Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Company Blog Checkup: Kodak

A few weeks ago I wrote an article for Marketing Profs entitled 'Eight Ideas for Revitalizing Your Company Blog'. The article has been well-received (hey even WOMMA liked it!), so I decided as a result to incorporate a new feature here at The Viral Garden, the 'Company Blog Checkup' series. I'll periodically look at a particular company blog, and see how well it is matching up to the criteria I mentioned in the MP article.

And our first contestant is.....Kodak.

Kodak actually has two blogs, and in this case I think that's a good thing. The first one, A Thousand Words is aimed at the more 'general' photographer, while A Thousand Nerds is aimed at the techie. Both blogs do an excellent job of NOT focusing on Kodak products. Instead, A Thousand Words is basically a 'storytelling' blog, making ample use of photographs to help tell those stories. I'm assuming the photos were taken with Kodak products, but it isn't clear, and it doesn't have to be. The message here is obvious: photographs help us stay connected to those special moments in our lives.

A Thousand Nerds goes down a different path. It delves deep into the technology behind photography, everything from the camera itself, to the paper, even related technologies such as DVD and Blue Ray. If you are a hardcore technie, this stuff is right up your alley, but for most of us it is over our heads. Which is why Kodak giving the 'Nerds' their own blog was an excellent decision. As with A Thousand Words, there are plenty of pictures, but very little mention of Kodak products.

Content-wise, both blogs are huge home runs. So often, company blogs are far too company/product-centric. The way to go, as Kodak does, is to focus on presenting the content from the reader's point of view. Readers don't want to come to Kodak's blog to get information about their products, that's what Google is for. Kodak is smart enough not to go down this beaten path, and instead focuses on why people buy cameras in the first place, to preserve precious memories.

But the two blogs do have their differences. For one, while the 'Words' blog authors post faithfully every weekday, the 'Nerds' blog authors only post on Tuesdays. But on the other hand, the 'Words' authors aren't responding to reader comments ( a HUGE no-no), while the 'Nerds' authors seem to be pretty good about that. This is especially odd, considering that with the Words blog, many readers will be able to relate to the stories that the authors are sharing, prompting them to comment. The Words authors are missing a great opportunity by not interacting with their readers that offer feedback.

And then there is the matter of who the blogs link to. If being too company-centric is the biggest blog sin a company can commit, not replying to readers' comments and not linking to readers/non-company sites, is the second biggest mistake. While both Words and Nerds have excellent content, both blogs only have a few links, and all are devoted to Kodak. *Sigh*. You cannot tell me that there aren't plenty of bloggers that evangelize Kodak products, or photography-oriented forums that Kodak could be linking to. Linking to your evangelists and outside information sources is a great way to not only increase reader interest in your blog, but it gives your readers a better experience.

All-told, I think both Kodak blogs have a very solid foundation to build from. Their key focus moving forward needs to be on rewarding reader comments by not only answering them, but LEAVING the Kodak blog and following readers back to THEIR blog and commenting. Hey, they took the time to comment on your blog, why can't you return the favor? And Kodak please find your online evangelists, and link to them. Trust me on this one.

And now let's turn to the scoring (These scores are for the A Thousand Words blog):

Content: 27 (Out of a possible 35) - I like that the blog's main focus of pictures taken with Kodak cameras. I would like to see the direct promotion of Kodak products toned down a bit, and perhaps give readers more input by letting them contribute some of their pictures and post them on the blog.

Comments: 26 (Out of a possible 35) - Most posts have comments, and the writers tend to do a decent job of replying to reader comments.

Posting Schedule: 14 (Out of a possible 15) - The blog follows an almost perfect schedule of a new post each day during the week.

Sidebars: 9 (Out of a possible 15) - I like how each blogger has a pic on their posts, but I notice that the 'blogroll' is really a collection of links to Kodak sites. More non-Kodak links and a recent comments section would be a huge improvement, as well as bios for the writers.

Total Score: 76 (Out of a possible 100)

If anyone from Kodak wants to discuss this Company Blog Checkup with me, feel free to leave a comment here, or email me. If you're a company that would like to hire me to do an extensive checkup of your blog, you can click here for more information on my blog and social media consulting services.

If you've got a company blog you'd like me to do a 'Checkup' post on, feel free to click on the 'Email Me' link below. And thanks to Tara for giving me the heads-up on both Kodak blogs.

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Anonymous said...

Great concept! Just sent you a company blog for a future checkup :)

Anonymous said...

Excellent idea, Mack, and nice write-up.

tlwhittle said...

Mack, I love this concept, and it's off to a great start with this post! What isn't clear is are the bloggers really involved in the blog, or just contributing their stories to an editorial board who then posts them? The "user guide" isn't helpful in answering this question, though it does say:

Our readers are another big part of the blog. Please leave comments and we will try our best to respond back to you as soon as we can. We want to know what you think.

Who is the "we"? The story contributors or the people running the blog? (If there is a differentiation.)

Anyway, I'm struck by how nicely done the blog is -- and what a wide photo blogging community they could be connecting with.

Patrick Schaber said...

This is an awesome idea, Mack! I'm continually trying to find examples of corporate blogs. Great write-up as well.

Anonymous said...

Mack, Thanks for the checkup. I've enjoyed my interactions with people through Kodak's blog. I've been a photographer for a long time, and the blog was a way to share pictures and talk about photography. It's also helped me learn more about digital communications. It's a good group of people too.

Mack Collier said...

Tara I think all the blog writers for both A Thousand Words and A Thousand Nerds, work for Kodak. And Paul I can definitely see how a photographer could benefit from reading both blogs. They aren't perfect, but they both do a lot of things very well.

anne simons said...

Wow, Mack. This is great stuff. I learned a lot from this and look forward to future checkups.

Anonymous said...

Mack - I think you are absolutely spot on about responding to comments... it IS really important. Since we have so many different contributors to 1000 Words, this message will need to be spread amongst all of them... but hey... we are always looking for room for improvement! Thanks for a great write up!