At many companies, if you propose a blog you will get a lot of resistance. It may come from older, senior executives who don’t read — or think they don’t — blogs. It may come from traditional marketers who don’t believe you can demonstrate ROI from a blog. It may come from lawyers who are worried about compliance issues and new risks. It may even come from some completely unexpected source. Here are some common arguments against corporate blogs, and some suggestions for countering those arguments.
“Our target audiences don’t read blogs”
That’s probably only true if you’re target audience isn’t online at all. The estimates vary, but in the U.S. tens of millions of people read blogs, with the estimates ranging from roughly 50 to 75 percent of all Internet users. Blogs are now commonly published on larger web sites for media outlets, universities, companies and other organizations that it’s unlikely that a typical Internet user doesn’t read at least from time to time.
And the numbers may even be higher than the statistics indicate. It is possible, that people read blogs and don’t realize it. Lots of news now gets published first on blogs, but I have heard even web-savvy people identify those blog posts as articles. Your target audience doesn’t read blogs? Only if they’re not online at all.
“We would be subject to comments we can’t control”
Many people in corporate environments associate blogs with unfettered criticism and comments — conversation they don’t want to publicize further. But the truth is the Internet is a bastion of free and unfettered conversation, and offline and online your organization is already subject to comments you can’t control. If you think you’re not, it probably means you’re just not aware of it. If those comments are on your blog, you can monitor what people say about you more closely. You can respond more quickly and more aggressively to correct untrue assertions and make a case for your viewpoint.
On your own blog, you also control if, when and how comments are left on your blog. While it’s not considered good form for most, some high profile bloggers have even shut off comments entirely on their sites. In many cases that’s probably not the best solution for a corporate blog, but if you get libelous, untrue or other problematic content showing up in comments, it’s easy to prevent that from showing up on your site.
“We wouldn’t have control of where the blog content ended up on the Internet”
As with comments, you already don’t have control of where your web content shows up on the Internet. Blogs are no different. The nature of information online is that it spreads. If you are publishing content that you think is worthwhile, important and relevant — why would you want to limit its spread? If you don’t want people to be familiar with your brand, to know what kind of expertise you have and to be exposed to your ideas, then you probably shouldn’t have a blog. But if you don’t want those things, you probably shouldn’t have a business, either.
“We can’t measure the ROI on a blog”
There’s an old joke in advertising: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. Trouble is, I don’t know which half.” Actually, things are a lot better now than when John Wanamaker, an early department store entrepreneur, tossed off that comment. Many big companies measure how effective and efficient their advertising, public relations and other marketing-communications efforts are (small companies should, but are often reluctant to spend a little more on measurement). Blogs are no different than any other marketing-communications tool, and you can measure the ROI on a blog just like anything else.
If you want to measure how many people you reach, track unique visitors to the blog. If you want to measure your influence in the industry, track how many people comment on your posts and share your content on other web sites. If you want to measure how a blog affects your sales, track how many people click through to your e-commerce site or how many customers cite “blog” when asked where they heard of you. If you want to do this formally (a good idea in a big organization), you might start with Katie Delahaye Paine’s excellent social media measurement checklist.
“A blog is not really the most important priority right now for the company”
The blog itself may not be a priority, but like many communications tools, a blog may be able to support whatever the company’s current priorities are. No one should start a blog just for the sake of having a blog, but tying in your blogging (and other communications activities) to overall organizational goals ought to be the first thing you do.
“Blogs are good for B2C marketing, but we’re a B2B company”
Blogs are designed for communicating to other people — period. B2B communications are aimed at real people, and there is little evidence that people buying for businesses make decisions differently than people buying for themselves. In fact, given the existence of services like business class airfare, I’d say there’s an argument that people buying for businesses are sometimes less rational than people buying for themselves. (Note — I’m in favor of business class airfare, but not because it saves anyone money. It makes business travel, which can be unpleasant, a little less arduous, and happy employees are worth a lot.)
“We don’t have the resources to create content for a blog and then spend all that time monitoring comments”
If a blog fits your communication goals, it might actually be less costly than other channels. While it takes time to run a blog, just as it takes time to run an advertising campaign, the primary cost of a blog is time. Other communications channels frequently have additional costs beyond time — advertising spend, printing, postage, etc.
If the concern is only about employee time (which is now, more than ever, in short supply), there are plenty of freelancers, consultants and agencies (like my employer) who would be happy to help.
“No one takes blogs seriously”
Really? Do people still say this? Yes, I suppose some do. Dell didn’t take a blog too seriously, until complaints about its product quality and warranty service became endemic and threatened the company’s reputation. Microsoft hired blogger Robert Scoble a few years ago, and he helped give the not-so-loved software giant a human face and an improved reputation. A few years ago Apple sued bloggers about confidential information they published. Turns out that these very large, very successful companies took bloggers very seriously. You should, too.
“We really need to be putting our efforts into Facebook, Twitter and social media”
Yes, you probably should be putting some effort into the newer social media platforms, which are becoming centers for conversation by your customers about your products and services (if not now, then eventually). But blogs were among the first of the “social media” channels, and still play a central role in many social media strategies. They allow you to publish more content, and have more control over it, than shorter-form sites such as Facebook and Twitter do. If your company is on Twitter or Facebook or other sites (or wants to be), than your company should be considering a blog as part of that strategy.
“IT can’t/won’t support a blog”
No problem. Host the blog on an outside server, with a separate domain if necessary, and hire a consultant who specializes in blogs to support it. Plus, many web hosting companies, including my hosting provider Dreamhost (affiliate link), make it easy even for people with few or no technical skills to set up a blog.
Don’t like the DIY solution? Well, why won’t IT support a blog? Chances are your IT staff support email, spreadsheets, smart phones and other applications and services. Chances are the IT staff has the skills to support a blog (whether they want to admit it or not). If IT won’t support your blog, that probably means you haven’t gotten true buy-in from all the executives you need to.
“Blogs are amateurish and embarrassing, and don’t match our brand”
Some blogs are amateurish and embarrassing, but your blog can be whatever you want to make of it. Many blogs are well designed, well written and popular; yours can be, too. All you have to do is make the effort, commit the resources and sit back and reap the rewards.
What arguments have you heard against blogs? How have you responded? Please share in the comments.