A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about Why Your Company Should Have a Blog. In the comments of that post, we had an interesting discussion about some of the communication issues that can result when you have employees blogging. I decided to elaborate a bit and turn it into a full post about how to minimize communication issues on corporate blogs.
We’ve talked about many different uses for Yahoo Pipes in previous 2 minute Yahoo Pipes demos, but you can also use most existing Yahoo Pipes within other pipes. In this demo, we’ll use a couple of pipes I’ve previously created as the input into a new Yahoo Pipe, and we’ll introduce the union operator as a way to pull several inputs together.
- The Demo Pipe. A copy of the Pipes within Pipes demo pipe click “View Source” to see the modules.
- Union Module. Pull several inputs together into a single output.
- Unique Module. Use this to prevent duplicate results when multiple search queries might return the same results by filtering on item.link.
- Sort Module. Sort by date in descending order to make sure things are sorted in a logical manner.
- Pipe Output. The final module in every Yahoo Pipe.
Related Fast Wonder Blog posts
Here is this week’s summary of links to my posts appearing on other blogs:
Portland Data Plumbing User Group (pdpug)
If you want a feed of all of my blog posts across multiple sites, you can also subscribe to my über feed.
Yahoo Pipes can also be used with other services, like PostRank, for example. PostRank, originally called AideRSS, is a service that rates the posts on any blog by popularity using comments, links, bookmarks, tweets, and other measurements to give each post a rank from 1 – 10. Luckily for us, PostRank conveniently stores the rank right in the RSS feed allowing us to access it from Yahoo Pipes. In our last Yahoo Pipes demo, I showed you how to Modify RSS Feeds to work better for your purposes. I recommend watching the 2 minute demo about modifying RSS feeds if you haven’t already, since we will use those concepts again in this pipe.
- The Demo Pipe. A copy of the Using PostRank demo pipe – click “View Source” to see the modules.
- PostRank. Using the 2 feeds that we’ve been using for most of these demos, ReadWriteWeb and GigaOM, we analyze each of them using PostRank, filter by the best posts, and copy the RSS feed for the output.
- Fetch Feed. Fetches the elements from 2 PostRank feeds for ReadWriteWeb and GigaOM from the previous step.
- Sort Module. Sort by PostRank in descending order to keep the posts with the highest rank at the top.
- Loop module with String Builder Module. Loops through each element in the feed and builds a string with item.postrank:postrank: item.title. This string is assigned back into item.title.
- Pipe Output. The final module in every Yahoo Pipe.
Related Fast Wonder Blog posts
I recently started a weekly summary with links to my posts appearing on other blogs. Here is this week’s update:
Legion of Tech
In case you missed it, here is last week’s edition of Blogging Elsewhere.
Are you planning to attend SXSW Interactive or considering attending?
I was just talking to Hugh Forrest, SXSW Interactive Event Director, and he told me that they are organizing a meetup here in Portland on January 19th. I can say without hesitation that SXSW is my favorite event (outside of Portland). It is also affectionately known as spring break for geeks due to the large number of parties every evening, and the sessions never start before 10am to accommodate our late night partying. The Austin BarCamp also runs in parallel to SXSW at a nearby location, so many of us hit BarCamp along with the main event. In other words, it’s a great event. You should join us at the meetup if you want to learn more:
Fez Ballroom: 316 SW 11th
Here’s the catch: If you want to attend, you must RSVP to email@example.com. Please be sure to put Portland in the subject line of the email (they are doing a few of these in various cities).
This will give you an opportunity to learn more about SXSW from the people who organize it. If you’ve never attended or were on the fence about attending, it’s a great opportunity to learn more. For those of us who already love SXSW, it gives us an opportunity to get to know some other Portland people who plan to attend.
On another note, a few of us plan to use Shizzow to keep up with each other at the event and find the best sessions, parties, lunches, etc. If you don’t already have an invite and would like one, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll hook you up with one.
