Tag Archives: blogging

Social Media: A Different Approach for Businesses

Jeremiah Owyang’s recent post about The Many Challenges of the Social Media Industry got me thinking about how social media requires a different approach from the way that many companies approach traditional marketing or customer engagement. Jeremiah’s post seems to be more targeted at companies whose main products and services are based on social media, but I’m going to take some of the ideas that he discusses and outline how they can be applied to companies using social media as part of their strategy for engaging with customers or communities or users.

Profits

Jeremiah talks about a current lack of profits where few bloggers have been able to generate significant revenues from their content. Companies (and even most individual bloggers) should not be focused on generating revenue directly from social media efforts. I always tell companies to think about social media as being in the early awareness portion of the marketing funnel (you know, the part way at the top far away from the bottom of the funnel where you generate leads and make sales.)

Blogging, community engagement and other social media efforts should support other efforts that generate revenue. For example, this blog generates $0 revenue for me; however, it has made a big difference in my career. I’ve been invited to speak on panels, been offered jobs, and had consulting gigs come my way as a result of the expertise demonstrated on this blog. In other words, I receive a substantial financial benefit indirectly related to my blogging efforts, while receiving no direct revenue from the blog. Companies can get similar benefits by using blogs and social media to get the word out about the company. While generating revenue won’t happen directly, it should be an indirect benefit.

Noise

Jeremiah also points out that “excessive noise drowns out signal“, which is an increasing problem for individuals and companies who create content. This is actually two separate, but related issues: first, how can you create content that rises above the noise; and second, how can you find what others are saying about you online.

Content creation. Too many companies and individuals have blogs that no one would want to read. Company blogs are often little more than press releases and marketing fluff (see my “Are Corporate Blogs a Joke” post for more details), and many individual blogs have mostly regurgitated content with little original thought and analysis. The outstanding blogs (corporate or individual) focus on thought leadership with interesting original ideas and deep analysis of industry trends. The posts focused on interesting original content will get linked to more often and will show up more prominently in search results; therefore, rising above the noise.

Monitoring discussions. You also want to be able to monitor and respond quickly to what others are saying about you, your brand, your content, your competitors, your industry and more. You can buy expensive software to monitor all of this, or you set up a few Yahoo Pipes with RSS feeds to track what people are saying. I go the Yahoo Pipes route with searches of Twitter, blogs, and other places to find where people are discussing the content that I create.

Brandjacking

As Jeremiah points out, “brands –and individuals– can easily be brandjacked as others take their user name, domains, and assert themselves as someone else.” The best thing you can do to minimize the threat of being brandjacked is to be already participating in the community. Monitoring is also critical (see above), but even with monitoring, it can take a while go through the process of getting the content removed even if you find it quickly. By participating and having an active presence on places like Twitter and Facebook, it will be easier for people to figure out which is your official presence and which is the fake one. When you don’t already participate, it will be easier for people to assume that a brandjacked presence is the real one. The recent Exxon Mobile Twitter account is just one example.

Marketing and Communities

Jeremiah makes an excellent point about how “marketers move in without community consideration“. I spend quite a bit of time thinking about how marketing should / should not participate in online communities, and there are important nuances that marketing should understand before engaging with online communities. I won’t elaborate in detail in this post, but I suggest that you look at my recent Online Communities and Marketing presentation for more information. This presentation offers some fairly comprehensive advice for how marketing can participate in online communities. It is also worth the time and effort to put employees (not just marketing) through at least a little training before you turn them loose on the community.

These are just a few of the examples from Jeremiah’s post, but I think that this post is long enough already. If I missed anything critical, please feel free to elaborate in the comments.

Related Fast Wonder blog posts:

Can We Bring BlogHer to Portland?

With rumors of OSCON moving to the Bay Area, it would be great to see BlogHer come to Portland! All you need to do to bring BlogHer to Portland is to vote!

Rick Turoczy lists a few great reasons on his Silicon Florist blog today:

I can’t think of any better spot than Portland.

Why?

1. Portland is home to a number of phenomenal women bloggers
2. Weather in July is pretty good
3. Portland’s a great city for hosting these kinds of events
4. Portland is home to a bunch of brilliant women bloggers
5. And we’ve got some really talented women bloggers here, too

I’ve cast my vote. How about you?

