A few months ago I attended a Guardian Master Class on Data Visualisation hosted by Tobias Sturt, Head of creative at Guardian Digital Agency and Adam Frost, Data Visualisation Manager at Guardian Digital Agency. Both were incredibly friendly, down-to-earth and made the class very enjoyable. I highly recommend checking them (and their work) out. Data ...
I recently discussed a new website project with a client; a consumer brand, and the topic of content turned to blogging. My client wanted to know if they absolutely have to have a blog in our increasingly social environment. Whilst there are many benefits to blogging, such as community engagement, a channel for interaction, the blog as a 'humanising voice', etc. In this case and on further discussion we decided that a blog was not in fact appropriate.
I got to thinking that this could mean a lot of consumer brands and websites are adding content and functionality that is actually counter-productive to their brand, due to available resource and stage of development. It seems there is a lot of pressure and evangelical promotion of social communications that can lead a business to feel that they are not professional, '2.0' or approachable if they're not engaging in such activities. I decided therefore to examine the circumstances when it's best not to blog.
1. If you do not have the time or the resource
A blog should allow a consumer brand to give a less formal perspective and an inside view on activities and happenings within that organisation. If your organisation does not have the time or available resource to commit to regular and open communication, then schedule blogging for a later date in your brand development. Nothing smacks more of insincerity than a half-arsed blog.
2. If you cannot/will not disclose
If for whatever business reason you are not able to share more than you do in a press release, then don't blog it. A blog is not media communication tool (though media professionals can of course get a great level of organisational insight from company blogs) so do not feel tempted to re-hash or replicate your press releases in blog form. Your customers and fans will not be hugely interested in formal announcements or whoever has just won your accounting software contract.
3. If you can't take the heat (i.e. accept feedback)
Okay, so a blog technically by definition; (and as an abbreviation of weblog) is essentially a record of activities, happenings, thoughts opinions and sometimes feelings. A blog is still a blog without the facility to allow user interaction in the form of comments and feedback, but really why bother unless your brand is ready to engage with readers? Again we come back to the point of what are you really offering that is distinct to your press releases? A blog really is a valuable platform to spark conversation, debate, allow insight and open up your business or brand to the people that actually buy it. Why the hell not allow the most important people connected to your organisation (your customers) have their say too? If you are blogging well and if you are sharing real insight and excitement then allowing comment and community input can be the most valuable (and free) insight you can get!
These are just some of the reasons and situations I could think of when blogging is not the best idea for a consumer brand. Don't misunderstand me, I am usually a great advocate of blogging and all social media in general; however I thought it important to get the point across. Don't succumb to the pressure and blog for blogs' sake.
Please help me expand on the list above and add other reasons you can think of when a consumer brand would be best not to blog!