A project that we are very excited about is a comprehensive social media syllabi for UK universities. We have been commissioned to come up with a full fledged plan.
I’ve been teaching Social Media in various forms for over 6 years now. I remember back in 2003 when we set out to define the syllabi for the Dept of Media Studies at Anna University in Chennai. We’ve come a long way since then. Social Media has grown by leaps and bounds. Just when you thought you have nailed the final draft, there’s a new area that would have cropped up.
We’ve closely collaborated with leading practitioners in Social Media and with departments in leading universities. The new syllabi will be formally accredited in 3 months time.
Every word written in a business blog represents the company behind the blog. Therefore, the business blog’s content must appropriately communicate the company’s overall brand message. The blogger’s tone and content must match the company’s communication strategy. Most importantly, as a business blogger, you should talk less about yourself and more about the company.
Don’t Discuss Insider Information:
While it might be tempting to tip off your loyal blog readers about what’s going on behind the scenes at your company, don’t do it, particularly if you write a business blog for a public company. Not only could revealing insider information open you up to potential litigation, but it could also undermine sales and marketing strategies of the company. It’s like telling someone you’re throwing him or her a surprise party in advance.
Don’t Air Company Grievances:
As a business blogger, it’s highly likely that coworkers will come to you to discuss their problems and frustrations with the company thinking you just might talk about it on the company’s blog. Don’t be tempted. Not only is it bad business practice to air a company’s dirty laundry via a business blog, but it’s also a guaranteed way to get you in trouble and possibly fired.
Don’t Discuss Customers or Clients by Name without Written Permission:
Never mention a client or customer by name unless you have explicit, written permision from them to do so and approval for the specific content that you plan to publish from or about them.
Don’t Just Regurgitate Company Rhetoric:
Nothing makes a business blog less useful and more distasteful than one that seems like it was written by the corporate marketing or human resources department. Leave the jargon and corporate rhetoric for the annual report. Instead, write your business blog to appeal to your customers and keep them coming back for more.
Don’t Ignore Your Readers:
If your readers leave comments or send emails with questions or problems that don’t apply to the content of your blog, don’t ignore them. Send them to the appropriate person or department to handle then follow up with the customer to ensure their question was answered adequately. Additionally, respond to all comments left on your business blog as well as all emails you receive related to it to make your readers feel valued and create a sense of community. This will undoubtedly lead to reader loyalty and customer loyalty.
Don’t Say It if You Don’t Want the Online World to See It:
Once your words are published on a business blog, anyone can access them unless your blog is password protected (which is not recommended for business blogs unless you want to alienate your customers). If you don’t want your words to appear in a Google search, don’t publish them on your blog.
Don’t Forget to Adhere to Company Policies:
You’re still an employee of the company for whom you’re writing a business blog. Your top priority in your role as a business blogger is to meet the company’s needs for the business blog.
Don’t Forget to Cite Sources and Link, Link, Link!:
Business bloggers have just as much responsibility to cite sources and link to sources as personal bloggers. In fact, it’s probably even more important for business bloggers to ensure every citation is made as businesses are typically more susceptible to lawsuits (thanks to the ‘deeper pockets’ mentality) than individuals. Never forget to cover yourself to avoid opening your business up to potential negative publicity, lawsuits or fines. This applies not just to written citations but also the use of images, photos, logos and more that you obtain from a third party source.
Writing a blog for your business is an effective marketing idea. Blogs give businesses the opportunity to discuss products, share upcoming product or company news and hype just about anything the business wants. Blogging creates an online buzz and word of mouth marketing.
Additionally, business blogs provide another way that companies can link to promotions and news elsewhere on the web (for example, the company’s static web page) to further communicate marketing messages and increase the company’s online presence.
Business Blogging Can Boost Sales:
Business blogs are excellent sales tools and provide a perfect opportunity for companies to promote their products, services, sales and more. Blogs allow businesses to continually keep not just their products in front of customers but also the benefits of those products. Since blogs provide current information, they offer an excellent place for customers to find the latest news and offers about existing or new products.
Blogs can give customers a feeling of being ‘in the know’ and getting exclusive tips because they’re part of the business’ blog community.
