10 ways to maximize your blog's ROI: Part 1, give your organization a human voice

Cute Title: 
Blog ROI: Put the I in ROI


In tough times, blogs have to pull their own weight. Here's how they can do it - starting with the way blogging can put a personal face on an organization, which is the first step to building relationships and trust.

Times are tight, which is the polite way of saying that your communications budget has probably been handed to Freddy Krueger for a light trim. So whether your organization is already blogging, or just thinking about it, you need to make a strong case for your blog's ROI.

So over the next few weeks, we're going to look at 10 ways that blogging provides value to your organization - whether it's a company, non-profit, government agency or community group. And we're going to talk about how you can get blogging to go that extra mile for you, and wring out every drop of golden ROI from your posts... while staying true to the principles of authenticity and transparency that give social media so much of their power.

(That may sound like a balancing act - but it actually it isn't. There's no trick to it. It's just a simple trick. Authenticity is actually the engine of the value of blogging, and the relationships and conversations it engenders. But I'm getting ahead of myself...)

So without any further ado, here's blogging's first source of value for your organization:

(tyrant on a throne of skulls) Tell me more of this 'blogging' and how it can improve my public image.

#1. Blogging lets your organization start communicating with a personal voice, and a human face.

Most organizational communications are impersonal. Vehicles like news releases speak with an institutional voice, and generally it's either flat and emotionless or full of PR hype. Either way, there's no trust and no connection between the communicator and the audience.

Even when individuals do step forward, it's almost always in a scripted way, in speeches, news releases or canned corporate videos. (The exception is when your CFO blurts a few offhand comments to reporters as they're being led away by the police, which - although compelling and humanizing - usually doesn't do a lot for trust either.)

Enter blogging. Whether the blogger is the CEO, an executive director, a senior manager, a frontline employee, a volunteer or even an intern hired expressly to blog, they're going to put a human face on your organization. They'll be talking in a conversational voice and casting your organization's work in the light of their own perceptions and experience.

How does that help you? There's a saying that it's harder to be angrier at a real person than a faceless organization. Now, that isn't exactly true; think of how you felt about your ex right after your last godawful breakup, compared to how you feel about, say, the Owens Corning corporation. But it's fair to say that it's easier to identify with a person than with a faceless organization.

And once that identification has happened, real communication becomes possible.

Here are some ways you can stress the personal on your organizational blog:

You'll know you're getting a good return on this investment in your organization's human face when you see pay-offs like...

In short: be yourself, be professional and be human, and you'll go a long way toward putting the "I" in "ROI".

10 ways to maximize your blog's ROI: Part 2, getting high-value feedback

Cute Title: 
Blog ROI: Get into the feedback loop


In this second part of a 10-part series, find out how blogs can earn their keep. This post, we look at the value of the feedback you can get from your blog's readers.

Think for a moment about how much your organization spends to find out what its audience (a term we'll keep using until something better comes along, but it really isn't adequate in a social media age) is thinking.

Maybe you're doing opinion polling or focus groups. Maybe you have labs where your prospective customers are testing your newest products and services. Maybe you've hired consultants to mine your customer service logs for golden nuggest of insight.

Maybe you're just thinking of getting a psychic on staff. (Hey, we're located in Vancouver; we can hook you up with someone.)

Feedback is tremendously valuable stuff. And you don't just want to hear reactions to what you're doing and saying; you want to know what's on your audience's mind about the whole range of subjects that could touch on your organization's products, services or mission.

Enter blogging. More to the point, blog comments -- where your readers respond to your posts and, often, alert you to issues, opinions and ideas you need to know about. Sometimes you'll find a valuable nugget in response to something you've said; other times, a side conversation between readers about something completely different will reveal an important insight; and on still other occasions, people will volunteer something to you from out of the blue.

This is a conversation you aren't going to have through the feedback form on your web site. There is a lot that your audience will share with an actual person -- especially someone they feel they have a relationship with -- that they'd never even think of dropping into your virtual suggestion box.

Some suggestions for getting valuable feedback through your blog:

You'll know you're getting valuable feedback when: