29 Reasons Why Your Company Blog Has Stalled

 

By Stanford Smith, Contributing {grow} Columnist

At {grow} we spend a lot of time talking (sometimes arguing) about the intersection of social marketing and smart business. In almost every situation, publishing a blog is an excellent strategy. A blog creates a new marketing asset that generates leads, qualifies prospects, builds loyalty and retains customers.

Unfortunately, publishing a blog is much easier than maintaining its growth. A quick tour around the blogosphere offers ample evidence of how challenging business blogging can be. Empty comment sections, single-digit retweet tickers, lackluster headlines, and anemic topics are just par for the course.

It’s easy for the social media cool kids to chalk these missteps up to corporate laziness. However, there is a different answer. I think it’s just plain ignorance of what’s required to keep a blog moving in the right direction. Marketing managers are just blind to the danger signals that indicate that a blog is heading for obscurity.

So, we’ll take a quick look at 29 reasons why business blog has stalled.

Starting Without A Vision

1) Focusing On The Wrong Audience: Sometimes your audience isn’t the buyer of your products. I’ve seen companies jumpstart their blog growth by focusing on the user of the products rather than the “decision-maker.”

2) “I” Focused: Remember, social business is not about YOU. Blogs that focus on customers, problems, answers, and dreams build value much faster than online sales pitches.

3) Doesn’t Inspire: Your blog must stand for something beyond making a transaction. Readers must catch a glimpse of your hairy audacious vision of the future.

4) Focused on “Things” and not People: Don’t make the mistake of thinking that products enhance more than people. I love Apple products not because they are well designed but because Apples explains how they are designed for me.

5) Infested with Jargon: It’s impossible to craft a successful blog around jargon and abstract principles. The more specific you are about your vision – the better.

6) Doesn’t Lead (pandering to polls, surveys, and testing): Mark and I have been talking about this for a few months now. Your readers don’t want to lead you. They want to be led. Your editorial calendar is proof of your brilliance; it can’t be outsourced.

7) Isn’t Innovative: Blogs die when they depend on me-too topics. If you are unlucky enough to manufacture a commodity product then you’ll need to blog filled with innovative topics.

8. Hypocritical: Your stated vision isn’t reinforced by your social communications. You can’t say the customer service is a priority and not respond to customer service inquiries via Twitter.

9) Shallow – You aren’t creating the stories and content that adds vibrancy and relevance to your vision

Confusing Monologue with Dialogue

10) Barring Comments: Not accepting comments is stupid. If you need to bar comments then you don’t need social media. Period.

11) No Response: People are funny about communication; if they talk to you they want to hear back! Not responding to comments demonstrates that you don’t respect or care about your audience.

12) Robotic, Party-line Responses: When you do comment make sure you sound like a human being. Leave your buzzword bingo skills back in the cubicle.

13) Spotty Posting and Updating: Erratic and unpredictable posting schedules says “you can’t rely on me for information/”

14) “All About Me”: If your blog comments start with “I”, “We”, “Our”, or “My” then you can bet that they will get ignored. Your readers will listen to you after you’ve talked about them.

15) Lack of Gratitude: Saying Thank You is a dying art. Show genuine appreciation for your readers spending time with your blog. Give them free stuff, thank them in your comments, follow them on Twitter, retweet their stuff, link to them in blog posts. It’s the best investment you’ll ever make.

16) Not Encouraging Feedback – Close-Ended Posts: Business bloggers have a devilishly hard time getting readers to comment. After reviewing hundreds of blogs I’ve discovered that most of these blogs don’t encourage feedback. Their posts are neatly summarized statements that scream “don’t comment”. Consider writing your post as if you need reader input to complete the post. Remember The question mark is your friend in social media.

17) Talking At versus To Your Readers: Here on {grow} almost every commenter is addressed by the first name. Do the same. When a readers sees their name they instantly feel that the blog is talking to them and not at them.

18) No Follow-up in Other Channels: Comments, tweets, and updates isn’t the whole ballgame. Email is still an essential communication channel for businesses. Often your most influential readers will ask questions via email. Answer these as if your business depended it on it.

19) Machiavellian Comment Policy: Deleting everything but the rosiest or blandest comments will destroy your blog. Grow a thick skin or go back to putting brochures in the mail.

Failing to Build Rapport

20) Confusing Logos With People: Using a logo as the face of your social media effort is a risky proposition. I understand that branding is important but people identify with visionary people and passionate communities not logos.

21) Not Talking About Your People: Social business works because it tears away the curtain and shows that your company is human, authentic, and engaged. Talk about your people and their contributions.

22) Not Cheerleading for Your Customers: Your blog is a powerful platform for including your customers in your marketing. Celebrate their successes and crow about their people. They will quickly become the #1 source of traffic for your blog.

