So what do you think of corporate blogs?  Do you know what a corporate blog is?  According to Wikipedia a corporate webblog is published and used by an organization to reach its organizational goals. The advantage of blogs is that posts and comments are easy to reach and follow due to centralized hosting and generally structured conversation threads.

Wikipedia goes on to explain  two types of corporate blogs.  Internal–meant for employees to view and comment on and external–published for the public to view.

The question here involves those corporate blogs created for the public to view, comment on and follow.  Are these blogs being visited? Do consumers take the time to look for and then read a company’s blog?  Why would they or why wouldn’t they?  It seems that the goal of an external company blog would be to build a relationship with their consumer by providing news and up to date information about their products.  While many attempt to do this, often the blog posts come across as nothing more than press releases—looked upon as just another company marketing attempt.

Josh Catone who blogs for Sitepoint, an online media company, discusses 15 companies who are successfully providing interesting, stimulating blogs that encourage discussion among readers.  Quoting  from a  Forrester Research report on corporate blogs, Catone discusses how  most B2B blogs are “dull, drab, and don’t stimulate discussion.”  Most of these businesses have not seen a significant value for their blogging attempts, either. The Forrester report suggests that companies not discontinue their blogs, but rather to boost their entertainment value so as to attract and keep interested consumers.

Some of Catone’s favorite corporate blogs include the following with his comments:

DellThough Dell’s corporate blog rarely strays from Dell-centric news, the company posts with a great conversational voice, often breaks news on their blog (which keeps people coming back), and listens and responds to customers. Dell also posts regularly (1-2 posts per day at least) which keeps content fresh and encourages repeat visits.

AdobeAdobe offers a huge collection of employee blogs, many of which are great reads. By allowing employees to blog, Adobe has empowered them to evangelize their products for them — many post tutorials, advice, reviews, and other great tid-bits promoting Adobe products — while not pigeon holing them into talking only about Adobe.

Southwest AirlinesSouthwest Airlines’ “Nuts About Southwest” blog doesn’t take itself too seriously — and that’s a good thing. The company blogs about itself and the airline industry with a personal touch and has been producing a series of fun, behind-the-scenes videos that are both interesting and engaging.

While these are great examples of successful corporate blogs, it doesn’t help the image of corporate blogs in general.  A recent article in Business Week written by Heather Green, (December, 09), further quotes the Forrester Research report with the amazing figure that only 16% of consumers put any trust in corporate blogs.  They rate these blogs on the trust scale lower than direct mail, print media and even corporate emails.   So what’s the secret to encouraging a brand relationship with your customer through the use of corporate blogs?  What is it that’s going to make the consumer sit up and take notice of your company’s blog?

A recent posting on The Agitationist discusses the trust issue with an eye on what a social media team can do to help.  The main gist of this post seems to be that a corporate blog must offer the consumer something– desired information, a solution to a problem, a believable insight into the company, entertainment, and a place where consumers can post their opinions and have proof that they have been listened to.  This may be why Dell has been so successful with their blogging.  By listening and responding to their customers’ ideas and opinions, they have created an active and interesting blog.  Direct2Dell is a prime example of how a coporate blog should work.