Need more proof that blogging for your business can make a big marketing impact? Look no further than Cisco Systems. Even though it’s one of the biggest, most successful companies in the world, small businesses can learn a lot from its blogging strategy. Cisco has more than 10 blogs, some tech-centric (what you would expect) and one that may catch you by surprise: A high tech policy blog that has been going for two years and receives about 150,000 visits in a quarter.
The blog was born when Cisco was going through a PR nightmare: In 2006 the company was accused of tinkering with its routers to placate the anti-Democratic policies of the Chinese government. Cisco launched the blog to get its story out and has found its policy blog and other blogs to be an excellent way to give its executives exposure, get its message out, and connect with customers, according to Jeanette Gibson of Cisco who presented her findings at Business 2.0 Expo, a tech conference in San Francisco.
Here are some of the lessons/strategies Gibson has learned over the last few years:
- Take a long term view. It can take years for a blog to get traction. Be prepared to make a long-term commitment.
- Recruiting: Almost any employee at Cisco can blog. All they need to do is fill out an application online. The application is then vetted by a blog team. Cisco has found that blogs work best if there is a team of employees interested in writing one. That way, a single employee doesn’t burn out. The employees also have to be willing to follow a few guidelines set by Cisco’s corporate blog policy. They cannot reveal any confidential company information, and they must post two to three times a week. Beyond that, however, they have a lot of freedom. There is no formal oversight of posts. They are free to write what they want. “Be yourself and have fun,” is the company blog mantra.
- Metrics: Gibson says that measuring the success of blogs isn’t just about keeping track of page visits. It’s often about how influential your blog is. Who is reading it? When the Wall Street Journal was writing an article about China and technology, it pulled information directly from Cisco’s policy blog.
- Use Blogs as Part of an Overall Communication: Before Cisco announced its recent lawsuit against Apple’s use of the trademark iPhone, company executives used their blogs to talk about why the lawsuit was being filed. The blog helped shape the debate. Type in “Cisco Sues Apple” in Google and the second search result is from Cisco’s news blog.