- Authors and Bios
- Blogger Interviews
- Blogging Glossary
- Blogging Research Methodology
- Blogging Success Study
- Choosing the Right Blogger
- Company Blog
- Company Culture
- Deciding to Blog or Not
- Generating Dialogue
- Interview Questions
- Online PR
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Marketing
- Social Media Strategy
- Starting a Blog
- The Time Investment
- Top Content Strategies
- Top Habits
- Top Success Factors
- Writing Style
Top Success Factors Archive
1.0 Executive Summary
posted: November 2, 2006 10:07 AM
The Blogging Success Study was conducted by Dr. Walter Carl; the students in his Advanced Organizational Communications class (Spring 2006) at Northeastern University and John Cass and his colleagues at Backbone Media, Inc. The objective of this research was to determine the reasons, conditions and factors that make a blog successful, and to create a list of criteria to help companies assess whether and how they should engage in blogging.
In order to identify the elements of a successful blog, the research team interviewed twenty corporate bloggers from companies of varied size and industry, and asked each blogger a series of standardized questions. (See Appendix 2.0) Only bloggers who had been blogging for over one year and considered their blogging efforts successful were eligible to participate. While the selection of participants was, therefore, somewhat subjective and limiting (without the resources to determine the most successful bloggers on the Web), the research team was able to identify common elements among the subject group and distinguish a number of factors for blogging success. These elements are discussed at length in sections two and three of this paper. Herein you will also find case studies detailing how the twenty corporate blogs achieved success. New and veteran bloggers alike will find the case studies and anecdotes enlightening, as they reveal a variety of different paths to success. Thus, we have included summaries of all twenty blogger interviews within the study’s appendix.
Interview results were transcribed and summarized in twenty separate case studies. Each was then studied and analyzed with three questions in mind:
- How does the set up of a blog contribute to a blog’s success?
- What is it about how you blog that makes the blog a success?
- What is it about the content on a blog that makes the blog a success?
After careful review, the research team identified five factors for success. The majority of the twenty participant bloggers pointed to these factors as important to the success of their blog. We focus in on these factors in Section Three.
The five factors identified by the participants were:
A company should carefully consider all of these factors before making a decision to blog:
Culture: If a company has particular cultural traits worth revealing, or conversely, a bad reputation they want to repudiate, blogging could be an attractive option. A great example of the latter is Microsoft. Microsoft had a distinct problem—distrust on the part of many customers. The company was seen as being very big and unresponsive to customers. Microsoft used blogs to reveal that individual employees do care about customers, and they are willing to provide a lot of value by way of product and developer information. Blogging at Microsoft has worked well because Microsoft and Microsoft bloggers were able to show the public what Microsoft's culture was really like behind the big company image.
Transparency: Transparency is crucial to establishing credibility and trust with an audience. While you do not have to be completely open—it is okay to set boundaries—people want to see an honest picture of a company, and know there are not ulterior motives behind the posts bloggers write. Blog audiences respect a willingness to disclose all points of view on a subject. Thoughtful consideration of all viewpoints demonstrates an expertise, and it shows a willingness to engage in a dialogue rather than just pressing an agenda. Successful corporate blogs are those that establish their credibility well. The level of transparency depends on the industry and audience, but citing other sources of knowledge and perspectives will always bring more credibility to a blog.
Time: It takes a lot of time to set up, research and write a quality blog and engage the blogging community effectively. A company that wants a successful blog needs to identify a person who has the time or free up that person’s time, or needs to leverage its resources so the responsibility is shared among a group of bloggers.
Dialogue: A company’s ability and willingness to engage in a greater dialogue with the blogging community is an important determinant in the success of their blog. The Stonyfield Farm blog is a perfect example of a corporate blog used to engage an audience through discussing topics not just related to their products but also, related to organic farming, healthy lifestyle and other germane subject matter. Despite the fact that these topics are not directly related to the yogurt they sell, Stonyfield demonstrates an expertise in areas of importance to their customer base.
Entertaining Writing Style and Personalization: The writing style and how much a blogger is prepared to reveal about their life, experience and opinions in a blog post bring a human side to a blog. This helps a company build personal connections with their audience. Entertaining content, especially content that contains humor, will also bridge the gap between writer and reader. Personal connections and entertaining content help turn casual readers into return customers.
We believe that the study has identified many factors that will make a blog a success. We provide a more in-depth analysis of these and other factors in sections two and three of this paper. The reader can use this list of factors to determine the readiness of their own company to start blogging and as a roadmap to plan a strategy that will bring them the most success in current and future blogging endeavors.
3.0 Recurring Factors That Help with the Success of a Corporate Blog
posted: November 2, 2006 2:08 AM
During the course of the study, it became apparent rather quickly that the measurement of success for a blog is dependent on the goals and objectives of each corporate blogger. What is success for one blogger may not be success for another. In addition to the many factors of success we discovered in Section Two, we discovered a number of recurring factors described by most bloggers in their interviews. The research teams identified five factors that we believe a company should incorporate into their blog, or at the very least consider these factors in order for a blog to have some chance of success. Those five factors include:
The team discovered that the recurring five factors can be used as a yardstick for measuring the success of a blog. Using the blogger interviews as a starting point, we explored each of the five themes as a way to gain success for a corporate blog.