Is your company blog simply a tool – or do you treat it like an employee?
I started working when I was 14 years old. A dishwasher in a French restaurant. I think I made like $2.00 per hour and shared tips from the nicer waitresses.
My grandfather said I was overpaid. I didn’t understand that – so I worked harder. After a few short weeks, I got my first raise (four bits) and proudly told my grandpa about it.
He told me that everyone begins a job overvalued and underworked. It’s part of the learning process. In time, things even out. Eventually, the great workers are undervalued and overworked - and sometimes overlooked.
When you begin working with your company blog, it will be like training a new employee. You’ll be investing a good amount of time in:
- Finding your writing voice
- Commenting on other sites
- Searching for like-minded blogs
- Learning some of the tools of the blogosphere
Eventually, your blog will be running smooth and returning value in readership. It will help extend your company’s reach and voice. It will help you become findable in places you hadn’t expected.
But don’t neglect this employee (or any of them for that matter). Periodically, have a review. What kind of perks can you give your blog to assist them in doing their job?
- A new design
- Some widgets or navigation
- A mention in your collateral materials
- A company car (okay – maybe a bit much there)
Loving your employees will compel them to be better, loyal, contagious, enthusiastic… They will become an advocate for you and your company.
How about your blog? Tool or employee?
- 5 Ways to Treat Your Website Like an Employee and Reap the Rewards
I was talking with a conservative business owner recently about…well, you know what it was about.
He said he thought "we" needed to change the word BLOG to something else for it to really stick in business. I disagreed, the word is out there – let’s get over it and move ahead.
Now this guy isn’t just white-collar conservative, he’s tight-collar conservative. But he’s not alone, I hear this a lot. I think it’s a crutch. A lame reason not to…ahem…blog.
Another super-positive, salesy pro I see occasionally hates the term BLOG. Won’t even say it. Thinks it’s a bunch of jabberwocky. Loves the tool though, thinks it’s crantastic (a brilliant idea? – I dunno).
Frankly, I think we’re singing the same song from 10 years ago, just in a different tempo. Sort of like Eric Clapton’s Layla (both are classics if you ask me). Of course, maybe you think In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida is a classic, which makes sense (or does it?).
Someday we’ll be over the word BLOG and things will be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
I’ve noticed conversations around the blogosphere and offline about whether a company should start a blog. Here are three:
- Bruce Prokopets at SocialCaster shares his bottom line on a conversation between Mike Manuel and Jim Turner. Does it make sense for a local pizza company to blog?
- Carolyn Manning‘s recent comment here poses the question of whether its more beneficial to form a cooperative effort among like-minded businesses.
- An academic, overhearing a conversation I was having yesterday, asked why even have a blog when a website is less expensive and easier to modify (huh?)
Embracing these one-at-a-time:
- Let’s have Google answer the first point:
- Carolyn offers a great suggestion with the co-op, but we may think about that as an addition rather than a substitution. Is the co-op also co-branded? What becomes more findable, the co-op or the business?
- To reach a localized audience, you almost have to talk with a national audience.
- To reach a national audience, converse globally
- To answer my academic listener:
One solution is Merchant Circle, which provides a lot of tools for a small business to use – including the customer reviews that Mike Manuel talks about. And if you’re searching for a dog groomer in Delmar, DE…
Should all companies blog? Nope.
If a company wants to build valuable relationships, engage with their customers, extend their reach, become more findable and improve their bottom line in the process (and in this order) – they will probably find value in blogging.
Reverse the order above, and its probably best not to blog at this time.
Previously, we started pondering the purpose for the blog. With over 40 artists contributing to the Blue Frog Arts environment, everyone is chiming in with thoughts. While that brainstorm is forming, we can build out the blog a bit.
We log in to our TypePad account and find the Design area, which looks like this (for now):
From here, we can easily change the theme, layout and sidebar content. We begin by choosing Change Theme. We then find this screen:
Choosing Custom Theme, the page presents several options (each opens in a pop-up window).
We’re going to set up the blog 2-column, sidebar on right and set the page to be 700 pixels wide (500 px content area, 200 px sidebar area). On this site, we’re also going to begin with a blank canvas, if you will. No background color or images — yet.
