How to write a corporate blog

Corporate bloggingBlogs. They are everywhere, and their numbers are growing by the hour. Lots of companies are being encouraged to blog as a way to market themselves and reach candidates, but it’s a sad fact that most corporate blogs are terrible (84%, in fact). They are filled with press releases and other one-way communications that are not helpful in building a community or encouraging conversation. Let’s remedy that.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long, long time now. While I haven’t had the opportunity (yet) to write a corporate blog, I have been writing this blog for over a year and a half. In the past 15 months, I’ve also been writing my SHRM chapter’s blog as well. I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve learned a lot and made enough mistakes to see what works and what doesn’t.

It’s all about authenticity and value

If it reads like a press release, people won’t be interested. Press releases have their own place, but it’s not in a blog. Content from a press release can be used in a blogging context, but it needs to be as a sidebar or commentary item, not the main fare.

So, if you’re not just spouting PR stuff from the blog, what do you talk about? Two of my favorite corporate blogs are by MailChimp and EventBrite. I’m not a full time email manager or event planner, but I still subscribe to both of these blogs and read them religiously. Why? They provide a great mix of customer-focused  “how to” posts, comments on their industry in general, and information about new features (plus how they impact you as a customer). Much of what they post is written to educate readers and encourage conversation.

The main thing: It’s great content that helps every reader, whether they are customers or not.

The root problem

Just like with this huge social media blocking craze we’re seeing these days, companies are hesitant to put their trust in their people. You know, those same people who can go to their homes, the local bar, or a child’s sporting event and talk about the company’s horrible, evil ways in public. But you’re going to block them at work. Doesn’t make sense!

Empower your people to have a real voice and let them make things happen. The more you water down the opinions and strip away the humanity in your corporate blog, the worse off it will be.

Like I said, they can already wreck your company publicly at any time they choose. Giving them a social media platform to share from doesn’t change that fact.

The mechanics

Blogging has a lot of pieces to it, but it’s possible to focus on just a few areas to make sure you are hitting the high points.

  • Writing the right types of posts to get links/comments
  • Interlinking and other SEO tips to get more views
  • Creating an editorial calendar
  • Building sneeze and squeeze pages
  • And plenty more!

One of the best tools I’ve found to help you learn to cover each of those pieces and integrate them into a powerful blog is the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook. If you really want to get your corporate blog going and make it shine, then I highly encourage you to check out the book. I just found out that if you use “november25” as your discount code at checkout, you’ll get 25% off the price, but it’s only good through the end of November. Click here to learn more.

Growing awareness and engagement

In his book Culture Convo, Chris Ferdinandi makes this great point about how to grow awareness and engagement among your audience:

Whether you\’re looking to increase the number of people who read your blog, follow you on Twitter, or are your fans on Facebook, the strategy is always the same.
Have conversations worth listening to.
Being an interesting conversationalist – creating fun posts, photos and videos, sharing interesting news and useful insights – is the only way to have long-term success using social media. It\’s really that simple.
That doesn\’t mean that it\’s always easy. Figuring out what your target audience is interested in can take some time. But there\’s no magic formula to growing your awareness and engagement.
If you\’re a good conversationalist, then your circle of conversation will grow slowly and organically (and exponentially!) over time.

Final thoughts

If your corporate blog sucks (and it looks like about 84% of them do), it doesn’t have to be terminal. Most of the time the situation is not irreparable. Connect with people. Help them. Interact. Learn. And stop shoving press releases down our throats. It’s not working.

Anyone else have a good corporate blog they’d like to plug? Drop it in the comments below.

HRM Conference: Social Media with Kris Dunn and Dawn Hrdlica

Yes. I know how to use social media. But I want to be in the middle of a group of HR professionals who battle in the trenches every day and hear what they want to know about the social stuff. While I love doing what I do, I understand that there\’s a whole other world out there of people who could really use this stuff (if only they knew how or what to ask). That\’s why Project:Social was started.

