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The art of the corporate blog: Where boring isn’t welcome

I rarely read companies blogs, do you?

I will if they become a client and I want to understand what they are about, but very rarely have I even gotten that information from their company blog.

Some companies do social media better, by injecting humour or clever facts into their feeds — but they often still ignore their corporate blogs. Which truly is a massive shame, considering that the value of content is now becoming increasingly understood by frustrated marketers who are struggling to discern what constitutes valuable content and what is simply ‘filler’.

The reality is, customers rate blogs on a company site as their fifth most trusted source for accurate information, and stats show that brands who blog receive 67% more leads than brands who do not. This is not a marketing strategy that should be ignored, but it also can’t be done half-heartedly.

So why are companies getting their blogs so wrong? A major problem is the belief that a blog is a to-do list item, rather than a carefully crafted story that requires the same care that a larger advertising campaign is afforded.

It is not the time to hand down the task to a junior marketing officer and ask them to write ‘Five reasons why people in your industry should know about you’. No one cares.

The companies that understand the value of blogging, but also do it well, are those who know that a blog is not just a channel to push a sale. The company blog should be a hybrid of industry news, thought-leadership from management, and information about events, products or changes that the general public and prospective clients should know about.

I remember reading an article on a well-known lead generation software platform — who do in fact blog well — yet their advice to marketers was to "consistently blog".

They even said: "If you consistently blog you will reap the benefits". The biggest issue with this approach is that it assumes the company knows what to consistently blog about it and that they have the resources to do it well. But many can’t.

You may be a great fintech success story, but that does not mean you know how to accurately publish interesting and engaging content on a daily basis, let alone weekly. In fact, go to many of the companies you are interested in and see if they have a blog. If they are active across social media they likely also have a blog, but is it worth reading?

When having a PR team replaced the need for a social media strategy (you should have both by the way) a similar mistake was occurring where companies would send mass redundant and boring press releases. These press releases rarely resulted in media exposure and would be chucked in the email trash can (this could be mostly by me).

The problem now is many in-house marketers are simply removing the title ‘Press Release’ and slapping that very same dry content onto their company blogs.

If the press release is not going to get you media attention, why would the average customer care about reading it in a blog? Two-way communication with current clients and prospective clients requires an ongoing and nurturing relationship and it requires strategy.

Just like any relationship, you don’t need to do the hard sell every time you cross paths. Providing value to the other person may take the form of a simple exchange of information that does not have the intention to get something from them, but rather to show different facets of an interesting and dynamic company.

It’s easy to say that the reason a blog on Virgin Airlines is widely read is because it’s been written by Richard Branson, but it’s incorrect to say that all corporate blogs can have their success attributed to an enigmatic leader.

Tesla is a good example of a corporate blog that for me personally can err on the side of boring, if not careful, with its almost advertorial approach to their product updates via blog posts.

It’s a shame, because I imagine an approach that is almost Seth Godin-like in commentary from Elon Musk would be hugely successful. Elon does guest blog on the Tesla blog, and it’s always far more interesting than the main fare, especially with lines like "Starting a car company is idiotic". People would come back for that.

Readers are tired of sanitised PR-style commentary from companies, and the chance to inject personality into your brand has never been more cost effective. With dedication to approaching your content as a reader rather than a salesperson, the opportunity to create a two-way, ongoing conversation can be smoothly integrated within your company’s website, and can form part of your online engagement that can result in stunning real life results.

It takes trial and error to determine what works best for your company, as some industries require a more conservative approach to content, but conservative need not be boring.

Inspiring The Business World