Not every CEO is born to write a blog, but a look at some successful CEO blogs indicate tangible benefits for the businesses involved. For example:
- In his blog, Craigconnects, the founder of Craigslist actively discusses tech and social media trends in ways that resonate with avid readers.
- Guy Kawasaki, Apple’s chief evangelist and social media guru, offers valuable insights on social evangelism and Apple devices to many devoted followers.
- Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, digs deep into the mind of the CEO, while also offering “the collective wisdom and the best of Silicon Valley.”
What do these and other successful executive-level blogs have in common? All demonstrate a proficiency in thought leadership, the ability to speak from the heart and a sense of urgency in sharing their experiences with the world at large.
C-Suite blogging tips
If you or someone else in the C-suite is considering joining the ranks of illustrious executive-level bloggers, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Avoid the hard sell. No matter who’s writing a blog these days, it’s well understood this is not a vehicle for pushing a company’s products or services. (Plenty of other marketing and advertising venues exist for that purpose.) Blogs — as one element in an overall strategy of content marketing — offer readers information of value, insights into the blogger’s personality and advice people can use to improve their lives. Leave product promotion to your marketing department.
Be authentic. A successful blog builds trust between the writer and his or her followers, and this can only happen when the CEO or executive speaks in an authentic voice. As a leader with specialized knowledge, you can easily slip into industry-specific jargon and other “inside baseball” language. That’s fine for high-level internal presentations, but not for your blog. By communicating in ahuman voice and sharing relevant anecdotes from your own life, you create a blog persona that’s immediately appealing to readers.
A word of warning: There’s such a thing as being too personal in your blog posts. Keep a close eye on the number of times “I” crops up in your writing. Overuse of this simple pronoun can convey a sense of being self-absorbed and only interested in how your own mind works, rather than how you interact with the world around you.
Embrace your strong opinions. An executive-level blog that sticks to conventional wisdom and only echoes what others have to say lacks a compelling reason to exist. Most CEOs and executives have strong opinions about their industry. It’s perfectly acceptable to express such sentiments in a blog post. Just remember to always do so respectfully and with the desire to inform, not shock readers for the sake of shocking them.
Pay attention to format. Blogs have been around for some time now and seem to work pretty well in their current format. This format includes:
- Brevity (usually 400-500 words, a bit longer if the subject demands it)
- Liberal use of bullet points
- Plenty of links to articles and sites elsewhere on the Web (to generate higher search engine ranking).
Your blog isn’t worth much if it appears too dense with text to read in one sitting. Like you, visitors to your blog want to skim as much as they want to read.
Commit to a regular schedule. Time is always an issue when it comes to executive-level blogging. But once you make a commitment to blog, it’s vitally important to set up a schedule of regular postings and stick to it. People will only come back to your blog if you keep refreshing the content. Go too long without something new (even more than a week) and readership can drop off dramatically. On the other hand, a reliable series of content-rich postings makes your posts more credible and relevant.
Get a discussion going. The whole point of writing blog posts is to spark people’s interest and get a discussion going. At the end of a post, ask a question like “What do you think?” about the subject at hand. Or invite readers to comment and share their own experiences (and, when they do, feel free to comment on their comments).
When you’ve developed a loyal following, ask readers what they’d like to hear about — an especially helpful technique when you feel like your well has run dry.
“And when (not if) a less-than-pleasant comment comes your way, address it with grace and honesty,” says Sue Parente, managing partner of Tier One, a public relations and social media firm. “Every bad interaction is actually a hidden opportunity: CEOs can earn real credibility with other readers for the way they field the tougher questions publicly.”
Guest post by Peter LaMotte, Senior Vice President at LEVICK and Chair of the firm’s Digital Communications Practice. He is also a contributing author to LEVICK Daily, where he routinely writes about social media marketing and online reputation management.