A bit of a different blog to critique this time. Unlike my other blog critiques this is a blog attached to a network management product e-commerce store. Anyone with a corporate blog of any variety will likely be familiar with the challenges involved.
The OPENXTRA Blog was launched in November 2006 judging from the archives. There is a fair amount of news content and some posts with a modicum of insight into the inner workings of the company. Network management is a well-geeky topic so there is not the lack of web-savvy holding back this audience that you might find in, say, a knitting blog. On the other hand it is a corporate blog with a busy audience of intelligent people, you can’t just phone it in and expect a ton of visitors.
- Yellow-orange and grey, pleasant if a little plain, legible and clear
- All text, all the time
- Tag line: “Manage. Monitor. Test” – what does that mean? Where am I and what can I do here?
- Posts are informative, light on content but not always light hearted, published weekly?
- Mostly newsy, a little press-release stylee?
- Articles have authors but who are these people?
- Not clear who the blog is aimed at or what the benefit is from reading?
- Humanize – Add some warmth in the form of personality, photography, and tone
- Identify – Where is the empathy? You need a general about, plus a page or paragraph for each author. Who are you, what do you do, what do you look like, how can you be contacted, etc. People want to know people, not faceless businesses. And let’s hear from these people rather than the corporate “media channel”. Introduce yourself, if you want friends then learn to be friendly
- Not Us, Them! – go through your content and for every “I”, “We”, “Us”, “OPENXTRA”, “Our”, put a pound in a tin. It’s not about you it’s about them, your prospects and customers.
- WIIFM – What’s in it for me, why should I care, why should I read your blog and not something else? What have you got that nobody else has? What does “Manage. Monitor. Test” mean?
- Comments – How do you get conversation? Speak informally about stuff that will interest your audience. Ask questions. Don’t make the mistake though of believing if you get no comments that nobody is interested, sometimes people just don’t comment but still enjoy and see the value.
- Sell – People visiting e-commerce sites expect occasionally to be told about new products but it is not enough to just say “here are the facts”, make it interesting, show the benefits, enthuse, ask yourself “why is this news?” – it is not news just because you are stocking it, bring the stuff to life!
- Tell stories. Paint pictures – I read your blog and I am still non the wiser what your company is like. I’m sure it’s not a bunch of drones in beige dilbert cubes, prove it! Tell us about things that happen, regail us with what goes on, how you help people, interesting anecdotes, you don’t have to break confidences, just open up.
- Reach out – Break out of your bubble, link out, comment, interview, spread your tentacles out to the web and people will follow back.
- Promotion + Subscription + Rewards = Sticky – You are in a perfect position to offer some killer content and offers. The subject matter is perfect, there must be a million things you can write about networks and your products, and you surely must be able to give away vouchers or deals. Advertise your RSS, make it easy to sign up via email, reward subscription. Add your URL to every email sent out, and promote your Good Stuff everywhere it can be seen.
Corporate blogs are hard, no question about it. The rewards are there for those who put in the effort, consider their audience and have the courage to do what is necessary. People like dealing with people and are basically distracted and selfish, keep this in mind and you will build a real asset to your business.