Technorati teaches us that we are close to 60 million bloggers. Not bad, for an informal online communication tool. Horizontal influencing, community building, online diaries, interactive forums. Cool. Everyone seems to be euphoric on the many virtues of using blogs for reaching out to the online community, but last time I checked, there were not a lot of corporate bloggers around. Where are the corporate or business blogs in this quickly expanding Web 2.0 environment?
Sure, there are still some carefully phrased doubts about the legal status of a blog, a blogger, and respective liabilities. Can a blog be seen as a news medium, and is there advanced protection on freedom of speech? What are the legal entity, personality, framework and rules? But also, it is my feeling that a lot of companies do still not really understand the advantages that open communication to the online community using the Web 2.0 toolkit can bring.
Dig into the blogosphere, show a human (inter)face
The online communities are vastly informal. They do talk about brands, but mostly postings deal with people and/or products. Bloggers talk more about Steve and Bill, than about Microsoft and Apple. Bloggers use faces, people and products to visualize a corporation. A corporate blog is a unique opportunity to meet this trend. Put a face on your corporation.
Nuke the corporate pedestal
On the net, decorum and show are frowned upon. CEO’s in three piece Boss suites sell well @ press conferences. Online communities however want to meet the human behind the dress screen. They want to feel the real McCoy. So dust your résumé, kill all those Harvard degrees, MBA’s, doctor honoris causa certificates. Online communities could not care less. Add your favourite movie, the book you are reading,… so the reader can grasp some of your personality.
Create tangible, easy digestible content
A blog is not the place to throw white papers and by-lined articles around like confetti on a ticker-parade. Do not post press-releases on your blog. You should have a digital pressroom for that. Create your content in a short, easy to understand way. Give information, and most of all: put it in a context, and flavour it with your honest personal opinion. Use language that everybody understands.
Until recently, web communication was mostly one-way, a more modern form of ex-cathedra. Web 2.0 is a social web. The easy formats of posting, commenting, reviewing, WiKi etc. make blogging an ideal tool to interact with the online community. While some corporations still are reluctant because they fear verbal abuse on their sites, experience shows that comments and interaction can be carefully managed. Some simple online rules on netiquette and a passive comment screening system usually do the trick. Reader commenting gives blogs a unique online dialogue. Direct feedback from a broad online costumer base can be vital for marketing and PR purposes.
Trust me, I am a consultant! 😉