Note to companies; blogging isn't a fad, it's a strategy

Last month the blogosphere (at least in marketing circles) buzzed a bit by the news that sandwich chain Which Wich was going to embrace one of its biggest evangelists in its local and then later national marketing. Chris Thomas decided he was going to purchase and review every one of the 51 sandwiches on Which Wich's menu, and blog all of it. Chris' local Which Wich made the incredibly smart move to add Chris' picture to their bags, along with a link to Chris' blog. Brilliant.

Which Wich's founder then flew into Tennessee to have lunch with Chris at his favorite Which Wich, and Chris later announced that Which Wich would be promoting Chris' series nationally. Again, this is great stuff, and a sign that Which Wich understands the power of social media, and especially the value of the blogosphere.

At least, on first blush.

On June 21st, Which Wich's blog posted a recap of the founder having lunch with Chris Thomas, and a picture of the two enjoying a meal at Chris' favorite Which Wich. Again great stuff.

But the problem is, there have been ZERO posts on the blog since this one.

Roughly a month ago, Which Wich was in the rare position of having a rush of positive exposure in the marketing blogosphere, primarily because of the great way that they were utilizing social media to help build exposure for their brand. Then they fell off the face of the earth.

To be fair, Which Wich had a very bad blog when I found them last month. Their 3 sidebar links point to 'Google, Edit Me, and Edit Me'. That's bad. I left a comment on the blog saying that Which Wich should add Chris' blog to their sidebar ASAP. It still isn't there.

But Which Wich had a great chance to get their act together here and continue to get positive exposure. They could have detailed the rollout of the national version of the promotion of Chris' series (which I assume did happen, but the blog says nothing about it). They could have gotten involved in this space, especially with a group that was just discovering the company, and was impressed with their efforts. Instead, they dropped the ball.

This is why when a company decides to start blogging, they have to understand the commitment that's involved. Which Wich's blog has 4 posts in the last 3 months. A good company blog needs that many posts a week. Companies need to understand this going in, and decide upfront if they can match this and other time-commitments associated with maintaining and growing a company blog. If they can't meet these demands, then they should not blog.

Many companies look at blogs, even today, as the 'shiny new toy' that they need to play with. It isn't, blogging is a strategy. It requires a long-term commitment, and companies that can't meet these requirements, should never enter this space.

UPDATE: Stephen Denny makes the case for corporate blogging.

Nother UPDATE: The ever-brilliant Jennifer gives Which Wich an action plan.



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posted by Mack Collier @ 11:01 AM,

12 Comments:

At 2:01 PM, Blogger Stephen Denny said...

Mack: I agree given one big, glaring caveat -- that I'm the guy calling the shots. Or you. We don't have to convince each other. The problem is "them." "They" don't always agree because of the lack of control, the need to get legal to approve, to make sure "they" aren't saying anything wrong, and of course the problem that happens "if one of the unwashed gets into a DIALOG with us."

There's a huge amount of fear in the corporate world over thinning the walls that separate "us" and "them" - just look at the Jet Blue fiasco with Yearly Kos as an example of what happens when either a) decentralization goes wrong or b) people don't like what you have to say (your choice of "a" or "b" depends on whether you think it was all on purpose or all by accident).

Smart companies, in my opinion, will soon look at blogging the way they used to look at advertising. Brand building, authentic, personal, and extremely focused. Just not on your television. That day hasn't arrived yet for everyone.

Good post, thanks.

 
At 6:43 PM, Blogger mindblob said...

Excellent example and story, Mack.

"Many companies look at blogs, even today, as the 'shiny new toy' that they need to play with. It isn't, blogging is a strategy. It requires a long-term commitment, and companies that can't meet these requirements, should never enter this space"

Mack... I couldn't agree more about this. "Blogging", like "viral", like "social media", like "Conversation" are NOT sexy trendy terms or new toys to play with. They are useless without coherent and authentic intentions.

 
At 8:48 PM, Anonymous Cam Beck said...

Consider, too, the example of Mothership BBQ in Nashville, TN. The owner's chief method of advertising was his blog.

http://mothershipbbq.blogspot.com/

Sadly, he had to close up shop and look for a different venue, as his location was a bit off the beaten path, but he assured us in his "farewell address" that he will be back.

I'd keep an eye out for this one. The owner seems to believe the blog was his chief reason for success. I hope he does well.

 
At 10:10 PM, Blogger Gavin said...

Many of the companies I have spoken with are actually aware of the challenges of content creation -- which is precisely the reason that they do NOT have a blog.
But, again, if they chose to take a small part of their media spend and use it to resource a good writer, then I would bet the returns would be through the roof.

 
At 10:22 PM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

"But, again, if they chose to take a small part of their media spend and use it to resource a good writer, then I would bet the returns would be through the roof."

I would only recommend letting an 'outsider' write a blog if the writer was also going to train the company along the way on how to write posts, and would eventually hand it off to them. A good writer is essential, but you also need someone that has the passion to see the company grow, and the knowledge of what message they want to relate to their customers.

 
At 5:16 PM, Blogger Stephen Denny said...

Cam: your comment about the Nashville BBQ place leaves a dangling question in the air -- if a blog was his primary marketing tool... and he had to close up shop... there's a likelihood that all was not well in tri-tip demand generation land. Maybe he should have tried something else and used the blog as a relationship marketing tool (kind of like BBQ sauce, come to think of it).

 
At 8:38 PM, Anonymous Cam Beck said...

Stephen - He did run a TV ad or two, after he'd already gotten enough foot traffic to support it. I don't have a complete case study... All I can say now is that he's looking for a new "Place" in the marketing mix.

 
At 8:13 AM, Anonymous K said...

I recently received a letter from a charity I'm involved with.

Their web policy is no blogs and absolutely no outgoing links on local websites.

I've been a local fundraising leader for the past 18 years or so. I've help raise millions of dollars for them. This policy had me rethinking my commitment.

 
At 11:11 AM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

"I recently received a letter from a charity I'm involved with.

Their web policy is no blogs and absolutely no outgoing links on local websites."

I'm guessing this charity has spent little or no time on blogs. It's funny that the people that are against blogs the most, are almost always the ones with zero experience reading/writing blogs, and they are just blindly buying into the worst stereotypes about this space.

 
At 4:29 PM, Anonymous Aruni Gunasegaram said...

I agree. I wasn't sure what I was stepping into when starting our company blog and now 3-4 months later, I can really appreciate the time commitment involved. Fortunately so far it has been a fun endeavor for me.

It sounds like it's a good thing that we aren't a huge corporation that has to have a team of lawyers review everything I write because I'm guessing some of my posts wouldn't have been approved. :-)

I enjoy reading other people's blogs and commenting from time to time as well. Sometimes I wish there were more hours in the day to keep up with the blog!

 
At 5:26 PM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

"I enjoy reading other people's blogs and commenting from time to time as well. Sometimes I wish there were more hours in the day to keep up with the blog!"

Exactly! Now THAT'S the 'shiny new toy' we need, the 'Day Expander' ;)

 
At 9:04 PM, Anonymous Chris Thomas said...

Viva la Which Wich?!

Seriously, they're still learning, still wading through this big, huge tub of colorful plastic balls that we call blogging... but they're also making some much needed changes, which means they're listening! At the end of the day you can throw away all of your sexy keywords... blogging boils down to talking and listening and they're making a genuine effort at doing both. Good stuff.

 

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