Blogging is still not recognised as a tool for businesses in Ireland – outside of the tech sphere, I can’t think of a single company who are blogging.
Why should companies blog?
Blogging is advantageous for companies on many fronts:
- Blogs are extremely cheap to setup and run
- Search engines love blogs
- Blogs convey Authority
- Knowledge management
- Feedback – good and bad!
Blogs are extremely cheap to setup and run
If I am honest this is only partly true! In terms of the capital costs involved, they are negligible. WordPress, the blogging platform of preference for me is free so your only cost is hosting space on a server – the cost of this is generally less than â‚¬100 per annum including a domain name. However, you will need to budget spending at least an hour or two a week on your blog researching, writing postsand tweaking the blog. Any less than this and you might as well not be blogging. So, depending on whether you count this time as an expense, blogging can be extremely cheap. Remember if you are in a company with a number of people, this load can be shared and the expertise from a number of people can be exposed through the blog. DeCare Systems blog is a good example of this – they have 9 contributing authors (although there hasn’t been a new article posted these last two weeks!).
Search engines love blogs
Blogs punch waaaay beyond their weight when it comes to search engines – I have given entire presentations on this topic alone. There are many reasons for this – two of the main ones are 1) search engines love text – blogging, by definition, promotes the continual addition of text to a site and 2) search engines love links – blogging also promotes linkage. As any good blogger knows – you always link to your sources in your post – this adds to the post’s credibility and it means that you are more likely to receive links from other posters when they post. Blogrolls and blog aggregators also increase linkage and thus blogs’ search engine friendliness.
Blogs convey Authority
This one is a no-brainer! If you (or several authors in your company) are writing articles on a topic regularly, you quickly establish your blog as an authority on that area and with authority comes trust. The more niche the topic, the more easy it is to establish your blog as an authority in that arena. Obviously this only holds true as long as the content on the blog is interesting! Through authority and trust come referrals.
Blogs are an extremely effective knowledge management tool – particularly internal company blogs. Set up your service department with a blog and let them blog the resolutions to customer queries in the blog – these resolutions are then documented and easily findable by new customer service employees. Furthermore, blogs add another dimension to your knowledge management arsenal – they promote internal company communications. Blogs are easy to use so uptake of this new tool will be high and interaction will happen between employees who might never have interacted in the ‘real world’. An employee can post a query saying “we’re currently having this issue” and another employee on another floor/in another city/country may read that entry and respond with an answer.
Feedback – good and bad!
One of the most feared and underrated aspects of blogs is their ability to provide feedback to the blogger through the comments systems built into blogs. Feedback can be both positive or negative (“your product sucks…”) but this is a good thing. If you have a half-decent blog you will have built up a readership. If someone posts a comment saying your widget sucks, it is for one of two reasons 1) your product sucks or 2) your commenter is baiting you. If the issue is related to your product, you should be delighted to hear back that there is a problem with your product – this gives you the opportunity to respond to the issue, by fixing your product and by communicating this intent to the complainant. If it is simply someone baiting you, this will be obvious and is often handled for you by regular readers of the blog who have come to trust you.
Feedback can also be an incredibly useful tool in the product development cycle. You have to realise that your blog’s readers are collectively far more intelligent than you will ever be. You can use this by asking questions of your readership – “If we were to add this to our product, would you pay extra for it?”, “What are the extra features you would like to see in our product?” “What price point/feature mix would work best for our next release?” etc.
Of course, not all blogs are external, many companies run internal blogs and the feedback mechanism in an internal blog can often highlight issues within a company which you didn’t previously know exist.
Having a company blog demonstrates a willingness to be open – especially if the blog allows comments. It indicates a desire to interact in the most open of environments with customers, potential customers and critics.
There’s far more I could say on these topics but I figure there’s enough here to stimulate discussion!