Why Your Company Should Have a Blog

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!

The Research

Cone Finds that Americans Expect Companies to Have a Presence in Social Media: September 25, 2008

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)

Forrester Research: The Growth Of Social Technology Adoption on October 20, 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)

BuzzLogic: Blog Influence on Consumer Purchases Eclipses Social Networks on October 28, 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.

Additional Benefits

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.

Recommended Reading

17 thoughts on “Why Your Company Should Have a Blog”

  1. Good post but I really like how you aren’t demanding company’s to. It’s situational. Yes I agree more companies should have blogs and should be online. But it doesn’t work for everyone and every company. For example, my dad has a mom and pop plumbing supply company that doesn’t even have a website. Sure maybe establishing an online presence could help, but it’s not needed, and the effort in would not be there. Companies need to decide what tools will work for them to reach communications with their customers and users.

  2. Craig, I absolutely agree. A blog isn’t going to be worth the effort expended for many small businesses of the mom and pop variety. I was thinking more about large to mid-size corporations when I was writing the post.

    While most (if not all) large companies would benefit from having a great blog, they will only benefit if they commit the resources to make the blog really outstanding. If the company isn’t willing to invest the time and resources to create great blog content, they are better off not creating a blog that will just be neglected. Not having a blog at all looks better than having a blog where the most recent post is months old.

  3. I agree there is a lot to be gained by embracing the blogosphere. However, I do think it would be good to note the flipside of adopting blogs as part of a corporate culture and/or marketing strategy… there is a cloud that comes with that silver lining. 🙂 Maybe a future blog post (maybe I should even blog for once… what a concept).

    One issue Microsoft has run into: as blogs turn into more of an official voice with announcements coming through blogs instead of customary PR channels (press releases, etc), people can’t tell the difference between when someone is talking as an official mouthpiece of the company, or when they’re just stating their own opinion. One recent example is the release of an open source CMS app called Oxite. The team that built it had good intentions, but when they released it the community interpreted it as some sort of best practices guidance from MS about how to do a MVC-style web app on .NET, which it definitely is not (at least at this point).

  4. Jason,

    Sure, you have to bring up the hard questions 🙂

    It can get tricky when managing corporate communications for a company the size of Microsoft with many blogs and many people communicating with the outside world. It’s a bit easier when you have a single company blog with a fewer number of authors.

    In companies like Microsoft, with many blogs, it can help to educate people to clearly state whether something is opinion or official statement. When I worked at Intel, my intel.com blog and this blog had disclaimers at the top of the sidebar making it clear that the posts were my opinions and not official statements. It can also help to educate bloggers about including clarification within the text of certain types of posts. For example, a short paragraph about why the team released the open source CMS app along with a note about how it wasn’t the best example of how to do a MVC-style web app on .NET might have diffused your issue. We get so wrapped up in our work that we don’t always take the time to think about how what we do will be perceived by people outside of the company, but it can help to give bloggers a little training with things to think about.

    Yeah, I think I need to turn this answer into a blog post. I don’t quite think I’ve answered it, but I don’t really want to write another post here in the comments 🙂

  5. Great post Dawn. Thank you for sharing.

    I like your advice about using mutiple authors. It spreads the “work” around and can create a more diverse (more interesting?) voice.

  6. Dawn:

    Nice post here. A couple of thoughts:

    1) You’re quite right that blogs aren’t necessarily right for all companies. Many (or most?), perhaps, but not all. Organizations really need to identify to the business goals first, and then choose the appropriate tools and technologies second. It shouldn’t happen the other way around.

    2) As for Jason’s thoughts, one way to approach blogging when there will be more than one online voice for the company is to develop a blogging policy or set of guidelines that employees need to follow. Here are IBM’s Social Computing Guidlines, for example: http://www.ibm.com/blogs/zz/en/guidelines.html

    I developed our guidelines at LiveWorld (IBM’s were a helpful guide!), and these are the highlights:

    * BE TRANSPARENT – Always give your actual name and company affiliation if you’re blogging or commenting on company business or our industry space
    * BE RESPECTFUL – No harassment of individuals or personal attacks.
    * BE SMART – Don’t reveal company secrets or proprietary information, and know that your comments/words *are* a reflection of the company.
    * BE YOURSELF – Let your personality shine through in your writing and commenting!

    Pretty straightforward and not too heavy-handed, we hope!

    Happy to share the full guidelines (it’s just a single page) with anyone who’d like them.

    Bryan | @BryanPerson

  7. Dawn:
    I counsel small businesses on a volunteer basis and am appalled at how many of them are technologically disadvantaged. So it is not surprising that once you get out of the high technology arena you’ll find less especially small businesses without website much less a blog. I think, as more and more from Gen X and Y start to run businesses, we’ll see a shift in the way businesses implement technology.

  8. Hey Dawn,

    Your blog seems pretty comprehensive and has given me some food for thought.

    Let me be very honest I am new to the blog sphere and am looking to implement blogs in my company also. But before pitching it to management there are few queries in my mind that are still unaddressed.

    How can an IT Services company get benefited from blog implementation, since what you mentioned looks more oriented towards a product or a B2C company than a services or B2B company? Do you have any stats that can support the relevance of Blogs in an IT services company?

    Can you or someone in community provide valuable inputs on this?


  9. Thanks for the great post Dawn! I am talking to my client about the reasons to have a blog and your article sums up the pros and cons quite nicely! Thank you!

  10. Hello Dawn,

    As a follow-up to Neha’s question, I am pretty much in the same situation of a B2C operation in the Natural Health Supplements business and I am looking for information , “stats to support the relevance of Blogs” in the particular domain of natural Health Products and Herbal Medicine.

    But also, what is the effort level required to maintain a presence through a Blog and/ or Twitter operations. Is there a ratio of Hours/Person per blog user intervention? This is crucial information particularly for small companies.

    Best regards

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