I really like things that are elegant in their simplicity, and the article I was reading with the same title as this post on Search Engine Guide really hit the mark. Here is how it opened.

With so much social media focus on sites like Twitter, FourSquare and Facebook these days, it’s easy for companies to neglect one of the single most powerful social media tools available: their blog. In fact, for companies who are looking to increase their search engine optimization efforts, a well-crafted blog can make a dramatic difference.

In fact, HubSpot released a study last summer showing some dramatic search related differences for companies including blogs as part of their content strategy. Their data shows small businesses who blog have an average of 97% more inbound links, 434% more indexed pages and 55% more visitors.

Jennifer Laycock even has a great diagram that I’m sure will be lifted and reused in corporate presentations trying to convince others internally of the benefits of blogging as part of a social media strategy. In fact, I was asked by someone just yesterday how they could dip a toe into the social media pond, but bearing in mind that their boss liked the sound of social media, wanted to be seen to be embracing the latest “thing,” but was paranoid of losing control. Based upon what I was told, it sounded like the boss in question did not really understand what social business is all about; but in this scenario a social media evangelist pushing an all or nothing approach is likely to end up seeing nothing at all being implemented. I suggested a measured implementation of blogging amongst other ideas like an online poll as phase one. In order to get comfort that this would not end up like a Nestle Facebook disaster, blogging with a very clear comments policy stating something along the lines of comments being encouraged so long as they were on topic and not dafamatory etc would also be imperative to get senior management buy-in. So long as you have a clear policy on what is acceptable and state upfront how you will deal with potential issues (eg. under what conditions comments will be removed), then dipping the corporate toe into social is much easier for large companies to swallow. But please don’t take this as an endorsement of the “we want to control the community” approach, as having that mindset really shows a lack of appreciation for how a company can benefit from social media. 

For one example of a company using social media well, take a look at todays entry on the Finnair blog – check out all the keywords here likely to drive search engine traffic that would normally never appear on a normal airline website:

We can be content if our work is so agreeable that it’s a pleasure to do it day after day. My job is like that. I work for Northport as a customer service coordinator in Staco (Station Control).Staco is the ground handling services nerve centre, where between five and twelve people work for four different companies depending on the time of day. Some work for Finnair, some for Northport, others for Barona Handling and the remainder for Interhandling. Air traffic coordination has more than enough moving parts. My colleagues and I in customer service coordination are responsible for ensuring that check-in, departure gates, Northport ticket sales and Gateway Service have the right number of personnel at the right time. We also ensure that Chinese and Japanese guides are available when Asian flights depart and arrive.

This type of writing is really going after a niche market of person that wants to deeply understand airline operations, but this is where corporate blogs can work in a powerful way. It is not going to sell more tickets overnight, but the cost is minimal and the perception it gets across over time of an airline with nothing to hide can send a very powerful message. Consistency is extremely important, and Finnair are showing this with the series of posts they have done so far giving a good technical understanding of an airline and putting a face to the people that passengers normally never see – do not underestimate the impact and value of this last part. How they syndicate this content to get parts of it across to travellers who would normally not go looking for it via Google is another important part of an effective communicaton strategy, but the blogging part of it certainly must be commended.