Social Media Policy: Does your company need one?

Maybe, maybe not.

I’ve been thinking about this topic for the past week or so. For some reason, it keeps coming up in conversation, and I keep running across discussions about blogging / social media policies while I’m reading about related topics.

Paul Dunay did a survey with a question about blogging policies and found that 63% of companies surveyed did not have a formal policy in place regarding employee blogs. As an aside, please notice that only 86 people responded to this question and his research does not include any demographic or research methodology data, so I would be cautious about using this data to make any significant decisions. With that said, it got me thinking about whether blogging policies were important or not. He also suggested in his analysis that it might be better to think of social media policies, rather than limiting it to blogging policies.

I also ran across one of Jeremiah Owyang’s posts about Social Media Policies from a couple of months ago where he suggests leveraging and building on the existing ethics policies while trusting employees to do the right thing.

In my experience, stringent rules and regulations encourage people to find ways to work around them. When companies come up with big lists of specific do’s and don’ts, too many employees use them as an excuse to skirt the rules (well, they didn’t say that I couldn’t do x, y, z). Broad guidelines based on good practices might be a better way to go. When I worked at Intel, we had frequent ethics training, and I remember an instructor saying that most things could be decided by thinking about the following 2 questions:

  • Would I want my mother to know that I did this?
  • Would I be embarrassed if I read about it on the front page of the Wall Street Journal?

As far as I am concerned, that just about covers it for me 🙂

It seems like quite a few companies go with a list of rules and regulations approach. While social media policies of the rules and regulations variety may not be the best way to encourage participation in social media sites, some social media guidelines for your employees might be a good start. The guidelines should cover blogging, podcasting, comments, Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites. I would keep the list of guidelines short and broad with a focus on helping employees participate in social media rather than restricting them to a list of “approved” activities. Again, this is not intended to be a list of rules and regulations.

Here are a few things you might want to include in your company’s social media guidelines for participation:

  • Be authentic, honest and conversational in your posts. Leave the marketing speak and press release format for other parts of the website.
  • Use good judgment about content and be careful not to include confidential information about your company, customers, or vendors.
  • Listen to people and respond to as many comments as possible with constructive feedback. Allow negative comments (delete the spam) – the key to managing comments is to respond rather than censor. Avoid getting defensive and ignore the trolls where appropriate.
  • When you talk about your company or competitors, do so under your real name making your alliance with your company clear (no company wants a repeat of the Whole Foods message board fiasco). If you are providing your opinion, it is also a good idea to make sure people know that you are giving your opinion.
  • Peer reviews, especially for lengthy or complicated posts, should be encouraged, but not required. It’s always nice to have someone double check grammar and technical details before it goes out to the world.
  • Personal blogs for employees should be encouraged. They are a great way to show the world that you hire smart, interesting people.

A few things that you might not want to include in your social media policy:

  • Lengthy approval processes for content. They not only stifle creativity and spontaneity, but they can also render many posts obsolete. Social media often requires quick, short responses to questions, trends, and issues. You want your employees to be involved in those discussions as they happen, not days or even hours later.
  • Restrictions about who is allowed to participate and who is not. Assuming that you hire great people, you should be able to provide employees with guidelines to participate and trust them to do the right thing. If someone isn’t playing nicely with others online, it should be addressed as part of a broader performance management plan with that specific employee.

I also have several other posts on similar topics about best practices for blogging and participating in social sites:

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, and it probably wouldn’t work for every company; however, I do think it provides an interesting starting point and approach for working with employees to help them participate in social media (rather than restricting them from participating).

What do you think is important to have in a corporate social media policy?

Are Corporate Blogs a Joke?

