Thursday, August 21, 2008

Company Blog Checkup: Graco

Graco is a company that makes a wide variety of products for infants and toddlers, and late last year, they launched a company blog. Let's see what it looks like.

First, the blog has a very nice About section right at the top. This helps explain the purpose of the blog to readers, as well as gives them a roadmap of what they can expect from the blog. This is always a nice touch.

As always with a company blog's content, there's two ways you can go. You can focus on the company and its products/services, or you can focus on broader content that's relevant to the customers. Graco does this by focusing its blog's content on parenthood. Nice touch because it's a very 'hands-off' way to promote Graco's products and how they relate to parents taking care of their infants and toddlers. Perfect example is this post where one of the bloggers relates her decision-process when deciding to send her child to daycare, a scenario that no doubt many of the blog's readers can relate to. The post really doesn't directly promote Graco or its products, but what is DOES do is help the readers more easily connect with the blogger, because they can sympathize with their situation. Remember, don't focus on the tools, focus on the connections that the tools help facilitate.

The content for Graco's blog is solid, so let's take a gander at the comments. In many cases, the activity in the comments section of a company blog is greatly dependent on how the blog positions its content. The content leads to the comments, and in this case, we see that most posts on the Graco blog have comments. And in most cases, the Graco bloggers are doing a fine job of responding. This is another important area to remember; readers that comment WANT you to reply. They want to know that someone is going to pay attention to their feedback, and add their own. The Graco bloggers do a nice job of commenting and referring to the reader's by name. Very nice.

Now let's move to the posting schedule. The blog seems to follow a strict schedule of one post a day, every weekday. Love it. Honestly, a post a day during the week is really all you need from a company blog. Sure, there might be breaking news or such that warrants multiple posts in one day, but if a company blog has 5 new posts a week, one each weekday, that's all you can ask for.

Finally, let's tackle the sidebars. As anyone that has read this series knows, I am huge on a company blog having pics of its writers on the blog, and at least a link to their bios. Graco has this information, but it's buried on their About page. There you see links to a bio and pic for each blogger. Good stuff, but it's put in a place where it's difficult to find. The pics of the bloggers need to be on the sidebar, and have it set up so there's a link to their bio, when you click on their name. That's a very simple fix to make, and given how well the bloggers interact with readers in the comments section, the readers will appreciate 'seeing' who they are connecting with.

Besides the About section, the header also contains detailed information on the blog's comment policy, and a walkthrough for how readers can subscribe to the blog. Great stuff. Moving down, we see the greatest hits such as archives and categories. But there's also a very nice blogroll of NON-Graco blogs. And in reading some of the comments, I noticed that some of the commenters have their blogs on the Graco blogroll. Absolutely perfect. If your company is blogging and you aren't sure what blogs to add to your blogroll, start with the blogs that your readers and commenters write. This seems to be exactly what Graco has done.

Overall, the Graco Blog is a very solid effort, with no serious weaknesses.

And now let's break down the scoring for the blog:

Content: 31 (Out of a possible 35) - Content is focused on parenting, which is the perfect positioning for this blog. Love the Weds posts about customers/employees.

Comments: 28 (Out of a possible 35) - Most posts have comments, and the writers do a good job of replying to comments that readers leave.

Posting Schedule: 14 (Out of a possible 15) - Very nice. Almost a perfect schedule of one new post, every weekday.

Sidebars: 10 (Out of a possible 15) - Still need the writers' pics/bios on the front page of the blog.

Total Score: 83 (Out of a possible 100)

An excellent score that makes the Graco Blog the #5 blog among the Top 10 highest scoring blogs ever reviewed in the Company Blog Checkup series! Congrats!

If anyone from Graco wants to discuss this Company Blog Checkup with me, feel free to leave a comment here, or email me. If your a company 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.

Next week I'll profile another blogging company, and if anyone can think of a company blog that they want me to do a checkup on, feel free to email me! For a list of all the blog that have been profiled so far in the Company Blog Checkup series, click here.


Frank Conrad Martin said...

Fantastic learning here, Mack. You very clearly go through the check-up and show what Graco has done, how the blog measures up, and how the company could make it a little better.

Almost a short course on blogging! Well done.

Anonymous said...

Wow Mack, I'm so pleased with your check-up! Not only do I love the score, but your break down is actual incredibly helpful for us to know we are headed in the "right" direction. Sometimes a little affirmation goes a long way (upward too, if you know what I mean!)

Thank you so much for stopping by the blog and taking the time to do such a thorough review. Your feedback is fantastic and surely we will be putting your thoughts into action.

Mack Collier said...

Frank thanks for the kind words!

Lindsay thanks for stopping by! One thing I would suggest (and this is a pet peeve of mine), would be to please put pics of the bloggers on the frontpage, with a link to their bios. I see this information is linked to from the About page, but it needs to be on the frontpage. If the pics had been on the frontpage of the blog, I would have bumped the score up probably 4 points just for that.

Otherwise, Graco's Blog is VERY solid, as the score indicates! You and the other bloggers can be very proud of your efforts!

Anonymous said...

Mack- I am excited to tell you that we have added bio pictures to the front page of the blog. We are actually relaunching the blog (along with a new brand aesthetic) by the end of the year so we will be able to do this in a more sophisticated manner but thought you'd like to see our "interim" solution (hint: Gravatars!) No linking to bios yet but we're all about Baby Steps at Graco :)

Thanks again for your suggestions. I'd love for you to take a look at the new blog when we launch- your feedback has been so helpful in many ways.

Cara 4 Graco said...

Thanks for your assessment of the Graco blog! I've been using Graco products for years with my kids and am glad that they started a blog to deal with parents issues! Thanks for the review!