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How Could Bad Blogging Hurt Your Company?

Often clients assume I am always going to recommend blogging but that is simply not the case. I am not going to push blogs as the magic bullet solution because as you know, blogging does not suit every company or individual.

In most cases the decision is down to:

  1. Will a blog provide significant benefit compared to other tactics? – There are a number of ways a company can market, build an audience, attract search visibility without blogging. While for some companies a blog will be ideal, this is not always the case.
  2. Does the benefit outweigh the cost? – There are costs to blogging, from having the initial blog set up through to the staff time or paid cost in having it maintained.
  3. Can you as a company create a worthwhile blog? – Not all companies have people on staff or the budget for good, consistent writing. Also you need to know there are enough article ideas to see you through long term.

Now all that said, the risk of “getting it wrong” is small in most cases. People do worry though if there is a greater risk doing a blog badly compared to doing nothing at all.Let’s take a look at ways a blog could conceivably damage your brand:

  • Saying something damaging – This is the worst thing you can do through your blog, and it could well be much more damaging than saying something bad in person because as you know, internet news travels at light speed, provides its own evidence, and is hard to erase. If you have staff members with controversial views or who tend to run off their mouth then keep them away from the blog. Do not let anything go live without being checked for legalities, accuracy, intellectual property and good sense. My advice would be to avoid any form of snark or dark humor in a company blog. This is kind of the internet equivalent of letting the company big-mouth talk to the press. Just don’t.
  • Not responding to an issue – Not posting can be as damaging. If there is an issue building and you have a blog but do not address it then it looks like you are being evasive.
  • Over-prioritizing the blog – A blog is one thread in a multi-tactic strategy. Relying on your blog alone, to the expense of other marketing tactics, would be a mistake. Take me for example, I am a blog and marketing consultant but even I have to get out from my own blog, market myself and network.
  • Using the blog as distraction from work – Sometimes people get caught up with the thrill of blogging or just would rather tinker with a blog than get on with their real job. Blogging is fun, much more fun than many chores you might have in a business, so be careful that hours are not wastefully spent “blogging” rather than being productive.
  • Starting then abandoning a popular blog – This is not quite as damaging as people believe, but still can be a mistake when you have a lot of people who have subscribed only to find the posts dry up. Raising and dashing expectations is not the best business move. For this reason it is best to start a blog in “stealth mode” to see if it is possible for you to maintain a blog long term. Also do not think you have to post multiple times a day or even week. Once a week might be sufficient providing what you post is valuable. Far better to set expectations low and exceed them than the other way round.

As you can see, there are risks, but knowing risks before hand allows you to mitigate against them. I have in the past recommended companies go with an “articles” section and an email list over a blog when I didn’t feel they could keep up a blog. There are always options and ways around these issues.

Can you think of any other ways a company could harm their brand with bad blogging?

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Comments

  1. Those are good points, thanks for a great article. It truly needs to be a balance of some kind. Blogging take A LOT of work and time, sometimes there are other things that need attention as well.

  2. Those are good points, thanks for a great article. It truly needs to be a balance of some kind. Blogging take A LOT of work and time, sometimes there are other things that need attention as well.

  3. Great post, Chris. I agree that it’s not always the answer. I would state, though, that it’s a great answer to many companies – but they simply won’t do it out of fear.

  4. Great post, Chris. I agree that it’s not always the answer. I would state, though, that it’s a great answer to many companies – but they simply won’t do it out of fear.

  5. Great points, Chris. Not responding to an issue is a big one. Once you start a blog, you can’t just leave it on the table. You’re in it for the duration.

    One important factor for companies is whether they are already dealing honestly and transparently with their customers and the public. If not, any blog will likely be a failure. If a company regularly deceives about safety, effectiveness, or has deplorable customer service, a blog is the worst thing they can do. I think that’s one thing these kind of companies don’t get: blogs are not “just” public relations tools or propaganda machines.

    A successful blog for a good company is definitely a case of the “good guys” winning in the marketplace.

  6. Great points, Chris. Not responding to an issue is a big one. Once you start a blog, you can’t just leave it on the table. You’re in it for the duration.

    One important factor for companies is whether they are already dealing honestly and transparently with their customers and the public. If not, any blog will likely be a failure. If a company regularly deceives about safety, effectiveness, or has deplorable customer service, a blog is the worst thing they can do. I think that’s one thing these kind of companies don’t get: blogs are not “just” public relations tools or propaganda machines.

    A successful blog for a good company is definitely a case of the “good guys” winning in the marketplace.

  7. The market (kind of industry, B2B, B2C, …) might be a another factor that determines how useful a blog can be. Jakob Nielsen *The Usability Guru* wrote an article, why he is not blogging. He says, the blog-o-sphere is likely to promote posts written by others, by less qualified expert writers, than his own articles. It’s a matter of visibility. Of course this does not apply to every situation, but its a worthwhile read.
    http://www.useit.com/alertbox/articles-not-blogs.html
    This articles has a nice PR6. –John

  8. The market (kind of industry, B2B, B2C, …) might be a another factor that determines how useful a blog can be. Jakob Nielsen *The Usability Guru* wrote an article, why he is not blogging. He says, the blog-o-sphere is likely to promote posts written by others, by less qualified expert writers, than his own articles. It’s a matter of visibility. Of course this does not apply to every situation, but its a worthwhile read.
    http://www.useit.com/alertbox/articles-not-blogs.html
    This articles has a nice PR6. –John

  9. It might not come under direct purview of bad blogging, but not having a vision or goal from your company blog can hurt the brand image of the company to a certain extent.