Tons of Portland people attend SXSW, and I strongly encourage you to think about going. It’s in Austin (the cool part of Texas), really smart people attend, there are great parties, and the sessions are amazing.
While doing some research for a consumer products client over the holidays, I was surprised to discover that almost half of this company’s competitors, distributors, and other related companies did not have any type of corporate blog presence. Since most of my clients are technology companies, I sometimes forget that companies in other industries aren’t as focused on social media technologies and blogs.
The research shows that more people are reading blogs, those people expect your company to have a social media presence, and blogs influence their purchasing decisions. Those sound like very compelling reasons for companies to start blogging or to improve their existing blog!
Sixty percent of Americans use social media, and of those, 59 percent interact with companies on social media Web sites. One in four interacts more than once per week.
According to the survey, 93 percent of social media users believe a company should have a presence in social media, while an overwhelming 85 percent believe a company should not only be present but also interact with its consumers via social media. In fact, 56 percent of users feel both a stronger connection with and better served by companies when they can interact with them in a social media environment.
“The news here is that Americans are eager to deepen their brand relationships through social media,” explains Mike Hollywood, director of new media for Cone, “it isn’t an intrusion into their lives, but rather a welcome channel for discussion.” (Quoted from Cone: September 25, 2008)
One in three online Americans now read blogs at least once a month, while 18% comment on them. Blog readers as a group grew by nearly 50% over this past year. (Quoted from Forrester Research: October 20, 2008)
Blogs influence purchases: One half (50 percent) of blog readers say they find blogs useful for purchase information.
According to the study, blogs factor in to critical stages of the purchase process, weighing most heavily at the actual moment of a purchase decision. When it comes to respondents who said they have trusted blog content for purchase decisions in the past, over half (52 percent) say blogs played a role in the critical moment they decided to move forward with a purchase. (Quoted from BuzzLogic: October 28, 2008)
Quick Summary: What This Means for Companies
For those of us who regularly consume information from blogs, we expect to be able to grab an RSS feed of your company’s blog to keep up with news and information relevant to your industry. The research above shows that the number of people who read blogs in growing, and these people expect you to have a blog. Not only are more people reading blogs, these blogs are influencing purchasing decisions, which is important for every company.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is probably one of the biggest advantages of having a corporate blog. Because blog content is updated frequently, blogs have some built-in search engine benefits. The blogging culture also encourages linking to other blogs, which can also improve your rankings in search results.
Thought Leadership. A great blog can position your company and key employees as thought leaders within the industry, which puts your company in a position of greater authority within your industry. The O’Reilly Radar blog is a great example of how O’Reilly employees and the company are seen as thought leaders, thus putting O’Reilly in a greater position of authority for books, events, and other products.
Should Every Company Have a Blog?
Yes and no. The benefits of blogging seem to be fairly clear; however, these benefits are only achieved when the blog is updated regularly with great content. Unfortunately, this can be a significant time commitment. For companies who are not willing to put in the time and effort, it is better not to have a blog than to have a blog that hasn’t been updated in months.
Here are a few things to think about:
- Can you commit to at least one post per week? (2-3 is better)
- Do you have people who have interesting things to say and with good writing skills?
- Is someone available to manage the process and make sure that the blog never gets neglected?
If the answer to any of the above questions is no, this might not be the right time for you to start a corporate blog.
If you are still on the fence, here are a few tricks to help overcome the above hurdles:
- Start a group blog with several authors to spread the load across more people. With 4 authors, each person could write one post a month to meet the minimum requirement of one post per week. A dozen authors writing 2 posts per month would give you content for a post each business day.
- Recruit bloggers from the lower ranks of the company who are smart and passionate about the industry. While the CEO might not have hours to spend blogging, someone further down the org chart might be able to carve out a little more time.
- Manage the blog process by having someone who already manages content for other purposes also pick up management of the blog. A community manager is a good choice for this if you have one.