Yes and no. Many corporate blogs are neglected, dull, and unimaginative, but they don’t have to be like this.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

Many businesses have launched corporate blogs in an effort to better communicate with customers and capture a little Web-2.0 mojo. But Huffington Post they ain’t: Not only are these corporate blogs boring as paint, but the businesses behind admit they don’t have much value. (quoted from the WSJ Business Technology blog)

The WSJ article also refers to a Forrester report (I don’t have access to Forrester data):

Forrester found that most B2B blogs are “dull, drab, and don’t stimulate discussion.” Seventy percent stuck to business or technical topics, 74% rarely get comments, and 56% simply regurgitated press releases or other already-public news. Not surprisingly, 53% of B2B marketers say that blogging has marginal significance or is irrelevant to their strategies—the rest call it somewhat or highly significant–and the number of new corporate blogs among the companies Forrester tracks has dropped from 36 in 2006 to just three in 2008. (quoted from the WSJ Business Technology blog)

This doesn’t surprise me. I’ve seen many corporate blogs that were as dull as dirt: filled with press release content, marketing fluff, and old content. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Corporate blogs can be interesting and useful with a little focus and time devoted to it.

Here are a few tips to help turn your boring corporate blog into something successful

  • Have a person who is responsible for your blog (probably part of someone’s job). He or she will need to be responsible for driving (but not necessarily writing all of) the content for the blog. Nagging and writing will be a big part of this person’s job.
  • Create a content roadmap to map out the next 5-10 posts, identify an author for each post, and make sure that the author has everything needed to complete the post (data, etc.)
  • Diverge from the content roadmap frequently to allow for serendipitous blogging.
  • Monitor popular blogs, news sources, and events in your industry and respond to what others are saying. Join the conversation.
  • Focus on thought leadership. Blog about the things in your industry where your employees have expertise that can be shared with the world. Don’t just talk about your products; focus on your entire industry.
  • Talk about a variety of topics. Don’t get stuck in a rut where all of your posts have essentially the same or similar content.
  • Monitor and respond to comments on your blog. Also monitor what people are saying about you on other blogs, forums, Twitter, etc. and respond where appropriate.
  • Have fun. Don’t be so serious. You can include interesting things that are happening within your company that aren’t necessarily work related (photos from a company ski trip).

Examples

There are a few companies that do a good job of corporate blogging from a content perspective.

  • Vidoop. A wide variety of employees pitch in on the corporate blog (not just the execs) to talk about a wide variety of topics. You’ll find some very interesting perspectives and thoughts about their industry (OpenID, identity, etc.) mixed in with links to important industry news, interviews, new features, announcements, site maintenance, and more. One of the more interesting topics lately is a series describing their move from Tulsa, OK to Portland, OR.
  • Google. While this blog has a lot of posts that look like they could be press releases for new products, most of them don’t read like press releases. Google has a pretty good mix of product pieces along with general information (keeping kids safe online, fighting spam, etc.) and a few fun posts about activities that Googlers participate in.
  • Southwest. Along with announcements about when booking opens for the winter holiday flights, the Southwest blog talks about environmental concerns, awards, burgers, beer, and water balloons.
  • Zappos. This is probably one of the most fun corporate blogs I’ve seen in a while. They talk about the origin of French heels, running tips, history of the penny loafer, baby quail, rock band, Mexican food, and much more.

I have noticed that corporate blogs, even many of the good ones, tend to get fewer comments than other types of blogs, but I’m not sure that the number of comments is a good measure for the success of a corporate blog. I would be curious to hear in the comments whether others have noticed a similar trend. Does it matter how many comments you get on a corporate blog post?

With a little effort, you can have a successful corporate blog. It just takes focus, dedication and resources; however, the payoff in search engine optimization and thought leadership in your industry is well worth the time and effort to put together a great corporate blog.

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts

Just Launched: Portland is Awesome

Yay! I just launched a new blog, Portland is Awesome, to celebrate all that is wonderful about Portland. We have so many great technology blogs, and group blogs run by big media, but Portland has such an independent (non-corporate) culture. I wanted to create something independent and fun to cover all of those other Portland topics.

If you want to be an author, send me an email (geekygirldawn on gmail) with your desired username and a link to your existing blog. Assuming that your writing style is a good fit for Portland is Awesome, I will get your account set up and you can start contributing!

BlogHer Recap: Day Two

Here are a few nuggets of information that people have been talking about at BlogHer Business.

