The experts have long agreed: Creating a corporate blog is an important step in giving your company a voice, building brand, and establishing that all-important thought leadership.
Your blog is to be your hub, the place where all the rest of your social media marketing connects. It's an opportunity to encourage users to connect and form attachments over their affection for your brand and what you represent. All of that is true and awesomesauce. Well, until your corporate blog attacks your business, kicks your customers in the face, and quietly sucks your sales dry. What, you didn't know that could happen?
The surge in blogging over the past few years has resulted in some problems for business owners who blogged first, asked questions later. Because, for all its strengths as a communication platform, blogging can also help business owners shoot themselves in the foot if they're not careful. Here are a few ways your blog may accidentally sabotage your business.
1. You dilute your link profile
If you're reading this, you're either someone who understands the power of search engine optimization and Internet marketing, or you just got very, very lost on the Internet (we're sorry). Assuming it's the former, you probably understand the importance of keywords and attracting links with a purpose.
You're very deliberately trying to build links to your site and to your services pages to help them rank better and bring more awareness to your users. So imagine what it does to your link profile when you acquire 10,000 links to your home page for the very-useless term [lisa barone]. Imagine how that might throw off your rankings for the terms you actually wanted that page to rank for. Yeah. Welcome to me getting scolded by nearly every boss I've ever had.
One reason people pointed so many lisa barone-laden pieces of anchor text toward previous home pages was because there was no Lisa Barone page on the sites I blogged for. When someone wanted to reference me, they linked to the company that I worked for. Understandable, but counter-productive. Also make sure that you're not diluting your own link profile by linking to your home page when you should be linking to your personal About page. Before you start a blog, take into account how the links coming into your site may affect it and have a plan for tackling that.
2. You make your blog your home page
When a new visitor lands on your site, they are there for a purpose. They're looking for information about who you are, what services you provide, how you get the job done, why you're different, what your rates are, and how they're supposed to get in touch with you. The purpose of your home page is to answer these questions, show relevance, and to entice them to click and enter your conversion funnel. New visitors to your home page are not looking for your latest blog post. Serving them that will confuse them and leave them with no information about your business or what you offer.
Some businesses will make their blog their home page because that's the page mostly frequently updated and where all the conversation is happening. However, it doesn't mean that page best addresses your customers' needs. And that's what your home page should do. Instead of serving up your blog as your home page and making users figure out where they're supposed to click, how they learn more, and who, exactly, you are, give them the home page they're looking for.
3. It's disconnected from the main site
Corporate blogs work best when they're a natural extension of the rest of your Web site. When the content found on the blog serves to give more information/street cred to your services. And to do that, readers need to be able to see the connection that exists between to the two entities.
Your corporate blog fails when you put it on a separate domain and make it hard for people to tie back or access your site. It fails when your blog doesn't link to any other pages on your site or reference your service offerings in any way. Sure, blogs shouldn't be overly-promotional, but never mentioning your products or services is actually more awkward than giving people useful information as it's relevant. If you treat your blog like a totally separate island, consider what value it's really bringing to your company.
4. Your blog becomes your business
Blogging is a lot like working out -- once you take to it, it's addicting. You have to blog every day and you have to blog harder than everyone else around you. And that's great if you're a professional blogger and blogging is how you make money. But for most people, blogging is not their business. (Even professional bloggers have to worry about things like branding these days.] It's one facet of much larger marketing strategy. Don't forget about the rest of your marketing strategy just because your blog talks back to you.
Remind yourself about how your blog relates to your business, what its objective is, and what it's supporting. If you're involved in catering marketing your blog may be one part of that. But you still have to figure out the rest of social media, network within your industry, and then, you know, find time to run your catering business. Don't let your blog become a distraction, either because it's more "fun" than your other work or because you like the way it makes your ego feel.
5. You don't commit to it
As a small business owner myself, I can certainly understand how time consuming (and exhausting) it is to continually be producing content to publish so that you can publish it on your blog. However, showcasing a blog that you update once every you feel like it may not give the best impression to potential customers. It shows them that you do things without a plan and that you're not always the most reliable service provider. If you can't commit to blogging a regular basis (even if it's just once a week), consider if it's worth doing at all. What are you planning to get from it?
6. You don't play well in the sandbox
As Outspoken's Chief Branding Officer, I often recommend companies take on corporate blogs as a way to get their voice out there and to establish personality and a POD. If you can hook someone to your blog, you're giving them a direct line to your company message and your way of thinking. Assuming they connect with that, you're able to significantly lower the bar to winning them over as a customer.
Unless, you're a jerk. One of the most awesome ways a corporate blog can sabotage your business is when you use it to attack, alienate, and annoy other people. If you don't know how to play well with others and the idea of occasionally smiling for diplomacy offends you, then maybe a blog shouldn't be your best friend. Because as Vitaly Borker found out, "crazy bully" isn't a long-term business strategy[http://outspokenmedia.com/online-marketing/crazy-bully-isnt-a-business-strategy/]It's only beneficial to let people "see the real you" when you think there's a chance they'll actually like the real you.
While starting a corporate blog is often a good idea, it's not always a good idea. How else have you seen businesses burn themselves by starting a blog? Any juicy examples to share?
Lisa Barone is co-founder and chief branding officer of Outspoken Media, Inc., a New York-based internet marketing agency.