By the way, I\’m coming to you from the Human Resources Management Conference in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Check back for more coverage of the event!

The fun for me actually started before the actual session. I had the opportunity to share my lunch hour with Dawn and we talked on HRevolution, deep career issues, and blogging. Plus I got to show off pictures of my girls. Always fun. :-)

Killer Quotes

“[Why did I start using this stuff?] I just wanted to start learning about social media for recruiting.” Dawn Hrdlica-Burke

I\’ve received more than I\’ve given with social media/blogging. That\’s why I do what I do. -Kris Dunn

Your handbook is already there to help remove people who have a major error in judgment. Don\’t need a special social media policy. –KD

“Hey, nobody died” (in defense of asking forgiveness, not permission, for testing social tools). –KD

Who I follow in social media: not only people who put out content, but also people who share other resources that are not theirs that are helpful to people in the profession. –KD

I never trust a blog that blocks comments. Controlling the conversation doesn\’t work. –Dawn

social media + HR: Employer branding, recruiting, and career advancement for HR in a digital world

Ten reasons to use social tools

  1. Sucks to be a dinosaur (don\’t be leapfrogged on strategy)
  2. Rock and roll is dead (so is print)
  3. Elvis,Tony Soprano, and the internet (other generations thought they were fads)
  4. elearning is turning into ulearning (don\’t wait on content from SHRM/HRCI)
  5. Toby from the Office (show that you are growing/engaged)
  6. You\’re so vain (Have you googled yourself? What does it say about you?)
  7. I trust people I meet on the net (people with online brands)
  8. You can build professional authority without posting beer bong pics (it’s really not hard to keep it professional)
  9. Network/connections will drive knowledge transfer (be involved to observe what\’s going on)
  10. There\’s better food at the Marriot than at the Motel6 (market pays for rare skills (social media, for instance))

Pitfalls, Landmines, and other practical advice for HR rockstars in the trenches: You say you want a social media revolution

Ten barriers to social tool usage

  1. Don\’t have the access (54% are blocking completely, 90% blocking some)
  2. Don\’t have the tools (already have other stuff filling my work slate, is there room for another piece?)
  3. Underestimating the time (posting a job=5 minutes of work, building a network of social contacts=greater than 5 minutes)
  4. Being overwhelmed (start small—lurk/observe!)
  5. I don\’t get it (well, your grandma does)
  6. My company won\’t let me go public (go internal!)
  7. IT and marketing took over my world (be prepared and be a partner,  not a flunkie)
  8. Where\’s my ROI (time vs. dollars)
  9. I fought the law (don\’t be stupid)
  10. You, you control freak (can\’t control every other conversation, so don\’t try this either)

My thought: The fact that companies don\’t really trust end users/employees is where a lot of the friction (blocking social sites) comes from. If you didn\’t trust them, why in the world did you hire them?

Project: Social

So… Project:Social. What is it? Well, here’s where I explained how the whole social media mentoring idea began. I told everyone to stay tuned for a way to sign up and indicate interest. After you watch the video below (subscribers may need to click through), you’ll see the link to join up. Warning: the video and audio tracks messed up and aren’t synced. Therefore this looks like an old Japanese movie. My lips will be saying something but you’ll hear something else. Just listen well and you’ll get the good stuff. :-)

Here’s the catch: we’re in a “beta” phase for a short time. While anyone can submit their interest, we are going to try to match 3-5 couples and measure the results after a week or two. Then we plan to move forward with the rest of the candidates. Why? Well, we want to work out any kinks so that everyone has the best possible experience, and we’d like to be able to provide a little guidance if necessary until these relationships can get on their feet. Don’t let that stop you from applying, though!

Click here to sign up as a mentor or mentee.

