If your company is contemplating a jump into social media marketing, beginning with a blog may seem like a sensible first step. Writing a blog post is not done on the fly (hopefully) unlike a tweet or a response to a Facebook post. You are in a more controlled environment. If you want, though we do not advise it, you can start out with moderated comments so that you can get used to the idea of two-way communication. Blog posts enable you to showcase some of your expertise along with your company’s “voice” or personality, too. We would not argue with any of those points, but we would caution against simply running into the blogosphere without a full understanding of what is considered inappropriate blogging behavior. A couple of weeks ago we talked a little bit about blog etiquette. Today we are going to talk about some mistakes we’ve seen that you definitely want to avoid.
1. Do not use your blog site to publish news releases
We see this quite often on company blogs, unfortunately. In some cases you can tell that the copy for the news release was simply copied and pasted into the site. We understand the logic behind this tactic. It’s relevant content, it’s already been written (and proofread), and there are likely good keywords that will help boost SEO. However, people do not (usually) visit blog sites so that they can find out what you want to sell them. People visit blog sites so that they can get an answer to an important question. Posting a news release to your blog shows a lack of understanding about how the blogosphere works and may incline people to think your company is lazy or lacks important knowledge about how to run a blog effectively. Don’t let that happen!
2. Do not forget to give proper attribution to sources
The world of blogging is highly competitive, and companies are understandably protective of their content. At the same time, blogging is just one of many tasks you have on any given day and in a rushed state you might forget to put that hyperlink in to the source you referenced. This can cause a lot of problems for you and your company because you may be accused of plagiarism. Whether you building on another person’s idea or quoting them directly, double check and make sure you have given them proper credit. If you are not sure that formal credit should be given, do it just to be on the safe side.
3. Don’t use a misleading headline
Oddly, I have seen this tactic more with experienced bloggers than with new bloggers, but it is still worth a cautionary note. The headline of your blog post is sort of like a handshake. You are greeting your reader and setting an expectation for what he or she will be reading about. Suddenly shifting your focus or moving in an unexpected direction can feel like a betrayal of trust to your reader, especially if your headline leads them to believe they will be getting information but what they get is a hard sell. I have seen blog head lines that seemed interesting only to discover it was really a pitch for a book the blogger was trying to sell. “Bait and switch” is not a good blogging strategy.
4. Don’t assume your readers will be using a computer
Increasingly, people are accessing blogs using smart phones. If your blog is set up on WordPress you can add a plug-in that will ensure your blog is mobile-friendly. Even with that set up, it is a good idea to access your blog the way your readers will. Subscribe to your own posts and see how they come through. Make sure everything is easy to read. Perhaps this might also encourage you to use a “read more” tag on posts that are longer than about 500 words so that people on a smart phone can opt to continue scrolling.
5. Don’t use your corporate blog to “call out” other brands or people
If you are an individual blogger not tied to a specific organization, your blog posts are your own, and although people may disagree with your approach, you are free to use it how you will. If that means that you want to berate people or “call out” companies, that’s your prerogative. Things are a little different if you are blogging on behalf of your company, however. As a company, if you “call out” other brands or people it can make you seem unprofessional or like you don’t have anything better to do. More to the point, these kinds of exchanges can spiral out of control fairly quickly, creating a bad PR situation that might be difficult to fix. We don’t see a good reason to risk it.
Those are our top five “Do not do” tips for blogging. What would you add?
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffhester/5633383557/ via Creative Commons