Beginning with the General Page settings, we set the background color using either the palette or typing in the hex color. We’ll choose a white background for now, and change the colors of the hyperlinks. We also choose the pixel width of the page:
Saving the changes, we navigate back one page and then move on to the Page Banner:
For a banner, we took a few photos of the gallery. We’ll make a banner 670 pixels wide (allowing for the Typepad default of 15 px of padding) We save the image to our computer, check mark the box, "Use this banner instead of…" and upload the image.
Save changes, back one page, moving on to the Weblog Post and Sidebar Items settings. Have fun here, it’s mostly font types, sizes and colors:
When you’re done here, Save Changes
Republish your Weblog:
And let’s see what we have:
We’ll eventually move on to an Advanced Template, adding styles and implementing some SEO-type strategies (hyperlinked titles; keywords; description; customized footers) – but we’re still a few steps away from that.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we can measure blog efforts for our customers. I recall a thought shared last year by Mary Hodder on this subject, but did someone find a measurement?
I’d like to analyze the efforts of our customers using the following items in a weighted formula (listed randomly here):
- Number of posts
- Number of incoming comments
- Number of author’s comments elsewhere
- Technorati rank
- Alexa Rank
- Google Page Rank
- MyBlogLog community additions
- Outbound Links
- Outbound Clickthrough
- Incoming Referral Links from blogs
- Incoming Referral Links from search engines
- Feed Subscribers
- Feed Reach
- Feed Clickthrough
There are probably other items (del.icio.us history, digg/reddit/stumble/etc. links, what else?). Maybe we need a sabermetrician here.
If there’s a tool or conversation about this, let me know. If not, let’s start one.
you’re your web developer doesn’t blog, don’t them ask for a blogging solution. You may end up like that guy who bought a car from the horse salesman:
A guy goes to a horse and buggy lot to get a new buggy for his horse.
They started talking about the new craze going around, auto mobiles. More comfort, easier to handle. The salesman wasn’t too enthused about the whole thing. Thought it was a fad. The customer heard otherwise and was quite excited.
The salesman, wanting to keep up with today’s marketplace — not to mention keep the customer — said he could fix him up with one of these auto mobiles. After all, whatever the customer wants, right?
Before the customer left the lot, the salesman told him not to get his hopes up. Sometimes these fads just fade away. After all, even the salesman still used a buggy.
After the horse died, the customer went back to the salesman, who graciously agreed to build a new buggy for half-price. "I warned ya, but I take care of my customers."
I see a trend happening where web developers are building blogs into their customers web package – and I think that’s great. But equipping your customers with blog software is the begninning, not the end.
If you’re a web developer that doesn’t blog – either start blogging or collaborate with a blog consultant. The horse – and the relationship with your customer – will live longer.
Unlike a few other hotel blogs, they add value for their guests by offering tips on what’s going on in Kennebunkport – not just stuff about the Inn. And the blog isn’t simply a sidebar to their Internet presence – it’s highlighted right as you walk into their front page.
I was surprised to see Marriott property, Fairfield Inn & Suites in Chicago with a blog, though it could be more active and follow some of the examples above.
Part of the reason for my search is that the Blogroll page is about to change. As more businesses begin blogging, I’ll maintain a separate blogroll for those, using them as examples for clients and prospects.
If you know of any Hotel, Motel…Bed & Breakfast Inn blogs, please let me know.
This morning my wife and I were setting up her craft show table. It was interesting to watch how folks set up their displays, getting ready to open up to the marketplace. One of our neighbors, PaintingLizard, brought lots of cool stuff.
The vendors quickly become friends and create a community amongst themselves. Some are quite engaging, some a bit less – but there’s a common thread.
As the earliest visitors come by, the folks behind the table almost want to run over and give them a hug in excitement that someone stopped by.
Eventually, the place is packed. Friendships are made. Community is built. One lady walked by our table silently smiling. She came back a few minutes later with a few friends. Ah, the power of a seemingly silent community member.
Reminds me of the blogosphere.
Oh, the stories in this marketplace, behind these tables, behind your blogs.
See you at the next show?