You’ve embraced blogging as important cornerstone of your marketing, for both search and social media reasons.
You know that consistently creating relevant and engaging content that’s seeded with keywords will help boost your search ranking and help you get found by prospects. It will also allow you to tell your own brand’s story more richly and consistently than any other kind of marketing (like press releases or marketing collateral) or media (articles that appear elsewhere that and are penned by others).
But here’s the thing: maintaining a blog that’s consistently interesting and relevant isn’t an easy task. It’s a challenge to create consistently awesome blog posts,; and it’s a challenge to earn the attention of an audience. How can you be heard above the noisedin? Why doesn’t your blog have any comments? It’s hard work, right?
It’s a lot easier to maintain a robust, active blog when you have many contributors—and not just one person responsible for blogging, day in and day out, rain or shine, in sickness and in health, (to completely mix metaphors).
So how do you motivate employees from within your own organization to contribute consistently?
1. Deputize a blog manager. You need a single person for whom blog management is part of their his/her job description, and. That person possibly has incentive pay tied toward meeting the stated blog objectives—which might be around certain traffic benchmarks, post volume, page views, further engagement (how many people downloaded a companion white paper or raised their hand to learn more about your company?), or the growth number of RSS or email subscribers. Without a single owner, then blog participation is scattershot and results are always random, at best.
2. Make blogging an honor. Blogging gives your employees visibility with your audience and a forum to for saying their piece. So be make sure that you regard both the blog and the people who post there with respect. Posting there should carry some prestige; it should feel like a privilege to post. Check out the way the Adaptive Path blog gives employee-bloggers not just a byline but also a photo. The photo humanizes the post for your readers, certainly, but also highlights promotes your employees in a visceral more thrilling way than a mere byline would.
3. Make it easy. Kodak offers a post template to neophyte contributors to its A Thousand Words blog as a kind of crutch that a weak writer might lean on. Providing some sort of template isn’t necessary for every blogger, of course, but it can help givinge newbie or nervous bloggers the necessary blog “training wheels” to create their first post or two might help them to get going.
4. Make it fun. Blogs create a unique opportunity to showcase the people who make your company what it is, and perhaps show a bit of their personalities and quirks—you know, the stuff that makes them human and interesting. I don’t use that word “opportunity” lightly, because most company blogs are vastly underleveragedused as a way to talk to a vast population of customers or prospects directly in an engaging, interesting way.
Even if the goals of your blog are dead serious, it’s good to lighten up every once in a while. Daxko Nation is a great example of a corporate group blog with a sense of fun and personality. As Daxko writes on its blog, “The Daxko Nation is a manifesto of culture and camaraderie…. Daxko Nation comes to life through our blog (a.k.a. The most intriguing company blog in the Western Hemisphere!)”
5. Reward contributors. Reward frequent contributors to the blog. Bridgeline Software bestows $50 American Express gift cards to those for whom either whose post volume or quality goes above and beyond the norm, or provides smaller rewards (like a $5 Starbucks gift card) to encourage more general participation.
6. Remember that blogging isn’t just about writing. Look for those in your company who have a love of video or a gift of gab to and so might have a penchant for creatinge video or audio posts. I like the way OpenView Labs seamlessly integrates both audio and video into its content hub.
7. Communicate business results. Make sure your whole company understands how the blog feeds into the larger picture: What the role that the blog plays in your customer development, or efforts to grow your business. This ties back is related to defining goals for your blog, certainly. But it also means that you regularly share about your progress toward those goals on a regular basis: how well you are meeting them, the growth of subscribers, what topics resonate with your readers, and so on.
So what else might you add? Do you have a company blog? How do you encourage participation?
Ann Handley is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs and the co-author of the upcoming Content Rules (Wiley, 2010). Follow her on Twitter @marketingprofs.