Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Company Blog Checkup: Fiskars

As I've said before, I salute companies that are bold enough to create a blog for their evangelists. Fiskars, a company that produces crafting, school, and home products, went a step further, and gave their crafting and scrapbooking evangelists a name; The Fiskateers. And then they gave them their own website, and blog.

I normally like to start with the content, but let's instead start with the first thing you see when you arrive at the Fiskateers' blog; its header. In this case, the header includes pictures of the four Fiskateers that write for the blog; Stephenie, May, Cheryl and Holly. Also, when you click on each picture, you are taken to a bio for that author, including some of their likes and dislikes, as well as their tastes in crafting and scrapbooking. The header is large but not overbearing. A very good start.

Now let's move to the content itself. The Fiskateers put the focus squarely on crafting and scrapbooking projects and ideas, which is perfect. And more than that, the authors spend time relating their experiences while creating their projects, which is another way to make it easier for readers to find value in the post, and a way to join the conversation. There is some promotion on the blog, but it is totally natural, as the authors will simply tell their readers about an exciting product or website they have found. Some of these products are from Fiskars, but many aren't.

The Fiskateers do an excellent job of posting regularly. In fact, the authors post almost everyday, and usually have 2-3 posts a day. This is another reason why letting evangelists write for your blog is a good move. Because evangelists, by definition, are passionate, and if you take people that are passionate about a subject, they are more than likely going to post more often about that subject. But I don't like the fact that The Fiskateers' blog is set up to truncate posts. What's even more confusing is that many of the posts are only a few sentences, and clearly don't need to be shortened, but are anyway.

Something else I noticed about the posts is that the blog occasionally features a 'guest' blogger, as it appears that The Fiskateers occasionally invite regular readers to post. Also, the authors hold frequent 'giveaways' for their readers, based on the stories they share, etc. Nothing major, but a great way to show readers that their feedback is appreciated, and the readers appear to love these contests.

Now let's move to comments. First, every post I saw had comments. And many had 20 or 30, even 50 or more comments. This is obviously a telltale sign of a blog that has a vibrant community. What IS confusing to me though, is that none of the authors appear to be replying to comments on the blog. If Stephenie, May, Cheryl or Holly read this, please give us some information on your policy toward comments. It could be that the authors are emailing readers instead of leaving comments.

Finally, let's look at the sidebar. If there's a weak spot to The Fiskateers' blog, this is probably it. The only links are to Fiskateers-related areas. There's nothing wrong with that, but there's plenty of room for craft and scrapbooking-related sites and blogs. I'm sure some of the many commenters have blogs that could be linked to from the sidebar. And there's no RSS options on the sidebar. I would add some buttons, and probably a section explaining exactly what RSS is. I will say that the blog is set up so there is a link to subscribe to each author's feed at the end of their post. Very nice touch.

Just reading the posts and the comments left on the blog tells you all you need to know about the blog's effectiveness. The readers that comment are obviously huge fans of the writers, and the content. There's an obvious connection between the writers and readers, and that's a big reason for the vibrant community that The Fiskateers are enjoying. The bottom line is that this is the best example I have ever seen of a blog written by evangelists, and in many ways one of the best examples of creating a vibrant online community. If your company is blogging or considering starting a blog, The Fiskateers blog is a great example of the type of excitement and community you should be striving to create.

And now for the scoring:

Content: 31 (Out of a possible 35) - Content is focused on scrapbooking and crafting, with minimal direct promotion of Fiskars' products.

Comments: 32 (Out of a possible 35) - Every post seems to get comments, many get dozens.

Posting Schedule: 15 (Out of a possible 15) - Averaging well over a post a day, with postless days being a rarity.

Sidebars: 11 (Out of a possible 15) - Absolutely in love with the writers having pics and links to excellent bios on the blog's header. There's also archives and categories in the header, but the siderbars themselves are a bit bare.

Total Score: 89 (Out of a possible 100)

If anyone from Fiskars or one of The Fiskateers 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 (even if it's your own company's blog), feel free to email me!

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Anonymous said...

One of the leads here- I know that I (and other leads) take time to personally respond via e-mail to any questions left in comments to my posts. In addition I frequently e-mail people who comment to continue conversations with them about experiences, etc. I've found that I've made some great friends and connected to fellow crafters this way on a very personal level.

Anonymous said...

This is Stephenie, Fiskateer #3... and, yes, we email people back instead of replying in the comment section. As May said, it leads to conversations on a one-to-one level.

Mack Collier said...

I love that you guys give yourself numbers! And thanks for clarifying Stephenie and May, I assumed you must be replying via email instead of comments. Good stuff.

anne simons said...

Hi Mack:

Great post and great insight on Fiskars. They do have a very loyal following, and as a user of the brand it's justified.

Love these blog checkups; I always learn so much.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for continuing to do the blog check ups. They're informative, help us all get better and spotlight those companies smart enough to jump into the blogging pool!


Pam Hoffman said...

Hey Mack!

Just FYI, Fiskars has recently done a makeover to the site and most of the leads have been changed out.

Our own Cheryl Waters #002 remains with the team. Cheryl has often sent me emails from her list and to me personally.

I've been watching Fiskars like you have too and learning. They sure do this with style.

I was in attendance at "The Spring Fling" where over 60 of us met at a local craft store (south Orange County, CA).

We did a 'make-n-take' with some wonderful products I'd never used before and there was food & drink.

They had games & encouraged folks to mingle.

The highlight were the elaborate gift baskets! I actually won a prize like that with about 5 or 6 of their products, most of which I'd never tried before.

The really interesting thing: I sat there wondering when I'd ever use them. In the following weeks (and in the present) I find myself getting those very tools to help me with what I'm doing.

I was flabbergasted! I was SURE I'd never use this or that thing and here I am, relying on them just about every time I pull out my craft stuff.

It might be worth a visit again to see if they have incorporated the things you mention in your post.

Thanks for writing it!

Pam Hoffman #3198