Blogging: A Rip Tide in Waiting

When blogs were first invented they were web diaries – very personal and very voluntary.  As the social media world has developed, blogs are becoming as critical to a company’s marketing arsenal as a website—perhaps even more so.

A web site is expected to be the company line.  A blog can be insight behind the company line – if done properly.  It can bring clients and consumers closer to the company, or if done improperly, pull them ever farther away — like a rip tide.

Increasingly, clients are asking for advice on starting blogs for their companies or organizations.

  • Can I set up a blog for them? Sure.
  • Can I write one for them? Sure, again. But should I?  I think not.

Although I don’t like to turn work away, I do believe that blogs should have a very personal voice.  Anything else is not genuine and won’t work.

Case in point: One client is a well-known MD in his specific field. His tone is somewhat irreverent. His vocabulary is impeccable. His knowledge of his subject area is deep and comes from years of training and experience.  He is a natural to blog.  His voice could be imitated by a talented writer, but imitation is not the name of the game.

My proposed solution was to get him writing in his own voice – in Word —  and take over the physical posting for him. This way he is clear what he wrote, can easily discuss it with anyone, and does not have to be bothered with the mechanics of blogging.  He knows what meetings his attends in a week, and my services are more to train him on how to think like a blogger as he goes through his amazing day.

Another case in point: A local newspaper has set up what it considers a community blog.  There is so much wrong with newspaper blogs, that it’s a subject tackled on my blog TheMarketingPlaza.  But in this particular case, the blog has been set up for nonprofits to post their news.  And that’s where it goes astray.

News is not what blogs are about.  Blogs are commentary, perspective, and insight.  News is based on facts.

So, guess what?  The blog is a series of mini-press releases with each non-profit boasting about their latest accomplishments, events or services.  It is largely submitted by PR/marketing folk showing checks being formally distributed, golf tournament fund-raising news, and politically correct listings of board appointees.

It gives no insight behind the causes or what makes one cause special and is clearly a ploy by the newspaper to get community groups engaged in their site.  It misses the point of engaging individuals both in the paper and with the nonprofit groups. It is corporate and not a blog in any sense other than it is done on a blogging platform.

But guess what?  The non-profits don’t seem to know.  Instead, they are watching each other and battling out on the ground of  “I have better corporate news than you” rather than trying to better reach consumers.

Blogs are amazing vehicles for communication.  As corporate/non-profit America dips its toes deeper into the waters, it behooves those of us who know and love the medium to counsel potential clients with caution.

Don’t mis-step.  Blog away, but do it with a genuine voice.  But, be prepared to give some information away that is off the standard company line.

For instance, discuss why the company line was developed in the first place.  If a company doesn’t have a voice, or a social media champion, or doesn’t want to provide insights into its positions, then step away from the shoreline. The rip tide can kill you.

Rhona Bronson

Rhona Bronson started down the social media path in 2006 with her blog www.TheParentRap.net and there’s been no turning back. “It opens you up to the world of possibilities,” she notes. She has helped dozens of executives enter into the social media world as part of their marketing growth plans. Her background spans both the B:B and B:C world with experience in publishing, printing, consulting, association, small business and corporate marketing and communications. She came to marketing from the communications side, starting with training in journalism from Syracuse University. With experience in all marketing genres — from Twitter to Transit Advertising — she brings a broad toolkit of skills to any marketing project. Her ability to integrate clear writing with creativity has made her a sought-after expert in developing results-oriented marketing programs for today’s challenging times. Today, she leads the Plaza Consulting Group as its Marketing Strategist specializing in integrating social media into business marketing plans. 

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  1 comment for “Blogging: A Rip Tide in Waiting

  1. September 22, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Great subject, Rhona. Too many companies think of a blog as a static thing that they can just pay someone to do for them. But readers are too savvy for that and will see right through marketing fluff. Have a plan, have an in-house writer (or two), and make sure you have the band width to post often and the confidence to post your own opinions.

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