There have been a number of notable articles in recent years about corporate blogging, but most of them suffer from the same problem that blogging has always had: it’s different to help a large group of people understand concepts that are fuzzy and inconsistent. The business community generally accepts that corporate blogging is here to stay, but what they mean by “corporate blogging” can differ wildly from one individual to another.
While I feel that this situation is normal (and to some extent, probably desirable), I thought it might be interesting to try to impose some clarity onto the situation, based on my understanding of corporate blogging as I’ve watched it evolve in the past several years. With that in mind, I present the Corporate Blogging Genome, a simple way to classify and identify corporate blogs by their nature and type.
(Please don’t take this too seriously — this is definitely a mental exercise more than a proposed scheme for pigeonholing the varied and complicated world of corporate blogging!)
How It Works
There are four basic parameters (Audience, Emphasis, Control, and Formality), each of which has two possible options (e.g., a corporate blog’s target audience can be Internal or External).
Once you’ve identified where your corporate blog falls within each of those four parameters, you’ll take the first letter of each of your choices and string them together into a single four-letter code.
That code is your Corporate Blogging Genome. It won’t directly boost sales or seal your exist strategy, but it will help you understand your blog and focus your efforts accordingly, which can have great indirect benefits on your business.
On to the details!
Audience: Employees or Public?
The most important question (and unfortunately one of the least asked) is “Who is the blog for?”
- Employees: Knowledge blogs, project blogs, internal goof-off blogs, etc., all fall into this category.
- Public: Primarily oriented toward expressing something within the company (announcements, ideas, opinions, etc.) to the outside world.
Control: Open or Closed?
Companies can get understandably nervous about spilling their guts online, so some blogs are definitely more tightly controlled than others.
- Open: Open blogs can generally be edited by a large group of people (sometimes the entire staff), giving everyone the ability to share their ideas.
- Closed: Closed blogs are limited to a very small group or a single individual, typically the CEO or a marketing/PR person. (This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and can often be an appropriate choice for a company.)
Emphasis: Random or Targeted?
Blogs can cover almost any subject imaginable, so providing some clear (or intentionally unclear!) direction is essential for keeping things on the right track.
- Random: Free-form blog that can cover any subject under the sun: movies, politics, funny videos, etc.
- Targeted: These blogs focus on specific subjects, typically related to the company (e.g., industry articles) or a specific context within the company (e.g., a particular project)
Formality: Formal or Casual?
Just because it has a goofy name like “blog” doesn’t mean it has to be sloppy and haphazard! In recent years, blogs have become a signficant source of high-quality information and resources, in part because many of them have begun to regard themselves more formally, taking the time to perform research and encourage high-quality writing.
- Formal: Features clear, well-written, and generally fact-oriented articles.
- Casual: Characterized by brief, loosely-written, and often opinionated posts.
So, what are you?
At Forty, our blog has evolved over the years, but is currently optimized as a POTF:
- Public: It’s geared toward business owners, rather than for our internal staff.
- Open: All employees are able to post articles to it.
- Targeted: We’ve removed all articles not related to issues faced by business owners, and that’s what we’ll be writing about in the future.
- Formal: We put a lot of time and effort into our articles, rather than just dashing them off.
(That certainly doesn’t mean that POTF is any kind of ideal — it’s just what we happen to do.)
How would you categorize your company’s blog?