Throughout the whole process Victorio and I have been telling people to share this thing. That’s where the real magic comes in. If you want to tweet about it, here’s the Twitter hashtag: #ProjectSocial (by the end of your mentorship, you’ll know what a hashtag is if you don’t already!). :-) Feel free to email your friends and coworkers. I’d rather have to scramble for mentors than have too many of them sitting around with nothing to do. :-)

And, as always, this is a work in progress. Feel free to share ideas or comments that you think might help us continue moving forward. Don’t forget to sign up if you’d like to help or be helped!

Social Media Mentoring

social media networksI’m sure by now you’ve heard about that “social media” thing. Maybe you’ve wondered how to go from people saying, “Hey, you should use Twitter!” to actually being able to jump in and build connections, start learning, and get a lot of value from the experience. Or maybe you’ve thought about starting a blog and sharing your ideas, but you just don’t know the little technical aspects that you need to make it work.

If that sounds like you, then I have some good news.

A few days ago, Victorio Milian of the ever-interesting Creative Chaos Consultant blog reached out to me about helping to start a project where we help mentor people on social media and blogging. I was instantly in. Interested?

How it’s going to work

We’re going to help facilitate connections between those of you who are looking for some help and those who have reached out to offer to mentor someone.

If you have anything you’d like to suggest or share, please leave a comment below and we’ll take it into consideration. Above all else, please share this with people you know. Just think, if everyone who is involved in the online HR social community agreed to mentor just one person, then that would double the size of our community. We talk about getting out of our little “echo chamber” and reaching others; this is an excellent way to make that happen.

Basically, we’re going to be providing a way for those “in the know” with social tools to connect with those who would like some one-on-one help with getting involved. Neither Victorio nor I have the time to do stuff with each and every person who would like to learn more, so we’re recruiting those with the knowledge and desire to help us with our mission. If you’re interested in mentoring someone, feel free to leave a comment below with your intentions.

The bottom line

This is a work in progress. We’re working on a few ways to help us get organized and help you connect with the right people. We’re open to feedback and would

If you missed it, Victorio has his own post up today explaining the concept behind this whole project. Check it out to fill in anything I might have left out.

70% of employers perform social search on candidates

employers search social media

Despite the scary “end of the world” talk out there from legal types about how using social media will land your company in a lawsuit, 70% of employers are still searching for candidate information on social networking sites, and approximately one-third search every single time. I’ve talked before about how social media use varies between employers and candidates. Does this mean that the gap is closing? Are more companies trying to research and engage job seekers through social channels? Let’s hope so.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Is your organization using social tools to reach out to candidates? If so, how?

And if you’re interested in getting started doing this with your own organization, there’s a great tool to help you get moving. Click here to find out more about Culture Convo and see how it can help you to use social media for your employer branding efforts.

Photo courtesy of the Jobvite Social Recruiting Report.

Cliques, Why I Exist, and How to Join In

The other day there was a popular post on the HR Minion blog about cliques. I had a good time reading it, but the comments were great, too! Go here to read the post and then come back when you’re done. I’ll wait.

Okay, then we roll some comments from people who I trust and respect.

I think another point that you didn\’t really hit on is the transparency of social media. What used to be fairly private relationships built over e-mail, phone and in person conversations have now gone public. If I don\’t follow back someone I don\’t know very well on Twitter, it is a cliquish thing to do (something I\’ve been called out for).

That\’s not clique, that\’s human. We only have a capacity for so many connections. Those ebb and flow as time goes on (I don\’t believe in connection collections). When this happened in a more private setting, nobody thought it was cliquish because it wasn\’t visible. Now it is.

I try to be open with people about it without sounding like a dick and without some sort of “I\’m more important than you” attitude. It isn\’t about what they\’re doing, it is simply a capacity issue. Something I\’ve learned the hard way.

Lance Haun

I can certainly understand the number of connections issue. On to another good comment…

As someone who sits on the edge of the HR world I am neutral on the clique being a good thing. No doubt there is a wealth of information that is freely shared. And yes it is a friendly group.

But I do think that frequently it feels as if the only HR “cool kids” are the ones on Twitter or have a Facebook Page.

Certainly not the case.