It is important to be a real person with a real personality when working with online communities. You have to be authentic, and in order to do that your personality has to come through and you become the face of the company for that community. You represent the company, but you also represent yourself, and it’s important to maintain your personal credibility.

People’s identities can get too wrapped up in their company, especially when it is a startup, to the point where their online identity is entirely based on their job at one company. What happens when they need to move on to the next thing? Will they be perceived as credible on their own merits?

Human part of blogging is that people will make mistakes. The biggest way to overcome an issue is to be transparent, honest, and admit mistakes. People will be more forgiving if you are transparent and honest. Allowing negative comments can also increase your credibility. People will say negative things about your product or your blog whether they say them on your site or their blogs. The way that you respond to the negative comments can help you rather than hurt. If you delete the negative comments, people will find out, and you (or your company) will look bad when people find out that you delete opinions that you don’t agree with. Delete the spam and discriminatory comments, but leave the objections as an opportunity to respond and engage in the conversation.

It is amazing how many senior managers at very large companies are not aware of what people are saying about their brands online on blogs and other sites. More people are becoming aware of what people are saying, but it doesn’t always make its way to the top.

Companies who want to blog need to either have time or money to dedicate to the effort. You need to have someone to manage the content, keep track of comments, respond to feedback, etc. Either you have to devote someone’s time to it or you need to pay someone to do it for you.

In social media, figure out success indicators & how you are going to measure them before you do anything. If you don’t, they can change the game on you halfway through. Focus only on a few basic metrics ~3 things. Pick the most important ones to measure success, especially in the beginning. Then start looking at other metrics to figure out where and how to improve.

It’s all about the content. Write really compelling content before worrying about stats, digg, whatever.

Yahoo’s new Shine site for women. Hugely unpopular with the women here. One panelist referred to it as like a car wreck on the side road that is terrible, but you can’t help but take a look on your way by. Women don’t want to feel like they are being targeted to as just women/

Print is being funded by dumb marketing dollars right now, and the move is shifting to searchable content online. Make it easy for people to find the information they are need quickly. Trend is also moving toward video. This doesn’t mean that you want to have everything as video. You want to have video as an option along with written content. This gives people a choice of how they want to receive the information: written or video.

Many others have been blogging about the event in much greater detail for anyone who wants more information.

BlogHer Recap: Day One

The agenda for the first day has been focused mostly on case studies with people who have been successful using blogs and other social media.

A few interesting takeaways:

  • The kick-off had a bunch of interesting data about women in blogging and social media. Many more details can be found in the presentation.
    • 36.2 million women actively participate in the blogsophere every week (15.1 publishing, 21.1 reading and commenting)?
    • More than half of women maintain the original blog they started
    • 24 percent of women surveyed say we watch less television because we’re blogging. 25 percent of us say we read fewer magazines because we’re blogging. 22 percent of us say we read fewer newspapers because we’re blogging
  • Find sponsors that *add* to your goals. For example, Manic Mommies got GM to sponsor the Mommy Escape by providing something useful for the attendees – transportation to and from various parts of the event. It was a way for GM to be involved without distracting the attendees with sales pitches.
  • Listening is so important. “Participate” in the community by watching and learning first. Once you understand the community and the audience, then you should start contributing in a way that helps to build the relationship. This is especially important in business conversations to avoid coming across as a jerk with a hard sales pitch.
  • Don’t send bloggers press releases and pitches – it is really easy for bloggers to delete those. If you have a relationship with them and you send them a personal email with information that is really useful for them – those are harder to ignore and much better received.

Corporate Blogging Tips

I recently wrote a fairly lengthy post about Social Media and Social Networking Best Practices for Business, which talked about corporate blogging. While I was writing it, I kept thinking of many more tips for creating successful corporate blogging strategies, but you can only fit so much into one post. I thought it would be good to do a follow-up post to elaborate on corporate blogging. I wrote a similar post, Corporate Blogging 101, in October of 2006, during my time at Intel, but many things have changed since then, so I thought that I would talk about it again now.

I think we are finally moving past the era where people thought of blogs as a consumer phenomenon, where discussions focused on kids, pets, weekend excursions, and other personal topics rather than serious corporate content. Now most companies are past the question of should we blog and on to the discussion of how to write more effective corporate blogs.

