Since 2004, Technorati has published an annual 'State of the Blogosphere' report, which analyzes trends and growth in blogging. While they have not yet released a report for 2012, their 2011 report stated that corporate bloggers make up 8% of the blogosphere. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that corporate blogging now makes up a much larger percentage of total blog activity, but even if it remained at 8%, business-based blogging would still represent a substantial amount of total activity. As more businesses continue to enter the blogosphere, they run the risk of publishing clichéd, outdated articles in the hopes of attracting a wider audience. As I've worked to grow my own company blog, I've seen plenty of other business blogs that continue to publish material that is either uninteresting or unprofessional and, to stem the flow of poorly written postings, here are five topics I earnestly believe business blogs should avoid.
1. Your own press releases
Press releases are undeniably important for a business, but no one wants to read a press release that has been copied and pasted to a business's blog. Press releases can only gain traction if news outlets decide to pick them up - that's why most businesses send their releases to a distributor service. Your readers come to your blog because they'd like to read your advice or analysis on a topic you explore within your industry. Publishing a press release and pretending it is a new post is a disservice to both your business and your audience. And, if you continue to make a practice out of that, some people might even decide not to check your blog anymore if they feel like it is too self-serving.
2. Constantly promoting your business
In the Technorati report mentioned above, 61% of corporate bloggers stated that they blog to earn professional recognition, and 52% reported that they blog to attract new clients. Because there is an ulterior motive to corporate blogging, many companies run the risk of being overly promotional. However, a corporate blog is not another advertising tool. It's okay to occasionally promote some new aspects of your company, but you are not going to attract readers by constantly patting yourself on the back or expounding on the greatness of your business.
3. Highly detailed, personal stories
A corporate blog is not a diary. Newer businesses occasionally like to blog these heart-wrenching stories about their personal struggles, but to an outside reader not acquainted with the business, it might seem like the writer is just complaining or looking for attention. You want to keep your topics professional - you are, after all, trying to prove to the reader that you are qualified to give them advice. Using your blog as a place to vent about your personal problems, or even your business's problems, can shake that perception of professionalism.
4. Announcements that jump the gun
This issue is a bit less prevalent, but it is definitely a problem that new small businesses face. In the excitement of new contracts or partnerships, a business might scurry to their blog and announce a deal that is still in the works. Not only will it look bad if talks fall apart, but it might upset your potential partner. If you have exciting news, pump the brakes and make sure everything is worked out and agreed on between both parties before writing up a post about it.
5. Pseudo-New Age advice
If I had a dollar for every time I've seen a post on something like 'Unlocking Your Inner Entrepreneur' or 'Finding the Business Zen Within,' I'd have a pretty good Starbucks coffee fund going. I blame these posts on popular business books, the kind college kids have to read for Business 101 courses. There is certainly something to be said about finding inner motivation and personal satisfaction, but the content of these posts typically border on common sense. Of course you need to 'stay driven despite obstacles' - if you give up after hitting your first speed bump, you'd never get anything done!
It can be difficult to come up with fresh topics for your business's blog, and a lot of businesses fall back on the above topics because they often require little to no additional effort on their part, so they wind up pasting copies of press releases or talking about how buying a bonsai tree helped them to clear their mind and move forward. You want your blog posts to engage your audience, and pounding them over the head with what essentially become advertisements for you or your business isn't going to do that. Put some time into choosing what topics you cover, and you'll soon find that more traffic will flow to your blog and, ultimately, your website.