Define a Brand Blog for Social CRM
Blogs play an important role in your social CRM. They are part of the conversation that you need to integrate into your system to ensure that you’re interacting with your customers.
When blogs started in the 1990s, people used blogs like diaries or journals. They wrote mostly about their day or their interests. The blog form slowly gained favor, and businesspeople began to use blogs to talk about their brands and business. Thought leaders and others found them to be a useful way to share their expertise and build a following.
According to the Nielsen Wire blog post, “Buzz in the Blogosphere: Millions More Bloggers and Blog Readers,” more than 173 million blogs were tracked by NM Incite in 2011. According to Technorati’s report, “The State of the Blogosphere 2011” hobby blogs make up around 60 percent of the population, and business blogs make up approximately 40 percent. The Technorati report indicates the following about the business blogs:
Corporate bloggers: 8 percent
Entrepreneurs: 13 percent
Professional (part-time and full-time): 18 percent
Because of the large number of blogs, you may assume that most companies have one. Not so among the Fortune 500 companies. According to Go-Gulf.com, only 23 percent of Fortune 500 companies have public-facing corporate blogs. This indicates that many corporate managers may be reluctant to undertake an endeavor that requires a public risk.
Most successful business blogs are a fine mix of conversation, information, links, and products and/or service information. When you create a brand blog, you’re usually speaking to an audience of customers, vendors, investors, and other interested parties. Because anyone could drop by, carefully consider your brand blog before taking it live.
One of the most effective ways to ensure that your company has a cohesive voice is to create a guide for your employees. A guide for bloggers is akin to the type of guide you create for your brand look and feel.
For example, Pepsi’s ad creators (as well as ad creators for any major brand) are required to follow certain guidelines that dictate the size of the logo, the fonts, and so on. Create a guide that applies to all of your social media channels and helps everyone understand how to maintain the look and feel of the brand.
If a blog is written by the owner of a small business who has sole responsibility for everything, guest posters will be the only ones who need guidelines. If your company has financial restrictions or many bloggers, then you’ll need more comprehensive guidelines. Don’t regard the guidelines as restrictive. If you don’t establish clear rules, you could end up in a PR mess.
Here are some questions that brand managers need to ask when creating a brand blog:
Who will be the voice of the blog? The voice refers to the persona that the blog represents. It could be the leader of the company, an employee, a group of employees, or an outside writer. Obviously, a blog written by management will have a different style of voice than one written by a team.
Some leaders want to be visible on the web, like Scott Monty, head of social media for Ford Motors. Most avoid it. The best mix for your company depends on how you plan to leverage your blog.
Who will have the final say before a post is published? State whether the post writer must obtain approvals before hitting the publish button. Some companies must ensure they’re working within legal restrictions.
Are you publishing copyrighted media in a post? Companies need to be careful about publishing something with a copyright held by someone else. Make sure you have the rights to publish content that’s posted on your company blog.
Can bloggers respond freely to comments or are there some restrictions? The last thing you want to do is create controversy with a reaction to a post. If comments have a negative tone, decide who must evaluate them and frame the response.
Can bloggers recommend products (not your own) in a post? If the employee likes a product and thinks it’s worth mentioning, can she do so or does she need approval? And does the blogger have to reveal whether she received a free product for review? The web is full of recommendations, opinions, and suggestions. How will your blog handle them?
If you’re looking for some ideas, you can examine the social media guidelines that IBM has created for its employees.