The Pros and Cons of Business Blogging

by Jean Van Rensselar

Although it seems like every company has a blog nowadays. But the truth is, many businesses - especially smaller businesses- don't have one. If you're thinking of starting a blog for your business, here are the pros and cons you'll want to consider.

I know what you’re thinking – Don’t most companies have a blog by now? Well, yours doesn’t or you wouldn’t be reading this. 

The ideal corporate blog evolves in an atmosphere of trust where posters don’t feel intimidated or stifled. But encouraging openness while discouraging damaging remarks is a very difficult tightrope to walk. Many large companies have discontinued blogs because the atmosphere of candor invites legal problems.

The number one reason that businesses of every size don’t have a blog is mega fear. Some of that fear is legitimate and some is not – that’s what this article will explore with unbiased information and very little advice.

There are two kinds of company blogs – internal and external. There is far less legal risk with an internal blog, mainly because employees don’t post negative remarks for fear of recrimination.

Internal Blogs

Internal blogs, usually accessed via the company’s Intranet, are blogs that any employee and only employees can view. Since employees use them as meeting sites and forums for e-mail discussions, they allow a diverse range of participants at multiple physical locations to contribute their expertise.



Uses for internal blogs include:

  • Project collaboration and brainstorming
  • Company announcements
  • Reinforcing policy
  • Sharing information and best practices
  • Identifying and clearing up misconceptions
  • Catching employee grievances early

External Blogs

The publicly available external blog allows employees and spokespeople to get information quickly, share their opinions, and ask questions. Some external blogs also allow the public to comment. With a little luck, people who love what the company offers will comment regularly.

Because blogs are informal and up-to-the-minute, they will increase transparency – allowing interaction with customers and prospects on a level that encourages closer relationships.

The first thing to ask yourself is if you really need a blog.

External company blogs are now one of the media’s top tools for finding news and feature ideas. And this is exactly what makes most small business administrators cringe. Other uses for external blogs include:

  • Boosting search engine rank
  • Soliciting feedback from customers and prospects
  • Developing new products and services
  • Demonstrating thought leadership

If you’re thinking about an external blog, you need to ask yourself who will participate in the blog. Do your customers/prospects generally read blogs? If not, then don’t create an external blog. There’s no point.

Benefits

The benefits of internal and external blogs are different – but they have some things in common: both increase openness, allow direct and timely communication, and are a relatively inexpensive way to gather credible information.

Benefits of internal blogs include:

  • Knowledge Sharing: Blogs are a way to share expertise on specific topics and are especially useful to employees involved in technical areas requiring cutting-edge information.

  • Project Management: While there are certainly more comprehensive ways to manage projects – few are as simple to use as blogs, which allow team members to document a project, its progress, its successes and challenges, and lessons learned.

  • Broad Communication among Teams and Across Sites: The shared blog space allows users to develop each other’s ideas, answer questions, and solve puzzles.

  • Venting: Better out in the open than at the water cooler - maybe.

Benefits of external blogs include:

  • Search Engine Optimization: Blogs are tailor-made for search engine algorithms. If your blog is hosted on the same domain as your Web site, then your blog will attract traffic that migrates into the rest of your site – especially if you direct it there.

  • Maximum Media and Public Relations Attention: Both online and print media sources troll company blogs to look for news and feature ideas. Your Web site (and blog) will be one of the first places they look for information during a crisis.

  • Collaborative Product Development: One of the best sources of product/service development is reading through posts that are critical of your current offerings – especially if other posters concur. Plumb the posts for specifics and ask for clarification early – this will not only give you valuable information, but it will show blog readers that you take complaints seriously.

  • Improved Customer Assistance: If you have a complex technical product or service, a blog will be a great way for people who use your offerings to get quick solutions from each other.

  • The Ability to Easily Conduct Polls and Receive Feedback: This is assuming that the demographic you need to poll reads your blog.

  • Improved Customer and Prospect Relations: Although research shows that very few customers and prospects participate in blogs – building relationships is still a legitimate benefit.

Some experts say that Twitter is replacing blogs, but you can see from the above that there are many blog functions that Tweets can’t perform – such as any kind of meaningful discussion about anything.

Next: The Risks and Other Considerations >>

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