How to Launch a Successful Team Corporate Blogging Program: Getting Buy in is Key

February 19th, 2010

cheerleaderOne of my 2010 tasks as the online marketing manager at ActiveState is to help define, launch and manage its formal blogging program throughout the year.

Just a month ago, I presented to our newly recruited blogging team, consisting of thirteen very brilliant Activators (a.k.a those who work at ActiveState). Those activators have a wealth of knowledge of the dynamic languages – which the company was not taking advantage of previously.

I do believe that our launch was well received because now four weeks later, we are already seeing great results from those who are contributing! For example, last months blog traffic was 2,667 unique visitors and to date this month we have 6,672 unique visitors (at that rate we should be at 8,100 unique visits by end of this month) – that will be 303% of the previous month!

Backgrounder – Before we Started our Official Blogging Team

I want to first share with you what was the state of our blog prior to our formal program launch:

  • ActiveState posted here and there. But for the most part it was not taken seriously and it was mostly self-serving marketing posts. No one thought of it being really important- so little effort and time was invested in it.
  • There was duplicate content on the blog, which was aggregated from other sites – most content for a certain time period was not original content. Which was not good for SEO or originality.
  • Blog posts were thrown up haphazardly. Links broken, no images, not much for formatting or scanability. The CSS was funky and some posts were hard to read.
  • Blog traffic was minimal and didn’t really help the company with attracting new and potential clients to the rest of the website.
  • The posts lacked passion and expertise of the collective minds of ActiveState.
  • The blog was configured to “No Robots No Follow”, which was telling Google to not look at the blog and not to show posts in the search engine results pages. Ouch! So that meant hardly any traffic from search engines.
  • The blog was not configured with a SEO module in WordPress, so no one was tweaking the title, meta description and meta keywords for SEO. Was missing a big opportunity here.
  • The current blog is a sub domain (blogs.activestate.com) and would be better as a sub folder (www.activestate.com/blog) to lift the corporate domain up with rich keywords to increase relevant traffic (for SEO).

Note: Some of the quick fixes above were done as soon as I started, but our site and blog redesign is coming end of April 2010- so maybe I can share the “before” and “after” then.

Most Important are the Contributors

The most important part of our program’s success is dependent on our contributors (Activators). Without content, passion and expertise we don’t have much. So the big challenge is getting buy in from the team and having a process on place to keep momentum going.

How to Get Buy in From Team Contributors – Ten Lessons Learned

  1. Formalize it - The best way to get buy in is to formalize your corporate blogging program and get the executive team to support the initiative. At ActiveState, it has been communicated from the top down on how important our blogging strategy is for 2010 is and it recognized as a part of the overall team metrics.
  2. Define important Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and set benchmarks – Set a few (not too many) metrics that you want to gauge month to month on how well your efforts are doing. Also, set realistic benchmark targets to reach. For our program, I have defined KPI’s and will be sharing them with the team on a monthly basis, some of our metrics include:
    - Unique visits for each new post
    - What are the superstars (top posts) for the month (2000+ unique visits)
    - Number of blog posts per month (ideal target is 8-12 quality posts)
    - Overall unique visits to the blog – including old pages and new ones (ideal target is 15,000)
    - How many visits went on to other pages on our corporate site (ideal target is 20%)
    - Top referrals (e.g., Reddit, Twitter, other blogs, search engines etc.)
    - Percentage of traffic that came from search engines (ideal target 40+% ongoing if hot topics
  3. Share metrics and targets- Get all contributors excited by showing them numbers and really explain what it can translate to (e.g., sales, leads, word of mouth benefits, branding, etc.). Initially when I presented at the launch, I translated the state of the current blog, then compared it to a real life “superstar” blog post metrics (unique visits, inbound keywords, bounces).  I presented an 18 slide PowerPoint with concrete numbers, graphs and samples – this is the “key” selling point to get buy in. After the launch presentation, I had one team member mention that they never seen their blog metrics prior and they had no idea on how much it can help our brand awareness.  And that was so great to hear! That goes to say, why would they participate if they do not have any visibility on the impact?
  4. Set recurring monthly luncheon meetings – make sure you have recurring meetings set (we choosed monthly) to go over the metrics of the previous months blog posts. Evaluate, share and learn from what made the top blog posts and why. Use this time to brainstorm new topics as a collective group – you’ll be surprised how many ideas come to the table. Oh ya, supply them lunch and don’t skimp out on it!
  5. Document commitments - When we launched our program, we created a Google doc with all post ideas and matched them up with the team member who was interested in the topic (also the expert) and committed to it. Keep this document up to date of what has been posted and add in new ones, but make sure there is a name besides it! Give everyone access to the doc so they can add in their ideas too.
  6. Supply tips and training resources - Offer mentoring and training. If you are recruiting a team within your organization, some may have personal blogs, others may be very green and need to learn best practices. Even if you are not the expert, become the expert and do research and supply the team with tips, links, insights and samples on best practices. It’s a journey for everyone to keep learning and make your blogging efforts better.
  7. Bring out the pom poms and cheer lead - encourage a collaborative environment, share successes mid month and cheer everyone one. Their participation is so important – so let them know that every step of the way. A little pat on the back or congratulations goes a long way. I personally think we don’t do enough of it!
  8. Welcome brainstorming - don’t dictate topics but start the brainstorming process. No one wants to be told what to blog about exactly. Give people room and be flexible, but guide them if the topics don’t fit within your strategy.
  9. Lead by example - Don’t just throw the blogging tasks to the blog team, make sure you contribute and have executives participating as well. I’m proud because our CEO is starting to blog and I think that is great, he is a passionate leader.
  10. Constantly remind everyone to look through the “Corporate Strategic Lens” - Remind the team and be very specific on what you want out of your blogging efforts, what you are trying to achieve, who are you trying to attract, how it is going to be measured and so on. Everything should fall into place if you always look through the corporate strategic lens.

I am sure that I will be learning more as we go and we all have a lot of hard work ahead- but you have to start somewhere!

Do you have insights or tips to share on how to improve a corporate team blogging program? Share away below!

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2 Responses to “How to Launch a Successful Team Corporate Blogging Program: Getting Buy in is Key”

  1. Bret Clement on February 19, 2010 3:08 pm

    Great write up, Shannon. Your blog plan for ActiveState and leadership worked very well! 303% is great.

  2. admin on February 20, 2010 7:56 am

    Thanks Bret! but I rather not take all the credit. ;)

    Most important, I want to stress that it’s a team success – with the executive management backing it up, leading by example and the contributors who are starting to write posts with passion.
    ;)

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