At a McCuistion TV taping earlier this year, I had the opportunity to meet Sharon Allen, the Chairman of the Board for Deloitte. In a brief conversation, she mentioned the outrageous number of downloads they had of the online posting of their 3rd Annual Deloitte LLP Ethics and Workplace Survey entitled, “Social Networking and Reputational Risk in the Workplace“. The survey is excellent and I highly recommend that you download and read it.
Though I could get into all kinds of statistics and facts regarding the survey, I’ll summarize it by stating that there is a huge disconnect between the board room, employees, and social media. So when it comes to employee blogs in corporations, you can rest assured that the topic strikes fear in minds of senior leadership; and where there is fear, comes rules, policy, and inhibitors.
In this post, I’m going to argue against this approach and make the bold statement that every employee in a company should have a blog!
Michael Hyatt, the CEO of Thomas Neslson Publishers, wrote two different posts on his blog that made me an instant fan of his. Ironically, they are both very applicable to the this post on employee blogs.
In the first post, Michael Hyatt shared his company’s corporate blogging guidelines. These guidelines were written by him and not an attorney. In one section, it very clearly states:
At Thomas Nelson, we want to encourage you to blog about our company, our products, and your work. Our goal is three-fold:
- To raise the visibility of our company,
- To make a contribution to our industry, and
- To give the public a look at what goes on within a real live publishing company.
The second post Michael wrote that really resonated with me was one entitled “Five Reasons Why Your Company Doesn’t Need A Social Media Policy“. In this, he clearly talks about trusting employees when he says:
Your people can be trusted. In my experience as a leader, people pretty much do what you expect. If you expect them to be honest and trustworthy, they will be honest and trustworthy. No, I am not hopelessly naive: I know some people misbehave. But why punish the many because of the few? Deal with the exceptions as they occur. Most people will do the right thing if given the chance.
In the end, employee blogs are just like any other tool we entrust employees to use; they require guidance and education.
Enable Your Employees to Blog
In most organizations, a high percentage of employees will have opinions and be passionate about one topic or another. A percentage of that population will actually have the skills and take the time to effectively put their thoughts in writing.
When I say “effectively”, I mean the types of communication skills that allow them to clearly and concisely articulate their thoughts, drive home their points, and tackle tough or even controversial subject matter in an “above the line” manner. Within this population, a very small percentage will actually understand how to write in a manner that attracts search engines and socializes the thinking via other avenues that will allow the message to be heard outside of their normal channels.
Herein lies the opportunity!
Enable your employees by providing them:
- Guidance on how to select a blogging platform.
- Writing and communication review training.
- Knowledge as to how optimize blog posts for search engines.
- Corporate policy, employee policy, and/or a digital copyright law review.
If you have to set policy, start with a “Best Practices” approach and highlight the work of peers. I’ll give you a “right way” vs. “wrong way” example:
The Wrong Way
You are forbidden from copying any material from our corporate support site and including it in your blog.
The Right Way
When discussing product fixes and work arounds, a best practice is to link to the actual knowledge base articles on the company support site. There are several benefits in doing so which include:
- You won’t have to find and replicate changes from these pages on your blog.
- It creates a more consistent support experience for our customers.
- It allows you to write more concise and readable blog post.
Employee blogs are a great thing. They enable your employees to express themselves and drive energy and awareness around your company and its products. Even in a regulated industry, you can find ways to embrace your employees and blogging.
Though not every employee will want to blog, every employee should be given the opportunity if they choose to do so.