How Much Blog -- and How Often? | WebReference

How Much Blog -- and How Often?


How Much Blog — and How Often?

Steve Broback and DL Byron
Excerpted from Publish and Prosper: Blogging for Your Business, published by New Riders © 2006

If you've taken our advice and have fired up a "starter" blog, you've got a taste of what's required of you and your team in order to maintain at least a minimal presence in the blogosphere. As you are likely aware by now, blogging is fairly simple—but it's not effortless.

As many potential bloggers have learned the hard way, a blog without the resources to support it can turn a good idea into an embarrassing situation. A 2004 survey by Perseus Development Corporation found that 66 percent of surveyed blogs had not been updated in two months, making almost three million blogs that had been for all practical purposes abandoned. If you want your blog(s) to avoid this fate, make sure your company's resources and cultures align.

In this chapter, we'll cover the resource needs that business bloggers will want to consider, and how to rally the troops behind a blogging initiative.

What's It Going to Take?

As with many business initiatives, there's some circular logic that needs to be dealt with in the early stages of blog planning. The chicken-and-egg situation is that you can't easily ask for specific company resources when launching a business blog until you know what you need, yet you don't want to initiate extensive planning on a campaign unless you have an idea of what assets are available. Fortunately, with a blogging initiative, there are two factors in play that make life much easier for you as you start to plan. One is that you don't need to launch an expensive and labor-intensive project to get many of the benefits of blogging. Even a simple and inexpensive presence in the blogosphere can reap dividends.

Another factor is that growing a very small blog initiative into something bigger is relatively straightforward. An organization can apply more resources to a blog (or series of blogs) to grow the presence and audience without facing significant growing pains. In other words, blogging is not like the manufacturing hard goods; you don't need to buy land, build a new factory, and get showroom space to expand your operations.

In Chapter 1, "Meet the Blogs," we described a spectrum of corporate blogging approaches available to you. These included a couple of very low risk options that don't require any employees to actually blog. In this chapter, we'll focus on the alternatives that will require team members to be actively involved in posting and maintaining a business blogging presence. We'll describe what levels of cost and time commitment would be required to put each into action. Once we've laid out the scenarios, you can factor in what's realistic for your organization, and make a plan of action.

A Basic Blog

At the most basic level, you can set up a minimal presence with a free or inexpensive blog account on a hosted service like Blogger, TypePad, or Blog Harbor and have someone post as little as three to four times a week. While you can post less often than this, remember that search engines factor in frequency of updates when ranking results—so it's best to do what you can to post more often.

Part of this obligation should include time spent monitoring what other bloggers might be saying about your business and responding to their posts or comments. We'll cover this more thoroughly in Chapter 8, "Launching Your Blog and Getting Noticed."

The cash requirements for such a low-effort blog would be at most $25 per month for a subscription to a hosted service, and you should reasonably budget for someone to spend four to five hours a week to maintain this minimal presence. Expect to dedicate 20 hours or so to launching the blog and mastering the initial learning curve.

A starter level blog can be run by a single trusted individual who has the knowledge and judgment to make intelligent posts and won't likely expose the organization to any legal liabilities or embarrassment. While it's best to always have formal blogging policies in place, many of the businesses that have deployed a single trusted part-time blogger have not established formal rules, and instead have an informal "use your best judgment" standard. For example, the managers at Internet telephony provider Skype know that their employees are going to use their best judgment when posting to the company blog, Share Skype. The blog, started as a way for employees to share what they think is cool about the product, the company, and the user community, is low-budget, low-effort, and lots of fun for both Skype employees and customers (Figure 3.1).

Share Skype builds a community between Skype employees and their customers.
Figure 3.1 Share Skype builds a community between Skype employees and their customers.