Joel on Blogging
Joel Spolsky, widely known among programmers for his exceptional blog, Joel on Software, has a thoughtful piece in Inc. about corporate blogging.
He credits fellow developer Kathy Sierra with helping him verbalize something he may have only intuited:
"To really work, Sierra observed, an entrepreneur's blog has to be about something bigger than his or her company and his or her product. This sounds simple, but it isn't. It takes real discipline to not talk about yourself and your company. Blogging as a medium seems so personal, and often it is. But when you're using a blog to promote a business, that blog can't be about you, Sierra said. It has to be about your readers, who will, it's hoped, become your customers... So, for example, if you're selling a clever attachment to a camera that diffuses harsh flash light, don't talk about the technical features or about your holiday sale (10 percent off!). Make a list of 10 tips for being a better photographer. If you're opening a restaurant, don't blog about your menu. Blog about great food. You'll attract foodies who don't care about your restaurant yet."
But are corporate blogs necessary or even desirable? Despite running one for 10 years, Spolsky isn't convinced. He observes that many successful companies -- Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc. -- have lousy blogs, and Apple has none at all. Finally (and relatedly), he announces that in a few weeks, he will be retiring his blog. He makes a good case for doing so, but it seems to me that companies who lack a large customer base and name recognition could gain a lot by blogging the way he did. --ADM