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Avoid Common Blogging Blunders, Part 2

By Paul Chin

Originally published in Intranet Journal (10-Apr-2007)

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In the first part of this series I discussed corporate blogging mistakes such as using a blog as a substitute for a conventional Web site, not standing behind what you write, posting anonymously, lacking an authentic writing voice, and not focusing on a set of core topics.

In this second and final part I continue my look at some common corporate blogging blunders.


Infrequent blog posting schedule

A professional corporate blog should have a regular, established schedule—not just whenever the blogger feels like it. A corporate blog must be treated like a marketing and informational tool, not a hobby. While it's not necessary to run it as strict as a print magazine's publication schedule (but if you wish to, more power to you), readers should at least have an idea of when to expect new content.

I cringe every time I run across a blog where the "latest" entry is one month old. My first impression to this is that the blogger (and the company who sponsors and sanctions the activities of the blogger) isn't taking the blog seriously, can't be bothered to make regular posts, or approaches the blog too casually. If you feel obligated to manage a blog without really having the motivation to do so, you may as well not have one. A lackadaisical blog is much worse than no blog at all.

What you, as a blogger, can do to keep your blog entries regular is to shorten the length of each posting. You don't need to wait a whole month to give readers a giant blog entry with ten different stories lumped together—people probably won't bother reading it anyway so you're just shooting yourself in the foot. Instead, cut that giant post into ten individual, self-contained posts. Giving users a little bit of new content frequently is a lot more effective at retaining readership than giving them a lot of content in one shot once a month.


Not organizing content by context

Most popular blog creation and management tools provide bloggers with a dynamic calendar that keeps track of all posts. While a calendar is a useful way to organize this type of serial content, people usually don't search for articles by date, they search by subject matter. Because of this, a calendar should never be a blog's sole means of navigation.

Readers don't associate particular entries with their publication date. A date provides very little information about the contents of blog entries. Readers rarely think, "I'd like to read those entries from December 2006"; they think, for example, "I'd like to read about the company's most recent activities in the European and Asian markets."


Not syndicating blog content

Readers don't always have the time to visit a blog regularly. A single blog is probably just one in a hundred pieces of information that readers have to deal with daily. Content delivery is vital in maintaining regular blog readership, and there's perhaps no better way to syndicate a blog that with an RSS feed.

Most blogging tools have RSS publication capabilities built-in so make good use of it. RSS is a common, and widely used, method of broadcasting and syndicating information, allowing readers to get updates when they become available without having to give out their personal information like an e-mail address. Bloggers also don't have to worry about strict spam filters that can cause false positives—something that's quite common in e-mail based content delivery.


Lack of a corporate brand identity

An organization's professional blog should reflect the corporate brand. Any media meant for a mass audience—whether internal or external—must share the same corporate identity to ensure brand uniformity. That doesn't mean that the blog needs to look exactly like the organization's Web site or intranet. It's fine for the blog to have a unique brand to give it a more distinct feel, but it should be apparent to any reader where the blog originates and who maintains it.

Along the same lines of branding, the blog should have a dedicated domain name as opposed to one from a blogging service. This is akin to giving someone your business card with a yahoo.com or hotmail.com e-mail address. You can do it, but it just doesn't look very professional.


Using poor, nondescript blog titles

Many information laden readers are already consumed by the sheer amount of content flooding their way. They usually do a quick scan of all that information, deciding what to keep and what to toss out. This is a very small window of opportunity. If you can't catch them with a descriptive title (or with the lede, if they stick around long enough to read it) you might lose them before they even know what the article is about.

This doesn't mean that the title has to be devoid of creativity; but it shouldn't so "cutesy" that it forces the reader to have to read the whole article to get an idea of what the story is about. The title of a blog entry should be descriptive enough to give readers an idea of whether they wish to stick around to read the rest.

For example, the following headline, while catchy, tells the reader very little:

Acme Inc. Kicks Off Cement Shoes

But the next title tells the reader exactly what the article is about:

Acme Unloads Coyote Brand Cement in $32m Deal


Closing Thoughts

The ease with which blogs can be built has caused some bloggers to approach the endeavor far too casually. But blogging is mainly about the content, not the tool used to build and manage it. In addition to the ten blogging blunders I mentioned in this two-part series, the most important thing for any blogger to observe is corporate etiquette. They must refrain from improper conduct and be responsible enough not to do anything that will damage the integrity, or somehow devalue the worth, of their organization. A single careless blog entry can have very negative consequences not only for the blog and blogger, but the company as a whole.


Copyright © 2007 Paul Chin. All rights reserved.
Reproduction of this article in whole or part in any form without prior written permission of Paul Chin is prohibited.