Thursday, April 30, 2009

Five reasons why your company blog sucks

You've been blogging for your company for a while now, but the effort is going nowhere. You have little traffic, and other than the time you replied to your own post, you've never gotten a single comment. You feel betrayed for buying into all the hype about blogging and social media and are convinced that it's all a buncha overblown crap.

Of course there's another option, that you simply have a crappy blog. Here's five signs that your company blog sucks:

1 - You use your blog as a billboard. Billboards are pretty and everyone loves Times Square. Your blog isn't in Times Square, so don't treat it as an 'in your face' promotional tool. Don't use your blog as a tool to promote yourself, use it as a tool to create value for your readers. Tap into the 'bigger idea' behind why your customers buy your products and want to interact with your company. Patagonia does a good job of this by having The Cleanest Line focus on environmental issues and activism, instead of their products.

And the payoff? If you position your blog properly as a tool to create value for your readers, then they will promote your blog to others. So your blog ultimately DOES become a promotional tool for your company, but not if you attempt to promote it directly. Go the indirect route.

2 - Your don't answer or encourage comments. Who needs comments when you have the right keywords targeted in your posts, right? Groan. The great thing about a blog is that it gives companies the ability to get feedback from their customers. Why wouldn't you do everything possible to encourage and promote this feedback from your customers? This is a great way to get insights into what your customers want from you and your products/services.

Encouraging and acting on comments from your blog's readers is also a great way to positively promote yourself among bloggers. This helps raise positive awareness of your blogging efforts, and that ultimately reflects well on your company. If you are having trouble deciding how your company should handle comments, the Air Force has created a wonderful flowchart that simplifies this process.

3 - You rarely have new posts up. What's your posting pattern? If it's 'whenever I get a chance', then you're in trouble. You have to 'train' your readers to let them know when you will have new content up on your blog. Write a set number of posts each week, and publish them on the same days. If you can only do 2 posts a week, try to run them on the same days, such as Tuesday and Thursday. That way, your readers will know that they should check your blog a couple of times a week to see your new posts. And yes, if someone subscribes to your blog this isn't an issue, but you can't assume that they will.

Get your posting on a pattern, and stick with it. If you can only post once a month, then make it the same day every month(and please try to post more than once a month).

4 - Your blog has little or no pictures, and is visually boring. We are visual creatures. We want to see bright and pretty pictures. And, believe it or not, we want to see what the people writing your blog look like. Trust me here, if we can see your picture, that makes it easier for your readers to connect with you, and ultimately trust you.

Look at HomeGoods' OpenHouse blog. Pictures everywhere. Of the bloggers, from customers, of the company's products. Visually, this is a gorgeous blog.

5 - Your blog creates little to no value for your readers. This usually ties back into point #1. Most blogs spend too much time promoting themselves, and not enough time creating valuable and relevant content for their readers. Always look at your blog and ask the question 'why would anyone give a damn about reading this?' If you can't immediately answer that question, then you have problems. Kodak doesn't blog about their cameras, they blog about helping you become a better photographer. Graco doesn't blog about their products for parents, they blog about parenthood. Think about the type of content people would want from your blog, think about what the 'bigger idea' is behind your products and services.

So there's some suggestions for making your company blog less sucky. If you want to see how the very best blogging companies are doing it, check out my list of the Top 10 Company Blogs.

Pic via Flickr user mynameispaul


Jason said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scanty said...

Great post Mack, and though I agree with everything those are some pretty hard sticking points. Especially if you are in the mindset of traditional marketing media.

And starting out it's near impossible to hit that steady post goal. You think it's easy knocking out a quick post or two, but until you really get into it you can constantly be suprised by what it takes to knock out a good post. Especially one that delivers a message, without reverting back to preaching about your services or products.

I think the last item is the most important (and the hardest to deliver). But if you can stick to it and deliver that value because you love what you are doing, then it's all the billboard you will ever need.

Anonymous said...

Blog posts have to be at fairly regular intervals.
About lots of visuals I don't disagree completely, but the choice of subject may restrict the blogger e.g. diabetes etc.

Shay West said...


As always, your post is awesome! Regularly scheduling posts is a requirement for a blog that attracts, engages, and ultimately retains subscribers. An editorial calendar keeps posts relevant and fresh.

Enjoy following you on twitter!

@ShayWest on Twitter

Unknown said...

Very helpful post. It's made me step back and look at the big picture of what I do and see how I can make my blog (still in development) relevant and interesting. Seems to me that a good mantra to keep in mind when composing posts is "My blog does not revolve around me. It revolves around my audience."

Lisa Gorham said...

Relevant material. Great job. Bloggers at large need to read this posting.

Graco Car Seat Buyer said...

This was a great post - I agree that a brand's blog and social media pages shouldn't be overly pushy - they should provide value to the reader. As a new parent, this is what I look for in content. I like that you mentioned Graco - before I bought any of their products, I followed their blog and social media sites and was glad to see they provided valuable content rather than just a sales push: so I ended up buying a Graco car seat and several other Graco products.