23) Treating Your Blog Like a Brochure: Blogs build audiences and establish credibility. They suck at directly selling product. Do so and you will drive away visitors in droves.

24) Using Twitter and Facebook for Advertising: Be careful with using Facebook or Twitter as tool for broadcasting links to your blog. These tools require an upfront investment in rapport building before you can use them for driving traffic

25) RT Laziness: Simply hitting the RT button without reading and adding value puts you in the “spam” category and devalues your contribution.

26) Not Following or liking your customers: Find your customers twitter handles and Facebook pages and follow them. This shows that you are interested in them and want a relationship beyond the transaction.

27) Letting your lawyers control your voice: Social Media requires a degree of empowerment and trust. Craft a clear social media policy and educate your team. They are your voice – not the legal team.

28) Confusing Brand with Voice: One more point, your brand is usually built and set in stone by agencies, graphic designers, media planners and copywriters. Your “voice” evolves through communication, engagement, and collaboration with your customers, readers, and enthusiasts. Don’t confuse the two. You might even find that your social Voice is your true brand.

29) Thinking Social Media is the Marketing Team’s Job: Surprisingly, your marketing team a relatively “small” part to play in your day-to-day social media plan. Successful social media programs inspire collaboration between PR, Customer Service, Production, and the executive team.

Are you responsible for steering a corporate blog to success? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?

Stanford Smith is a hopelessly addicted angler, father of 3 hellions, and the wild-eyed muse behind PushingSocial.com. Follow him on Twitter to get his latest unorthodox tips for getting your blog noticed and promoted.


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  • Too many business blogs aren’t personal. I don’t want to read an blog written by an anonymous employee of a business. I want to read personal thoughts, stories and insights.

  • Stanford, this is really great stuff. Thank you! I’ve been cultivating a b2b blog since about August of ’10 and would agree with #29 especially. Most of our best blog content comes from our customer service and sales teams, and not the marketing department! They see our customers’ issues, know their objections to purchasing and understand how they perceive us. It’s been our experience that if you attempt to blog without including these departments in your content creation team, you’re running with a limp!

  • This is excellent. I am bookmarking this, and I am going to share it with my bosses. I have been trying to write posts for the business blog, and anything personal gets deleted. I am not allowed to use the words “I” or “Me” in any of our posts, and so the posts wind up talking at people rather than talking to them.

    There is only one blog I can think of that does not allow comments and that is Seth Godin’s blog. If you are not him (and I know I am not) you have to allow comments, otherwise you run the risk of alienating your audience.

    Thank you for such a great post for a Monday morning.

  • Another ‘spot-on’ post! I must say that I, too had a rocky start – identifying myself to all the traits you’ve mentioned “Empty comment sections, single-digit retweet tickers, etc” and I’m still getting there but it’s great to be constantly reminded on what it really means to be ‘social’.

  • Abigail

    Rig now I’m struggling with con siding my blog personal ( about my interest in social media) or business ( a way of drawing attention to my newly started frrlance business). Part of me thinks that with no traffic yet it doesn’t matter, but this article would at least provide some guidlimes to follow. Thanks

  • Glad you found the info useful Josh. I agree with you. I totally believe that the Customer Service department is the secret weapon for most business blogging initiatives.

  • Glad you found the info useful Josh. I agree with you. I totally believe that the Customer Service department is the secret weapon for most business blogging initiatives.

  • Abigail, The important part is that getting these fundamentals right makes sure that you use and multiply the traffic you are currently getting.

  • Abigail, The important part is that getting these fundamentals right makes sure that you use and multiply the traffic you are currently getting.

  • Thanks Jan! Keep pushing forward my man.

  • Yep, you have a big problem there Nancy. I’m interested in hearing how your bosses take the news. But if they take a step back and compare their blog with other successful ones they should come around (hopefully!)

  • writing a company blog can be a real chore.

  • Anonymous

    Useful. Relevant. Timely. Thank you, Stanford, for an excellent outline that I will personally be using, and sharing.

  • Nice, this will be included in our plan making meeting this week. We are preparing the marketing plan, figuring out tasks than need to be done everyday etc…this will definitely help us a lot in preparing the framework for the blog posts.

  • Thanks for these great points, Stanford! As a newly published indie author, I am in the process of learning to see myself as a small business (or a tiny one, rather!). This means I need to start paying closer attention to posts like yours, where I can learn how to use my blog as a better platform. Your points under the heading “Starting without a Vision” are especially helpful. I have a vision — but learning to translate it into something that makes sense to others is a growth process. Thanks for making me think more deeply about it.

  • Amy Clausen

    Excellent points Stanford. The challenge for me is bringing personality to the corporate blog. I manage the corporate blog for the biotech company I work for and we regularly post interesting scientific posts, we are generating traffic but getting scientists to comment and engage is no small task. Will be taking your list and seeing what things can be changed.

