Last week I did an interview with Management Team magazine journalist John van Schagen about this BlogPodium and new marketing. The full article can be found here: http://www.mt.nl/93/19635/sales-marketing/schud-die-bescheidenheid-van-u-af.html. Below, an English translation.
Don’t be shy
Do you own or work for a successful company? Then there’s a good chance that you’re far too modest about it. Share those inspiring ideas, sky-high ambitions and big successes. How? It’s simple. Start a company blog!
The phenomenon of blogging has been around for more than ten years – long enough to be commonplace you’d think. Yet there are still only a few companies that actively engage the medium in their communications with customers and other stakeholders. Why is that? Probably because blogging takes time and does not immediately lead to sales results. It is also regarded as quite risky. Because blogging is an interactive two-way activity, the communication department is not always completely in control of the content. Still, blogs can be a great catalyst for promoting your brand.
Remove that shield!
Come on, don’t be too modest. Allow the outside world a glance behind the scenes of the fantastic company you work for. A corporate blog is sure to give you something extra. Jort Possel, Marketing & Communication Director at consultancy firm Accenture, realized this five years ago. In 2005, Accenture was one of the first companies in the Netherlands with a blogging platform on its website. “Our company is a people business,” explains Possel. “People don’t buy our services on the basis of a logo or a bit of text on a website. People buy from people. A corporate blog is a great way to remove the protective shield around your company and to bring customers, employees, journalists and other stakeholders or interested parties into contact with each other.”
And there are more advantages of a corporate blog. Many company websites are suffering from decreasing numbers of visitors, says Possel. They are static, boring and not updated often enough. What’s more, visitors who do take a look don’t stay very long.
In addition, new social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter have led to a growing need for real-time communication. We’re getting used to fast and direct communication. A website can’t do that, but a blog can.
Does this mean that every marketing and communication manager should get together with management and start a blog? “No, certainly not,” says Possel. “ Don’t do it because you want to be trendy. Not every company is ready for a blogging platform. What you hear a lot these days is that marketing departments are asking questions like ‘Shouldn’t we do something with Twitter?’ That’s approaching it from the wrong angle. Managers should ask themselves whether they’re prepared to offer real transparency. If not, and you’re planning to remove any critical posts, you can be sure you’ll get caught out.”
Another thing you need to be aware of when starting a blog is content. What is it you’re going to write about? You don’t want to bore your audience with endless and irrelevant company news items. So make sure you map out policy areas and topics that are interesting for customers and other people in your field, and then find the right employees who are willing to blog about them.
The leaders of your company could make ideal bloggers. At any rate, you need people who are enthusiastic and who have sufficient communicative skills. At Accenture, the bloggers are monitored every now and then by someone from the marketing and communication department. But there’s no question of censorship, says Possel. “You should see it rather as facilitating. One of our colleagues will check that all the details are correct and if we should perhaps add a picture. In five years, we’ve only had three cases where we removed reactions or changed something in a blog post. That clearly proves that managers can have a bit of trust in their own employees. Besides the fact that a blog post should be relevant, we impose only three conditions on our blogging colleagues: Don’t mention customer names, don’t use internal documents as source of information, and don’t use improper language. These conditions have never been an issue.”
The blog has not resulted in direct growth of turnover or extra visitors to the site. Yet Possel still sees clear advantages, especially – and this is quite remarkable – in the offline world. “What strikes me is that our senior executives who work directly with clients really notice the effect. Journalists, customers or prospects will send employees an email or talk to them at events about a certain idea they’ve posted on the blog. This leads to interesting new contacts. When it comes to brand awareness and brand knowledge, the blog has definitely been beneficial to us over the past five years.