Guiding Principles

If you haven’t already read my Social Media and Social Networking Best Practices for Business post, you should take a short break now to go back and read it. Specifically, I covered these guiding principles, which apply not just to blogging, but to other forms of social media as well:

  • Be sincere
  • Focus on the individuals
  • Not all about you
  • Be part of the community
  • Everyone’s a peer

Each of these 5 guiding principles has already been described in detail in my other post, so I won’t spend much more time on them here, but they are important for corporate bloggers to keep in mind.

Strategy and Vision

Blogs are still just another piece of the corporate communications puzzle (although an increasingly important piece), so spending some quality time thinking about what you want to achieve with your overall communication strategy and how blogging fits into that strategy is a good place for companies to start. You don’t want to use your blog to just pimp your products or talk about press releases. A blog can be used for so much more. Think about the areas where you want to lead the industry and the topics that you want people to think about when they think of your company. Use your blog to become a thought leader in the industry by sharing your expertise on those broad topics that are important and relevant to your company.

Think about who should be blogging on your corporate blog. It is easy to pick your top 5 executives, and give them access to the blog. In some cases, they might be the perfect people, but they aren’t always the best choice when it comes to accomplishing your goals for the blog. Go back to your discussion about your strategy for the blog and the topics that you want people to think about when they think of your company or your products. Who in your company has expertise in those areas? Do you have someone with great ideas? Are there any evangelists or other employees passionate about those topics? If so, recruit those people to contribute to your blogs. Someone passionate and smart, but outside of the senior management ranks probably has more time to spend on the blog and might just come up with some innovative and interesting ideas.

You should also branch out a little into the realm of unofficial / personal blogs. Encourage your employees to have their own blogs where they talk about their areas of expertise. I frequently blog on various Jive blogs (Jivespace developer community blogs or our corporate Jive Talks blog), but I also blog here on Fast Wonder on various topics related to social media, online communities, and other technology topics. Having a personal blog has a number of benefits, including giving us an excuse to learn and research new ideas. Quite a few Jive employees have similar blogs, and I like to believe that some people think that we have interesting things to say, and Jive benefits from having smart people discussing their expertise outside of official work channels. There is also a caution to go along with this. You don’t want to create a personal blog that is too focused on your company. If all you talk about is your company and you cover all of the same topics as your official blog, it just looks forced and insincere. You need to branch out and cover additional topics; show that you are a real person and not just a corporate shill.

Making it Happen

After the initial excitement wears off, it is easy for companies to neglect the corporate blog. We just forget to blog, and before long, no one has posted in a month (or two or three …) In some companies this isn’t a problem. If you already have a bunch of prolific bloggers neglect may not be an issue, but for the rest of you, and you know who you are, it really helps to have someone “in charge” of the blog. This person isn’t responsible for writing all of the content, but they can responsible for herding and nagging in addition to making sure that some specific strategic topics are being addressed on the blog. Justin Kistner has recently been helping Jive by providing this service for us for Jive Talks (in addition to many other things), and I do this for our Jivespace developer blogs. The role is part strategist and part mother hen (it isn’t all that different from managing communities), so you have to find someone who can think strategically about your industry and the right topics while they follow up obsessively to make sure people are actually posting to the blog.

The Other Details

Blogroll. While the content of the posts is the most important part of the blog, do not neglect the other little details that can make a difference. Make sure your blog contains a blogroll linking to other bloggers you respect; not to have one is really bad form (refer back to the guidelines: Not all about you). Link to the people that you read, the other thought leaders in your industry, and other blogs that your employees write in your blogroll. This goes for your personal / unofficial blogs, too. All blogs should have one, and if you don’t want to put it in a sidebar, you can create a separate page devoted to your blogroll.

Sidebars. Spend some quality time thinking about your sidebars. Add items that make it easy for people to find older content on your blog: search, tag cloud, recent posts, popular posts, etc. Don’t forget to include links back to other key parts of your website including information about products, press releases or other news, and events where people can find you. Include some fun stuff in the sidebar, too (Flickr photos, twitter posts, etc.) Don’t let your sidebars get too cluttered, but do make sure that you include helpful, relevant, and interesting content in them.

