I'll start out by stating the obvious—it's important for your company to write a blog.
You've read that in every major publication within the last year, so it comes as no surprise. What are not so obvious are the benefits. For starters, blogging is one of the easiest ways to drive traffic to your site. Search engines look for relevance among keywords as a basis for search result ranking, and chances are you are writing about your company, or at least the service it provides, so you've got the relevance covered. Another reason to start a company blog is to provide a forum for chatter for you, your employees and your customers. The list goes on. But, let's get to the helpful stuff. How do you write a successful blog for your company?
1) Write about what you know, or get help from people that do know.
It's quite simple. If your company provides a service, and you're not the "hands on" do-er, let the do-ers help contribute to the blog. Authenticity is key. Blog readers know when someone from your marketing team, or the "non-expert," is the author. I'm not saying that you as the director of marketing shouldn't write on behalf of your products or services; I'm just recommending that you do your homework first. Do research online and cross-link to a site that may validate your thought. Or interview someone from your team that might know about a particular topic. Attribute their expertise (and ultimately your company's expertise) to the topic—otherwise your post is a matter of opinion versus an expert opinion. Present your insight, then validate it with other members from your team. Which leads me to my next tip…
2) Open your blog up to select team members, or all team members.
I know what you're thinking. This is a CEO’s worst nightmare. But it shouldn't be. Think of it this way: your staff are experts in different areas. For driving greater numbers in readership to your blog, consider the range of interest areas your blog could focus on. Take me for example. I'm the interactive art director at Planit Advertising, a company with many talented people, with many different specialties. If I was the only person that wrote anything on this blog, then the focus would be completely web-based, or at least very light on detail. If your concern is lack of control over what people write (or how they write), then select blogging software that offers approval process functionality. Most do.
3) Know the language of blogging
There are different terms used that could make blogging seem overwhelming for a first-timer. I'm not about to present to you a full glossary of blogging terms, but I'll give you the top six terms you'll need to understand to get started with your blog.
Tags: Tags are essentially search terms within your blog. If you write a post about customer service, then one of your tags for your post should be "customer service." If a user then reads the post, and clicks on the tag "customer service," they will see a search results page of all posts (from your blog) tagged with customer service. Categories: Think of categories as your blog's interest areas. Tags organize individual entries, while categories organize the blog as a whole. A good way to categorize a company blog could be based on department or specialty. Slug/Permalink: A post slug is a prettier way of naming a direct link (or permalink) to your post. This is crucial for search engines and for making your links more descriptive for people to pass along. Trackback/Cross-linking: Trackback links and cross-linking enable readers to quickly see where certain information described in your post was obtained from. For instance, notice how I linked "select blogging software" above? This makes it easier for the reader to learn more about the topic, and gives credit to another site. Cross-linking between sites with relevant information also helps search engines rank your blog. RSS/RSS Aggregator: Offering Real Simple Syndication (RSS) links (all blogging software offers this link by default) allows your readers to "subscribe" to your blog. They are, in effect, granting you permission to send them blog updates through their RSS Aggregator. Aggregators are free online software programs that help users organize their RSS feeds. Google Reader; Personalized Google Homepages; My Yahoo; and my personal favorite, Netvibes, are some of the more popular aggregators. Social Bookmark: Social bookmarks are quick links to share blog entries. You WANT people to share, review, subscribe and link to your blog entries. This will only get your site more traffic and help rank it higher in search engines. They should be dynamically added after each post. Add this and Add to Any are the most commonly used social bookmark tools. These free tools also capture user statistics.
4) Use it as a platform to be honest
If your company screwed up, then tell people you screwed up, and share how you learned from your mistakes. Full transparency in your blog is a great way to garner respect and trust from your customers. Talk about what you've been working on. In the past you may have kept new projects quiet, but the sooner your name is associated with these topics, the sooner the web community attributes you to its successes. I'd encourage you to use your own discretion when writing about certain topics, but just know that if you don't write about it first, someone else will. Last, but most definitely not least…
5) Show some personality!
It's not just about what you say, it's about how you say it. Blogs should be your company personified. If you met your company at a (nice) bar, what personality would it have? Would it just talk about its successes all night long? Would it speak like a walking brochure or press release? Of course not. Let your blog come to life through the natural voice of your team. It's just as important to your audience to read about your expertise and successes as it is to experience your work culture. Also, don't forget to use images and video whenever possible to make for a more compelling read. If you're writing about your company's quality customer service, accompany your entry with a picture of your customer service reps. It's that easy.