Business Blogging Can Boost Customer Satisfaction:
Blogging is interactive and allows for two-way conversation with customers. Because of that potential for communication, blogs are a great way to share information with customers and hear their feedback. Customers who feel like a company is listening to them and responding to their needs are more likely to develop an emotional connection with that company, which is a fundamental requirement to building customer loyalty and repeat purchases.
Business Blogging Helps to Communicate a Business’ Brand Message:
Every business has a brand message and image in the eyes of consumers. Blogs give companies an opportunity to communicate the brand image they want to hold in the marketplace. Consistent branding leads to a sense of security and stability for customers, which are two of the main factors needed to build customer loyalty.
You do it anyway you want to. But here’s a list if you want to make sure that you think about all aspects of blogging before you start.
1. Start using RSS for news, jobs or press releases
Well, this you should do even if blogging isn’t for you. But if you are going to blog you need to feel comfortable with this form of publishing – get used to the fact that you will have, hopefully, a lot of readers that never actually visit your site. For many with a background in traditional publishing (e.g. many communications directors…) this could be worrying.
2. Thoroughly study what a blog is
You have to know blogs to be able to decide on whether or not to start one. And not just “know” them as a reader of 5 or 10 different blogs. You should do rather extensive research. What are the distinctive features of blogs? What blogs are there in your business? What do you think the audience likes or dislikes about them? With all this done you will still need to find your own tone and niche, and this will depend heavily on who the bloggers are. But you will know what it is like out there.
3. Be specific with purpose
Absolutely no one will be happy if you start a blog because you can. You need, as you would with all other communication channels, be very clear on the purpose. “We will start a blog because…”. Just remember that a blog may fill other purposes than you are used to. A purpose like “some of our sales people want a less formal and sales focused forum to share their knowledge” is a brilliant start.
4. Ask yourself, do you really need a blog?
Why on earth would you want a blog? For the purpose above maybe a series of seminars would work just fine. If you have done your research and now know your goal, it is time to ask yourself if it’s worth it. Do you have the culture of openness and honesty that blogging will demand from you? Are there any business risks, and are you prepared to take them?
5. Ask yourself, do we have the resources?
Just one word: Time.
6. Co-ordinate with other communication channels
Nothing strange here, you would never start a new channel without discussing and outlining its relationship with all the other things you do. If you are going to blog maybe the e-mail newsletter should reference the blog? Or be replaced by it?
7. Who’s the blogger?
The Department of Corporate Communications does not blog. No organizational unit does. People working there do. You of course have to find people that want to, that wish nothing else but to, blog. In most real life cases I have seen this has actually been the starting point, and those people have been the advocates for the blog in the process we’re talking about here.
8. Make a decision on all aspects, features of blogs
Will you allow comments? Will they be moderated by you? Is Trackback a feature to offer? What RSS versions? Atom, too? Categories or not? A blogroll, maybe? Make sure you know what all these small peculiarities of blogs are and if you think they will help you. And then you need to take some more important decisions. What will you write about and what is absolutely impossible to write about? Will you for example link to competitors?
Tip: If you say no to this, start at #2 again…
9. Choose which tool to use
There are a lot of tools to compare, but if you have done #8 you know what to look for.
10. Create a blogging policy
Again, if you have done #8 you know what to put in this – you can get some guidance from others (see the web page of these 14 steps for links).
11. Make sure the blogger(s) know blogging
Blogging is a skill. Not a very unique one, but a skill. The blogger must first of all know how to write, and he or she should know how the blogosphere works.
12. Launch quietly
Ideas and fine plans are one thing. But how does it turn out? Are the enthusiastic bloggers good enough to be very visible representatives of your brand? we recommend you start low-profile. You could even consider to start behind the firewall or with a password-protected blog.
13. Start doing subtle PR
Don’t issue a press release stating you have a blog. You wouldn’t be the first to do it, but it never seems appropriate. There are other means.
14. Success or failure? Decide on the future of your blog
It doesn’t take more than two or three months, to find out if a blog is good enough to deliver results. Have you been linked to by other blogs? Is anyone commenting? Do you get feedback from your target group? You also know how much resources the blog really demands by now, which means you have all the information you need to make a longterm commitment. Or just give it up.
For related links on some of these steps, see http://www.corporateblogging.info/2004/09/14-steps-to-your-business-blog.asp