Building a solid strategy for your blog and defining a specific messaging that differentiates from traditional advertising are key factors when starting a corporate blog. If you respect those two pieces of advice you should be fine… But you won’t stand out. To get the spotlight and make sure your visitors come back and engage, you can’t just provide them with a good strategy and messaging, you need to become an expert at blogging. This implies that you work on finer details in your strategy. The first one is the tone of your blog.
3. Using the wrong tone
To understand the difference between messaging and tone – or voice -, think about music. Having a good messaging coupled to a wrong tone amounts to making a rock band play their best hits using recorders… That wouldn’t sound good, right? The sound of a recorder is not made to play rock music, as certain voices are not made for blogging platforms. I still witness a lot of good companies which fail at defining their tone in their blog. Although their messaging is great, the bad choice of voice doesn’t free the entire potential of the blog. Here are some of the most common mistakes I encounter.
Don’t pretend your brand can speak
As previously mentioned, one of the main things a corporate blog brings to your company is a bit of humanity. It enables you to show your customers that there are people here to answer their needs. The problem is, if you sign as your brand’s name, then you just lose this advantage. When I read posts starting with “Submitted by Zynga, on Thu”, I just can’t help myself but imagining a Zynga logo with two big eyes and two arms, frenetically writing on a piece of paper… As far as I am concerned, a brand can’t speak and can’t write a blog post. So don’t be afraid to sign as yourself when writing an article on your blog. That’s what people want. They expect to see your point of view, your phrasing. They want to know more about personalities that drive your company and giving them that insight will prompt comments and other novel reactions.
This strategy should also be observed on your other corporate social media accounts. I highly recommend not to use “I” when tweeting with your corporate Twitter account, or to “like” things on Facebook while logged in as a Page Administrator. It’s important to share your personal points of view with your potential and actual customers, but be sure to use your personal account to do so. Brands can’t “like” and can’t speak at the first person. They are just institutions.
Don’t pretend to be your brand
Not giving any voice to your brand doesn’t mean that you should replace it by your own voice. I see many entrepreneurs that tend to use their corporate blog as a personal blog or a journal. Yes, people want to read some behind-the-scene secrets about your company, but you shouldn’t push it too far. Being very private and personal will without any doubt attract more readers and onlookers in search of some spicy anecdotes. However, this could have a very negative impact on your brand image: not only would it make your personal image overtake your brand’s image in your readers mind, but it would also make them come back to your blog not to get information about a certain issue, or to take part to the community, but to get some more spicy stories. Thus, it would kill your initial strategy, whether it was to increase thought leadership, brand awareness, or to create a community.
Here again, this rule should also be respected when using social media. I can’t count the number of corporate Twitter accounts that display the picture and name of their CEO: WORKetc, RecycledBrides are just a couple of examples among many others. By using the individual image of your CEO for your main corporate social media accounts, you prevent your company from the possibility of creating any strong brand awareness. Some brands such as Mashable did become successful despite heavily using their CEO image to promote the company, but what will happen when Pete Cashmore will leave? Don’t make your brand rely on your personal image, otherwise it will be unlikely to survive without you.
Don’t pretend to be a blogger
The best way to avoid the mistakes mentioned above is to hire a social media manager to write instead of you. The vast majority of small companies I know use their CEO or VP Marketing as the main writer for their blog. Having the CEO of your company writing punctual articles is really important to build a strong corporate image, and those posts should be focused on his professional experience as a founder, but the CEO shouldn’t be the person writing the day-to-day life of your company.
Finding the right balance between thought-leadership, brand awareness and community building on a blog is a difficult art to master. The social media manager will not only find this subtle balance, but also provide your blog with a tone that matches your strategy. For instance, if using a formal tone can be very efficient to drive thought leadership, it can also have an negative impact on community building. Conversely, a tone that is too casual will enhance your community, but can erode your thought leadership.
Thus, having your blog stand out implies that you have carefully developed your strategy and follow it religiously. You should always keep in mind your initial goals and messaging, and build on top of these a voice that will harmonize with your plan easily. As we saw in this article, the first secret of a successful blog is a smooth voice: we are always more receptive to a singer with a beautiful voice than someone who sings out of tune. However, this receptiveness also depends on another factor that should not be forgotten: the User Experience. Find out more next week!