10 Great Corporate Blogs and What Makes Them Work
Corporate blogs have a reputation for being nothing more than another way of distributing press releases. This is because most companies just don't understand how blogging is supposed to work, and they view it as a way to talk to the public rather than with them.
While corporate news, sale announcements and product launches are all important things to have in a corporate blog, they don't have to be the focus. A good corporate blog offers readers a reason to subscribe and can keep customers connected and interested in a company, even when nothing in particular is happening.
But while creating an engaging corporate blog is not complicated, very few companies seem to have mastered it. However, some have and here are just ten examples of companies with compelling blogs that do more than serve as another tool for the PR department.
Lulu - Though Lulu’s blog has its share of posts about upcoming sales and new product launches, most of the posts focus on success stories and how-to articles that teach its readers how to get the most out of its services. It’s updated regularly and filled with useful information on promotion, getting support and even a few of the company’s success stories.
Arvixe - Though Arvixe, a hosting company from California, may not have the prettiest blog on the planet, it’s one of the most useful. Updated many times a week with useful how-tos that show customers, from beginners to experts, how to use the various services and tools they provide. Best of all, these tutorials are useful to virtually any hosting customer, even those who aren’t Arvixe customers, giving them a reason to follow the blog and the company even if they aren’t a client yet.
Disqus - Blog commenting service Disqus features the usual updates and notifications on their blog but also offers several glimpses behind the scenes, including how Disqus scales its operation and its corporate philosophy. Readers of the blog feel as if they get to know the company more intimately by reading it and they often get information and access to preview versions of their software before they are made available to non-readers.
Norton Ink - Norton Ink is a tablet maker from India but their product isn’t for sale yet; in fact, it’s still in development. However, you can follow the development of it on their blog including regular, detailed updates of their progress. Though it may not be a novel in the making, it’s a compelling story that gives potential customers a reason to come back week after week even if the company isn’t selling anything.
Flickr - Flickr’s main focus is on its community. Even when it’s announcing a new product launch or a new service, the blog prominently features select photos from its users. Flickr users strive to be featured in the blog and read it not just to stay up to date on the site and its services, but to also see what other members are doing.
37 Signals - 37 Signals does two things well with their blog: teach others how to use their product and highlight companies and products that integrate with their offerings. Though it’s unusual for companies to feature other products and services on their blog, they take front and center on 37 Signals, creating a universe of usefulness that centers around their products.
Dreamhost - Hosting provider Dreamhost may not have the most frequently updated blog on the planet, but it is one of the most personal. With behind-the-scenes photos and personal stories, Dreamhost lets you get to know the people behind their company in a very friendly way. Most importantly, the blog doesn’t take itself too seriously, showcasing posts that border on the absurd and images that can be dangerous to read in a work environment for fear of uncontrolled laughter.
Evernote - For a company that focuses on helping users keep track of a variety of media, it makes sense that Evernote would have a multimedia blog. A well-designed blog with tons of images, video and even a podcast, Evernote has a lighthearted tone that, as with Dreamhost, doesn’t take itself too seriously but remains professional and interesting.
Ebay - Though eBay’s blog is probably the most “corporate” on this list, you wouldn’t know it by looking at it. Not only is the blog’s design bright and colorful, but the posts are written in a personable style and the corporate press releases are interspersed with information about charities, interviews with sellers and more.
Google - Google has the best-known corporate blog in the world and for a very good reason. Not only does Google do a great job announcing its new products and features, but also offers intriguing glimpses behind the scenes at the company and introduces the world to some of its most important employees through its blog. The writing style is informal and the blog is the best chance most of us have at knowing what’s going on in Google HQ, something almost everyone is interested in to some degree.
All in all, what makes a corporate blog good is the same thing that makes any blog good – the fact that it is interesting and/or useful. While this might seem obvious, it means posting more than what your company feels is important and, instead, focusing on what is interesting to your readers.
Though those areas overlap, they certainly aren't one and the same. Giving readers what they really want makes them more likely to read your corporate news along with the rest of your content, making them volunteer to be marketed to rather than someone who has to be reached at expense.
That's a lesson these ten companies know well and show in nearly every blog post they publish.