The article Defending yourself against the blogs from Multichannel Merchant (May issue) offers some good advice to merchants on how to more effectively manage their brand in the blogosphere.
The article opens with a story of how Greenpeace successfully pressured Gorton’s parent company Nissui to pull out of the whaling business by inciting a blogstorm against Gorton’s. I feel so ‘out of it’ — reading the article was the first I’d heard of this and Gorton’s, & Gorton’s Fresh Seafood are clients of mine! (well, not mine personally, but of my web dev / SEO agency Netconcepts)
Also included in the article are some comments (from yours truly!) on how to enter the blogosphere effectively:
- Create a “safe haven” for employees to experiment with blogging. Set up a private blog on your intranet or extranet, or start a blog that’s password-protected. Then offer access to that test to a selected audience. Your inexperienced bloggers will feel more comfortable knowing that all your customers and competitors are not watching their every move.
- Decide on a permanent home for your blog. The Web address you choose should be one that you will be happy with for years to come. Remember that it will become difficult to switch blog services if you allow the service’s name to be part of your URL. Ehobbies.blogs.com, backcountryblog.blogspot.com, and sethgodin.typepad.com are all examples of blogs that are forever wedded to their blog platform, for better or for worse. If they switch platforms, all the links they’ve earned will be unavailable to their new blog. Links are the lifeblood of your search engine visibility, so the significance of this cannot be overstated.
- Select a scalable, flexible, and user-friendly blog platform. There are so many solutions to choose from! Some are hosted services, such as TypePad, Blogger, and WordPress.com. Some are software packages that you install on your Web server, such as WordPress, Drupal, or Movable Type. You can pore over comparison charts (such as the one at www.ojr.org/ojr/images/blog_software_comparison.cfm), though I suggest you simply go with WordPress (the software package, not to be confused with the hosted service at WordPress.com). WordPress is free, so the price is right. It’s highly configurable, since it’s open source, and it has a plethora of free, useful plug-ins written for it.
- Decide on a posting schedule. Try to post at least three times a week. Allow several hours per week for this. I typically spend two to three hours a week blogging. Don’t hire a ghostwriter for your blog, or you’ll get slammed by bloggers for lack of transparency (an unwritten rule in the blogosphere). As far as retaining readers, recency is more important than frequency. A couple weeks of inactivity makes the reader feel like nobody’s home. Conversely, having the latest post be only a day old makes the blog appear “fresh.”
- Build relationships with respected bloggers. Not only will they be more likely to link to you, but they will also offer advice and bolster your street cred. Posting thoughtful comments on their blogs is only the first step. Attend blogger conferences such as BlogOn and Blog Business Summit and meet bloggers in person. Keep the dialogue going through e-mail and through phone or Skype conversations. Become an evangelist, and you will really get them on your side.
You may also want to check out on my own blog the unabridged version of my ecommerce blog tips that I had sent to the Multichannel Merchant journalist. It further expounds on the five tips.