A few weeks ago, a client asked me to check out a blog post on a topic related to his technology. For the life of me, I can't remember what company the blogger worked for, but it was someone big - Microsoft, Cisco, that level.
The post was well written and informative. I looked at a few other posts by the guy. Well written. Informative. Regular commenters - not tons, but some.
Clearly he was putting a lot of time and effort into being "out there."
Clearly, it was a big part of this guy's job to create an online presence.
Clearly, my client was feeling a bit of blogger envy. He didn't exactly come out and say it, but I could hear it in his e-mail voice: "Why can't we have a blog like this? Wah, wah, wah."
Sorry, but unless someone of the folks already working 14 hour days wants to add a 15th blogging hour on "for free", and unless everyone else can add a bit to their work day to feed your blogger ideas, or unless you force everyone in the company to write one post every week (whether they can write or not): IT'S JUST NOT GOING TO GET DONE.
And it probably wouldn't be worth the effort to begin with. There's a certain size company (and customer base) where blogging will start to make sense, but that size is probably not 10 employees and 5 customers (or vice versa).
Even if you're God's gift to the blogosphere, you probably won't find that the people who matter - in your case, your prospects and customers - probably won't read you all that regularly.
But there's no reason that my client can't start moseying around in and exploring the blogosphere by:
- Finding the bloggers/online columnists who matter to you. They might be writing about your industry, your product area, your underlying technology, but there are probably at least a few of them out there.
- Commenting on their posts. Other than spam comments - "Hey, nice post. Your readers might be interested in discount Cialis...." - bloggers love to get comments. By providing intelligent, to-the-point comments, you may end up in a relationship with the blogger. Maybe it's someone who you can ask for advice, someone who'll refer a customer your way, someone who'll write about your company.
A few notes on commenting: No to thinly or not-so-thinly veiled sales pitches or product plugs. But do mention your product if there's something about it that's relevant to the conversation.
Also feel free to talk about why you have something to talk about. Maybe you know a lot about SOA because you're using it. Maybe you know a lot about what's happening in technology for mortgage lending because that's where your customers are.
Don't post as anonymous. Use your name, and, if there's no way to indicate your affiliation or leave your url, definitely mention your company in the comment, perhaps also stating your title, if it's your first time.
Second-hand blogging (or first-hand blogging, for that matter) is not going to be the panacea for all of your companies visibility and awareness raising ills. But by spending a bit of time up front figuring out where you want to start commenting, and minimal time each day/week reading and commenting on your favorites, you will begin to get your company's name - and yours - out there in a low cost manner that could well end up yielding your benefits.
And if there's no one person in your teensy-tiny company who wants to take on full commenting responsibility, how about putting blog grazing on the agenda for your weekly team meeting or group lunch? Many mouths, many brains can make light work of keeping up with the blogs that matter.