Consumers now expect companies will conduct a dialogue with them online. Companies like Dell, Comcast and Zappos have changed customer expectations about what it means to reach out to a company for the simplest of requests or the most complex of complaints. Instead of calling a call center on their time, the consumer simply writes a blog post, Facebook update, or tweet anticipating a company will respond.
To write well in social media is not about being the most polished writer, or a creative copywriter, rather the skills that are needed to succeed are an ability to listen, be empathic, admit mistakes where necessary, and take a stand knowing the customer is not always right. Online, the good writer is outpaced by the good conversationalist.
You’ve developed your brand, spent decades on refining the look, and meaning of what it means to purchase your products. Perhaps the experience of going into one of your stores in Raleigh, North Carolina is the same as going into a store in Oakland, California. The experience of purchasing the product, sitting in the store describes the value of the product, but also conveys clues to a company’s corporate culture. Your company is a machine. However, your employees interpret your brand through a human lens everyday; they bring life to the machine, the process, and as a result turn a brand into a living perception in the minds of customers wanting to return.
It’s ironic that much of what tells the story about a company, its advertising, its website, and corporate communications does not allow the human ability to converse in. Especially because many organizations find that once they do start talking with customers using the web, there are a lot of good stories to hear. But corporate culture, the culture of the communication workflow in the company may not encourage dialogue with consumers even though conversation happens every day in thousands of stores across.
If you have a corporate culture where you don’t want employees revealing too much about a company, blogging may not be for you. If your company worries about giving employees the freedom to write a blog without editorial control, a blog is not for you. If there are legal or regulatory restrictions on what content you can publish, perhaps the banking or healthcare industry, you will have to think carefully before blogging.
To start corporate blogging, you have to be more open, willing to take criticism, and discuss any issues that arise because they probably will. If things get bumpy you have to be willing to give your point of view and state what you can and cannot do or say. If you’re not able to participate, engage, have a dialogue as part of your culture; blogging is not a good fit for you. And could harm your company if you participate, because once you set up a blog you are saying to the world that you are willing to conduct a dialogue, and if you don’t when the community expects your response, and you don’t respond instead of thinking of the employees in the stores across the nation, people will think of a company unwilling to talk back and forth.