Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Best Blog?

The blog frequently cited as the best corporate blog out there is the one run by Google. The blog search engine Technorati, for example, ranks the Google blog as the number one most popular corporate site. Since Google searches for and categorizes everything in the known Internet world, the blog is at liberty to discuss most anything connected with the Web. They'll talk about anything from cloud computing to tracking the swine flu.

One interesting thing about the blog is that it's not easily detectable from Google's home page. You sort of have to go looking for it. Another interesting aspect is that it uses Blogger, the same free blog-hosting service we use here at Triton News. But that's not so surprising, since Blogger is an arm of Google.

Of course, Google has a whole army of employees ready and willing to write blog posts for it, and the entire Internet at its fingertips. And everyone and their uncle goes to Google to look up stuff every single day. So no one should feel too bad if their own blog doesn't measure up to Google's. There's plenty of room for the little guy, too.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Checking Them In

Marriott Hotels is one of the many corporations that has been keeping a blog on its Web site. And it has been doing some great work in tracking the effectiveness of that blog. There was a recent news story attesting that Marriott's blog gets 6000 visitors a week, and a total of over 600,000 visitors since it opened for business over two years ago.

The upshot of all that? Marriott's blog is linked directly to its reservations page. So the company has been able to track that a whopping $5 million worth of bookings have come in via the blog.

The kicker is that Marriott's blog is written by CEO Bill Marriott - who doesn't use a computer. He writes his posts in longhand and they get posted for him.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

It Takes All Kinds

A lot of businesses want to start a blog, but they're not sure what exactly they should be posting there. Company updates? Larger news items that might be of interest to their clients? Economic developments affecting their industry? General "Reader's Digest"-style news and jokes? Recipes?

The answer is yes to all of these, except maybe recipes. Whatever your clients want to be informed about - or even more to the point, whatever they want to read day after day - is what should be on your blog. If you ran a tax consultancy, that might be changes to the tax code or new strategies you've been hearing about. If you're an advertising firm, it might be about a new designer you've hired, with links to some exciting new graphic looks. If you run a scrapbooking site, it might be homey personal-interest stories.

Every blog should consist of what people want to read. And obviously, that will be different for every company. There are ways to monitor your page views to see what prospects are clicking on and what they're ignoring, to see if the content you're posting is working. And if it's not, we'll keep trying till we find the right formula to keep people coming back.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Origins of My Blogging

Back in 1997, when I was an editor at Worth magazine, I was asked, as part of an effort to beef up our presence on the Web, to write something called a blog. I began writing weekly dispatches about the world of sports business for a blog we called "Ballpark Figures."

I was pretty happy with what we ended up producing. The magazine at that point had not been covering sports very much, and there were a lot of key battles being fought: about player salaries and union relations, about ticket prices, about public support for stadiums. I wrote up a few of these types of articles for Sports Illustrated, but mostly they ended up on my blog.

But it's also worth noting what we didn't understand about the nature of the Internet back then, or at least how people would come to use the Internet. I posted stories once a week, as if people wouldn't drop by the site any more often that that. There was no interactivity, no way for readers to respond to what I was writing. Each post was roughly the length of a newspaper column, without any briefer posts dropped in to vary the pace and reel in readers with shorter attention spans.

We know a lot better now. And most blogs, if done well, are getting a lot more readers than "Ballpark Figures" ever did.