Nick Carr recently posted seven rules for corporate blogging on his blog in response to Scoble having cracked (his opinion, not mine).¬? I think some of his rules certainly have merit, while others are just too over the top.¬? The following are his seven rules with my comments interspersed.
1) Don’t do it. If you have no compelling business reason to get involved in the blogosphere, then don’t. While there’s no evidence, beyond a few anecdotes, that corporate blogging leads to better business results, there are clearly risks. If you give bloggers too much freedom, they may “go native” and tarnish your reputation by writing something stupid. If you try to rein them in, you’ll be attacked for being a dinosaur. That’s a lose-lose situation – the kind companies should avoid if at all possible. And don’t buy that nonsense about needing to have “conversations” with the marketplace. That’s an ideology, not a strategy.
I agree wholeheartedly with Nick’s statement -¬? If you have no compelling business reason to get involved in the blogosphere, then don’t.¬?¬? I think that this also ties into another one of my beliefs on corporate blogging which is that not all businesses need to have a blog. The important thing to remember is that you should clearly define your blogging objectives and strategy before you start writing.
¬?I somewhat agree with Nick’s statement – If you give bloggers too much freedom, they may “go native” and tarnish your reputation by writing something stupid. This is easily preventable by setting corporate blogging guidelines at the outset. Hill and Knowlton, a PR/Advertising company, has some of the best guidelines that I have come across.
I completely disagree with Nick’s statement – And don’t buy that nonsense about needing to have “conversations” with the marketplace. That’s an ideology, not a strategy. I’m sorry Nick, but Marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to satisfy customers and the only way you can effectively do this is by talking to people in your market(s) and a corporate blog is one of the corporate communications tools that facilitates conversations.
2) Use blogs to advance your business interests. OK, you’ve decided to ignore my first rule. Fine. But don’t get carried away. For companies, blogging should be treated as another channel for corporate communications, with its own strengths and weaknesses. You should use that channel to get your message out, not to give employees a sand pile for self-expression. Yes, corporate bloggers should write with honesty and personality, but they should never forget – nor let their readers forget – that they’re speaking on behalf of their employer. If a corporate blogger is embarrassed to be promoting his company’s interests in public, he shouldn’t be a corporate blogger.
I think rule 2 is rather sensible.¬? It also reinforces the need for well defined corporate blogging guidelines.
3) Stick to your goals. Maybe the goal of your blogging program is to help customers use your products more effectively. Maybe it’s to make your company more attractive to potential recruits. Maybe it’s to influence the public or lawmakers. The important thing is to be clear about your objectives, to stick to them and, as with any corporate program, to routinely evaluate how well you’re meeting them. If blogging isn’t working, then change what you’re doing (or who’s doing it). If it still isn’t working, then stop it.
I agree 100%.¬? This goes back to having clearly defined objectives and strategy before starting your blog.¬?
4) Choose your bloggers wisely. Blogging is a hot medium. The people who blog for your company should be ones who can keep their cool – and who aren’t likely to fall in love with their own words. Often, the people who most want to be allowed to blog are precisely the ones who shouldn’t be allowed to blog.
I also agree with this.¬? Blogging, as you will find out once you get rolling, requires thick skin and a level head.¬? As Scoble has shown, even the best of them lose it on occasion. A blogger on tilt can quickly negate all hard won goodwill that your blog may have garnered.
5) Assign blogging buddies. You need to trust your bloggers, not censor them. On the other hand, blogging makes publishing so simple that having some kind of circuit breaker can make a lot of sense. Think about requiring each of your corporate bloggers to have a blogging buddy – a colleague who reads each post before it’s published. All boggers have had the experience of hitting the “publish” button too soon – and then regretting it. A second set of eyes will solve most problems before they even happen. And your bloggers will thank you for that (after, perhaps, some initial whining).
I really like this suggestion!¬? We have all pushed the send button and then instantly regretted it.¬? Pushing the “publish” button on a blog can actually be worse as the number of subscribers can be significantly larger than the recipient list in your email.
6) Be wary of allowing comments. Most people who comment on other people’s blogs are smart and insightful. But “most” isn’t “all.” In addition to being a spam-magnet, blog comments can be nasty, obscene, and offensive. This can lead to another lose-lose situation: If you don’t censor comments, you’ll end up with stuff that can embarrass your company. If you do censor them, you’ll be accused of, well, censorship. In most cases, it’s best just to turn off the comment feature from the get-go. That may annoy the true believers, but they’re a tiny minority anyway.
I completely disagree with this rule. Blogging only becomes a two way communication medium when the comments and trackback features are turned on.¬? If you don?Äôt have them turned on then you are essentially giving your the people in your market(s) the middle finger – your voice is not important to me.¬? The whole point of blogging is to engage in conversations and you can?Äôt do that effectively with the comments and trackback features turned off. Lastly, if it is spam you are worried about then make sure your blog software supports the Akismet plug-in.
7) Call in the lawyers. I hate to say it, but if you’re allowing your employees to blog on your dime, you’re liable for what they write. Better safe than sued.
I disagree with this 100%.¬? As one person commented on Nick’s blog, “‘Calling in the lawyers’ would kill any chance of a blog getting off the ground. Set good blogging guidelines and leave the lawyers out of it.