Marketing people play a key role in business in this country. They have many functions that they competently handle. They can and should be trusted with many roles. But unless your company is in the marketing business, writing your company blog should not be one of them.
Don’t get me wrong, marketing people can be skilled writers, and some are outstanding bloggers. It’s just that some of them will fill your blog with overblown promotional plugs that ultimately damage or destroy the reputation it would otherwise enjoy. It’s not their fault. They can’t help themselves. They’re genetically predisposed to do so. Plus, it’s their job.
Add to that this fact; some of them do not understand the purpose of their blog, or the power of “expert status” it possesses.
I co-manage the Workers’ Compensation Roundtable, the second largest workers’ comp discussion group on LinkedIn. I also have been trusted as a moderator on another large workers’ comp group on that website. Our job as Managers and Moderators is to keep the conversations relevant, interesting, and most importantly, free of promotional over reaches and scum of the earth spamming bastards. Please note I am not equating marketers with spammers. It is just that they are sometimes equally enthusiastic. For purposes of this conversation, marketers most often land firmly in the promotional over reach category.
I cannot tell you the number of blog posts I see that are chock full of promotional product links and references, all under the guise of addressing some critical story or topic. This actually damages the message, and in my opinion, the brand the blog represents. There are two ways this can happen.
Enticing People to Read the Blog
It is one thing to write an informative article or post, yet quite another to get people to the site to read it. Many of us routinely post our most recent opines via social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. This is an area where I routinely see mistakes made by the marketing professional, the most common of which being they make a promotional announcement regarding the article rather than a factual one.
For example, let's imagine your company sells widgets. Your marketing department oversees management of your blog, and generates a story regarding an innovative new use for widgets. Then they go to the Widget Analysis Group on LinkedIn, and post the article with the following title:
“Announcing the latest article from OurWonderfulWidgetBlog.com!!!”
No one cares that it is your latest or newest article. They care if it has pertinent information that affects them, informs them or entertains them.
Or perhaps they may post it with “You are invited to read our latest article…..”.
Really? Glad they invited me, or I might never click on the link they provided, since I would not be sure I was welcome.
And of course, there is the blatantly self serving entry that would read something along the lines of, “Using our widgets might cure your cancer!” That one will get a “Move to Promotions“ every time.
Instead, a simple yet enticing title like, “Early Results from Innovative Widget Use on Cancer Yields Positive Results“ would likely pass the moderator test, and entice people to read. Win win.
The Devils in the Content
Beyond the efforts I noted in getting people to your blog, the real problem lies when your marketing people have too much control over the content of it. A blog post should be entertaining and informative, without being overtly “salesy”, if you catch my drift. People will return to a site that offers them value in the form of useful information, and over time will trust that site, as well as the company behind it, with a loyalty and respect that cannot be bought. This phenomenon will eventually grant the blog author an “expert status”, since they are consistently someone who provides timely and trusted advice, and does not cloud that image with an obvious profit agenda.
Pushing your products or hyping your company too much in this process crushes that status, and destroys that trust. Too many times I have seen blogs that are blatantly self serving in that they are nothing but sales pitches for a company's products or services. People reading articles on the web expect better, and are not looking to be sold in this manner.
This blog, for reasons largely unknown, has become relatively popular within the workers' compensation segment. Certainly people do not agree with everything I say, and in fact I have made some people quite unhappy with my comments; still, the blog is well read. I believe part of the reason for that is I rarely try to sell anything here. Certainly we have products that we offer. It is just not the purpose of this blog. This blog is designed to create greater awareness to our brand and impact on the industry. To that end it serves its purpose quite well. It would not enjoy the same popularity if I constantly tried to “push product” here.
Properly used, an effective blog will not sell your product, but it will certainly build your brand. Marketers would be wise to both remember and respect the difference.