Most of my clients are pretty conservative, with few of their customers pushing them into blogging. They know all about search rankings, thought leadership, collaboration and the many other reasons they need to get involved.
But if I ask them “when,” they roll their eyes. Although they know it’s inevitable, they lose sleep worrying about workload, quality and control.
Tell a busy executive that she has to start blogging and see a look of fear. I understand. Like asking me to prepare tax returns or paint starry nights, it’s not going to happen.
She’s already working way too many hours. She’s spent years building her knowledge and reputation in her specialty. Her time is highly valued. Deep inside, she’s afraid some people won’t get her writing.
Because writing is not her core competence, she knows she may not deliver the high quality of work people expect from her.
On the other hand, I’ve heard blogging CEOs talk about “whipping up” posts in 20 minutes, still a valuable chunk of executive time. That’s terrific for C-suiters who have the gift of written communication and the people to help, but others are out of their depth.
Quality often suffers with user-generated content. For example, I organize photos for a client intranet. Despite clear instructions and repeated rejections, people keep submiting photos of nasty-looking food and unattractive butts.
However, they’re worth sorting through. The photos we choose are enthusiastically viewed. And I can usually dig through the employees’ descriptions to get enough information to write the blurbs and cutlines.
But, from their often rambling, typo-ridden emails, I would hesitate to ask many of them to write much for official posting. And I’m relieved that we select what goes up rather than posting everything.
Of course there are ways over the obstacles of workload, quality and control.
To ease the workload, corporate bloggers should be able to simply talk through what they want to say in a phone interview or long voice mail, with an expert editor focusing and fixing. Those who want to write should read Write like you talk–only better. so they can become faster and friendlier.
There’s lots more training companies need to do, if they expect employees to write with the speed and eloquence online communication demands. But who has the time or interest? And what if their innate talent lies elsewhere?
Unless your company is willing to bulk up on writing staff or hire freelancers like me, don’t count on corporate communication employees. Many balk at the prospect of having to rewrite well-intentioned, but untrained writers. They’re too busy keeping up with with the ever-growing demands on their time. Besides, many pundits insist that ghost writing violates the spirit of blogging.
The control issue can be dealt with through fire walls, moderation, clear policies, spam filters and other means. But with the recent deluge of WikiLeaks and the privacy complaints about Facebook is it any wonder that organizations worry about confidential patient information being exposed or strategic secrets revealed?
Earlier this week, I read an interesting guide from Hubspot on business blogging. I’d recommend it to anyone developing their web prescence through blogs.
Despite all their practical and insightful recommendations, however, I think the Hubspot editors didn’t seriously consider the obstacles of workload, quality and control. That’s not surprising from a company that mobilizes businesses to take on the web. But suggestions for contests, for example, won’t fire up over-taxed employees who aren’t comfortable writing.
More answers needed
Like Hubspot, I think the benefits outweigh the downside. But I also understand the reluctance of my later-adopting clients. They’re wise to climb the mountains of workload, quality and control before they make that leap of social media faith.
Any suggestions for them?