It seems like these days that everybody, their dog and their dog’s favorite brand has a blog. Even for those who don’t, it could be argued that they should. For anyone selling products or services, blogs are a great vehicle for customer engagement, thought leadership, and SEO optimization – and they can also be a big pain in the you-know-what.
There are two distinct anti-blog camps: those with blogophobia and those with blog commitment phobia (don’t bother looking these up in the DSM…). The first describes a condition in which a company is hesitant to take on blogging because of security and control concerns: How can I make sure I don’t get disparaging comments? How can I be sure my employees author and post favorable content and/or don’t go rogue? Who will have access to my blog’s administrative back end? These are valid concerns.
The second condition, blog commitment phobia, is a fear of committing to a blog because of concerns that it will be difficult (read: time consuming) to organize and challenging to create and post meaningful content consistently without letting the blog go “stale.” These are also valid concerns.
As a PR agency, it’s nearly impossible for us not to blog (we are fans of practicing what we preach, after all), so it’s probably pretty obvious where we stand on the issue: In most – but not all – cases, we think business blogging is smart. But we’re not going to tell you that it’s easy. We will be the first to admit that, just like the old saying about the shoemaker’s kids going barefoot, it can be hard for even a public relations and marketing firm to find the time to blog for themselves—but as another saying goes, nothing in life worth doing comes easy.
So if you’re going to take the leap (or you already have a blog and could use a refresher), here are 5 tips to make blogging for your business as painless as possible:
- Develop and maintain a blog editorial calendar (or EdCal, as we call it): Half the battle in blogging is coming up with a compelling topic for each post. Brainstorm on a couple of months’ worth of possible topics and plug these into an EdCal. Of course, EdCals are never set in stone. If something newsworthy pops up unexpectedly, be sure to roll with the punches and adjust your topic queue as necessary.
- Establish accountability: The other half of the battle is actually sitting down to hammer out your ideas into coherent, publish-button-worthy thoughts. It’s especially easy to let your blog slide as client work piles up. A strong accountability system among bloggers and managers within your company or department can help keep you on track and hold you to your deadlines (Thanks, Caitlin!). If you’re able to get ahead on preparing the posts in your EdCal, all the better, in case one week turns out to be particularly hectic.
- Document formal blogging procedure: It’s critical for companies to have a formal process of blog content revision and approval. Putting down on paper exactly who needs to review, who makes final edits, who grants approval and who is trusted with the blog password for posting are the checks and balances of the blogosphere to ensure all content posted is accurate and authorized. Hopefully, this is part of a larger social media policy document or social media playbook – but at the bare minimum, this piece is very important.
- Share responsibility and knowledge: While limiting access to blog’s administrative controls protects a blog from rogue posting, it can create a heavy burden on the individual authorized to do so. In some companies, it may be best for several trusted employees to have working knowledge of how to log in, make changes, publish posts, etc. Likewise, a blog with rotating authors (like ours) prevents a single employee from being solely responsible for the success or failure of the blog. One post per blogger each month is a much more manageable task on top of the regular workload than one or more posts a week would be. Of course, if you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated social media person, they’ve got the time – but keep in mind that they’ll still need access to executives and subject matter experts to keep your blog well rounded.
- Employ spam prevention: Comment spam is annoying. Sometimes it’s downright gross (I’ll save you from embarrassing examples, but trust me on that one!). And it’s never anything you want your customers or potential customers to see. For a nominal fee, bloggers can implement a spam prevention plug-in like Akismet to identify and block comment and trackback spam with integration to various blogging systems. You’ll never see a comment on your site that wasn’t approved by both a powerful spam filter and your human spam police.
Still struggling with whether or not blogging is right for your company? Drop us a line – the Ketner Group team can help you work through the pros and cons and help you determine if a jump into the blogosphere is the right move for you.