Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Company Blog Checkup: Kleenex

Thanks to Mark Goren for giving me the heads-up about this week's entry in the Company Blog Checkup Series; Kleenex's Let It Out blog. The blog is a bit confusing, because instead of being centered around Kleenex, it's centered around Kleenex's current 'Let It Out' campaign. So that means that the blog's life is likely tied to the length of the current campaign.

As always, let's start with the blog's content. The first problem is obvious; there's no pictures. None of the posts have pictures, and there also isn't a picture of the blog's writer. The subject matter of the posts is designed to start a conversation about sharing stories between the writer and readers. The writer attempts to talk about a subject or tell a story, then she encourages the readers to give their feedback, and 'Let It Out'.

Here's an example in this post about the power of forgiveness: "Have you forgiven or been forgiven? How did it change your life? What has been the impact in your life of this powerful emotion? I hope you’ll share because the power of forgiveness is a lesson worth learning from as many examples as possible."

I see a big problem with this approach, in that strangers don't typically want to 'Let It Out' to people they don't know and trust. Now if Kleenex had taken the time to create and build a vibrate community of readers for the blog first, then it could work. But I don't think that's something they have yet, considering that the 15 posts left since May 1st have garnered a combined 15 comments.

As with many other company blogs, posting is sporadic. Normally there's a new post every 3-4 days, but occasionally there will be a lapse of a week or more between posts. Again, perhaps the best way to grow your blog's readership, is to post regularly. This cannot be stressed enough, but I see so many blogs that don't follow this very simple step.

As for comments, the blog's lone writer, Maria, does a pretty good job of replying to them. For example, this post had 6 comments, and 3 of them came from Maria. Some of the comments are little more than a canned 'Thanks for letting it out', but still, Maria does a better job of addressing comments than most writers have so far in this series.

Finally, let's move to the sidebar. First, there's a very nice section for 'Meet The Writer', which gives a quick bio for the blog's writer, Maria Niles. This is a great touch, and one that I've mentioned other company blogs lacking in the past. But again, there's no photo of Maria. If the idea of the blog is to get readers to 'Let It Out', it helps if they can see who they are 'letting it out' to.

There's a section for 'Blogroll', but then there's no blogs or sites there. Hmmm.....the only thing there is an RSS button, and one for My Yahoo and My AOL. If you click on the RSS button, it takes you to another page that details exactly how to subscribe to the blog's feed. Nice touch!

Overall, Kleenex's 'Let It Out' blog is an average effort suffering from a few very common, and very correctable problems. First, Maria needs to start adding photos to posts, that alone would make the blog much more visually appealing. Then I would get on a regular posting schedule, 3 posts a week minimum, Tuesday-Thursday to start with. And finally, build out the blogroll with links that will interest readers. The big problem I see with the blog is that it is tied to the product's campaign, instead of the product itself. Going this particular route only works if the blog has a vibrant and enthusiastic community that is willing to support the concept. I just don't see that here.

On last thing, maybe it's just me, but I couldn't access the blog directly, I had to first select my country, then click on another link on another page to get to the blog. That's 2 hoops to make your readers jump through, when they were expecting none. Not good.

If Maria or anyone from Kleenex wants to discuss this Company Blog Checkup with me, feel free to leave a comment here, or email me, or both.

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 blogging and social media consulting services.

And if anyone can think of a company blog that they want me to do a checkup on, feel free to email me, or leave a comment here as Mark did!

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Freddie L Sirmans, Sr. said...

Just browsing the internet, very interesting blog.

Anonymous said...

I just happened upon your site and boy what timing. I'm a new blogger and would really appreciate feedback on my blog. I blog for business and I have been writing about the business and then other random stuff. My goal for the blog is to drive more traffic to our company site and hopefully increase sales. I'd love to get your opinion on the content:

Mack Collier said...

"My goal for the blog is to drive more traffic to our company site and hopefully increase sales."

Aruni that is the goal of almost every company/business that starts blogging. And in almost case, it's exactly what you do NOT want to concentrate on.

Think of it this way; why are readers coming to your blog? Hint: It's not to help you increase sales.

What your goal should be for your blog is to create a vibrant community at your blog. You do this by tailoring the content and experience to appeal to your readers.

When you have that community, then the BYPRODUCT of that community, is increased sales.

If you go in with the mindset of 'how can we increase sales?', it's going to be an uphill battle. Because you are trying to satisfy YOUR needs first. Your readers (who are the people that you want to go to your site and buy your stuff) are wanting to satisfy THEIR wants and needs, not yours.

Everything associated with your blog should be aiming at creating content and an experience that your readers can find value in. If you can do this, the rest will take care of itself.

Mack Collier said...

BTW Aruni, if you can email me and I'll give you the links to some articles that should help you with growing BabbleSoft's blog.

Anonymous said...

Mack: I've had some of the same issues with this blog since it launched. My biggest issue is the first paragraph that appears front and center. This information should be reserved for a "About the Let It Out Blog" page, not where the posts should go. The posts are then below this paragraph.

Blog readers are conditioned to look for information a certain way on a blog – and this adds another "what the?" to the experience. One that's entirely avoidable.

Thanks for following up!

Anonymous said...

Just a thought - as you fill out this series, it would be cool to consider adding a new category at right, like your Top 25 list.

Mack Collier said...

Pete I did create a separate tab for the 'Company Blog Checkup' at the top center of the blog's header. If you click on that, you'll see a listing of all the entries in the series thus far.

CB Whittemore said...

Mack, I'm really enjoying this series [and the comments].

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mack. I will email you. My issue is I'm still not sure "why my readers are coming to my blog"


Mack Collier said...

CB, so am I! I knew you guys would step up to the plate and leave great feedback in the comments that makes the series so much better.

Mack Collier said...

Aruni, do you have a stats program such as Google Analytics or SiteMeter to measure your blog's traffic? If you do, you can use these programs to track your referrals, which will show you how visitors are arriving at your blog. From that, you can tell a great deal about how visitors are arriving at your blog.

For example, I noticed this morning that I was getting an unusually high number of referrals from some of my posts on Daily Fix, one in particular. I emailed Ann to ask her about it, and she said that the DF newsletter had gone out this morning, with a link to one of my posts in it. So that explained the influx of referrals.

Something else is, pay close attention to the posts that get comments on your blog. What was your topic? If you notice that your readers seem to be responding better to your addressing a particular topic, then that's their way of telling you that you're hitting on a topic that they want to discuss!

My advice is to keep a close eye on your referrals, as well as what your readers are commenting on. What advice do the rest of you have for figuring out how readers are arriving at your blog?

Anonymous said...

Mack - I use wordpress stats for my blog and google analytics for our company/application sites.

I can see links coming in from places I've posted and any press links.

I feel that I'm still sort of in the discovery phase of what my blog will be.

I have commented on several blogs (and received responses in their blogs) but none of them have commented on mine yet and that may be because they don't have time or maybe they don't find anything they want to comment on.

I guess I'll just have to keep experimenting with posts and see what happens!

Thanks for the links...

Mack Collier said...

"My biggest issue is the first paragraph that appears front and center. This information should be reserved for a "About the Let It Out Blog" page, not where the posts should go. The posts are then below this paragraph.

Blog readers are conditioned to look for information a certain way on a blog – and this adds another "what the?" to the experience. One that's entirely avoidable."

I'm going to technically agree with you Mark, though I'm not sure I think it's as big a problem as you do. But I will agree that it would be an improvement to move it to a separate 'About this blog' page.