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Executive Blogging

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A true thought leader has to have thoughts. In their haste to embrace the new media vogue, many companies have made the fundamental mistake of initiating a blog merely for the sake of doing so or, worse, as a thinly veiled veneer for marketing purposes. Credibility is king in the blogosphere, and this large community tends to turn a sharply critical and unforgiving eye on those posters it deems overly self-serving.

Executive blogs often are a platform to discuss issues affecting an industry, and it's critical for anyone seeking to gain mind share with the media, analysts, customers or other key stakeholders to share creative, if not provocative, ideas. While the blogosphere by design encourages healthy discourse in such cases, it's important that the author be buffered from the inevitable spammers and, worse, those whose violently contrarian opinion may overstep the minimum necessary bounds of decorum.

For our clients, we play the role of moderator as a precaution against potential rogue postings by competitors, disgruntled shareholders or other individuals with malicious intent. This proactive role is even more critical when working with public companies or those subject to the more discriminating scrutiny of government decision-makers.

It's equally important that the executive blogger be mindful of any pointed, unfounded criticism that may potentially offend or alienate these individuals. Commenting on highly contentious issues can damage current business relationships and hinder future business prospects.

Maximizing both visibility and credibility for you and your blog is essential. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Identify the most visible and widely-read bloggers in business, media or the government (if any) commenting on issues related to public affairs, federal procurement, regulatory compliance, etc., and make a point to respond to their own postings to establish a dialogue. You can use blog directories or aggregators, like Technorati, or RSS (really simple syndication) tools like Google Reader or Feedburner for this purpose.

  • Promote your blog and reinforce your personal brand within your e-mail signatures, company boilerplate in press releases and on your company Web site to drive additional traffic and potential lead generation with business prospects. It is also a good idea to add a link to your blog when you post on other blogs.

  • Register and cross-list your blog for maximum viral marketing impact on social bookmarking sites like Digg and Del.icio.us to help drive traffic.
Benchmarking readership is a key element of measuring the impact of your blog. You can monitor awareness and response to your postings at regular intervals through frequency and click-throughs to your Web site, for example. Remember that awareness and credibility take time to develop. Don't despair if your first foray into the blogosphere isn't deemed a success.

A blogging campaign is a low-risk, low-cost endeavor that can be fine-tuned and, worst case, simply put on hiatus or discontinued as business circumstances warrant.

Brian Muys is a managing director at Strategic Communication Group. He can be reached at bmuys@gotostrategic.com.

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