I wrote a post on why Kenyans need to blog more but what I had in mind when I started writing that post was outlining reasons why Kenyan Businesses need to have corporate blogs.
A blog is an online journal published by a person or group of people. A corporate blog in this sense refers to the official online journal for a company. This blog is my corporate blog and many of the websites you visit today also have a blog component to them. Any social media expert will tell you that a blog is usually the launch pad for the rest of your social media initiatives.
A couple of questions that I frequently encounter in the line of my work include: why should we set up a company blog? How do we stand to benefit? Isn’t our website sufficient? What would we write in the company blog? Who will manage the blog? Will blogging expose us legal liability? Have you seen businesses or institutions like ours using social media?
I will answer them here.
There are many documented reasons for setting up a blog, period. Some of these reasons are specific to corporate blogs. I will just mention them here without expounding on each since that is not this post is about. Corporate blogs can achieve whatever objectives a company has in deciding to employ social media. Corporate blogs help in Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing, they help businesses develop Thought Leadership, they are ideal for Crisis Management, they provide businesses with the opportunity to engage with their consumers in a Human Voice and not corporate rhetoric/mantra, they can be ideal for Customer Care, they are simple publishing platforms meaning ease of content creation and publishing, businesses can build relationships with consumers, they are ideal for communication, PR and online Branding, Reputation Management, and all of the above is done at low very overheads.
No it’s not. For the most part, the websites of most Kenyan firms are just online brochures. These websites have no life and are rarely if ever updated. I once consulted for a client whose website was last updated in 2002 and this was 2009. Interesting enough was the fact that this client was quite proud that they had a website yet this website was doing nothing for them. Looking at it from a Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing point of view, Google ranks higher website that are frequently updated, website that have many pages to be indexed, websites that organic and not static.
For the most part, updating a website was a laborious task that had to be outsourced to the website developers at a cost and hence the reason this happened only occasionally when there were major changes to be added. But with blogs which are very simple publishing platforms with simple user interfaces, frequently updating a website to be frequently updated, to have more indexed pages in search engines and consequently rank higher in organic search results. So again, I reiterate, it is no to longer enough to have just a website without a blog component to it.
This question is important because given the number of posts I write here, most MD’s who contact me wonder what it is they can publish on their blogs if all they do set up one. The issue here is that most of them feel that all they have to say is already published on their website and they are at all loss on what else they can write about. Very valid concerns I must say.
Part of work I do when consulting for clients comprises helping them come up with plausible blogging topics based on their industry and products or services. In addition to the blogging topics, I help clients by creating a blogging schedule that extends for a one quarter, half a year or the whole year while taking into account random posts that emerge out of the blues like in response to criticism online or accompanying a product launch or press release.
Blogging topics are usually contingent on the objectives for your social media initiative. Topics will also be contingent on whether the blog is primarily geared towards PR, Marketing, Sales, Communication, Executive level blogging, customer care or all of the above. But whatever the case, as long as your posts are informative, educative, interesting, and helpful, you are doing it right. On this blog, I write on helpful tips like this, I write on the state of social media in Kenya and where I think it is going given the global trajectory, I delve into the specifics like how-to’s, and go out on limb and take a position on a matter.
Likewise, Corporate Blogs can borrow a leaf from this blog or many other corporate blogs in the world. In general, the plausible blogging topics for Kenyan corporate blogs should comprise expert analysis on the industry they operate in, insight on where the market is heading, how-to posts on the various products you have, customer care posts in response to queries people have both offline and online, product releases and research data can be released through your blog, helpful tidbits go a long way, and whatever the direction you choose to follow, just ensure that you do it best. In the end, it is the most informative, insightful, and helpful blogs that get mass following and develop authority status in their industry therefore benefiting from multiplier effects of such elite status.
Most companies have a problem on who should manage their corporate blogs. I usually recommend someone in-house to handle corporate blogs and this is where businesses feel helpless because they are not sure who fits the profile. Another thing is that they feel people have their contractual obligations – whatever they were hired to do – so it becomes difficult to tell someone to blog if they are not so inclined. And social media being a passion arena, it is usually counterproductive to tell someone who is not passionate about blogging to be the in-house blogger. It heads nowhere. I have been asked to manage some of them but I always advice against it.
The reason I advice for someone in-house as opposed to the contract going to Socialight Media for a monthly fee is that the best people to talk about a company are its employees; people who know a company, people who know its products and services, people who understand the workings of the organization and who can speak on its behalf with confidence. However lucrative the contact is, Socialight Media simply cannot write about your business as passionately as you would. We cannot respond to issues raised on the blog with the expertise and competency that you would otherwise do if it were in-house and lastly, there is only so much we can do from the outside looking in given we are not you.
Part of the services Socialight Media offers identifying someone within an organization who can take over the Social Media work and train them accordingly. We also handle recruitment of the right social media person just in case there are no candidates to handle this in-house. Lastly, we also handle in-house training of all personnel to train them on the company’s social media policies and how the different departments can cooperate on the social media front.
The thing that keeps most companies off social media if the legal liability they suppose social media participation in any form or shape will expose them to. My job in these scenarios is to allay all fears.
Is there a plausible legal liability issue? Yes there is but just like email, it all boils down to management. Policies come in handy on this front because they define the social media participation guidelines. There are obvious things in these policies like not releasing client information unless it is with their express permission. Policies will of course be crafted in conjunction with the legal department if need be. But at the end of the day, when you consider that the reservations most companies have about social media are the same reservations they had about email when it was first being adopted yet it is now an intricate part of every corporate communication, social media is no different.
Yes there are. A simple Google search on Social Media in your industry should lead you to the relevant case studies. Socialight Media Kenya also has quite an extensive database of case-studies for the different industries that we use in our consultations. Sometimes all Kenyan businesses need to see to buy in are case studies and I assure you there are plenty to go around.