Are there really only 10-15 (give or take) HR bloggers worth reading? One might think so by looking at the rolls on most sites.

Being the most vocal, the loudest or attending all the conferences and events does not make one worth listening to.

Paul DeBettignies

I don’t have a blogroll (a list of links pointing to other sites I recommend). I had one when I started blogging, but I quickly got tired of feeling like I was leaving people out, so I dumped it and haven’t regretted it a bit. I’m much more open to linking to people in context where it matters most (like the comments above).

Is it a clique, though?

I feel like an outsider myself at times. My blog traffic isn’t earth-shattering, and there are plenty of people with more brains, experience, and writing ability than me. I try to be inclusive of those around me, but I’m especially helpful to the people just getting into the space. They need extra support or they might drop off completely.

I think there are phases to this thing. Once you move past beginner, you are open to recruiting and mentoring others. If you advance to content creation, you have to cut back on the recruiting/mentoring, because you have something else swallowing a big piece of your time. That might be why another commenter said this (emphasis mine)…

This post is fascinating and challenging at the same time.

I have been active in the “HR Community” long before social media and have loved every frustrating minute of it !!

Social Media has actually allowed me to connect with others who are passionate about our field. When you\’re passionate (and not apologetic) about HR, people tend to shun you.

Most HR folks love living in their self-imposed silo of misery and it\’s well past time to destroy those silos.

I love being connected, active and “branded” in social media because I get to meet folks. Other great humans with diverse thought and approaches that I never would have known if it weren\’t for Twitter, Linked In, Facebook, etc.

I don\’t have a blog. May never have one. Like guest posting and infiltrating so much more.

Shauna – way to shake the tree a bit !!

If this is a clique – I\’m in. I think it\’s just great people that want to know each other and get others connected.

Steve Browne

My goal with this gig

I want to meet new people in the online HR space. I want to reach out to the new and aspiring bloggers out there. If you have one post or a full archive, you still are worth reaching out to in my opinion. If you’re just exploring Twitter or LinkedIn, I’m open to helping you as well. I just want to freaking help, darn it! :-)

Am I a part of a community? Yes. Am a a part of multiple communities? Yes. It’s up to the new people to reach out and attempt to integrate themelves, because there’s no way for me (or anyone else) to find all the people who aren’t plugged in yet. I’m a rabid advocate for joining online communities, and I certainly wouldn’t be if I thought the groups were closed or cliquish.

In fact, just to show my openness to you newbies who want to get involved, I will share my email address and offer a guaranteed personal response if you email me. Also, if you’re interested in getting involved but don’t know how, I would love to assist!

How to get started

How did I get connected when I started this thing? I stared reaching out and sharing ideas with those people I admired. Eventually they started treating me like an equal. I love using the metaphor of an ability scale. For instance, I see people like Kris Dunn as a 9 or 10 on the scale. I see myself somewhere near the middle, and I see the newbies like my friend John Jorgenson nearer to the lower end of the scale (he’s going to love me for that one! :-) ).

If you’re just getting started on the front end, you just need to keep doing like John and Kris-help others, reach out to meet new people, and try to add some value to this online community. It works.

Finally, a quick congrats to Shauna for getting the Monster 5 for Friday award for this post!

My comments section isn’t as cool as the ever-lovin’ HR Minion’s, but I can dream, huh? :-)

Employer branding through social media

My friend Chris Ferdinandi of Renegade HR has been writing a great eBook titled “Culture Convo.” It’s about how to use social tools to talk about your culture and share your employer brand with the world. I was lucky enough to get a preview copy, and I have to say that it’s an amazing tool that you must have. But that’s not even the best part. Before the book launches to the public, Chris is giving away some fantastic free stuff to get you rolling in the right direction. Here’s a snippet of his description…

You’ll learn:

  • How to use six of today\’s most popular social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogging, YouTube and Flickr.
  • How to get started, what to talk about, and how often to post.
  • How to get your employees involved.
  • How to measure your success. Continue reading