Case Study to Consider Before Posting Your Blog
Blogs are quickly making their way into mainstream consumer companies. Once the domain of high tech businesses and political websites, blogs are now commonplace on the web. Some consumer products companies that are using blogs to communicate with their customers include GM, Stonyfield Farms, and Ice.com.
One recent estimate suggests that 80,000 blogs are created every day. Blogs can be used for many reasons including announcing new products or sales, creating an ongoing conversation with customers, posting the thoughts of the company’s CEO, or even creating buzz with controversial postings. While businesses can use blogs as a way to enhance their brand, they need to do so carefully. Even though blogs can be created in less than 5 minutes, a great deal of thought needs to be given to them, more than might seem necessary at first glance. My company’s experience with creating a blog can hopefully serve others well.
With all the talk recently about blogs, we wanted to position our flower company, Beyond Blossoms (http://www.beyondblossoms.com), as on the cutting edge – as more than just another place to buy flowers. We wanted to start a blog to serve as a place to provide unusual and interesting information about all things floral, from flower gardening tips to art exhibits featuring flowers, to fun facts about flowers. It would be a way to interact with customers and hopefully provide content they find informative, useful, and even funny.
We initially thought that getting the blog up and running would be easy, but it quickly became apparent that there were many issues to be thought out. Some of these included whether or not to encase the blog within our existing website or create a separate domain to house it, who would write the flower blog, and what to talk about. Additionally, the company wrestled with what blog platform to use such as Blogger, pMachine, Typepad, or WordPress. Ultimately, we decided to bring in a consultant to assist us in the design and development of the blog, blogging expert Paul Chaney, from internet marketing firm Radiant Marketing Group (http://www.radiantmarketinggroup.com). Besides designing the blog to fit in with the existing template of the business using WordPress, Paul also helped generate awareness by publicizing the flower blog on various blog search engines such as Technorati and creating a press release to announce it. He also contacted webmasters of other blogs who share similar themes to ours to include a link to us in their blogroll.
What to write about was a hot topic of conversation in our company. We decided that the blog should not be a blatant sales pitch with its only purpose being to advertise the company. The flower blog would serve to communicate our company’s love for flowers and deepen our brand’s connection with customers. The more interesting content we can provide, the more enjoyable our site will become to visitors, and this should help convert some visitors into buyers.
Ideally a blog should fit in with the brand personality of the rest of the company. If our website was dull, then readers might not understand the blog’s purpose or context, but because the website is lighthearted in tone, we can write about a wide variety of topics on the blog. Recent posts include ones about a new computer game about flowers, England’s effort to improve public bathrooms with fresh flowers, how to plant fall flowers, and rare orchids found in Idaho. Do not underestimate the resources needed for blogging. Posting on a daily basis takes a significant time commitment.
We looked to other companies as examples of how to use a blog that fits in with the brand. Stonyfield Farms (http://www.stonyfieldfarms.com/weblog/) features 4 blogs to talk about topics that don’t directly relate to its core yogurt product, such as “Baby Babble,” a blog for parents to talk about their babies and “Strong Women Daily News.” Here, the company is using its brand position as an environmentally responsible company to entice its customers to share in other “responsible” areas such as parenting.
The NBA blog (http://www.nba.com/blog/) is an example we learned from – to try to avoid. Its purpose is to provide “a varied collection of insiders, media members and fans from around the world who will share their thoughts about the NBA, WNBA, and whatever else comes to mind.” The problem here is a lack of consistency. Posts seem to be put up on a random basis so you don’t know when to come back to read another one. For example, the blog posted on August 26 and then did not have another post until October 18! Why would any visitor keep visiting the site to read the blog if nothing new is posted on a timely basis? Furthermore, some NBA players have recently posted their journals, but there is no signal as to when, if ever, the same or any other player will post another journal entry. Finally, the topics and writers are all over the board – from a writer in France to Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to posts about the WNBA. It all leads to a poor customer experience.
GM and Ice.com both write blogs which have garnered media attention and a ton of buzz. GM has generated a cult like following for Vice Chairman Bob Lutz’s weekly controversial observations about the auto industry (http://fastlane.gmblogs.com/). Ice.com has 3 blogs, 2 of which are not hosted on the main website itself. Each blog is consistent and clear in its purpose. The company can accomplish various goals in different settings – showing Ice.com’s recent press coverage, a tongue in cheek look at celebrity jewelry, and tips from a jewelry expert (http://blog.ice.com/, http://www.sparklelikethestars.com/, and http://www.justaskleslie.com/)
However blogs are utilized, a little extra thought behind it can enhance a brand. Through continually posting new content, customers leaving comments, and the viral nature of blogs, visiting your website can become a “must-see” daily activity for your customers