    Especially when they fail to come up with a proper use of their blog – is it for news and announcements? is it for promotion and seo to get your yet unclaimed markets.. is it a way to open an interactive medium with your existing clients.. or all of it together

    whatever be the reason, I feel once chosen the company should stick to that use from the outset. Otherwise it can lead to a mismatch between what the clients/viewers expect and what the firm actually delivers..

    and a mismatch is not really what one would call ideal for a brand

  10. It might not come under direct purview of bad blogging, but not having a vision or goal from your company blog can hurt the brand image of the company to a certain extent.

    Especially when they fail to come up with a proper use of their blog – is it for news and announcements? is it for promotion and seo to get your yet unclaimed markets.. is it a way to open an interactive medium with your existing clients.. or all of it together

    whatever be the reason, I feel once chosen the company should stick to that use from the outset. Otherwise it can lead to a mismatch between what the clients/viewers expect and what the firm actually delivers..

    and a mismatch is not really what one would call ideal for a brand

  11. > Using the blog as distraction from work

    Blogging instead of doing things I “have to” to do is a problem I sometimes have. “Clean the bathroom” or “blog”, ummm I think I will write that post now…

  12. > Using the blog as distraction from work

    Blogging instead of doing things I “have to” to do is a problem I sometimes have. “Clean the bathroom” or “blog”, ummm I think I will write that post now…

  13. Interesting info there Chris.

    So Matt does a good job isn’t it?

    Cheers!
    Mani

  14. Interesting info there Chris.

    So Matt does a good job isn’t it?

    Cheers!
    Mani

  15. I’d add to the list, “missing the target” with the company blog.

    Most often, I think, this shows up when a company uses their blog exclusively for hard-sell pieces and product announcements… and then they wonder why nobody reads it!

    The most successful corporate blogs I’ve seen are those that post about things of interest to their customers, in a broader sense.

    My all-time favourite is a company that sells antique and reproduction home hardware. In their blog, the top-knotch writers (primarily Lucy Atkinson) seldom refers in any overt way to their own selection of door-knockers, for example, but rather choose to post a tongue-in-cheek piece on the history of door-knockers or such. Brilliant.

    I might subscribe to more company blogs if they could manage to blog like this… well, to do it like real bloggers!

  16. I’d add to the list, “missing the target” with the company blog.

    Most often, I think, this shows up when a company uses their blog exclusively for hard-sell pieces and product announcements… and then they wonder why nobody reads it!

    The most successful corporate blogs I’ve seen are those that post about things of interest to their customers, in a broader sense.

    My all-time favourite is a company that sells antique and reproduction home hardware. In their blog, the top-knotch writers (primarily Lucy Atkinson) seldom refers in any overt way to their own selection of door-knockers, for example, but rather choose to post a tongue-in-cheek piece on the history of door-knockers or such. Brilliant.

    I might subscribe to more company blogs if they could manage to blog like this… well, to do it like real bloggers!

  17. I completely agree with you Jen. The best way to turn someone off is to make your blog sound like an advertisement. When you give people valuable content that shows you know your field or the type of products you sell, it instills confidence without having do do any selling at all. They’ll check you out if they’re looking for what you offer.

    Something else that could damage a brand is a poorly written blog. Of course bad grammar/spelling will turn people off. But it’s also important to have the right voice for the audience. If bloggers are hired or recruited within the company, they should understand what style would most appeal to the people most likely to read the blog. When I write for a music biz audience, my style is pretty hang loose and very friendly. But if I write for a more corporate group, I’m more formal and professional sounding. So style and voice is important to get right too!

    Cheers,
    Daylle

  18. I completely agree with you Jen. The best way to turn someone off is to make your blog sound like an advertisement. When you give people valuable content that shows you know your field or the type of products you sell, it instills confidence without having do do any selling at all. They’ll check you out if they’re looking for what you offer.

    Something else that could damage a brand is a poorly written blog. Of course bad grammar/spelling will turn people off. But it’s also important to have the right voice for the audience. If bloggers are hired or recruited within the company, they should understand what style would most appeal to the people most likely to read the blog. When I write for a music biz audience, my style is pretty hang loose and very friendly. But if I write for a more corporate group, I’m more formal and professional sounding. So style and voice is important to get right too!

    Cheers,
    Daylle

  19. Great post! I hardly ever read official company blogs because they are usually just glorified advertisements posing as blogs. Too many corporate blogs are just marketing drivel that only they care about. Blogs are a great tool, when used correctly, but many companies don’t understand this.

  20. Great post! I hardly ever read official company blogs because they are usually just glorified advertisements posing as blogs. Too many corporate blogs are just marketing drivel that only they care about. Blogs are a great tool, when used correctly, but many companies don’t understand this.