Blogging enables a business
to interact with customers, communicate its message and grow its brand – but it’s not without danger.
Business blogs provide an opportunity for companies of any size to reach millions of consumers in a direct and convenient fashion. Why wouldn’t businesses leap in with both feet, then?
“Well, truth be told, it’s not that simple,” says Anthony Baker, managing director of Nucleus Digital Strategy. “And corporate blogging is not always suitable for every business.”
A blog is only the correct tool, says Baker, for the correct objective. This could include any of the following:
- sales and product promotions
- public, customer and community relations
- research and development
- information and education.
“Dell is a great example of getting it right,” says Baker. “It has taken time to understand its target market, customers’ needs, appetite to engage and, more importantly, how to respond. It’s prepared to discuss its achievements as well as its failings.”
As more shoppers look for product reviews online before making a purchase decision, corporate blogging is becoming more relevant. But Baker warns not to fall into the “propaganda trap”. Conversations must be transparent and open without any spin doctoring.
Blog strategy and governance
A set of guidelines and governance standards for presenting information on blogs is required for the correct use of corporate blogs, says Professor Mohini Singh from the School of Business Information Technology and Logistics at RMIT University.
“Corporate blogging is very useful, internally for energising and engaging with employees, and externally for promoting the company brand and shaping what is being said about the organisation,” she says. “While blogging isn’t a must, it is a rich and valuable medium for engaging with customers and stakeholders.
“Many organisations are concerned about the need for frequently updating and monitoring information on blogs, the risks of competitors using the information on corporate blogs to their advantage, the lack of rules governing the blogosphere and no clear blogging strategies.”
Without guidelines for blogging, warns Professor Singh, organisations could miss out on the opportunity to revolutionise their business.
How blogs can damage brands
“As with all human activity, there will be negligence,” says Leslie Moore, general counsel with Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. “Employees will stray from the corporate script, share information that is confidential, speak in a way that is thoughtless or embarrassing, or use the personal voice in an unprofessional way. In the process, they may damage the company’s brand and reputation.
“Although these risks are present offline, the speed and range of transmission online can exacerbate the problem. The offending conduct can be broadcast within seconds all over the world.”
So, is blogging a risk worth taking?
The answer, says Moore, depends on the culture of each business and on the composition of its workforce. “After much play and experimentation, we at Deloitte have embraced corporate blogging under a policy of ‘empower and trust’,” she says.
“For the most part, our people have merited our trust. They have spoken well and we and our clients have learned much by listening to them. For the few who have strayed, we have worked to re-establish trust, helping our people rethink how best to use their personal voice and experience in a corporate setting.”
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and the interviewees, and not of Australia Post.
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