A good blog can inspire its readers and galvanise a community around it. And though it is possible to get one up and running in the time it takes to read this article, having recently launched our ‘Making brands beautiful’ blog I wouldn’t recommend it.
The most important thing is to work out the purpose of the blog. Many blogs fail because they are rudderless, leading to a never-ending series of ‘what we/I did today’ posts. State your blog’s objectives _ consider things like ‘to give the “outside” world a sense of what it is like to be “inside”’ (check out http:///wklondon.typepad.com/), or ‘to give the chief executive a platform for his/her views’ (http://designthinking.ideo.com/) or ‘to showcase great work’ (www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog).
It may be worth having someone on the project team quickly set up their own blog. The best way to do this is to go to one of the free blog-hosting sites, like Blogger, WordPress or Typepad, and just set one up. It takes five minutes. Get used to the mechanics of posting – try posting a picture or a short film, and think about how you generate content. Spend some time exploring competitor blogs – what are they doing? Is it arresting or interesting content?
You will also need to work out how your blog will be organised. If it isn’t easy to navigate around, people will not stay. Think about the type of categories you may have, how much of each post will be displayed on the main blog page, what widgets you may have, and so on. The blog also has to be designed – think about things such as width of copy, choice of colour palette, font and type of imagery. The question of the blog’s relationship to the website needs to be given some thought, too. It is also at this point that you may need a little bit of help from experts to host your blog. They can help tailor the navigation and design to your specifications.
Finding compelling content time after time is a challenge. Of course, the blog’s objective will guide the content, which is another reason to get the objective clear and empowering. The best blogs seem to have a fairly conversational, rather than corporate, tone – they don’t waste time, and they are prepared to stick their neck out a little in terms of stating a point of view or making interesting connections.
Giving posting rights, especially in a group with more than 50 people, requires a little thought. It could result in chaos to give all company members posting rights in one go. We learned that the best way to get people posting is not based on hierarchy, but on ‘bloggers vs non-bloggers’.
Put simply, some of the older ‘digital immigrants’ in the consultancy were not as blog-savvy as the younger ‘digital natives’. The lesson is to find your natural bloggers and let them lead the way.
We also put a short training session together so everyone in the consultancy was able to do some posting. It meant we were able to spread out the enthusiasm to post – having a glut of posts all at the same time is almost as bad as having no posts, so the ideal is to have a steady stream.
It is worth going live internally first, to give the blog a test run and see if you are able to generate the right content sufficiently often.
You are then ready to launch externally. By now, people should know the type of content, how frequently they need to post, how to tag it to get it up the search engine results, and such like.
The level of ‘ta dah’ surrounding any blog launch is up to you. It could provide a nice platform for some marketing activity, or you could let it grow organically as people find it through searches, online word-of-mouth and the like. It is cheap, though time-consuming, to market a blog in the blogosphere using links, commenting in other’s blogs places, building an online presence via Facebook and Twitter, and so on.
Don’t forget to set up an analytics programme to measure blog activity. Google analytics never cease to amaze me with the depth of information. You can find out which posts get the most visits, from which geographies, the percentage of new versus returning users, and so on. It is a really valuable, and free, feedback loop.
Allow a couple of months for the entire process. Unlike the five minutes it takes to set up the one-person blog, you need time to get everyone on board. But a good blog is worth it. It gives a real insight of what your consultancy is all about.
We found that it was a great way of showing where we found beauty in all its nuances to reflect our consultancy philosophy.
- Have an objective for your blog
- Don’t ‘police’ content – it should be fluid and conversational
- Get your blog right internally before you share it with the outside world
- Try to enjoy posting, so it doesn’t become a consultancy chore