The first thing the would-be blogger CEOs should do... is not blog, according to Todd Defren. Instead, they should wait a month and spend that time reading successful blogs in their industry, commenting thoughtfully on those blogs, and getting to know other readers and exchanging ideas with them.
In the process, they'll be learning what it means to be a successful blogger. "Too many would-be CEO bloggers treat their new toy as little more than a weekly newsletter," he writes, "a way to broadcast their thoughts, rather than a way to create a dialogue." Doing it right, however, takes time, commitment, and realistic expectations.
Remember, you're the newbie, Defren advises, comparing the blogging experience to a block party where you're meeting the neighbors for the first time: "Giving freely of your attention in the form of commenting and linking liberally to your peers' blogs is the equivalent of handing out your BBQ goodies."
A little humility couldn't hurt, either. CEO blogs that get it right all have something in common: "Each of these CEOs comes across as a humble soul," Defren notes. "That seems to run contrary to our collective version of a hard-charging CEO, but you get the sense that these are 'nice guys.'"
But let's step back a bit and consider why a CEO—or, more generally, a company—might consider blogging in the first place.
Blogging takes recent advances in online marketing a step further—by transforming it into a conversation with customers and potential customers. It also engenders conversations among customers and potential customers themselves.
In short, you and your customers begin to better understand one another. That's invaluable, because gaining a better understanding of your customers allows you to market more effectively and efficiently.
That said, "there are as many reasons for an organization to consider blogging as there are organizations," writes Mack Collier, "though most of the reasons will fit into one of the following eight categories":
1. You will be viewed as an expert
2. You will develop better customer relationships
3. You will attract new customers
4. You will make your company more "human" to your customers
5. You will provide a forum to test new product ideas
6. You will know what is being said about your company
7. You will improve the ranking of your company's Web site with search engines
8. You will be able provide company news via another medium
Here are some considerations to mull over before your company determines to move ahead with a blogging strategy:
1. What type of blog you will have: a CEO blog, aggregate or exec group blog, staff blog, specialist blog, customer-evangelist blog (written by customers)
2. How you will handle comments: will you moderate or not? How strictly will you moderate? You will likely need written guidelines.
3. How you will handle feedback: Customers will have suggestions—which you may or may not like. You'll need to say more than "Thank you." You'll need follow-up.
4. Who the blogger will be: Who will be blogging? An officer of the company? A staffer? A professional blogger? Each has its advantages and pitfalls.
5. What pitfalls to watch for: Don't make sales pitches, review and edit before you post, don't break news that's not yours to announce,
For the vast majority of companies, blogs may enhance existing marketing efforts over the long term—but they are not a silver bullet that will magically improve market share or sales overnight. Instead, coupled with other marketing efforts, they can enhance your brand, bring you closer to your customer, and improve your organization's public image.
Finally, remember: Blogs are not campaigns, they do not have an expiration date. They require a commitment—which cannot be taken lightly.
Photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com