What exactly makes a good blog post?
For corporate bloggers, the most important factors include (factual is assumed), telling a good story, weaving in data, and doing it with passion.
The corporate blog should be the center of gravity for a corporate social media framework. With this in mind, and a few basic guidelines for effective corporate blogs, here are some additional ideas on what makes a good post.
1. Industry or issues analysis with strong opinions. Having a well-founded opinion goes a long way. For example, this post here about Twitter’s impact on communications and is a prime example of industry analysis. As for issues, this post articulates the author’s view of just what constitutes spam in the comments section of a blog. The latter is especially useful because it serves as advice for those moderating a blog, or those seeking to contribute to the conversation in the comments section. A key point in both of these examples is timing — both commentaries center on ideas that are currently hot or controversial. Another good example of industry analysis is this post on Why the Mobile Web Won’t Save Sirius XM and is especially interesting for me in the context of Porter’s Five Forces — which makes an excellent framework for posts on the competitive environment.
2. Cross-blog chatter is another good way to stir up dust. The ongoing philosophical debate over Chris Anderson’s Free has intellectual heavy weights responding to each other’s posts across the blogosphere, for example. One example I’m not a big fan of is “calling out” with meanness, which some see as means to build a name while tearing down others. It’s fine to disagree, but do it diplomatically: go after the idea, not the person or people.
3. Posts that are revealing, even philosophical in nature tend to go over well. The idea here is an epiphany — a realization that about why ugly sells that is thought provoking for the reader. Often these have a counter-intuitive bent, which is why that one weird trick is a call-to-action that’s hard to resist: Improve Marketing ROI 700% with this One Weird Trick!
4. Giving advice is another popular blog idea. Perhaps you’re a subject matter expert, or you learned from a specific experience, in either case, here are two examples of good advice posts on making stuff up and avoiding PR Gotchas. Small businesses like a home maintenance company can gain great traction and credibility by offering “how to” posts on common home maintenance issues.
5. Top Nth lists are a form of advice such as the top 10 things to do (or not to do) and often catch the eye. Sometimes a list of few or more might work and for others its more than a dozen. A list of five make a nice round number, but I have read somewhere before that psychologically, seven is optimal, hence Stephen Covey’s Seven Highly Effective Habits: 7 Essential Principles to Succeed in PR.
6. Publishing mistakes can also make for an effective post. Generally, with a few exceptions, I’m adverse to corporations calling individual people or companies out for blunders. This is usually best reserved for the pundits and a company should strive to stay above the fray — even if the competition is letting you have it on the chin. A shot back at the competition can be momentarily satisfying, but its penny wise and pound foolish. A better strategy is to publish your own mistakes. First it builds tension, an important aspect of storytelling, and secondly, people admire those that overcome struggles.
7. Case studies are a rare opportunity to plug your product. Take care to not over-hype the results, rather rip out the problem-solution-results format and tell a story. Corporate bloggers should strive to take a journalist’s approach to writing case studies — that is to be as neutral or agnostic as possible. Also, don’t be afraid to point out failures because the public, especially the American public, is very forgiving and people naturally admire honesty. Businesses will do well to point out where they’ve erred and what they learned from their mistakes — and you’ll grow your credibility with customers and prospects.
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These are just a handful of examples of what makes a good blog post. Other ideas are welcome and please feel free to submit them in the comments section.
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