I hear a lot of talk about what – if anything – makes a good corporate blog. Not surprisingly, I’m a firm believer that a blog, if managed well, is a brilliant way for companies to talk to their customers. Many of us are passionate advocates of the companies we work for (and will happily bore our friends to prove it). What better way to tell people about the issues faced by a company, the challenges, changes, improvements, benefits, triumphs and disasters, than to blog about it?
The risk is that precisely because there is so much potential in blogging (not even thinking about how google-friendly blogs can be), that this can be seen as a simple marketing tool – and used as such.
Blogs don’t work like that. We don’t watch TV to see the ads, we won’t read a blog to get a pure marketing message.
To be successful, blogs have to be personal, interesting – and truthful!
It’s just plain offensive to presume that we’ll be duped by phoney characters pretending to blog. The Cillit Bang spam on Tom Coate’s blog is perhaps the most extreme example, but others have failed too, for example L’Oreal failed (and learned) with their phony “Claire” blog in France. To quote Shel Israel on the story ‘in the blogosphere you should use only true stories unless you have masochistic tendencies.’
Success depends on transparency, a strong advocate, a clear statement of intent – and some interesting stories to tell. Whether that comes from one person or a team, you need to know who’s talking to you and why.
Bob Lutz shows the way with his Fastlane blog. As Vice Chairman of General Motors, his blog makes use of podcasts, video and of course regular blogging, to tell you what’s driving Bob and his team this week. While I’d have to doubt that Bob writes all his own posts, I certainly believe that the enthusiasm and voice are his. And Bob’s fanclub is now out and cheering for GM alongside him.