloggers. The bloggers have total control over what they write. They can criticize the software or write at length about it. The only requirement was they have to mention Marqui once a week. [...] Marqui benefited from the buzz about the novelty of what it was attempting. The number of people who visited Marqui’s site rose from 2,000 in November to 150,000 in December. And the company decided to continue the program after the first three-month period ended. [What Marqui did could change the face of marketing and PR.]

6. Rethink Your Corporate Secrets.
Key point: What’s the value of a locked up secret? In the world of blogs, you may find more value in sharing what you used to think of as secrets. Blogs are certain to make you rethink what should be squirreled away, because companies are increasingly sharing such information to win new partners and harvest fresh ideas. This doesn’t mean they don’t keep secrets or that you shouldn’t – only that you should reevaluate whether you can get more out of sharing information or keeping a lock on it.

Neville Hobson is the author of the popular NevilleHobson.com blog which focuses on business communication and technology.

Neville is currentlly the VP of New Marketing at Crayon. Visit Neville Hobson’s blog: NevilleHobson.com.

Tips and tricks for corporate blogging
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