B2B Marketing Blog

The Building of a Blog

Jun 4, 2008 4:30:07 AM / by The Mezzanine Group

Lisa recently posted about the strategic considerations of starting a blog - what she didn't have the space to get into were all the steps that came after we pulled the trigger. As the person responsible for making sure the blog is up, functioning, and full of great content, I get the opportunity to chat a little about the process Mezzanine went through. I've broken it out into 4 steps:

Step 1: Plan, Plan, Plan
Step 2: Choose a Blog Platform and Customize
Step 3: Soft Launch and Test
Step 4: Hard Launch... and Continue to Test

"Let’s begin again, begin the begin"
Step 1: Plan, Plan, Plan

Jumping straight into action without a plan is clearly not the smartest nor the most efficient way of doing things, so the first step was our plan.

Questions we asked ranged from the strategic: 'What type of content do we want to focus on?', 'How will we ensure that every post adds value for our readers?', 'How will we ensure that every post is adding to our brand instead of detracting from it?', to the practical: 'Who will post?', 'How often will we post?', 'Do we want to host onsite or off?'

Only once we had answered those questions and many more, could we begin the process of building the physical (if not physical, then at least not theoretical) blog.

"She opened a book and a box of tools."
Step 2: Choose a Blog Platform and Customize

Choosing a blogging platform was a fairly fast process for me, but only because of the following. 1) Answers to many of the questions asked in the planning phase eliminated several choices immediately and 2) I have past experience with a number of the major options out there.

Having personally used Blogger, Greymatter, Movable Type, Livejournal (which I consider more of a social networking tool than a blog platform) and even the now-defunct Diary-X, I had a pretty good idea of what would work for us and what wouldn't. Ultimately it became a choice between TypePad and WordPress.org. WordPress was the best choice for Mezzanine, though it may not be for other companies starting up blogs.

After installation, we needed to do a bit of graphic work, a little bit of coding, and some integration with our existing site. Customizing is one of the best ways to ensure brand consistency.

"Testing, One, Two, Sibilance, Sibilance"
Step 3: Soft Launch and Test

A soft (internal) launch was a big part of the setup process. It gave other team members the opportunity to critique the setup, allowed me the opportunity to iron out the bugs, and gave us all the chance to understand the posting process before gaffes would be posted for everyone to see.

This was also a great chance to check that all components were working well together. 'Is Google Analytics catching traffic properly?', 'Is FeedBurner working?'.

"Ground control to Major Tom, commencing countdown engine's on."
Step 4: Hard Launch... and Continue to Test

Moved a few files, changed a few settings and the blog was live. That was the easy part. Now comes the updating, tweaking, tracking and learning. Like any project, this is a cyclical process. We will continue to refine our strategy and plan, continue to customize the code, continue to run internal tests and most certainly continue to track external results. Without continuous improvement, we run the risk of ending up like poor Major Tom, disconnected from the rest of the world.

So how does this translate for companies other than Mezzanine? Well, many of the principles are the same whether you're a multinational giant or a start-up. In fact, even if you choose to outsource the coding and creation, you're really only able to skip one of the four steps. My big takeaway from the process is this: if your plan is sound and you have strong internal champions, anyone can build a blog.

Topics: Marketing Tactics

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