3 steps to International Corporate Blogging

One of the commenters on my previous post on Yoplait’s french corporate blog, Andy Blanco, notes:

You bring up an interesting point with yesterday’s Yoplait example.  Your post spurred me to learn more and I discovered that Yoplait has a franchise system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoplait#Organization).  It looks like General Mills could conceivably blog for the US market, Ultima Foods for Canada, National Foods for Australia, etc.

I think this raises an interesting question.  If you have a global brand, but marketing is controlled by other corporations in different countries, what changes when just one party decides to blog using the brand while customers from all markets can watch?

Well, this got me thinking. As much as we are focused on corporate blogging in English, the fact is we’re seeing a flatter world with more companies from an international diaspora of companies moving into the Forbes’ 2000 list of multinationals. (For e.g. this year the Forbes 2000 was of companies from 60 countries, up 9 countries from last year).

But do we see the same representation in corporate blogging. For e.g. on the New PR Wiki that tracks corporate blogs, the majority seem to come from US Companies. So, if you’re a multinational wondering how to get into corporate blogging. Here are 3 simple steps to get started:

1. Start at the heart: This is a no-brainer. All companies will start blogging in the language of the country they’re originally based in. As I mentioned, I recently mentioned Yoplait started a blog in French.

2. Follow growth markets: Once you’ve established your blog in your primary language, it is but natural to start creating blogs in other emerging markets for your industry or company. Here’s what Herve from Yoplait’s corporate blog emails me when I asked him about plans for a secondary blog in English:

This was one of the first questions raised by a Yoplait employee in the comment area. So far, Yoplait‘s president has not answererd, but I guess he will. There is no clear plan so far, but I guess that if the french version is a success, the english version will quickly floow.

3. Blog Local:

If you’re starting corporate blogs in different languages your best bet is to get employees from those different markets blogging. At LinkedIn, almost 18% of our workforce currently blogs. Kodak earned a name for themselves with their employee focused blog:

A Thousand Words is, as written in a blog user guide a ‘place for stories for from the people of Kodak’. The stories written by employees are about photography, they provide readers with useful tips, engage them in contests. The blog is not focused on Kodak’s products. It is very honest and open, has particular audience and updated regularly.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post on blogging policy that companies can follow when you start corporate blogs in different languages.

What do you think would be a good corporate strategy for a multinational on corporate blogging? More to come.

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  1. Mario Sundar

    Well, I’m really glad this post for helpful for the vast majority of you.

    I guess it’s best to preach in a language the participants understand. I’d be very curious to analyze what % of blogs (corporate or otherwise) are based in english and what are other languages? Do you know?

    Jeremiah often writes about the differences between a corporate website and blog. IMO, the biggest difference is in the ability to participate and the freshness of content; both of which didn’t exist before.

    Read more on Jeremiah’s blog – http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/

    Great to see you participate here. Would love to further chat with you on aspects of corporate blogging that Kodak follows.

    Please feel free to participate in the conversations. Would love to hear your feedback in the future.

  2. Leanne Heller

    Hi Mario,

    Thanks for the link to the corporate blog wiki- our company is considering starting a blog, and this is a great resource.

  3. tom

    Mario – Tom from Kodak here. Thanks for the mention. Wow, 18% of LinkedIn people contribute! I thought we were doing good but to get 18% of all Kodak people to contribute would be quite a feat!
    Gahl – Regarding blog versus corporate site. They have two distinct roles in our minds. For speeds and feeds you need the corporate site to do the the heavy lifting. The blog provides a stage for a voice that wouldn’t fit naturally on the corporate site. For example when we have done some recent product launches all the specs appear on the product pages of kodak.com but the stories from researchers describing the inspiration and/or challenges developing those products was better suited to our blogs. Make sense?

  4. Gahl Berkooz

    I would be interested in people’s view about the difference between a corporate multi-national blog and the corporate web site. The corporate site has the same challenge. Does the technology – blog vs. traditional site – make a difference here?

  5. Herve Kabla

    Mario, you started a very interesting debate which, actually, I’ve never seen so far: should english be the preferred blogging language? I guess no. Blogging is a very efficient way to start one-to-many or many-to-many discussions.

    But as discussions are open to the rest of the world, all participants should be able to argue “at ease”, meaning be fluent in the language most readers practice. Although english is the preferred international language for business, I’m not sure it is the preferred international manguage for open discussions. There are many countries where people practice a bad english (ex: France) or where english is practiced by a minority of people.

    So far, there are as many as 20 french companies, for example, that have started french speaking corporate blogs. And some of companies do have international businesses: Safran, Atos Origin or Renault F1 for example. Ben & Jerry also started a french corp blog (I have not noticed any other Ben & Jerry blog in other countries).

    It’s true the world is planar. But planar projections can’t get rid of language frontiers…

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