I have a personal blog and I would like to hear some advice regarding the use of this personal blog to share information about my company such as news, products, etc... Or, is it better to have a separate blog for my company?
I see some very successful software companies have done it both ways... Joel Spolsky for example uses the same blog for company related content as well as for personal opinions and subjects, and i the other hand 37 signals have a separate blog (signal vs. noise ) where many of their employees post content, their blog is not linked to any of the company employees or founders directly.
What do you think?
It depends on:
I started by having just one blog with the intent that everyone else at Smart Bear would post to it and it would be like 37signals. But that never happened and I was the only blogger. So I ended up just making it a personal blog. Later a corporate blog was recreated and now various people post there too.
Which just goes to show: Yes you can even change your mind later.
Forget it. Big waste of time. Why have a blog?
Think of it this way: what companies do you know where a blog really made a big difference to getting them off the ground?
I can think of two.
Over the last few days I've been trying to come up with other examples and I've come up blank. The fact that you happen to have mentioned these exact same two blogs in your question is not a coincidence. Blogging is just not the formula to marketing your small business.
I'm for a company blog - if you can get multiple people to post regularly. a good example is acquia.com - each of these people have personal blogs, yet their voices come through and promote the companies and their role in the company. Marketing - pure and simple.
If you have nothing to post on the corporate blog other than your dinner last night, then you're not thinking about how to leverage the blog as a company asset.
Another example: Alec Saunders purposely worked hard to create a name for himself in his blog (http://saunderslog.com/) yet he contributes regularly in his company blog (http://calliflower.com/blog) where his posts about the company. He is a strong advocate for blogging, and the popularity of his blog
brings credibility to his company.
But I never read any posts about his dinner menu... ;)
[update] Some great advice on blogging from joel (spolsky) on software - how hard could it be? - what makes for good company blogging and why he has made the decision to stop blogging.
Jason makes an excellent point about whether or not your business is a Lifestyle one, where you will never sell, or something you plan on building to sell. If you want to build to sell, then it should be separate for sure.
It also depends on the topics you will cover. Talking about your personal life on a business blog seems unprofessional to me. Granted some of that is OK as long as it's kept at a professional level or relates to helping you customers. My take, have a separate one.
I would disagree somewhat with Joel's answer. It's true that there are very few businesses that have effective blog-driven marketing. But I think the answer is that most corporate blogs suck big-time, not that they can't be effective in principle.
There are some constraints to think about:
- You have to be able to write a decent blog. There's a lot that goes into this, from having a unique point of view to writing ability to discipline in posting.
- Your target market has to be likely to read blogs. I don't recall coming across any steel blogs, for example.
- Consider whether blogging is going to provide a better return on your time than other activities.
As for other examples of successful blog-driven businesses, I'd put Union Square Ventures out there as another one. Of course, they do lots of other legwork too. But Fred Wilson's blog seems to make a significant difference. I'm sure you can come up with other examples if you try, but they are few and far between. Putting out a high-quality blog that will draw significant numbers of customer prospects as readers is harder than it might seem.
A lot depends on what kind of startup you are creating and identified you will be with it. If you are planning a funded startup, going for size, etc. Then a company blog with you as the main contributor, but not only contributor makes sense. Then the blog becomes one of the defining elements of the brand's online identity.
But if you are not building a funded startup, if you already have a following (comments), if there will not be any other founders/employees that it makes sense to continue your personal blog (but not too personal, if you get what I mean).
One other obvious point: The one major benefit of using your existing personal blog would be to have some traffic to start with (and some content for google).
But if you don't already have much traffic on your personal blog, then you might as well keep them separate.
I think it is fine to have a bit of humour and personality in your blog, it stops it becoming too dry. It is also appropriate if you are promoting yourself (e.g. part of the reason I write a blog at http://www.successfulsoftware.net is to promote the consulting side of my business). But no-one wants to know what you had for breakfast this morning.
I'm in the separate the personal and company blog camp.
One of the ways we use our company blog is to test ideas and concepts. If we find something that's seems to be a hit we'll take those concepts and incorporate them into a new marketing campaign or change-up relevant areas on our website. Be keeping the areas separate it's easier to measure results such as traffic, signups, retweets, etc.
The way I see it, every business should always be trying to better understand their customers and prospective customers. Simply having different blogs makes it possible to more easily learn what's working vs. what isn't. The result is hopefully higher quality content on our company blog because you know you're measuring the right audience.