Jump on the Blog Wagon

BY JONATHAN PAISNER

Corporate blogs—Web pages that serve as publicly accessible journals with short, frequently updated chronological posts—are the new black. They offer direct communication with your clients at low implementation costs—but they’re not right for every firm. Use these key principles to ensure that your blog becomes an asset, not a liability.

Make your goals clear. A blog is a highly visible marketing and communications initiative. Before starting, build an action plan based on clear goals—to drive revenue, support clients or create a forum for discussion and information. Focusing on what you want to convey will help dictate the content of your Web site.

Determine metrics for success. If you’ve got resources tied up in your blog, you better know whether it’s doing what it’s supposed to. After setting goals, decide how you will measure success. By traffic? By the level of involvement of a certain group of customers? If you know what you want, you can establish metrics to make sure you’re achieving it.

Make sure you can deliver on the client expectations you set. What are you promising with respect to insight into your services and the timeliness of blog entries? Do you have the resources necessary to meet these expectations? A blog needs constant feeding; it may take only days for its content to go stale. Merely assigning someone to blog duty is not enough if you don’t give them the time and the resources to create a compelling and inviting experience for Web visitors.

Consider the byline. Who’s writing your corporate blog? In whose voice does it speak? Is it the firm speaking, or one or more expert opinions?

Establish editorial limits. If the writer is to be a trusted voice some candor is required, yet how far can he or she go? Inviting employees—and external audiences—to write critically about your firm’s offerings is a nice aspiration, but managing partners or marketing executives may think otherwise. Consider these issues carefully beforehand to avoid conflicts down the road.

Make sure the writer has the necessary knowledge to make your blog compelling. Be sure the writer truly knows your business, your clients and your market.

Keep a watchful eye. A firm’s blog should comply with its strategy, style, tone and voice. Keep an eye on content so it stays within established guidelines without sacrificing its dynamic, time-sensitive nature.

Monitor external participation and usage. If your blog resonates strongly with a particular group, it might make sense to consider a more aggressive link between the blog and advertising geared toward those core visitors.

Source: Jonathan Paisner, brand director, CoreBrand Communications LLC, New York, www.corebrand.com , jpaisner@corebrand.com , 2006.

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