Earlier this week, friend, colleague and fellow blogger Aaron Pearson asked me to speak to his class at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. The topic? Corporate blogging. Something I know a thing or two about based on my personal experiences with this blog and the lessons I’ve put to good use for my clients.
I actually titled my presentation “Is corporate blogging dead?” I hope we all know the answer to that question. And yeah, I was having a little fun with the title. But, the fact remains that 28 percent of Fortune 500 companies have a public blog. Not a bad number. Especially considering we’re talking about the biggest of the big. What about the thousands of other blogs from midsized and small businesses out there? No doubt, those numbers are fairly large.
So, corporate blogging is NOT dead. Who’s doing it well?
By now, we’ve all heard about the Southwest Airlines and Starbucks blogs of the world. But, what about other larger companies? Those we might not hear about as often–but those who continue to blog month after month. And do so with what appears to be some success (I say “appears” because we can never know for sure how these companies are measuring success with their blogs).
Here are five companies that aren’t talked about quite as much when it comes to blogging–and how they’re pulling the right strings when it comes to corporate blogging.
Instead of going uber-corporate, Boeing lets vice president of marketing, Randy Tinseth do the talking. It’s a shrewd move, as it gives Boeing more of a “face” online–but also gives Randy a chance to talk about his many travels, personal experiences, and his thoughts on the great things Boeing has in the queu.
Views/perspectives “from the road”
It seems like Mr. Tinseth travels a decent amount. Many of the posts on the blog are recaps of Randy’s travels and his trips abroad to visit partners and to see some of Boeing newest jets in action.
Great visuals readers won’t find anywhere else
I heard the Boeing folks speak at an event in Seattle last year. And one thing stuck with me from that chat; the fact that there were so many people out there that cared so much about Boeing jets. They’ve worked hard to cultivate this community–and they know what they want. One thing: Visuals these people can’t get anywhere else. Check out the pics below–just a sample of what Boeing shares regularly on this blog.
Despite the great visuals within this blog, the blog’s design isn’t all that impressive. In fact, I’d probably label it as fairly spartan. But here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter. The content is so good, no one really even notices the design. Brands often get overly hung up on the design of an online property. Many times, if a brand would channel that energy into the content and strategy behind the blog, they’d be much better off.
Using many different kinds of posts
One thing I love about what Whole Foods does on the blogging front: They use the full complement of blogging devices. List posts, profile posts, tip posts, personal experiences (see below). You name it, they’re using it. And, it provides a breadth of content few corporate blogs can match.
Connect with a wide variety of stakeholders
One of the benefits of those many different kinds of posts? It allows them to connect with the wide variety of stakeholders Whole Foods serves. Take their vendors for example. What better way to shine the light on this group–and build community–than to profile them in an ongoing series on the blog (see below)? Simple, but brilliant.
Great use of GIFs
A Tubmlr fave, IBM is playing to the strengths of the blogging platform. You’ll see a number of GIFs regularly on their Tumblr blog–including those that highlight some of the newer innovations of the organization.
Creative ways to inspire and recognize
A recent series of posts on the blog highlights this point well: IBM’s effort to highlight it’s 50th anniversary Fellows Class. By profiling each Fellow with a separate post, they’re producing ample content, while giving each Fellow the stage, if just for a post.
Highlight innovation through video/”infographics”
Love what IBM is doing here with a combo platter of videos and infographics to tell the story of IBMers who are innovating. Remember: Inspiring visuals that are also shareable.
Breaking news for organization
This one might be more relevant in the tech world since more tech reporters and media outlets follow these tech blogs than in other industries (and seemingly EVERY tech company has a corporate blog), but Google seemingly breaks its news on this blog. They announced the Chromebook Pixel on the blog last month, a post that was shared 1,500 times on Google+.
Tool for CEO to use to communicate with key stakeholders
This is one of those points that people always make about reasons why companies should start blogs. But, you rarely see CEOs taking the opportunity. Google is not one of those companies. Larry Page doesn’t post all that often, but he does use it as a platform to share key insights and decisions (like the recent transition of Andy Rubin off Android at Google, which was a big move in that industry).
A tool to showcase new products
Leveraging power of celebrity
Target really does this well here. And having worked with celebrities on a couple clients over the years, I can tell you without question that it is not easy. Target uses multi-media to really bring the power of their celebrities to life–usually through video, like this Q&A with Nate Berkus.
Good mix of tips, ideas and entertainment
Much like the Whole Foods blog, Target excels here. Instead of focusing on one kind of post, they do a nice job of mixing it up. Tip posts. Ideas for you to use in your daily lives (using products found at Target, of course). And, plain old entertainment, like this post featuring the oh-so-hot JT.