In the first article of this “5 reasons why” series, I explained how the ease of creating a blog post was in complete contradiction with the necessity of building a structured blog strategy. A blog can be set up in 10 minutes, but creating a sustainable marketing plan for your corporate blog takes time and this shouldn’t be neglected. Similarly, the way you implement this strategy should be well-thought-out and meticulously respected. Yet, marketing managers, who have been working on traditional marketing platforms for 5, 10, even 20 years, still have troubles understanding the difference between implementing an ad campaign and creating blog content.
2. Mistaking a blog for an advertising platform
A blog is not an advertising platform. It is actually the opposite: put some ads on a blog and you will get even lower traffic and conversion than you might usually get through traditional advertising channels. Indeed, when browsing your blog, readers are probably trying to find some relevant information about a specific subject, or perhaps they are interested in your community and want to get involved. My point is: the last thing they are looking to do is buy a product. It is as if you were selling candies in a dentist’s waiting room.
However, many corporate blogs keep on publishing articles to directly sell their products, such as The Starbucks Blog (Not My Starbucks Idea, the other blog), or Zynga’s blog. Zynga goes even further by preventing its readers from commenting or liking the posts… Stop the disaster! A blog is made to give companies a bit of humanity, to make their customers think there are actually people behind the logo that understand their problems and are fellow human-beings.
Forget your Products, it’s all about your Customers
To succeed at corporate blogging, you need to engage your customers. They must be emotionally involved and become your “Briends” (Brand+Friends). What are people usually looking for when making new friends? Someone who shares their values, their passions, their problems… Right? Talk about your corporate values and how they show in your company culture, the problems you know your customers encounter, the hobbies you know most of your customers like, etc. An amazing example of company focusing on its customers’ interests is Nike.
In 2006, Nike launched Nike+, a platform designed to enable mutually valuable interactions between individuals passionate about running. The objective was to improve customer engagement and loyalty, and the project exceeded expectations: within a year 500,000 runners from 160 countries had signed on. Through August 2007, Nike had captured 57% of the US running shoe market, compared with 47% in 2006. By August 2009, over 1.3 million runners had uploaded more than 150 million miles on Nike+. The Nike+ blog, called Training, is updated by coaches who give advice about running and answer questions from community members. Most of all, it’s not necessary to own Nike products to be part of the community: the focus is a shared passion for running, rather than for that of a product.
Don’t get me wrong: not focusing on your products doesn’t mean your brand should disappear from your blog. The Nike+ blog includes short links to Nike Running shoes online store on the sidebar. However, the brand is not prominent on the website, putting visitors in a position where they don’t feel compelled to buy products. And the funny part is: Not forcing your visitors to proceed to check out will actually make them want to! (this too broad of a subject for now, we will cover this in a later article)
Listen, listen, listen, listen… and answer
A blog is the best way to collect relevant feedback from your most loyal customers. By interacting with them, not only will you increase their engagement, but you will also learn and find new ways to improve your product. Some of them will even help you market your brand with some bragging social media posts about how they interacted with you. One of the most epic interactions between a customer and a company happened last summer: Morton’s Steak House greeted an unsuspecting customer with a meal at the Newark airport after he jokingly tweeted his desires. The customer blogged about it and it brought significant press coverage to the restaurant chain. Let your readers comment, and answer the ones that need to be answered. It works. Seriously.