Two weeks ago, Northeastern University, Massachusetts, released the results of a survey about what makes a successful corporate blog? This study was done in collaboration with Backbone Media Inc. and looked at the factors that contribute to a successful business blog. Not surprisingly, these factors include transparency, lots of time and a company’s ability to engage in a dialogue with its customers. Another key factor is the blogger’s writing style who has to be at the same time entertaining and personal. But read more…
This “Blogging Success Study” has been conducted by Northeastern University Professor Walter Carl and his students.
The research team interviewed twenty corporate bloggers from companies of varied size and industry, and asked each blogger a series of standardized questions. Only bloggers who had been blogging for over one year and considered their blogging efforts successful were eligible to participate.
The team selected blogs from Adobe, Marqui, Microsoft and Stonyfield Farm among others. Here is a link to the — long — full report.
After doing all the interviews, the research team identified five factors for success.
- Culture: If a company has particular cultural traits worth revealing or a bad reputation it wants to repudiate, blogging can be an attractive option.
- Transparency: Critical to establishing credibility and trust with an audience. People want to see an honest portrayal of a company.
- Time: It takes a lot of time to set up, research and write a quality blog. Companies need to identify a person who has the time or whose schedule is freed up to make the time.
- Dialogue: A company’s ability and willingness to engage in a dialogue with their customer base about topics that the customer base is interested in is critical to its blogging success.
- Entertaining writing style and personalization: A blogger’s writing style and how much they are willing to reveal about their life, experience and opinions brings human interest to a blog, helps build a personal connection with readers and will keep people reading.
Here is a quote from the full report about this personalization factor.
The bloggers in the study suggested that bloggers should write to entertain their readers and not just to give an opinion or inform. Success in part then can be said to come from the personality of the blogger. The personal writing style of a blogger will influence the interaction and reading habits of the audience.
And this “personality” can stem from humor, unique personal experience or passion expressed for their topic. The more entertaining a blogger is, the more captivating and riveting the content, the higher the chance for blogging success. In addition, attempts by a blogger to conduct a dialogue with their readership, other bloggers and the community at large will have a positive effect on the success of a blog.
I also want to emphasize that it takes time and dedication to build a good business blog. Of course, you need time to write posts, but you also need time to reply to comments from readers, monitor other blogs, keep up with the latest industry news and build relationships with other bloggers within a community.
This study also looks at key issues which need to be solved before launching a business blog. These include having clear blogging goals in advance and practicing with an internal blog before going external.
As I noted above, there are no big surprises in this study. But it’s still good to hear that a business blog needs some real effort — and money — to be successful.
Sources: Northeastern University news release, November 2, 2006; and various websites
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