The other night I went to a networking event during which a fella asked me, in not so many words, “how can I boost my online presence?” My answer: start a blog.
I have been writing this crazy little blog for over two years, and ever since my Google rating has been on the up and up. A search of my name will turn up this blog, and my appearances on other blogs when I’ve been cited or quoted or mentioned or whatever. Building a blog with a tool like WordPress, which utilises web standards, is a great way to harvest that Google juice.
But sometimes companies, and individuals, create blogs for the wrong reasons — or what seems like for no reason at all. Case in point, McDonald’s has created Station M, a portal for employees to blog and interconnect with one another. Sounds like a reasonable idea, I mean, communication is a good thing, right? The trouble is that the McDonald’s brand has little to do with communication; it contradicts the typical McDonald’s experience (and impression of the McEmployee). Every corporate blog implies that the contributors A) are computer savvy, B) are useful communicators, and C) have something important to say, all of which are far-reaching for McDonald’s. I would also like to point out that most likely any employee who understands blogging is likely reaching out on his own time on sites like MySpace, Facebook and perhaps LiveJournal, if he’s old school.
Do McDonald’s employees have something to say or is this a giant publicity stunt created by the corporate overlords? I reckon it’s the latter. This also reeks of “me too”, which isn’t surprising considering that McDonald’s hasn’t had an innovative idea since 1973.
It’s a tough alchemy to create a successful corporate blog. Asking, encouraging, and occasionally forcing employees to contribute is a recipe for trouble, and harkens back to the mid-20th century when keeping up appearances meant singing songs about your corporation and drinking the company Kool-Aid, literally. And even for those employees who welcome the opportunity to blog, most let their habits wither and stop blogging after a few posts. This happened at CNet a while back.
The company blogs I read these days are from smaller design groups, like 37signals and Pentagram, where the sentiments of the contributors give readers a natural and naked view of the company. When blogs are written from behind the corporate veil, that’s not the case.
For individuals, I recommend creating a blog as a self-promotional tool — a living resume, if you will. However, for corporations, a blog isn’t the right tool for the job. Like branding, it has to do with connections — a person connecting with a person always works. A person connecting with hordes of faceless employees does not.
the story via Brandcurve