How Executives Can Write Impactful and Meaningful Internal Blog Posts
May 3, 2016
Recently, I met with Bob Block, Jive’s Chief Customer Success Officer, to get his advice about executive blogging. Bob has over 30 years of experience in management consulting and enterprise software, and though he claims he is not a “natural” social collaboration guy, the blogs he writes on our interactive intranet are some of the most popular amongst Jive employees. So I asked Bob about his favorite tips and tricks for driving employee engagement through executive blogging.
Kosheno: So Bob, why do you blog?
Bob: A recent study of Jive customers identified “executive involvement” as the #1 behavior that directly impacts business value. This means both expressing and demonstrating your support for a new way of working, and it’s a key lynchpin of success for any social business solution. Regardless of your company’s industry, size or culture, this single facet can make or break the change process.
Kosheno: What tips would you give to other leaders who are just getting started with internal blogging?
Bob: I’d offer three suggestions to those just getting started:
- Before you even write your first post, introduce yourself to the community by building out your profile. You want a profile that represents your experience and responsibilities. It should be written in the first person and give the organization an authentic look into your personality and your role in the organization.
- Be active and communicate! Update your status, post internal and external news, add context and color around announcements or organizational changes. Writing a status update about a meeting you just had, or recognizing someone for a great achievement, or simply musing all create stronger engagement.
- Appreciate and engage with employees by clicking “like.” And when you are inspired, make a comment or publicly thank someone. This can be really powerful, and is often the most time effective social activity a leader can partake in. These behaviors empower employees to use the platform and feel comfortable that their activity is supported by leadership.
Kosheno: When you sit down to write, what is your secret sauce to interesting posts?
Bob: Here is my checklist for engaging content:
- Start with an inspirational story that will grab attention. I have used current events (2016 El Nino), customer stories (customer meetings, customer go-lives, challenges overcome), large sporting events (Super Bowl, soccer championships, bull fighting, car racing).
- Find great pictures and lyrics and movie lines and quotes. I generally find this on the internet through Google searches (for pictures I click on the image results and select large-sized images).
- Tie it back to what is happening in the business. This could be in your department, in your region or across the entire business.
- Grab the audience and move them around. I always try to have a punch line, a call-to-action or something I am trying to stir up.
- Define a style and tone and stick with it. People can tell fairly quickly if someone else is writing your blogs. It is important to establish a tone and style and stay with it so that your messages feel authentic.
- Reference rock stars, movie stars, athletes and leaders. I think that people engage more quickly and easily when you include movie stars, rock stars and athletes whom they can relate to.
- Schedule and post consistently. I try to post (actually schedule to post) every Monday at 12:00 a.m. PT, which is 8:00 a.m. for our Reading office and the start of our business week. Over time, I have found that people look for the blog and engage more quickly and easily. Usually by the end of Monday I have gotten views close to the number of employees that we have.
Kosheno: What do you see as the ideal outcome of internal executive blogging?
Bob: The goal of my leadership blogs is to connect with all Jive employees, inspire them through customer stories, help them appreciate their role in contributing to our business, and motivate them through personal anecdotes and ideas. At the end of the day, one of the best things I can support with my blogs is strategic alignment across Jivers everywhere.
Kosheno: How do you know when you are successful?
Bob: I constantly monitor the impact and reach of my blogs from my phone and desktop in the first few days after I post. I look for the uptick in views, and for the number of likes and comments.
If someone comments, I will often respond or react to the comment to stir things up further and to connect with the dialogue. Over time, I have seen very high employee engagement, check out the statistics:
- Number of employees in Jive: 670
- Number of blogs: 45
- Average views: 929
- Highest/lowest views: 1,850/504
- Average likes: 59
- Highest/lowest likes: 84/21
- Average comments: 16
- Highest/lowest comments: 41/5
There have been a few times where I stirred things up too much. I thought about removing the blog once because I inadvertently insulted a group of people and a second time because I pushed too hard on a topic. However, instead of pulling the blog, I stayed in the discussion and apologized where I crossed over a line. I think the most important thing is to keep at it.
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