One of the biggest question businesses ask when blogging today is how to balance personal and professional communication. As a business on the web, you are always speaking…even if you are not saying a word. As a result, it’s vitally important that you know HOW to speak to your audience, especially on your blog, which is often the face of your brand.
Ten years ago, the question of blog communication was nonexistent as the “informal” world of social conversation and blogging was not popular among businesses. In fact, blogging and social media was more of a teenager’s domain where conversations around “hooking up” and “hanging out” were the norm.
On-line goes social – including company blogs
Today, the internet has evolved into a community-focused, social environment where customers can not only learn more about brands, but also connect with them on a personal level.
However, this shift toward personal communication and community focus has left brands wondering HOW to communicate.
Do you get more personal, yet risk losing your professional reputation with customers?
Or keep it professional, yet risk failing to connect?
Personal vs. Professional
When it comes to blogging, I am a firm believer in a stronger focus on “personal.”
Blogs create a sense of community and their purpose is to bring an audience of like-minded people together to discuss similar topics.
People want to work with or purchase from brands to which they feel connected. If you peruse the blogs of top brands that have a large following, you will notice personality, connection and a general sense of “community.” This community environment is what endears customers to a brand, and this is accomplished by injecting some personality into content.
If you want a great example of the right balance between personal and professional, take a look at Coca Cola’s “Unbottled” blog.
Here are some valuable points about the blog:
- The brand gets involved in a variety of community focuses such as charity, personal stories, even topics involving food (recipes that include Coke as an ingredient!) and music.
- The blog authors are contributors who share their actual names, instead of writing under the brand name.
- They encourage user-submitted videos and stories and foster community with every word.
Your readers want emotions
In an article for Entrepreneur.com, Jim Stengel, former global marketing officer of Procter & Gamble and author of Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies, says, “We’re seeing more of an emphasis on brands building emotional relationships with consumers because it’s powerful and it works. When you do it, you have a much stronger affinity, a much stronger business, much stronger growth and much stronger results.”
Does this mean I should share with my readers what my kids ate for dinner?
There is personal. And then there is PERSONAL.
It’s not about exposure, it’s about engagement
Unless your audience includes mothers, and you are selling recipes kids would love, your readers won’t want continual information about your personal life.
“Personal” communication refers more to engaging with your audience and meeting them where they are, instead of glaring at them behind a wall of a corporate façade.
Keep your content focused on your brand messaging, while allowing your audience to see that there is a human being behind the face of your brand. A little transparency can go a long way.
Note: It can be effective to share some personal family details occasionally on a blog, but the magnitude of this will depend on your industry and the characteristics/desires of your audience. Test it out and see how well people respond.
When does “personal” go too far?
Does anyone remember the blog incident involving the CEO of Godaddy?
Several years ago, Bob Parsons, the CEO of Godaddy, posted a video on his blog showing a video of his African vacation. Unfortunately, he was not prepared for the backlash that would soon ensue.
Why was the social world angry with Parsons and boycotting Godaddy as a result?
The video showed Parsons hunting and killing an elephant in Zimbabwe. Though Parsons attempted to explain his side of the story—that the wildlife is problematic for the people of Zimbabwe and poses a threat to their food supply—the damage had already been done. Parson’s explanation was not good enough to win back his audience.
Regardless of whether or not people agreed with Parson’s ethics, Parson should not have posted such a personal story on his blog, especially since he was in a position of authority.
The exact balance of personal vs. professional is a value only YOU can decide. If you want to increase the community presence on your blog and you are not getting results, consider becoming more approachable.
If you can’t wrap your thoughts around being “personal” on your blog, consider the term “approachable” because essentially that is the goal — to make your brand approachable and human.
Are people just AWARE of your brand?
Or are they FAMILIAR with your brand?
Ask yourself, “How do my customers/audience feel when they interact with our blog?” and “How do I want them to feel?”
Craft your content around your answers to these questions. Over time, you will build that sense of community and create not only customers, but also brand ambassadors who will spread the “story” of your brand without much effort on your part.