Thursday, 23 March 2006

rather serious thoughts on 'business blogs'

I'd be grateful for some opinions, here.

I've spent the last couple of days setting up a 'blog' for our business site. People have been sliding flat food at me under the door of the office and staying out of my way while I wrestle with templates and something called Greymatter; an open source blog software that seems quite powerful but which I have never used before.

It's taken me a lot of persuading to go the 'business blog' route. It doesn't fit in with what I feel a blog actually is.

To me, to be a 'proper' blog, a site must have a personal emphasis, whatever aspect that takes; personal because it's someone (or a group of people) expressing an opinion about politics; personal because it is a ramble about someone's daily life, or their children, or their travels through China. It can even be a personal blog about what they do at work. But it's the personal journal aspect of it that makes it a blog.

Personal, to me, is the key.

I actually resent what I see as the hijacking of the blog-medium by people who want to sell me stuff and who I perceive as exploiting that 'personal' aspect of blogging to try to make me feel more comfortable about their products.

However, from a business viewpoint, I can see the advantages of giving potential (and exisiting) clients the feeling that they know one's company; that there is a personal relationship there that makes them more comfortable using you.

And as a business, we have just employed a Marketing Bird to help us market ourselves. Having employed her, it seems foolish not to take her advice. And one of the observations that she made was that our website was 'rather static'. After I had got over my burst of grumpiness at her daring to criticise my baby, I took her constructive criticism on board.

One way of making it less static is to have content that is regularly updated. And one of the ways to do this is to have a 'blog' section that is updated regularly.

There are a number of issues with this, my principles aside:

  1. What can you write about regularly that isn't deadly boring?
  2. Amusing stories are going to be difficult to write without identifying clients.
  3. Amusing stories at our expense might make us looks like incompetents that people wouldn't want to employ. Not that we are incompetents that people wouldn't want to employ, but sometimes things happen on jobs that might give that impression .... you know what I mean. I hope.
  4. Phrases like the one that B (sitting here beside me in the office) has just used to describe the accomodation they've been booked in to for a job next week - "That place is the ultimate 'wank and weep' hotel", although funny, are not appropriate in a professional context.
So we have compromised.

It's not a blog. It's a Newsletter.

We are going to update it weekly.

We are going to have various 'themes' that we update it with; Employee of the month, that kind of thing.

I have shoved the first hundred words in an iframe on the front page of the website and made it click-through-able. We now need to see what Marketing Bird thinks about it.

My breath is bated, slightly passive-aggressively.

In other news:

Polish Lodger's Girlfriend's Cousin has finally left.

We are sad and so are the cats.

Although it does look like she'll be coming back after a few months, as she's applied to various local colleges.

I go now, to wrestle with iframes. If anyone has an opinion about this, I'd be really glad to hear it (not iframes, lovely though they are - but the concept of 'business blogging' in general).

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