7 company blogs that build community

Your corporate blog can and should be authoritative, stimulating, practical, edgy, and/or digestible—with or without blueberries. Follow these fine examples.

Company blogs aren’t usually considered supreme ROI generators. Some see them as simply a necessity for SEO; others hire writers because everyone else is doing it.

A good blog is a community builder, a resource that users, friends, and partners turn to when they’re looking for information, advice, or even just a smile.

A great blog is one that people talk about with their friends, read on a regular basis, and wait with bated breath for the next post.

A blog is not only an opportunity to show off your authority, but it also helps keep your business top of mind.

The goal? When it’s time to make a purchasing decision, readers will think of you.

With that in mind, let’s look at seven company blogs that do it right, along with some practical tips for getting the same success with your blog.

1. Mint.com: Complement services with practical advice

Mint doesn’t offer a glamorous service — the platform helps users manage their budgets by categorizing their transactions. But it’s all about ease of use. Users can add their bank accounts and credit and debit cards, and Mint automatically categorizes purchases.

A blog about personal finance is a natural fit, and Mint does an exceptional job of providing practical advice that is relatable. Instead of blog posts on why saving is important, Mint offers fun, relevant posts. For instance, recent topics have included how to shop your own closet for a new summer wardrobe and a financial compatibility test for couples.

Two reasons this works:

1. Mint gives great advice without making it feel like it’s coming from Mom. 2. Posts are relevant to what Mint users care about.

Lessons to learn from Mint:

  • A blog and product/service should complement each other;
  • Practical advice doesn’t have to be boring;
  • Mint’s blog is useful when you’re prone to buying too many shoes.

2. OkTrends: Use data to be revealing

There are tons of dating and relationship blogs that focus on what to wear on a first date, who should pay, and when to slip between the sheets. OkCupid goes beyond ordinary dating advice with OkTrends, a blog that focuses on hard data.

OkCupid combs the site for revealing info on who is dating, how they’re doing it, and what that says about daters in general.

The best part? They tell us what they learn. Its blog is fascinating, and it gets people talking. (When I go to parties, people are always talking about OkTrends.)

Even married friends of mine talk me up about the cool OkCupid blog. After all, who wouldn’t want to read these data-packed articles?

  • The Case for An Older Woman
  • How Your Race Affects The Messages You Get
  • The Big Lies People Tell in Online Dating

OkCupid’s content is a little edgy, but it’s based on stone-cold data. Think a blog on dating trends and analysis can’t be successful? Check out how many comments this post has. Hint: It’s over 700.

Lessons to learn from OkCupid:

  • People love revealing and fascinating data;
  • Edginess not only rocks, it gets readers;
  • Math is really cool.

3. 37Signals: Consider a companywide approach

Signal vs. Noise, 37 Signals’ blog, does a lot more than promote the company’s Web development solutions.

The blog provides thoughtful, inquisitive, and truth-seeking articles about working from home, whether an iPhone camera is enough of a camera, and more.

The blog is so probing that the company refers to it as a “publication.” The content is rich, intellectual, and based on current trends in technology.

Signal vs. Noise isn’t written by one content producer at 37Signals. Both founders, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, regularly contribute to this widely read company blog. So does just about everyone else at 37Signals.

Programmers, customer support, designers, founders and others are all sharing their thoughts on Signal vs. Noise. This blog comes from the top down, with founders leading the way. And its companywide approach provides diversity, as well as showing off the expertise that makes a company great.

Lessons to learn from 37Signals

  • Intellectual content can be stimulating;
  • A companywide approach is effective;
  • Top-down initiatives bring blog success.

4. Copyblogger: Great tips and suggestions (with a focus!)

A lot of blogs provide tips, advice, and suggestions, but not many of them do it as expertly as Copyblogger. The blog is so successful that at first I didn’t know Copyblogger had a product. (Maybe it’s too successful.) Copyblogger makes software that helps content marketers easily write, edit, and publish posts. Along the way, the blog offers great tips and suggestions for copywriting, blogging, and content production.

