A couple of weeks ago, the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth published a report that corporate blogging was on the decline. This was based on the number of Inc. 500 companies had dropped to 37% from 49%.
Not surprisingly, the report garnered a lot of coverage from people who proclaimed the corporate blog to be dead to those who brushed off the study as inaccurate.
As someone who believes corporate blogs have a lot of value, the study struck me has strange because blogs seem to be gaining new traction as social media evolving and contenting marketing becomes more popular.
So if a corporate blog has value, what should companies do to make sure they thrive? Here are a few examples:
1. Have a corporate and editorial mandate. If a corporate blog is going to exist, it needs a purpose and role. A company needs to identify the target audiences it wants to serve and the type of kind that will resonate.
2. It needs to be about the audience, not the company. It’s not a “me, me, me” proposition but producing content that provides value to readers, giving them reason to return on a regular basis. It doesn’t mean a company can’t write posts about new products, features or corporate news but these need to be balanced with non-corporate posts.
3. Content needs to engage, entertain or educate. This has a lot to do with meeting the needs of consumers and, as important, keeping them involved. It also has to do with the importance of having a variety of content that does different things.
4. Encourage comments and discussion. If companies are going to meet the needs of target audiences, they should not be afraid to have people involved in the conversation. Give people the opportunity to provide their thoughts and opinions, while providing them with guidance and establishing moderation policies.
5. Have a variety of contributors. Truth be told, blogs can be a challenge to sustain because they take time and effort. The more people involved in writing content, the easier it will be to keep the blog chugging along and, as important, people enthusiastic rather than feeling burdened.
6. Don’t judge success by the number of pageviews. The vast majority of corporate blogs are a quantity not quality proposition. While it would be great to attract lots of readers, the bigger goal is have a blog that resonates with target audiences.
7. Be consistent. It could one, two or five posts a week. The key is being consistent so readers know what to expect.
More: Mitch Joel has some good thoughts on corporate blogs, and the key issues that companies need to think about. Meanwhile, Marcus Sheridan (aka The Sales Lion) argues the UofM study is flawed because the “Inc. 500″ consists of “crappy bloggers”.