Blogging, since its inception, has always been a very personal endeavour – like an online journal of sorts, bloggers would share their opinions and views on all kinds of subjects, be they personal or not, but they always included their particular, subjective point of view. While blogging still means that to some, it has greatly evolved and it is now a tool used by anyone; from an unknown person who wants to share stories with the world to the biggest brands and companies in the world wanting to reach their audience in a new way. This begs the question, what is acceptable of a corporate blog? What should they be sharing and writing about, and what is the ethical aspect involved in this type of blogging? Is there even such a thing as the ethics of corporate blogging? Yes, there is.
Blogging has become almost a ‘must do’ for all kinds of businesses and more of them than ever before now have their own blog. Some successful, some not so much and some even seem to only have a blog just for the sake of it, because all of their competitors have one too. However bad or good a corporate blog might be is definitely debatable, but one thing is for sure, corporate bloggers face a very unique challenges: what should they share and how much should they share? How honest and transparent should they be on the blog? How do they find the perfect blend between promoting their brand and still offering useful content that provides some sort of value to their audiences?
Corporate blogging and transparency
We’ve talked about corporate blogging and its duty for honesty and transparency in another recent blog post. While years ago, when the first corporate blogs were popping up, corporate transparency was a very foreign concept, now, things have changed massively. This has happened particularly because the expectations of audiences have radically changed and they want honesty and transparency, more than ever before – otherwise, they might turn to the competition, or even worse, if they find out something bad about your brand before you get to tell them about it yourself, it is likely to end in a PR nightmare for the company.
Corporate bloggers, more than ever before, need to be as honest as possible on their blog. Transparency can have a lot of benefits, such as aiding you in building trust and loyalty among your audience and readership and building closer relationships with your readers, but it’s also becoming a bit of a necessary evil in a world where everything seems to come to light at some point, whether it’s good or bad (although, it seems like it’s mostly the bad!). By being as honest and transparent on your corporate blog as possible, you can help combat issues on your terms, which can massively help with your relationship with your readers and customers, than if they found out about them from other sources.
Honesty will also help you build a much a better and more engaging blog. People want to feel some personal touch in the blogs they read, not just a company talking about how amazing their products are.
Should you pretend you have no competitors?
Many corporate bloggers will shy away from ever mentioning any competitors in their blog posts – but is that the right way to go?
Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this question and it can depend a lot on the type of business you have, what industry you’re in and the level you are at as a company.
The issue is, readers expect quality and unbiased content from the blogs they want to read; but, at the same time, it’s quite understandable that companies wouldn’t want to advertise their competition in any way. It’s very much a catch 22 situation, which can make it impossible to determine the best course of action in this situation.
Many businesses, however, have managed to grow very successful blogs where they do talk about their competitors, and not in order to criticize them, but actually to present them in an unbiased, often positive way.
I think that at the end of the day, you don’t need to talk about your you don’t need to talk about your competitors on your corporate blog; but, if your goal is to create a top-notch industry blog, where it becomes a go-to source of information for audiences and not just any corporate blog, then you will need to mention your competitors as well, otherwise, it won’t be the honest, informative blog that your audience would expect from you. You also won’t be able to create a very good blog if you’re only talking about your business and your products, and never that of others.
Many businesses, particularly software companies, mention their competitors in their blog posts quite successfully. They’ve managed to build huge blogs because of it and they still stay afloat as a business or even thriving. The cause of this might also be the fact that by talking about their competitors they build more loyalty among their readership and they also show a certain confidence in their product: sure, they’re talking about competitors and pointing out their own benefits, but this must mean they have enough confidence in the quality of their product that they’re not afraid to do so.
Corporate blogging guidelines and brand voice
Corporate blogs should have very strict guidelines that every writer on the team should be made well aware of before they start participating on the blog. These guidelines are not just about restricting what the writers are allowed to write about, but many other aspects:
- Make sure they understand what the brand tone of voice is and stressing the importance of consistency of brand tone of voice
- Establish what the companies’ goals are from blogging, so that your bloggers can work towards achieving them; when you have different goals from blogging, the content you publish will have to be considerably different.
- Establish what your company values are so that bloggers know to respect them and employ them in the content they publish
- Transparency: how much are the bloggers allowed to say or not say? How transparent do you want to be on their blog?
- Representing the brand and company: bloggers should be made aware of the fact that they are representing a brand, so they will need to behave a certain way on the blog and on social media. We’ve all seen enough scandals because of employees posting some horrible update on Twitter and how just a few words can have a huge negative impact on the brand they represent.
The ethics of corporate blogging is a very convoluted subject, and it can be difficult to determine how it should be handled. What should you share and what shouldn’t you? How honest and transparent should you be?
What do you think are the most important aspects of creating an ethical corporate blog?