Congratulations, your company has decided to start a blog and you’ve been appointed to guide it. What do you do?
Before you jump in and get someone in your web department to develop the site, take some time to think through the major strategic elements. This is a critical step to ensure your blog is in line with your brand and/or company. Here are nine planning steps to help you develop a blog that will meet your firm’s objectives.
Determine your blog’s business objectives
Your objectives have an impact on just about every aspect of the blog. Among the top business blog goals are to:
- Build the brand by providing content to support your offering. This information should engage prospective customers.
- Expand reach by offering prospective buyers solutions to their product needs though a variety of content forms such as checklists and how-to videos.
- Support sales by giving potential buyers useful information. The specifics depend on your products. It can be a 360-degree video to show clothing details and fit or a list of technology specifications.
- Position senior executive(s) by spotlighting their thought leadership. This can be important for firms that are strongly associated with their founders. It requires buy-in and commitment from executives to actively post.
Define target readers
Your readers should be in line with your blog’s goals. When describing potential readers, it’s a good idea to characterize them in terms of demographics, psychographics and past behaviors. Also, consider how this segment behaves on social media: are they people who create content, comment on content or just read content (aka lurk)?
Develop your blog’s voice
Since company blogs often include work from a group of contributors, it’s important to define various post attributes to ensure consistency across different writers. For instance, here are some characteristics I suggest bloggers consider:
- Have a personality
- Tell a story
- Be contextually relevant
- Sound like a real person
- Have a point of view
- Avoid sanitized corporate-speak.
Selecting your blog’s theme is part of this process since it drives how your content will be rendered.
Outline creative elements
Set guidelines around branding. How will you integrate your brand into your blog presentation? Include:
- Color scheme
- Post length
- Use of other media.
These factors should be in line with your overall branding and brand presentation since you want your blog to reinforce your message on other platforms.
Compile a list of regular features and columns
Decide what major content categories you want to include regularly, either weekly or every other week. Within these topics, develop specific columns and describe the focus. The aim here is to ensure your content is in line with your business goals and target reader’s needs. Think in terms of creating regular columns around frequent posts, topics or categories. As part of this process, determine how often you will post new columns to your blog because these elements will become the basis for your editorial calendar (see below). When selecting which features to include, decide on post frequency and how many bloggers you will need (or will have) since good content takes time to create.
Determine who will write the posts
Instead of assigning blogging as another to-do to staff members, ask for volunteers from across your organization. Get the HR department involved so that you can incorporate this work into people’s on-going jobs rather than making it yet another thing to do. Be sure to highlight how writing blog posts is career-enhancing and profile-building. Wherever possible, recognize participants’ contributions. Your goal is to make corporate blogging alluring.
Among the business areas to check for potential bloggers are: product, marketing/PR/communications, senior executives, buyers, creative department, customer service and/or volunteers. Bear in mind that employees may be reticent to write for a public audience. Assure potential bloggers that they will receive editorial assistance. Remember, once members of your staff are actively involved, it’s important to develop guidelines for social media participation to define what employees should and shouldn’t do.
Create an editorial function
Ensure the blog has one consistent voice and posts have been edited for basic grammar. An employee or an outside freelance editor can fill this position. An additional benefit is that this can help mitigate writers’ concerns about the quality of their posts. The blog should be written so that it sounds like real people talking, not corporate speak.
Develop your editorial calendar
Coordinate your regular features and columns with your on-going editorial calendar. The goal is to ensure that your blog is synchronized with your marketing, PR initiatives and other corporate communications. Where appropriate, incorporate a call-to-action and promotion code to your marketing. While not foolproof, this can help get some traction with monitoring your results.
Set metrics to assess blog contribution
Whatever you decide to measure should tie back to your goals for the blog. Among the salient metrics are visitors, time on site, where visitors go from your blog, and use of promotional codes. For example, if your blog aims to improve branding, it’s important to track improved brand sentiment and propensity to purchase. This CMI post offers some additional metrics to consider.
Bear in mind that corporate blogs differ in character from individual blogs. If you have difficulty with one or more of the above steps, it may be a sign that you need more than one blog. Multiple blogs can serve different needs such as a product-focused blog covering how to use your products and a thought leadership-focused blog written by one of your senior executives.
If you have any other suggestions, please add them in the comment section below.