7 Habits of Highly Effective Corporate Bloggers

This post is syndicated from the column I write in MarketingProfs and contains a summary of the panel I recently moderated at Blog World Expo with corporate bloggers from Dell, Yahoo!, Facebook and Kodak.

Since my last post on corporate blogging here, a lot has changed. I’ve had a chance to practice many of the concepts I preached, as LinkedIn’s corporate blog editor. I’ve also had the acquaintance of other corporate bloggers whom I greatly respect. So, it was a thrill to be able to bring together four of my peers for a dream panel at Blog World Expo, which I moderated. The topic: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Business Bloggers.

The panel included my friends Lionel Menchaca from Dell, Nicki Dugan from Yahoo!, Carolyn Abram from Facebook and Thomas Hoehn from Kodak. We had great participation from our audience but I’d be remiss not to share our learnings and presentation with you.

Given below are the key lessons that we shared with the audience members. See presentation here.

The 7 Habits of highly effective business bloggers

1. Status: It’s a relationship and it’s complicated

Start a corporate blog only if you’re in it for the long haul. Every panelist described the genesis of their respective blog, it’s origins, and most importantly how the blog impacted the company’s relationship with the users. I also got them talking about some of the challenges and pitfalls associated with it.

2. Tell Honest, Current Stories

As Jack Welch described the one rule of corporate blogging: “Just be Authentic“. The only way to build credibility with your users is by toning down the PR speak and amping up the straight talk. We also went over some of the privacy issues that one has to deal with while running a company blog.

3. Know your limits

Another area that you must keep in mind (this is relevant more for Fortune 500 than Inc 500 companies) are the legal landmines you have to navigate. But remember, your legal team is there to help you. So, having them support you a 100% right from the start and drafting best practices is key to ensure success.

4. Make lemonade

Social Media jujitsu is what we called it (thanks to Groundswell for the inspiration). How do you take a seemingly negative situation – irate users; and turn that over to a positive. Nicki, Carolyn and Lionel shared some pretty inspirational stories that ranged from the Facebook News feed to Yahoo! TV. Key here is putting your users first and listening to them.

5. One size doesn’t fit all

As I’ve often said before; do not start a corporate blog unless you have a goal in mind. Given that different companies start a corporate blog for different purposes – some may use it to educate their users while some others for recruitment. Thus best practices are also going to vary from one example to the other.

The panelists got into a spirited discussion of whether comments are necessary for a blog and under what conditions. Does your company have a corporate blog? And, if so, do you allow comments? Feel free to share.

6. Learn as you go

On short notice, I threw out a question to the panel on the biggest lesson learned during their stewardship of their respective company blogs. Of course, they were all able to effortlessly answer the questions with many of their answers highlighting the improvisational nature of the job.

7. It’s not just words

And, finally a glimpse into the future. Ideas shared focused on the multimedia nature of the future. As you may notice many corporate blogs are increasingly stepping into social media (which by definition includes pictures – Flickr, video – YouTube, and the likes). What do you think does the future of corporate blogging hold?

The genesis for this theme arose from the fact that corporate blogging may be close to mainstream status within corporate America, but the adopters lack a sense of how to make it work effectively. Stats in point: Between 2007 and 2008, adoption of corporate blogging among the fastest growing companies in the world (Inc 500) has doubled, while their appreciation of it’s effectiveness is at less than 50%.

The above habits were culled from a brainstorming session that I had with Lionel, Nicki, Carolyn and Tom and borrowed extensively from our experiences at our respective companies. I’d like to take this opportunity to continue the discussion we started at Blog World Expo with you. If you’re a corporate blogger, feel free to share a best practice you’ve gathered along the way. If you’d like to become one or if you’d like to start a blog for your company, feel free to ask us a question you have on the topic.

Comments, Thoughts?

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  1. Mario Sundar

    Thanks for the comments, guys. Sorry for the delayed response. As I said in my most recent post, I’ve been slammed at work. Here’s my take:

    @Jim – being personal is definitely an important element of writing a blog, even in corporate blogs. I do think enlisting the support of your legal team when you’re unsure of whether the content is appropriate or not.

    @Fiona, thanks!

    @Douglas – I believe you’ve misunderstood what was said. All of us on the panel believed in having a key strategy with specific goals in mind. However, being flexible is equally important.

    @Nitin – thanks for your thoughts, though I’m not sure I get what you’re saying.

    As I’ve said before, a successful corporate blog is meant to provide an opportunity to every individual in an organization to communicate effectively and freely to users/consumers of a certain product. I’m sure you’ve seen examples of this shared on this blog.

  2. nitinpai

    Somewhere down the lines, the corporate blogs tend to subdue the topic at hand. If they do have a goal to blog then I feel the topics discussed would be surely manipulated to achieve desired results.

    I do not give it to the concept of corporate blogging. The tag attributed to blogging itself makes it shown as a restricted form of blogging. I believe blogging should be free form, expressive, straight from the heart, without limitations. Surely this would raise controversies and may sometimes strangulate the person. But that is what freedom of speech is related to while blogging, isn’t it? Blogging provides a mechanism to bring out thoughts out in the open when no other mechanism provides it.

    Corporate portals / forums / wikis are enough if the sole purpose is spreading of information, but corporate blogging is nothing worthy of fanfare in my opinion.

  3. Douglas Karr

    Hi Mario,

    I respectfully disagree with some of your advice here, especially ‘Learn as you go’. Starting a bad strategy with all of the resources we have available to us in the industry just simply does not make sense nowadays.

    Looking forward to you taking a look and responding:

    With Much Respect!

  4. Fiona Anderson


    You have a very succinct way of encapsulating a ‘way forward’ for corporate bloggers. Good read!

    The company I work with build corporate websites for high-tech electronics and engineering companies.
    We are required to guide our clients on corporate blogging effectiveness.
    Your brainstorming wisdom has reinforced that ‘listening to customers’ is still one of the most effective strategies for blogging success.
    Thanks for that!

    This YouTube link is a light-hearted parody on this topic.

  5. Jim Estill

    I am a CEO blogger of a public company (SYNNEX). My 2 suggestions:

    1 – Ignore Lawyers Advice.

    OK – so thats a bit harsh but the gist of my suggestion is you will get pushback from your lawyers. Just be normally smart about what you post. Treat it like any other public speech. You would not be in the position you are in (whatever that is) if you did not know what is appropriate to disclose.

    2 – be a bit personal. For some reason, readers like to see glimpses into your personal life. Perhaps it is like reality shows – voyeurism into corporate life.

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