Continuing the discussion of business blogs (b-blogs), today I’ll provide concrete information on how to get your own b-blog going.
First, some thoughts as to where your b-blog fits into your overall e-newsletter strategy:
- Complimentary. A b-blog is not intended to replace your newsletter. Its purpose is to extend and complement an e-newsletter strategy, serving customers and prospects in a way that extends your expertise and leadership in the marketplace.
- Timely. Because today’s business world doesn’t operate in the highly controlled, scheduled way a newsletter does, there are times (perhaps daily) when you would like to communicate a development to the same audience that receives your newsletter, whether customers and prospects, partners, or even employees. It could be a new client win, news from salespeople, or an enhancement to employee benefits. You want to get the information out now, not three weeks from now when your next newsletter is published. B-blogs offer this capability. They can bridge the time gap of your regular newsletters.
- Informative. A b-blog is not a place for carefully crafted corporate speak nor a place to rant and rave. It’s a place to inform. A b-blog communication is four or five sentences of direct, informative content about a specific issue or bit of news. Think of b-blog content as marketing to inform and educate.
- Flowing. Unlike a newsletter, which is often highly structured, a blog is ongoing. The flow of communication builds a knowledge-sharing platform among a community of like-minded people. Soon, an extensive base of information will develop that becomes important not only to your company but also to the faithful readers who contribute to it.
- Archivable. B-blogs extend the concept of FAQs. They can serve the same purpose, but better. B-blogs can be automatically archived by age in days, weeks, or months. And they’re searchable, allowing readers to easily retrieve the information they need, when they need it.
The “How-To” Part
With a good sense of where you want to end up, how do you get there? A few initial steps you can take:
- Create a plan. Like all good communication vehicles, you want to establish goals and objectives. Define your audience, what its needs are, and how best to meet those needs.
- Identify the editor. Find someone who can step into the role of pundit, who’s willing to be the host. Keep in mind that over time, your b-blog will develop a personality. Look for a thought leader who’s just waiting to be unleashed and empowered.
- Find the right tools. Regardless of topic, I’m always asked about the tools needed to accomplish the task at hand. I recommend a thorough search of what’s available and what’s right for you. Search wisely — there are great new tools announced every day. To get started, read this funny (yet somewhat old) tutorial on blog tools.
- Develop standards. Because of b-blogs’ free-flowing nature, establishing ground rules for your publishers is important. Include confidentiality policies, product disclosure guidelines, and basic suggestions as to what’s politically correct (and what’s not).
- Facilitate discussion. Before you officially launch your b-blog, plan topics that will start the initial discussion. Your readers may be shy about being first to share, so ensure the publisher is prepared to post information as needed to get an exchange going. You’ll want to include an easy way for readers to respond to the content on your b-blog.
- Drive traffic. Use your newsletter to announce and promote the b-blog. Offer to email it to subscribers or provide the option, through an icon or link, to visit the b-blog directly.
- Analyze. Blog functionality should have the same analytical capabilities as a newsletter. So as with your newsletter, make sure you know who reads what, when, and where.
- Monitor appropriately. You’ll want to periodically check in on discussions and see if they flow the way you anticipated and if they meet your goals. If not, as with a newsletter strategy, you may need to refine your approach, depending on the feedback and analysis you receive.
These steps should get you started. Don’t hesitate to fire off any question you might have on the topic.
PS: I’ll chair a two-day ClickZ conference on b-blogs in Boston this June. My hope is the seminar will be an industry forum that brings together blogging experts and business professionals to exchange ideas, strategies, and blogging stories. We’ll emphasize topics dealing with secure blogging solutions designed specifically for all types of businesses and enterprises. It will approach blogging on several levels with both a real-world business and technical focus. If you’re interested in participating or attending the seminar, please email me.
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