  • Great post, and a must save guide for company bloggers. Thanks for taking the time to distill all this information into a guide we can all keep on hand to remind us how to create an effective voice that will attract our potential clients!

  • You’re welcome!

  • Amy, here’s one thing to consider, you don’t always need to have comments on your blog. Comments are great way to measure engagement but sometimes the audience won’t work. Measures like Page Views, Bounces and time spent with your site can also be great measurements too.

  • That’s great to hear Courntey. Alot of folks get tripped up on the Vision part. However investing time here makes the rest much easier. Good luck!

  • Glad you are putting this stuff into action. Good luck in your meeting 🙂

  • Awesome and thank you for your comment!

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  • Amy Clausen

    Thanks Stanford. That’s what I have settled on. We have seen a surge in traffic and can see which blog posts generate the most interest so I am happy with that. In a case like biotech/pharma where everyone is fairly tight lipped – do you recommend just removing the comment section or leaving it for the chance that someday, someone might leave a comment?

  • Pingback: 29 Reasons Why Your Company Blog Has Stalled at Marketing Tips Online()

  • No! Don’t remove your comment section. This just turns your blog into a lame website. I’m sorry if I gave you that impression. I’m just saying that comments don’t always need to be a success metric for a blog.

  • Amy Clausen

    Thanks Stanford. And of course – got our first comment on the blog overnight! Two years in the making – Perseverance right?

  • We definately started without a clear vision. Blog posts were all over the place with no structure or direction. We just knew we should blog and went at it. All I knew was that I wanted to post at least 1 time per day or more if we could. While that’s a good place to start, all I knew beyond that was my audience was marketers. Well, as we all know and love as marketers, we do everything. So my audience was participating in tradeshows, trying to figure out social media, writing blogs, developing content strategies, lead generation, analyst relations, public relations, and on and on. So you can see why it was hard to wring out a editorial calendar which is what I did.

    Some of the challenges we continue to face is gaining visibility and trust. People are reading and sharing but they just are not subscribing. Mark – we had a conversation on this in the past and still baffles me…

  • I very much enjoyed this post. I especially liked #16. It was a good reminder to me that I need to be including more calls-to-action in my blog posts!

  • Stanford, great article! Thanks for the excellent points. Keep pushing forward!

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  • Great article, bookmarked for future reference. Thanks.

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  • “Robotic, Party-line Responses” Can I say, Thank You. Also on #5, jargon. Blogs are not the place for corporate bobblehead babble, that’s ‘letters from the CEO.” 😉 Like these but faves are #29 (team effort), #1 (hello strategy, my little friend) and #10 (if you don’t want engagement and feedback, look elsewhere than a ‘blog’).

    On #20 I think I might hedge the bet, logo mixed with name or person. IDK.. just don’t want the ‘official’ tweeter or brand rep taking all that good favor with them when they jump elsewhere, or incurring the wrath of the Interwebz when one personal tweet gets erroneously sent from the corp. acct. (Mark just blogged this too.) On the advertising and brochure, those are excellent points.. but sometimes the intent of a blog is to drive sales and traffic, to bounce customers from the blog page to the ‘buy’ page. It is about rapport and relationship, yet the blog’s strategies shouldn’t lose sight of the overall business objectives, which often include sales. FWIW.

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  • Kelly Wheat

    This is such helpful information!  I see a lot of our competitors having problems with #2, and I have no intention of making that mistake.  Blogging will be new for us, so I am glad I came across your 29 reason.  “I’ll be back….”

  • Ricardo_cobos

    Thanks for sharing such a wealth of information!

  • Ketan

    As a Content Creator for my company (into software development and marketing for B2B), my main challenge is to keep discovering topics to blog about. I need to blog 8 times a month for one product and 6 times for the other one, apart from newsy posts. Some posts can be common, but I still need to work hard on topics to keep writing on. It’s a narrow field and just how much can you keep writing about each feature and promote it with footer links and tweets/FB updates/LinkedIn updates? There is the dilemma of marketing via content Vs engaging via content. It is a real challenge. Would be glad if you or other readers could throw some light on this.

  • Failing to build a rapport is a hard one.This needs hard working and hard patience

  • Stanford, great stuff as always.

    I’ll add a somewhat sarcastic, but unfortunately common, reason number 30 to your list:

    30. Creating a “blog” but not bothering to create any blog content!

    While this seems like a problem from 2005, I still see corporate blogs in B2B that don’t have enough content to justify the navigation real estate they have on the site.

  • Nancy, I like to think of talking “to” or “with” people rather than at them. I have consistently had some of the best engagement and feedback on posts when I used “you”, writing to the reader. Instead of saying “anyone can make this switch in 30 days” I would write it as “you can make this change in 30 days by … “. 

    This may be too close to personal still for your environment. If not, it may be a good way to bring a more conversational tone to your posts.

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