There are many reasons why companies should Blog. It's a topic that has been written, discussed and disseminated to death. The net result has been that more and more companies are looking at the power of corporate Blogs, and how to integrate them. Here are the seven types of corporate Blogs that I think are most effective:
1. Industry Blog - nothing demonstrates your passion more than your ability to look at the industry you serve, provide insight, colour and information about it. More often than not, the standard thought is to Blog about your products and services. I'd would avoid that type of content like the plague, but insights into how the industry works and where it's going puts you on the same level as your Consumers and establishes you as a recognized authority.
2. Ideastorm Blog - both Dell and Starbucks have used a Blog to post ideas, get feedback and create an aura of collaborative thinking with their Consumers. It's a great way to get Consumer insights, and a powerful way to see if some of the ideas you're kicking around in the lab have any weight or interest by the general public. It's also a friendly way to illustrate corporate culture, and how your business develops ideas from ideation to creation.
3. Individual Blog - every company has a champion. Your goal is to find that champion and let them express it. It might be the person who was the Editor of their College paper, but who is now the EVP of Engineering, or the person who handles customer service and knows all of the the in's and out's of the company and industry. I'm frequently asked how to identify the right person to Blog for a company... it's usually not who you would suspect. These Blogs usually provide candid insights, humour and human interest stories. It's exactly how someone like Robert Scoble (who Blogged for Microsoft) was able to build up his own Personal Brand. Every company has a Robert Scoble of two - you just have to find them.
4. CEO Blog - these seem to be the first thing Marketer's look at when thinking about implementing corporate Blogs. Don't fall into this trap. Unless your CEO has the passion, desire, time and dedication to commit to frequently Blogging and to curate the comments, I'd avoid this at all costs. That being said, there are countless examples of brilliant CEO Blogs. People who love to write and share their insights. CEO Blogs are a tremendously powerful tool on many levels beyond the insights. From HR to Wall Street - having a CEO Blog builds ongoing loyalty, gets people to pay attention and creates a direct and human connection between the c-suite and Consumers.
5. Departmental Blogs - I often cite the developer teams at Microsoft for successfully curbing the "Microsoft is evil" line that the mass media was towing for many years. I believe that negativity has dissipated because certain departments within Microsoft have begun Blogging, sharing their insights and responding to detractors. If a company is big enough to have large departments, Departmental Blogs are an amazing way to collaborate, share, grow and learn. These can be multi-authored thus providing a multitude of perspectives from within one department.
6. Parody Blog - through companies like Apple are forced to deal with Blogs like Fake Steve Jobs, I take the Saturday Night Live approach to this: you have to be doing something right to get to the point where others are creating a parody of you. I know this is provocative. I also know it can be dangerous, but as long as you're filling your side of the funnel with real, authentic and insightful Blogging, having a couple of parody/fake Blogs out there only validates that you're important enough to be talked about. While I haven't seen many fake Blogs add much in terms of bottom-line results to a corporate P&L, I always think about that infamous line: "the only bad press is an obituary."
7. Customer Service Blog - the one type of corporate Blog that most Marketers try to avoid. They think of Dell Hell... or how the head of JetBlue apologized on YouTube. Customer Service Blogs should be the gateway to better products and services. They offer your Consumers a place to connect and get answers. Jackie Huba from Church of the Customer and co-author of the book, Citizen Marketers, says: "I see no reason for a company not to Blog... unless they're sleazy." Companies who avoid Customer Service Blogs have bigger problems than figuring out whether or not they should Blog. I believe that Customer Service Blogs done properly are the great equalizer and engager.