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How to make a corporate blog that isn’t a corporate blog

Let’s face it. Everybody loves a good blog.

And because of that fact, more and more companies – large and small – are throwing their hat in the blogging ring. There’s just one small problem; many these corporate forays into blogging end up failing. The reason for this failure, simply put, is that most of these corporate blogs are, well, corporate.

In other words, it is nearly impossible for a human being to identify with them on a personal, emotional, or downright human level. Some will say that there’s no way around this, because corporate blogs are by there very nature more formal and less “bloggy” (is that a word?) than your typical blog. That’s simply not true, and I can prove it to you with an example:

http://outspokenmedia.com/blog/

If you’re in the online marketing space, there’s a good chance that you’ve read a post or two. In fact, some will say that this one of the more influential blogs in the space, particularly as it relates to small business marketing. But make no mistake about it; this is a corporate blog. It is the blog mouthpiece of an interactive marketing agency called Outspoken Media.This is a tangible company that actively tries to win new business clients, yet when you read their blog, that’s simply not top of mind because you’re too busy soaking in the expert insights and identifying with the authors on a human level.

And therein lies the secret to making a corporate blog that isn’t corporate. It must be a blog that can stand on its own merits and serve as an independent source of value to readers. In fact, I would go as far as to say that a really good corporate blog is able to completely obscure its relationship to the business entity that owns it.

Still not completely grasping what I’m getting at? Perhaps a few granular tips will drive this point home in a more concrete way:

  • Don’t overtly promote your own product(s) or service(s). Sure, you can mention your brand and what it offers once in a while, but only in a fashion that legitimately compliments the theme/topic of a particular blog post.
  • Do spend a lot of time brainstorming topics that are unique, insightful, original and remarkable in some way. Attention is a form of currency,so if your content doesn’t truly stand out, any and all other efforts will be rendered useless.
  • Do allow your employees to contribute (it helps further humanize your brand when folks other than the C-level executives chime in)
  • Do spend time identifying influential bloggers in your business niche, and then take the necessary steps to build rapport and engagement with them even if they are competitors in some sense (gasp!). If they have a strong following, they can be key to helping your blog get a strong following as well (and that is what usually leads to steady commenting and engagement that all blog creators crave)
  • Don’t give up too soon. It takes time to build a steady readership and commentary.
  • If you’re a big brand, work with your legal department to figure out where you can push the envelope. Legal restrictions are a reality at your level, but with a little effort and creativity, you can find spots that are funny, human, original, expert, etc. while still falling within the realm of legal acceptability.
  • Do leverage other, traditional marketing channels to build your readership. Mention your blog posts in your email messaging, include calls to action to read the blog within your core website, mention it in printed materials, etc.

P.S. Some of you might read this and say, why would I want a blog that isn’t geared towards making readers immediately think about converting into a paying customer? The answer is simple; not all marketing channels are geared towards immediate conversion. Some, like blogs (and other social mediums) are geared towards fostering trust and ushering consumers along a path, particularly when they are still very early in the consideration phase of a purchase decision.

Can a blog generate direct conversions? Absolutely. I’ve personally seen blog posts generate multiple five-figure (and one six-figure) agency clients. Still, they’re usually just one touch point on a multi-faceted conversion funnel (albeit a fairly powerful touch point) and are rarely the last one (e.g. a regular blog reader might end up inquiring after clicking on a paid search ad for your company or after reading an email newsletter that they’ve subscribed to as a result of reading your blog).

So if you’re going to bother creating one, do it the right (e.g. uncorporate) way. It will pay your company solid dividends in the long run. Oh, and did I mention the impact this approach can have on your company’s SEO efforts…

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