One of the data points that struck me from McKinsey's recently-published survey on Enterprise 2.0, which I've already written about three times this week, was the relatively poor showing made by corporate blogging. Blogs were among the most heavily-used Enterprise 2.0 tools, with 47 percent of respondents using blogs for internal communication and 51 percent using them to communicate with customers and partners. Yet the number of companies that experience business benefit from their blogs just barely edged out the number that reported no benefit.
What gives? Is the content of most corporate blogs just not compelling enough, as Forrester Research implied in research published last summer? The report detailed flaws commonly found in business-to-business blogs. Among them: posts lacking personality, irregular posting schedules and bloggers who just don't stick with it. Fifty-six percent of such blogs feature mostly press releases or other well-known news, giving folks little incentive to read them, Forrester noted.
Several of Forrester's points are echoed in Smashing Magazine's 10 harsh truths about corporate blogging. I won't reiterate those, but here are some of the other points:
As I reviewed Forrester's report and Smashing Magazine's list, it reaffirmed my respect for the companies I interviewed for an article on corporate blogging I wrote back in May. Dell, Intel, Lenovo and SAP are all doing a lot of things right when it comes to their blogs. For instance, all of them have lots of employees who blog and, in SAP's case, partners, customers and others as well. Mark Yolton, senior vice president of the SAP Community Network, told me:
We have lot of smart people at SAP, but we don't have all of the smart people. We want to hear insights from others, especially from our customers and partners. Maybe a manufacturer in Mexico can help a chemical company in India apply some operational best practices or use their SAP software in a different way.
One thing all my sources emphasized that isn't really mentioned by Forrester or Smashing Magazine is making blogs part of a holistic social media strategy that includes other channels. Those channels can help drive traffic to blogs. While they are great for promotion and "quick hits," blogs are still the best place for deeper dialogue. Said Bryan Rhoads, a digital strategist with Intel's Social Media Center of Excellence:
Our blogs are home base. Whether I am on Facebook or Twitter or any other social site, most of my conversation is still going to happen on the corporate blog.