Analytics. You will want to know how many people read your blog, and exactly what they are most interested in reading. Make sure that you install some kind of analytics package; for example, Google Analytics is free and easy to embed. This will tell you where your visitors came from and which posts they are reading. You can use this information to determine what people are most interested in. Don’t forget to also pay attention to your RSS feeds for those people seeing your content in RSS readers. Do not use your blogging tool’s default RSS feeds as your primary blog feeds. Always run them through a service that provides more information and statistics about who is reading your blog. Feedburner is a great (and free) tool to get more information about the people subscribing to your feeds.

Hopefully, these tips will help a few people make their corporate blogs even better. Keep in mind that you will make mistakes along the way. Learn from them, keep writing, and continue to make incremental improvements.

Corporate blogging is a complex topic, and there will never be one magic formula that applies to all companies. Based on my experience, these seem to be some of the most relevant tips, but I’ve probably missed a few things. What are your corporate blogging tips?

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

Starter Kit: Social Media and Social Networking Best Practices for Business

Recently, I’ve seen a number of companies struggling with how to get more savvy about social media and social networking, and a few have jumped in to participate, but not in a way that is productive. According to Jeremiah Owyang at Forrester, participating effectively in social media may be even more important in times of recession. In the spirit of helping companies get involved, I thought I would put together a small Starter Kit to help companies get off on the right foot.

Definitions:

I will start with a couple of definitions of what “I” mean by a few of these terms for the context of this article. You can find quite a few definitions of social media and social networking, most of them conflicting. As a result, these are not meant to be definitive industry definitions; they are simply guidelines and starting points to help people understand the basic concepts in the context of this post.

  • Social Networking: Connecting with a community of people in your network through services like Facebook and Twitter with various methods of online interaction.
  • Social Media: Online media like blogs, podcasts, videos, and news with a strong participatory element through comments, ratings, or other mechanisms. Social media is generated by the people and for the people with content created by anyone with a voice (average Joes, village idiots, respected journalists, CxOs, …) I will also include the above definition of social networking as a subset of the broader topic of social media throughout the rest of this post.

Guiding Principles:

I wanted to start with some basic guiding principles that should be used to guide social media participation particularly for companies. These should apply to participation in most online social media environments and social networks.

  • Be Sincere: Sincerity is a critical element; if you aren’t able to be sincere, then social media is probably not the best medium for you. Being sincere in your social communications will increase your credibility, and if you appear to be simply going through the motions, people are unlikely to waste their attention on your messages. Sincerity goes a long way toward believability and credibility.
  • Focus on the individuals: Participation in online communities and social media should be focused on the individuals, not the corporate entity. For example, it is OK to have group blogs for a company as long as posts are tied to individuals (real people), but you wouldn’t want to have a blog where every post is authored by “company name” or “admin”. People work at companies, but the real connections and networks happen between individuals. Show a little personality and little bit of who you are from a personal standpoint.
  • Not all about you: Socia media is a conversation, which is by definition two-way. In other words, it isn’t all about you, your company, your products or your agenda. Participation involves listening and participating in the broader community of people. Don’t just expect people to help you; jump in and help other people in areas where you have some expertise. If all you do is pimp your products without adding to the broader conversation, people will lose interest in you pretty quickly.
  • Be a Part of the Community: Just talking at people isn’t going to cut it in this new social world where the community is critical. You should be a part of the broader community of people with similar interests both online and offline by participating in, but not trying to control the community. Engaging in conversations and when possible actually meeting those people who comment on your content, follow you on Twitter, or friend you on Facebook can go a long way toward making real, lasting connections with people. Attend local meetups, comment on content from people who read your content, engage in online discussion forums, and engage in other places where you can find people from your community of peers.
  • Everyone’s a Peer: The days of expert speakers who talk at us while we passively absorb the information with little or no opportunity for discussion are gradually disappearing. This is the old media model: unreachable experts are on TV, the radio, and in print. Now, anyone can publish video, audio podcasts, and online writing while commenting on the content produced by others. Granted, not all of it will be professional quality; however, with an open mind, I think you might be surprised at all of the opportunities to learn from others. We each come into a discussion with unique and diverse ideas, and we learn by listening and sharing ideas with our peers aka everyone.

