Digital/Online Marketing Communications Strategy

Keep Your Blog A No Flog Zone

By on August 12, 2009 in blogs/blogging with 0 Comments

Many companies are now integrating blogs into their marketing communications mix. But just calling something a blog doesn’t mean it is one.

Or at least not necessarily one that follows best practices for business blogging.

A bleary blog
Exhibit A: The blog for Savings.com, an online discount and coupon service that recently revamped its web site to make it more community oriented.

savings.com coupon blog-screenshotPosts (on this date) include a story about airline bereavement fares; photos from the Savings.com relaunch party; the top 10 best deals for the week of August 10-16 (this list includes discount offers from Frederick’s of Hollywood and Crabtree & Evelyn); a story about how the recession is affecting baseball teams; an article titled “What to Look for in a New Laptop”; and a “Best Store You Never Heard Of” feature.

Here comes the pitch
Many of the posts are highly sales oriented. The one about buying a laptop is a “shopping advice” informational article where highlighted brands are all companies that market through Savings.com. Likewise, “The Best Store You Never Heard Of” piece is a direct pitch for a vendor that lists offers through Savings.com.

A lot of the links within the different posts lead to deals included elsewhere on the site. And yes, it is called the Savings.com Coupons Blog, but it would be more accurate to just say, “Here’s where we promote the heck out of whoever pays us to advertise their discounts.”

And then there’s just a basic standard that the content should add value to the reader, which, sorry to say, the erratically written post on baseball teams having difficulties selling tickets in our troubled economy, fails to meet.

Kindly do not flog the reader
Ladies and gentlemen, this blog comes dangerously close to being a flog. Meaning it’s a fake blog. The “f” refers to the term flack, which is slang for a public relations/PR person. So it’s a flack blog, get it?

The reason it’s not a full on flog is that flogs are deceptive and hide the fact that they’re just a marketing tool in disguise. With the Savings.com blog it’s pretty clear what the deal is (pun intended). Even so, despite a scattering of stories under the category heading “odds and ends” that may not specifically pertain to site merchants, it’s heavily advertorial—that is, ads dressed up as articles.

A better way to go
A corporate blog can include a promotional aspect. But best practice is that it’s not so heavy handed in this regard. Also, if there is any kind of quid pro quo involved between the company that benefits from being mentioned and the one that does the mentioning, this should be disclosed.

In any case, a good business blog offers useful content that helps the reader better understand a product, service or brand. It might also present the company’s (or a particular employee’s) point of view on issues relating to its industry.

The best blogs are geared to creating a meaningful exchange between the writer/company and the reader, to include obtaining opinion and feedback. Better still, there’s a sense of personality to the posts. The main thing is, it’s not firmly slanted toward making a sale. You can use other areas of a web site for that purpose.

OK, repeat after me: A blog is not an advertisement.

– Deni Kasrel

What do YOU think of blogs that flog? Your comments welcome.

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About the Author

About the Author: Deni Kasrel is seasoned (slightly spicy) specialist in digital/online communications. .

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