What Constitutes A Successful Business Blog?

07/02/2008

Today's (where did yesterday go?) Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had an interesting article based on a Forrester Research study. Forrester reviewed 90 enterprise blogs from the Fortune 500 list. The conclusion was that " ... most B2B blogs are “dull, drab, and don’t stimulate discussion.” A few stats from the WSJ article:

74% rarely get comments
70%  stuck to business or technical topics
56% simply regurgitated press releases or other already-public news
53% of B2B marketers say that blogging has marginal significance or is irrelevant to their strategies

What do you think of this?  - "..  the number of new corporate blogs among the companies Forrester tracks has dropped from 36 in 2006 to just three in 2008."

Guess reflects that over half of the people interviewed don't think much of blogs as a relevant strategy. I would like to understand how these organizations perceive blogs. Do they think that that blogs are simply websites that can "talk back?" What do they call success?

Success_way The first stat - 74% rarely get comments - is not a big surprise. The success of a social media strategy begins with identifying goals and objectives that support business outcomes. Often "comments" are not an indicator of success. It is very difficult for most business blogs to pull in a significant number of comments. What constitutes a good number of comments? 2? 10? 100? If you are using comments as a success metric I would caution you to proceed with care.

Sometimes the 'community' is uncomfortable posting. Within its niche Indium's Dr. Lasky's Blog is a highly successful corporate blog. Although Dr. Lasky does not receive a lot of comments he gets off-list emails. Ask RIck Short, director of marketing communication and he'll tell you that the 9 - yes ma'am count 'em 9 corporate blog has given Indium an edge and competitive advantage.

I find Forrester's own blog well done and informative, however you'll notice that most posts do not receive many comments. Question Charlene Li or Peter Kim or Jeremiah Owyang or John Cass .. does Forrester consider The Forrester Blog For Interactive Professionals a success? If so why or if not why keep on truckin'?

One B2B company that is pulling in comments is the president of M/A/R/C (omnicom group), Merrill Dubrow’s blog. Merrill engages his community in conversation that is often not “work related” which provides additional texture and interest to business only topics. One recent blog, Attention Researchers: What do you think of this type of research? received 46 comments. Not bad for a business blog you say .. amazing for a business blog I tell you.  I am still amazed that we are averaging over 13 comments per posting...... And I post 3 times a week........ thanks for getting us involved..... you were right and I was wrong ...... I didn't know how powerful this could be. Merrill Dubrow

Bloggy disclosure: M/A/R/C is a Diva Marketing client. Love when clients think you are right (smile!). It helps when clients are smart and open to innovation .. rather like Merrill.

What makes a successful business blog to you? By the way if you want to know anything about measurement drop by Katie Paine.

Thanks to Getentrepreneurial for the graphic.

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Comments

Hi Toby - good question. Even though the Forrester blog is a team blog, I think "success" would be defined differently for each individual participant. For example, the business blog allows me to reach a different audience than my personal blog, which I see when I cross-post. I consider the extended engagement a success.

But just as businesses are starting to figure out blogs and they become the "new traditional" social media, consumers will be on to FriendFeed, Plurk, and who knows what else...

Posted by: Pete on Jul 3, 2008 8:23:13 AM

@Peter - thanks for giving us a behind-the-blog understanding of how you define success. What I find interesting is the "personal" versus "corporate" outlook of "success" on an enterprise blog. Makes sense .. if the authors don't get something back they're not going to continue writing for the blog. Great reads also on http://www.beingpeterkim.com

Posted by: Toby on Jul 3, 2008 8:46:17 AM

You make some interesting comments about whether people actually read blogs.

I've been researching into similar issues about whilst we are writing blogs and generating our own content, are we reading each others and more to the point is communication improving or is it encouraging closemindedness
http://facevaluebook.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Jenny Orr on Jul 3, 2008 11:18:15 AM

I think the issue is poor content and strategy. Most companies I've don't get it yet. The ones that do (see GM or Southwest airlines) are bringing relevant content that inspires conversation and community. Not everyone wants to do this (can you imagine an ExxonMobil blog right now?)

I think more companies will get involved, but they just aren't there yet.

Posted by: Jay Ramirez on Jul 4, 2008 8:52:41 PM

The best blogs "humanize all content" and make it challenging or fun to read or ponder.

Posted by: probate on Jul 6, 2008 8:32:21 AM

@jenny - excellent points to think about. i would hope that as we interact with people and learn about new ideas our worlds become bigger and smaller at the same time. By the way peeps check out jenny's new blog. she's a student at bournemouth university with an interest in the new social media phenomenon.

@jay - couldn't agree with you more. without content that is relevant to your community a blog is just one more boring website.

@probate - Amen to that! By the way using your name versus your company name humanizes your comments too (smile).

Posted by: Toby on Jul 6, 2008 11:06:50 AM

Great post.

I have to agree with probate. The best biz blogs are successful in branding their company and/or bloggers as real people.

I think part of the reason that this is such a widespread obstacle is because firms are afraid to post certain content or opinions. They feel like there must be a safety net in place and the simple notion of exposing themselves to criticism is extremely taboo.

That is why it is always refreshing to read posts from a company that is open to discussing criticisms and concerns about their industry, as much as their recent success.

Side note:
One biz blog I have enjoyed reading over the past year is Bill Marriot's Marriot on the Move - http://www.blogs.marriott.com/.

He posts on a number of topics, both personal and professional in nature. While many of us know the Marriot name and are familiar with their position in the hospitality marketplace, he gives us insight into different areas of the company's operation as both a leader, a strategist and a human being.

Posted by: Brandon Chesnutt on Jul 7, 2008 3:57:22 PM

Toby, this is a never-ending discussion. WE teach our clients to comment on other blogs routinely...as part of their network building.

How can you expect people to comment on your blog, if you never go out and comment on theirs?

Corporate blogs written by uninformed employees or executives make this mistake as a matter of fact. It's just silly to write a blog and sit around waiting for comments.

JOIN the conversation...and you'll get comments, too!

Posted by: Yvonne DiVita on Jul 9, 2008 10:59:20 AM

I just discovered this blog while reading the Viral Garden blog. Really good discussion; my brother is a business consultant with a prestigious firm in Sacramento/CA and I'm curious enough now to ask him why they don't have a blog attached to their corporate website.

Posted by: Linda Smith on Jul 10, 2008 3:48:48 PM

Thank goodness, I can stop worrying about the number of comments on my blog.

I agree with those who have defined success as a blog that supports the image and visibility of the business.

There's also the fact that writing one improves ones own writing, and forces you to stay current.

Posted by: Susan Abbott on Jul 11, 2008 2:29:08 PM

Its just as businesses are starting to figure out blogs and they become the "new traditional" social media, consumers will be on to Friend Feed.The blog should written by the uniform manner.

Posted by: NatureLimit on Jul 16, 2008 2:12:16 AM

Because blogging is a good way to connect with your customers and to expand your social network, you need to be careful and consistent with your blogging. Make sure that once you start a conversation with a reader (or customer) that you don't suddenly stop because that reflects very poorly on your blog and your company.

Posted by: EH on Jul 31, 2008 6:41:44 PM

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I get lots of comments on my blog as I have a High PASS Rate here in Bournemouth.So as soon as my students Pass with us, they post on the blog they are so happy.I think Blogs are the BEST! Keep on Blogging.
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