Participate

You don’t need to participate in everything, especially to start. As a matter of fact, I would discourage participating in too many at once. Jump in with one idea to start, try it for a while, learn and build on it. I would recommend starting with Twitter or blogging. After you get a feel for what works and what doesn’t for you, pick and choose a few more that make sense for you.

  • Blogging: I recommend having both a personal blog and a company blog. I tend to like company group blogs, especially for small companies, where several people from the company regularly blog about various topics related to the company. The key is not to use your corporate blog only to pimp your products or for press releases. You should be talking about your industry and sharing your thoughts on the broader market as a whole in addition to talking about your products. Become a thought leader in your industry through your blog. Likewise, your personal blog shouldn’t be all about your company. It’s fine to talk about your company (the reality is that we spend most of our waking hours at work); however, this is your personal blog. Branch out a little. Talk about your other passions, especially the ones tangentially related to your work. Make sure your blog contains a blogroll linking to other bloggers you respect; not to have one is really bad form (see the above section: Not all about You). You might also be interested in reading a (slightly dated) Corporate Blogging 101 post that I wrote when I was at Intel.
  • Audio and Video Podcasting: Podcasting is a great way to distribute content that doesn’t fit as well into written form. Audio podcasts are really good for interviews to talk to other experts or to record interesting discussions that happen as part of conference panels. I occasionally do Fast Wonder podcasts as interviews with interesting people doing cool things in communities or as recordings of round table discussions. Video is great for demonstrations or presentations where you want to show people something. Screencasts with voice-overs work particularly well, especially for technical topics or marketing videos. I work with our developers to do screencasts fairly regularly for our Jivespace Developer Community.
  • Twitter: Twitter is a way to send short format (140 characters) messages to a bunch of people while also reading messages from others. People have mixed reactions to Twitter, but I think that Twitter is only as interesting as the people you follow. If you follow people with interesting things to say, you will probably get more out of the experience. Talk about interesting things (personal and professional), engage in conversations, interact with other people, follow friends and industry luminaries, and have some fun with it. Feel free to talk about your products, link to your blog posts, and talk about what you are working on, but if all you do is pimp your stuff, people are unlikely to follow your posts (again, it is not all about you). Read more about the Beauty of Twitter.
  • Facebook: You may be noticing a trend here, but I think your Facebook “presence”should be focused on individuals: people within your company, especially your executives, sharing information. Like with Twitter, people should create accounts and share some personal information along with the corporate information. If you want to have a “corporate presence” on Facebook, do it as a group that people can join or a page where people can be a “fan of” your company, not a company profile masquerading as a person.
  • More: The four ways to participate listed above are what I would consider the basics right now. However, there are many, many more ways to engage with your community: Second Life, discussion boards / community sites, Ning, Flickr, meetups and events, MySpace, Bebo, and more. In short, go to those places that make sense for your company. If the industry thought leaders in your market are participating in a social networking site, it is likely that you should also be engaging in conversations there.

As I said earlier, you don’t necessarily need to do everything. Use your best judgment and participate in ways that make sense for your company.

I think this post is just a starting point. I would love to have your feedback on what you think about it. If people are interested, I might want to put more detail behind it and turn it into a longer article.

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

Finally, A Fast Wonder Redesign

Ahhhh, I have finally finished my redesign of Fast Wonder. Same logo, but with a different look and feel.

Have a look, let me know what you think, and be sure to let me know if you see anything wonky.

Special thanks to:

  • Todd Kenefsky for sitting through many rounds of eye exam type feedback of the “which is better: this or that” variety as I tested various colors, sizes, and shapes.
  • Justin Kistner for convincing me that K2 rocks, providing various bits of advice, and letting me steal his rounded corner graphic 🙂

As a part of the redesign, I’ve also obsoleted fastwonder.com for major pages and moved them into WordPress to make template changes easier. I still use that site for presentations, data files, or other stuff not requiring stylesheets. The what I’m reading and about Fast Wonder pages fall into this category.