TopRank Marketing Editor

Corporate Bloggers: Angels or Demons?

Incorporating a company blog into your social media and marketing mix can be a tug of war, finding both supporters and defeaters within the organization.

At the MIMA Summit (Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association) this afternoon, I attended a session discussing the pros and cons, along with the challenges a corporate blogger must overcome to represent the company and still make a connection with the blogging community.

Valeria Maltoni is a blogger at Conversation Agent and Director of Marketing Communications for SunGard. Valeria kicked off the session with a discussion around how an organization can get started with social media and a company blog.

As a business and marketing professional, we are tasked to find different ways to make a profit, find new customers, and build the company brand.

In today’s Web 2.0 world, there’s a community out there filled with customers, special interests groups and business partners just waiting to be heard.

Take a quick inventory of your online assets, most websites today offer users stagnant content with no potential for interaction.

So, why create a corporate blog?
–     To learn what your customers want
–     Give your business a face online
–     Bring the conversation inside the company

A company blog opens the door to listen and understand what your customers are saying. A company blog is a platform to provider visitors fresh content and interact with community members.

There is however, a fine line between company and community the corporate blogger must walk. The challenge is providing an open communication channel to engage the community while keeping in alignment with the corporation’s legal, brand, and business standards.

We all wear many hats in our professional lives and the corporate blogger is no exception.

To be successful, a corporate blogger must be the:
–    Communicator (editor)
–    Facilitator (community builder)
–    Negotiator (marketer)

Additionally, a good corporate blogger has attributes that contribute to success, and must be an active listener, an advocate for the company and an ambassador to the community.

Trust is key in building a social media community. To build trust, you must be open in your objectives and transparent within your communications.

How can a corporate blog be humanly authentic?
–    The organization must know itself
–    There must be internal & external alignment
–    Create a platform and culture of passion
–    By all means… always be honest

Each interaction with the blog has the potential to be direct, relevant and memorable for the community members.

If you are considering launching a corporate blog, first:

–    Add listening to your ‘to-do list’ (understand the conversation before jumping in)
–    Do a sanity check on content (can you produce content outside of marketing collateral)
–    Align behind the effort internally (you will need internal support to be successful)

Many companies considering launching a corporate blog have probably asked the question: What is the worst that could happen?

Reality is; social media and blogging opens the door for customer feedback and opinions (both positive and negative). As a company, you need to identify and prepare your responses before diving in. Keep in mind that the most vocal customers are the ones who care enough to tell you how you’re doing.

Valarie offered advice for organizations considering social media and a corporate blog:
1.    Hire great people and get out of their way (give permission to represent the company)
2.    Learn to celebrate the right things (launch is just the beginning)
3.    Read that press release as a reporter would (content first)
4.    Join a conversation already happening and contribute
5.    Think humans first, technology second
6.    Be prepared to address questions, in some cases fast (this is crucial in online time)
7.    Give customers options to receive information how they want it (RSS, widgets = pull)
8.    Provide customers a way to vote on your upcoming promotion
9.    Get to know your customers
10.    Start with beliefs (living and breathing reasons why)
11.    Tell stories that transmit your beliefs
12.    Surprise customers (in a good way), show appreciation

Empower the community you’ve created. If you are asking questions and receiving feedback from your readers, be sure to moderate and post user comments AND your responses.

As a corporate blogger, avoid:
–    Getting defensive
–    Being negative
–    Posting spam

Community is a balancing act and is uncharted territory. The challenge is finding the delicate balance between company and community.

Valeria wrapped up the session giving us the bottom line: blogging is about creating a personal connection with the community.

If you are considering adding blog marketing to your marketing mix, what are some of the challenges or concerns you are facing internally within your organization?

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  1. Great post – one thing I would add is that the corporate blogger will be successful as long as the organization is willing to admit that it sometimes makes mistakes. The company culture needs to support a dialog that allows their writer to acknowledge customer concerns and address them head on. In theory, every company should be falling all over themselves to have this kind of direct communication with their customers, but too often corporate politics and “turf protection” gets in the way.

    And at the same time, the corporate blogger need not be an apologist or a cheerleader – there are many times when they need to set the record straight in an educational way. There is a fine line that the blogger needs to walk to support the company, its customers, and to tell it like it is.

  2. Allison G. says:

    Some really excellent points here! I’m a CEO who recently launched a blog,, that gives updates on our main site and advice to other entrepreneurs. The main goal of the alijor blog though is to allow our users to have a platform where they can express their needs and, as you said, learn what they want.

  3. After twenty years in corporate America in five industries, I appreciate your comment on politics and silos, Bryan. That is the part where the blogger needs to be a negotiator internally, as well as an advocate for the community. I believe that honesty and truth are two solid terms for “telling it like it is”.

    Marketing has been used to integration as amplification. These tools actually allow you to whisper in a way that is relevant and desired by the customer, when handled properly. It’s a whole new dynamic. The education part is where I talk about bringing the conversation inside the organization in my slides (at Conversation Agent). We tend to pay more attention to what third parties are saying internally.

    Thank you for teasing the topic out further in your thoughtful comment.

  4. Thank you for the timely post about corporate blogging. I’m the blogger for the Queensboro Shirt Company. It is a fun, fascinating and tricky position. Every day, I grapple with the question–what will our customers be interested in? How might we entice new customers to check us out if they stumble upon (through search–not the social media site!) the blog. We have had some good success highlighting our customers and their stories on the blog. That entices a high level of engagement.

    Our blog is still in its infancy. We are still finding our voice, and deciding what information we can deliver through that format that is valuable and interesting for our customers, is timely and relevant without being inflammatory, but interesting enough to not sound like a government memo. It is certainly a challenge.

    The points you bring up about external and internal support are great. I spend a lot of my day reading other corporate blogs and trying to incorporate ideas and writing styles that I like into our blog. It does take the buy in of our whole organization for it to be successful. I solicit feedback from our customer service, IT, merchandising, and logo departments to make the blog better and more informational.

    I agree, whole heartedly, that for a corporate blog to be useful and not just another form of spam it has to be interesting and useful. We are working on figuring out what that will ultimately be. I would welcome any comments about our blog! It is at

  5. Camden Easterling Swindell says:

    Great insights in this article and from readers! The challenge our company,, finds for our clients (as well as for our own blog) is fining the time to maintain a blog, especially a thoughtfully created and effective blog. Many of our clients are smaller local businesses, though many have a national presence, that find it difficult to carve out the manpower a blog requires. It’s encouraging to see that other companies are devoting the time, effort and resources needed to put together valuable blogs.