Can Your Company Be Customer-Centric If Your Blog Isn’t?

by Jason Falls |

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Ian Greenleigh, the Social Media Manager for Bazaarvoice.

I’ve written a lot about what makes a corporate blog successful and why most fail miserably. Infrequent posts. Content inconsistency. Lazy editors. Buried calls-to-action. Take your pick—these mistakes are all symptomatic of impending blog disaster, but none alone are a death sentence. So what is?

The curse of company-centric content

Blogging for Cats
Image by Vicki’s Pics via Flickr

Nearly all of the ghost town blogs I’ve evaluated share a common focus: themselves. And yet, I’d be willing to wager that none of their corporate owners would blink before telling you that their company was customer-centric. This is the dire disconnect that keeps a blog from delivering value to its readers, and few companies seem to realize the hypocrisy of investing millions in marketing campaigns to convince customers that they care while simultaneously blogging almost exclusively about themselves.

This problem originates with a fundamental misperception about the ideal role of the company blog. Too many see it as nothing more than a place to plaster press releases, company updates, event promotions and product information. When is the last time you saw a tweet from someone you follow that led you to a “content dump” like this? The blogs that end up thriving focus intensely on serving their current and prospective customers.  They address common pain points, explore fascinating ideas, share unique perspectives and generate spirited discussions about things their customers care about. These blogs tell stories in which they are not the main character.

Don’t burn the press releases

An informal, anonymous survey of our blog readers found that only 3% are interested in seeing posts that offer “info on our products and services,” while only 10% want to see “updates about Bazaarvoice” on the blog. The rest were interested in strategy, thought leadership, how-to guides and other externally-focused content. Think about it: Do you like people that only talk about themselves? Why would customers feel any differently about companies?

So, should you just burn all the press releases, product updates and event promotions you’ve queued up? Of course not. These content types are useful when they live in the right places. Keep the press releases in the press section, and so on. If you’re worried that some blog visitors are actually looking for this content, simply make sure it’s easy to find through clear navigation to other areas of your site. Alternatively, establish separate blogs for product- and company-centric posts (Radian6 is a perfect example of how this split can work; see their distinct Social Strategy and Radian6 Platform blogs).

A different type of conversion

There’s always the possibility that company-centric content can be converted into customer-centric content. For instance, announcing an award win, by itself, is the type of chest-beating that you typically won’t see on the most successful corporate blogs. But there’s more to the story than that, isn’t there? What went in to your award win that others might find helpful? What lessons are applicable to your larger audience? Frame the post like this, and you’ve converted a self-congratulatory “we won” piece into something that adds value. Now you’ve got content worth sharing.

Who are you serving?

Content that appears as though it’s self-serving will actually serve neither company nor customer in the long run. You want SEO value? Blog about the problems your customers are Googling.  Thought leadership? Say something new about ideas that are larger than your brand. Conversions?  Give them something valuable before you ask them for anything.

A customer-centric blog does not need to be about customers, but it does need to serve them. You could, in fact, never mention your current customers by name and maintain customer-centricity. As long as you’re taking the focus off yourself and placing it on the world outside your offices, you’re practicing what you preach.

Your blog is your brand. If your company is truly customer-centric, your blog needs to be, too.

Ian Greenleigh is Social Media Manager for Bazaarvoice, the industry leader in social commerce solutions that increase revenue. Find more of his writing on The Social Commerce Blog and Dare to Comment, and follow his tweets from @be3d and @bazaarvoice.

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About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).