The post “A Short Guide to Writing Copy” is indicative of Copyblogger’s success. The post includes information on how to be clear, what to title posts, and how to avoid fancy words (Hmm, should I go back and delete indicative?) This great resource for online writers has been tweeted 1,028 times.

Copyblogger isn’t doing anything revolutionary with its blog, but it is doing it right. It focuses on writing, and little else. This focus allows it to home in on a niche and provide great tips and suggestions to a set of readers who remain eager to gobble it up.

Copyblogger has practical resources such as “How to Write an Article in 20 Minutes” and “Five Grammatical Errors That Make You Look Dumb.” These are two articles we all need to read.

Lessons to learn from Copyblogger:

  • Great tips and suggestions are always needed;
  • A focused niche helps draw an audience;
  • A blog can be its own product.

5. SEOmoz: Be the ultimate authority

SEOmoz provides SEO and social monitoring to marketers, SEO specialists, and managers, but its platform is just the start of what it offers. SEOmoz has a top-notch blog, one that easily proves it’s the king of SEO. Rand Fishkin, CEO and co-founder, contributes often, and the entire blog positions SEOmoz as a leader and authority in the field. SEO-ers are always on the hunt for the latest info, and SEOmoz doesn’t miss a beat. The company realizes how important it is to provide fresh content in its area of expertise.

Whiteboard Friday series is an awesome example. Each Friday, an expert stands in front of a whiteboard and gives a video presentation about a trend in SEO. Rand Fishkin stars in the latest video, demonstrating how to remove unnecessary steps to win more links.

If you want to be an authority in your field, this blog demonstrates the opportunity blogging can be. If you give out industry tips and report on trends, people may begin to rely on you for the latest information. Instead of reading the news, they’ll turn to you.

Lessons to learn from SEOmoz

  • If you know what you’re doing, show it off;
  • Blogs can be news sources;
  • An authoritative blog gives you clout.

6. Driscoll’s Berries: Go beyond the product

I can eat a pint of raspberries in 10 minutes, but that’s not why I’m a huge fan of Driscoll’s blog. Driscoll’s doesn’t limit itself to posts about what’s happening on the farm. Instead, it goes beyond the product with its “Berry Blog.”

The blog has nutrition and fitness tips and is full of recipes with a magic ingredient — berries. Driscoll’s focuses on the fun aspects of its product in order to gain readership and build a community.

For example, famous chefs offer their berry recipes. The blog is spiced with family-friendly content, such as a how-to post on making a bunny cake. Its fitness posts could be read by anyone looking to get in shape, not just those who are set on eating blueberries with every meal.

Lessons to learn from Driscoll’s Berry Blog:

  • You don’t have to limit yourself to your product;
  • Happy communities are fresh and fun;
  • Berries > fried chicken.

7. KISSmetrics: Make complexity understandable

KISSmetrics helps companies get to know their customers through analytics tools, but it keeps the nitty-gritty to itself. The KISSmetrics blog provides information to the average marketer. The blog regularly churns out Infographics to make statistics digestible.

I’m not a particularly analytics-driven person, but KISSmetrics posts help me understand important issues, such as how to keep my company safe while creating content.

KISSmetrics doesn’t just show examples, it provides data to back up every point. Take this example:

Lessons to learn from KISSmetrics:

  • Making the complex simple is worthwhile;
  • Digestible stats are great for marketers;
  • Crazy Egg is smart for letting me write blog posts that are this long.

More than the corporate dump

There you have it: seven companies that are generating ROI, building authority, and creating communities with their blogs.

Your company blog is more than a place to dump random stuff. Choose a focus, find great writers, and take a hint from some of these companies.

Use your blog for positive gain. You won’t be sorry.

Emma Siemasko is a Boston-based writer, blogger, and content marketing specialist at Grasshopper, the entrepreneur’s phone system. A version of this article first appeared on TheDailyEgg.


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