Who Needs a Blogging Strategy? Beginners.
Well that may be a bit overstated. Let me explain. I do think you need a general understanding of what your blog is going to be about. In a corporate setting or a setting where you have multiple authors, you need a an understanding about common sense and what is & isn’t acceptable subject matter (like disclosing confidential information). But I don’t know that your strategy needs to extend beyond that.
Now, we aren’t the world’s most phenomenal bloggers or anything – but I think we’re doing an alright job and executing ‘to strategy’… But I’d be lying if I told you we had any sort of official strategy.
You know the drill from the typical blogging strategy discussion & questions:
- We don’t want to allow comments – “what if someone says something we don’t like?”
- “What’s our “voice”? (if your writers have reasonable grammar and can use spell check, that’s your voice)
- How do we keep our bloggers from stepping over the (imaginary) ‘line’? (in other words – How do we squash creativity and transparency)
- How do we tie the blog to sales? (I don’t know – how do you tie a press release to sales?)
- Let’s have PR manage / write the blog (how about you don’t do that…)
Before I give you my own advice, I want to draw your attention to this New York Times story about Wal Mart’s aborted attempts at blogging, and finally how they found success. The article pretty much sums up what I’d like to express here:
Regarding Wal-Mart’s failed blogging ‘strategy’:
“Critics dismissed [Wal-Mart's previous blogs] as thinly veiled extensions of Wal-Martâ€™s P.R. department, and Wal-Mart shut them down.”
“…the evolution in Wal-Martâ€™s thinking about blogs was typical. “You start with this total lockdown, suits read everything, one post a month model,” he said. “Then you evolve. A year later, you get one that is more open. A year after that, they start to do something that is far more authentic… trying to control who can speak and what they can say does not work.”
The new, more successful blogging ‘strategy’ for Wal-Mart:
“Instead of relying on polished high-level executives, it is written by little-known buyers, largely without editing”
“Wal-Mart is now encouraging its merchants to speak frankly, even critically, about the products the chain carries.”
I recently had the pleasure of helping a client launch a new blog, and I was so psyched because rather than bring me in to a “blogging strategy” discussion – the client asked me to come in and give the entire team of about 30 people a “cheerleading / orientation session” where my sole job was to get them excited about blogging, and to give some initial instruction on how to use their new blog platform. Of course, it didn’t go perfectly – a lot of those questions I wrote about at the top of this post did come up, but it was really refreshing to actually have the Senior VP sitting next to me say “let’s not do what we have a tradition of doing and worry about doing the wrong thing, let’s put together some very loose guidelines and see where it goes”
Therein lies my advice:
- Rather than trying to restrict our bloggers, let’s worry about how to inspire them to contribute regularly
- Make participation a mandate. Go ahead & publish those comments that may not be so flattering, but when you do – participate in the discussion and interact with the readers who take the time to comment
- Guidelines are a good idea to publish, but shouldn’t be restrictive
- Finding time to blog is hard. Make time to blog, and make it part of the job
And I’d love to hear your advice…