How to sustain your corporate blog
A client recently asked me to give a presentation about blogging – how to make blogging successful in their organization.
I didn’t have to convince this client that blogging is an important medium with great potential – they already believed it. In fact, they’ve already made a number of attempts at different forms of corporate blogging.
Except that most of these efforts eventually fizzled out, often because the bloggers eventually became “too busy”.
This problem is common among many other organizations I’ve dealt with. They’ve tried out blogging, sometimes with great fanfare. But the results have turned out disappointing. The blogs, hardly updated, and mostly uninteresting, mostly fade slowly into oblivion.
Corporate blogging isn’t an easy and straightforward matter, if you want it to be successful and sustainable. It’s not just a matter of setting up a blogging system, and convincing some volunteers to contribute.
Sustainable corporate blogging needs to be approached systematically, with the following factors accounted for, otherwise it will be just a hit-and-miss affair
Intrinsic motivation of blogger
Is the blogger motivated to blog? Or are they just an unwilling volunteer?
I’m not talking about extrinsic motivation here (“I want to blog so that I can get a raise”), but intrinsic motivation. The blogger has to believe in blogging, that their voice through blogging can make a difference to the organization.
Don’t even bother if you don’t have an intrinsically motivated blogger.
Ability of blogger
Just because a blogger is highly motivated and enthusiastic about blogging doesn’t necessarily make them the right person to blog.
Can your blogger write in an engaging manner, or are they effective sleeping pill substitutes?
Your blogging efforts (and your readers, if any) will soon doze off if it’s the latter.
Your motivated and competent blogger does not blog in vacuum. They are affected by their peers and colleagues.
Is your blogger eyed with suspicion and disdain? Do they become the butt of “harmless” jokes at the water cooler? Or is the blogging role encouraged and admired by colleagues and peers?
If your blogger does not get social support from co-workers, motivation will soon wilt.
Top management support
The corporate blogging effort probably has top management approval, but how strong is it?
Is the blogging project some stealth project that top management can quickly denounce if something goes wrong? Or are they fully behind the effort?
If the blogger wants to interview the CEO, does the CEO welcome the interview, or is the CEO “too busy” and puts the blogger on hold? Indefinitely?
Top management’s actions towards the blogger speaks volumes about their attitude towards blogging, no many how much lip service they give. And their attitude towards blogging often cascades down to the rest of the organization.
If top management fully supports blogging, then the rest of the points should come quite easily.
If the blogger requires additional resources for blogging, such as a digital camera, does the blogger get it? Is there a real and reasonable budget allocated for blogging? Or must the blogger beg, borrow, or steal to get necessary resources to support the blogging effort
Blogging – quality blogging – takes a lot of time. Is blogging an additional responsibility for the blogger? Or is the blogger relieved of some other responsibility, so that they actually have the time to blog?
This point is so obvious, but yet it’s almost always overlooked. We somehow expect bloggers to keep blogging consistently, in addition to their normal work, and despite their already-packed schedules. Unless your blogger is wildly passionate, obsessive, or slightly insane, you can expect the blogging frequency to decrease.
Extrinsic motivation and accountability
Congratulations if you’ve met all the previous criteria – your corporate blogging efforts already has a very good chance of sustaining, even without this point.
Extrinsic motivation is how the blogger as an employee rewarded for their performance in blogging. (What “performance” means in this case is another matter.) Is blogging among their KPIs? Is their performance bonus tied to their blogging performance?
Closely related to this is accountability. Who is accountable to ensure the blogging performance? Who is held accountable for non-performance?
Many bloggers reading this might balk at this last point, since they’ve only known blogging out of pure passion, and think that extrinsic motivation and accountability might kill the passion.
It would, if this was the primary motivation.
I would emphasize that extrinsic motivation and accountability should be put in place last, only after all the preceding points have been put properly in place.
Once the preceding points are in place, extrinsic motivation and accountability then becomes an additional and official recognition of the blogger’s role. Just like every employee should have the extrinsic motivation and accountability for whatever their work is.
When you hire someone to, say, be the salesperson of your product, you find someone who likes sales, who can sell well, and you put in place structures to support their sales activity.
Corporate blogging should not be treated any differently from any other kind of work activity if you want it sustainable.