As promised, here is more from our learnings from the BlogWorldExpo. Again, we think that blogging and social media participation will become imperative to your successful direct marketing strategy.
One of the first sessions that I attended was on CEO and Corporate blogging. Needless to say, this was a very interesting session. Debbie Weil, author of The Corporate Blogging Book, did a great job of moderating the session. Corporate bloggers on the panel consisted of Jennifer Cisney from Kodak, Pete Johnson from HP, John Earnhardt from Cisco and Paula Berg and Brian Lusk (AKA BlogGirl and BlogBoy) from Southwest Airlines. So, all in all, a good cross-section of Corporate Bloggers.
Here are some of the key learnings from this session -- and we think, excellent ideas to consider when pondering whether or not to start a corporate blog.
- Blogging is the beginning of a new revolution. Those corporations not jumping into it are not doing so because they are either fearful of losing control or of being criticized. Those who are should not be . . . the bottom line is that you set the rules for your blog and can control it. Think of it as your editorial channel and a great way to get the good word out about your company. In addition, you are providing an excellent opportunity for your customers/potential customers to not only get to know your company but to actively engage them to participate and interact with your company.
- CEO Blogs rarely work -- except for Mark Cuban's (see yesterday's post). This is because many CEO's simply aren't the best writers and/or communicators. However, you can definitely highlight your CEO in your corporate blog by including his or her insights or interviews with them from time to time on your blog. Some even ghost-write for their CEO's -- and anyone at the conference can attest that this is, indeed, quite the controversial topic.
- There are different ways to go about creating a corporate blog -- and all are equally effective. For example, HP has over 50 blogs. Anyone at HP who wants to do a blog within HP can. They are careful to keep it to a technical discussion of their products and keep customer service out of it (i.e., they refer customer service questions to the customer service department). Cisco also encourages employees to host a Cisco blog in order to participate in meaningful discussions with their audiences. And, here, the Cisco CEO does both participate and see the value of this -- he does one video blog per week. Kodak does it somewhat differently -- they have employees post poignant stories of how they've used Kodak products. You can imagine it -- how getting your photos out when your house burns down helps to ease the pain of loss, the pictures taken during the birth of your children, etc. Very cool blog. Southwest uses their blog to run ideas past their customers -- trust me, I'll be commenting on their latest numbering system. It turns out that I was a big fan of the cattle call.
- Moderating your blog is a must to protect your brand. Most companies allow people to post pretty much anything -- but most moderate the comments to get rid of swear words or personal attacks. In addition, if your company issues a press release, it's a good idea to blog about it so that people have the opportunity to comment about it. Southwest did this for their new seating idea and immediately got 700 comments -- they got immediate and passionate feedback from those who vote with their dollars -- their customers. How valuable is that? Talk about direct marketing -- this is as direct as it gets!
- In order to have an effective Corporate blog, you have to have an inside evangelist to take a leading role and convince the leadership that it's worth it. Most corporate bloggers contribute along with doing their real jobs. All panelists seemed passionate about their blogs and insisted that everyone involved really wanted to be involved. They also said that it's important to ensure that your blog is deliverable by email. Sometimes the RSS feeds are behind Corporate firewalls, so those who may wish to subscribe to them can't.
- Your culture is important. If you are like Southwest whose culture allows the employees to take risks, your blog will probably be more successful than a company who is more risk averse. Also, blogging can make your company very transparent. So, if your corporate culture isn't all that great, a blog is probably going to expose that fact. It may be wiser not to blog if this is the case. : )