The main problems with corporate blogs

Thanks to everyone who sent in suggestions for my first set of reviews.  Rather than do an individual take on each one, I’ve decided to work them into a general discussion of the main problems facing corporate blogs.

1.  No strategy.

Corporate blogs all have the look of a major board room decision seeking a rationale.  The board decided a blog was mandatory going forward, but no one made a decision what they wanted from it, what it’s direction would be, or why it even exists.

Here’s a newer one that just kinda looks like it was rushed to publication – no about page, no rhyme, no reason.  Why am I looking at this, other than the writer responded to my LinkedIn request for blogs to review?  Here’s one that just appears to be a CEO wanting to promote himself, with far too many words to boot. Pick a corporate blog, any one, and the first thing you’ll be wondering is why it exists.  What are they trying to accomplish here?

Unless a corporate decision to start a blog is coupled with a decision on what the company wants from the blog, readers will see that immediately.  And dismiss the blog accordingly.  Are you trying to sell me something?  Are you trying to build an audience?  Sell ads?  Or engage your customers?

2.  Not enough content.

Content is king on the internet, in TV, radio, entertainment, print media, you name it.  Corporate blogs haven’t figured that out yet.

Major corporations will spend literally hundreds of thousands of dollars preparing to launch a blog – in fees to PR firms, in staff time, lawyers in-house and out, tech in-house and out.  On launch day, it suddenly becomes clear that this cost is de mimimus compared to the cost of maintaining content on the blog every day.

Walmart’s blog shows the point perfectly.  Posts are sporadic, there’s no regularity to it, and when they do post, it’s as if someone just yelled “goddammit, get something on the blog!”  And then someone posts three times in 24 hours.  Then it goes back to sleep.

A blog is live 24/7/365.  When launching a blog, a company needs to think about it as if they are launching a TV station.  Anyone with the money can build a state-of-the-art TV station.  Then you have to go on the air.  If the content is sporadic, limited, and unpredictable, no one will pay attention, or worse, someone will notice that you’re not serious.

3. Spin vs. Reality.

Face it, folks.  Corporate blogs are created, designed, and maintained by the marketing and public relations department, which are mutually exclusive with blogs.  Blogs exist to deconstruct spin, marketing and PR.  A corporate blog walking into the blogosphere is like a germ entering a human body which then puts the white blood cells on alert.  Spin can’t survive in this environment.

Of course, corporate blogs haven’t figured that out yet either.  General Motors has a series of blogs, and they’re all eye-friendly.  The one I’m interested in is FYI Blog, described as…

FYI.gmblogs.com is a blog for GM news, information and opinion. It is written by GM employees and others.

Try finding anything on GM’s blog that isn’t spin.  Impossible.  It’s a nice looking space, pretty cars, etc.  But when blog readers see this

In addition to some kind words about Pontiac’s new performance sedan, the vast majority of the journalists think that GM is on the right path.

…blog readers move on.  Of course, GM’s own blog is going to think GM is on the right path.  How much money did GM spend to create a platform for this?

4. Avoiding News.

This one really mystifies me.  If a company has a blog, and news breaks about the company, blog readers will turn to the company blog FIRST to see if there’s any reaction from the company.  If there’s nothing there on the breaking news, the blog will instantly lose credibility.

Walmart, again, is the perfect example.  The case of Debbie Shank, who Walmart sued to recoup health care costs, exploded into the mainstream media.  Search for “Shank” on Walmart’s blog.  Nothing.  Why spend all the money on a blog if the blog pretends it doesn’t live in the same world as the rest of the blogosphere?  It doesn’t make any sense.

Conclusions?

This post is long enough, but I think every other problem a corporate blog faces can be traced to these 4 major areas.  No Strategy.  Not enough content.  Spin vs. Reality.  And Avoiding News.  I’ll drill down more later, but in the meantime, here are a couple of corporate blogs I’ve been sent that I actually think aren’t that bad.  See you next time.

UMass Online

Dreamhost Blog

The Bivings Report

Advertisements

May 17, 2008 at 11:53 pm Leave a comment

Welcome to Corporate Blog Review

I recently had a conversation with a friend who does corporate bloggy things, and the bottom line was this… most corporate blogs suck, right?

Well, yes.  But they don’t have to.  So I’ve decided to start this blog to do my own snarky thing, which I usually do with politics, but this time with corporate blogs.

Every board room in America is having this conversation –

We need a blog.  I have no idea what that is.  But we need one.  Now.

Before we get started, have a look at my series of reviews of political blogs in Ohio.  That’ll be a good jumping off point for any marketing or PR division head getting ready to take the dive.  Then come back here, and we’ll start the reviews.

In the meantime, make suggestions for corporate blogs that need a good going over.

May 11, 2008 at 9:14 pm Leave a comment

Newer Posts


Categories