I came across three blogs recently which prompted me to think this question through. A company blog might not be for every SME. Not because they are waste of time, but because companies may waste the opportunity a blog gives them, inadvertently mess things up or alienate those who were following their blog. The saying ‘better to do a job well, or not do it all’, springs to mind.
The value of blog to any company – large or small – lies in its execution. Three blogs I know of here in Malta amply demonstrate the pros and pitfalls of SME blogging. I’ve categorised them according to why the companies decided to have a blog in the first place.
Blog 1: A competitor has one, so I need one
A blog is almost a non-starter if it sees the light of day purely as a competitive tool. That’s not to say a blog can’t gain you a competitive edge, but you’re a long way off achieving that at this point.
Your competitor’s blog is more likely born of a volition to form new relationships with their audiences, whether customers, prospects, staff or others. Your company meanwhile is blogging to retaliate. You probably haven’t gone over the basics before getting a design firm to add a blog button to your website. Have you looked at: who’s going to write your blog – and that means at least two posts a week; what you intend to say; and with whom you going to engage not talk ‘to’ or ‘at’ on your blog?
First, think strategy. Ask yourself if your competitor has got it right with their blog; have they used the medium to build relationships, not just do more old-style advertising? Analyse what they’re up to. Then see how your blog might steal a march. In corporate blogging, you don’t need first mover advantage, but you do need to make the right move to have an advantage.
Blog 2: I set up a blog but haven’t posted much and don’t know what to say
This situation is the next stage of Blog 1 above. It too implies a lack of strategy. But having started blogging, you now find you don’t have the staying power to keep a blog going or don’t seem to have the staff to commit to it. You may have set up your blog in haste, or on the back of one staff member who now has other duties. Once you’ve dissected your company brochure and done a post on each service or product, you’ve run out of things to say. If you had scoped out your blog early on, you’d know why you are blogging and from this would follow plenty of content ideas.
Brainstorm with a variety of people, from company insiders to trustworthy outsiders, about what your blog can do. A blog gives you a leeway that corporate and sales brochures can’t. It’s your informal voice; your personality. It forces your company to ditch the mission statement and become personable.
Content rules, and that’s where you’ve come unstuck. So onward to the third type of blog set-up I’ve come across in Malta recently which deals with this point…
Blog 3: I set up a blog that doesn’t talk about my company
So what’s the point? That would be our first instinct. But this SME is well on the way to being a successful blogger. Let’s face it, most companies aren’t that interesting. So your blog has to go beyond your regular corporate, service or product info. It needs to give readers a reason to bother with it.
We might like to know some insider info from real people in your company who are authorities about your industry, who can tell us the best way to use your products, or give us news of what’s coming on stream. It’s the ‘free-onomy’, so if your blog is going to give me something useful for free – entertainment, advice, insights, and yes, details of your special offers from time to time – then I am all ears.
One hotel in Gozo is doing well in getting its blog found online and in building an online community. Its blog isn’t about the hotel (the corporate entity) despite being written by hotel staff. But the staff are valuable Gozo insiders who give advice to holidaymakers about the island. Yes, the blog also chirps up about deals and specials at the hotel, but only when they are relevant. We might need reminding of the hotel’s spa facilities in chill damp January, but we don’t need to know about them all the time.
This blog’s strategy is corporate glory by association. Thank you hotel X for giving me good value info on Gozo. I am already thinking of you instead of your competitors.