10 Commandments of Business Blogging
Whatever you do, you need passion, image by fatboyke
What exactly is business blogging? To me, at least in this post, it applies to any blogging attempt that is motivated by the advance of any business or marketing endeavour. It may even apply to blogging for a cause what many green bloggers do.
Business blogging does not have to be blogging about business as some people apparently assume. This is not my understanding of the term.
Business blogging might be done by an individual who is a freelancer like I am a freelance SEO consultant in Germany but to me it sounds more like the blogger is part of a larger business or a company. Also you have to differentiate: Business blogging is not necessarily corporate or problogging but might be one of the two or both.
In the search industry bloggers Matt Cutts and Rand Fishkin are probably the best examples of business blogging I refer to. While Matt Cutts' blog makes me stay away from it for several reasons it is along with SEOmoz nonetheless a good example for blogging semi-privately for a business, thus for business blogging that is neither really private nor really corporate as there are many "real" Google corporate blogs.
So while business blogging is used very successfully not only in the search industry there seems to persist a large amount of uncertainty about the nature of it to the point of some spectacular failures of business blogs.
So to establish a few guidelines for proper business blog behavior there arises a need for a set of "social values" especially in connection and to deal with social media. These are indeed fairly simple and self-evident once written down. I just did it: So take a look at the 10 commandments of business blogging and also make sure to read my introduction called the 10 simplest ways to boost your social media credibility right from the start:
1. Use your real name
If you want anybody to take you seriously you have to use your real name for your blog.
2. Disclose what company you are working for and what exactly you do there
Do not blog under false pretenses, disclose from the start who you are, whom you work for or who pays you, why you blog, what your exact position is, it's a big difference whether you're from the PR department or you're the CEO.
3. Blog yourself
Do not use ghostwriting under your name. If you have not enough time do not blog. Blog for yourself in your own name not for your company, people will cite you and not the company. Above all be yourself, not solely a CEO, entrepreneur, engineer or consultant. Make people feel that you're there as a person. Shoot pictures of your cat or dog. Do not cover your family though, that might be even dangerous.
4. Do not sell, inform
Do not attempt to sell your products via your blog posts. Inform people. Make your readers aware of them but mainly inform your audience on the issues of your trade or industry, not solely your own business.
5. Do not "blog" press releases, tell stories
Well, this is kind of evident although many people will do it anyways. Press releases are for the press, blogs are your interface to social media. You might even employ social media press releases but keep your blog clean.
6. Engage your audience
Blogs are defined by the conversations of real people. It's about dialogue. Again, if you do not have the time to reply to comments, do not blog. If you start a monologue your business blog will fail.
7. Use casual language not corporate newspeak
Everybody hates corporate newspeak. Also many people do not even understand the meaning of it. Use normal casual language, but do not swear or ridicule yourself too much. Wearing oversize sombreros is OK though.
8. Do not demean others, especially competitors, but deal with criticism and other issues of your company
Positivity and honesty is key for a successful blog, even more for a business blog as people are wary of being lied to by corporate or business entities. So do not tell people how bad your competitors are or the rest of the world. Also deal honestly with issues, especially criticism regarding your work and company. Do not feed the troll though. React if it's not slander. For the latter call your lawyers, but do not call your lawyers in cases of decent criticism!
9. Do not make your employees vote you up
Well, ever wondered why Apple stories are daily on the Digg frontpage? Well, voting up your company's blog is vote fraud on social media. If you have more than 5 - 10 employees you should forbid it altogether.
10. Do not hide facts when you describe something
Telling only half the truth is like lying on blogs and social media. People will tell you anyways. So try to anticipate what others think and take a proactive stance. Show them your unique selling proposition like saying "we're the first to introduce these features".
Now will following these 10 commandments make you a great business blogger? No, they most probably won't on their own, but without them your business blog will fail. To stretch my commandment metaphor: It's not enough to play by the rules, you need faith. With blogging it's more about the enthusiasm or the passion.
Disclaimer: While I'm a Christian myself I do not want to hurt anyone's religious feelings. The metaphor of the commandments is not meant to disrespect the real ten commandments, in contrast, it's to highlight the need for ethics in every discipline even such a worldly one like blogging for business purposes. To my Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, agnostic and other readers: This is also not a way to disrespect any other religion as inferior. It's just a way of explaining things.
Last updated: March 27th, 2011.