Blogging is Indispensible to a Startup
Posted by Bob Warfield on November 1, 2007
What can a startup hope to gain from blogging?
- Getting the word out on what the startup is doing
- Identifying the early adopters
- Identifying and networking with influencers
- General business networking
- Conducting market research
- Helping to establish and communicate the startup’s culture
- SEO testing
Those are just a few of the examples I see of what a blog can do for a startup. Some are obvious, some are a little more devious.
Take Market Research and SEO testing for example. Blogs provide a wealth of data for these related topics. You get to see what search results are bringing folks to your blog. You get to see what articles are getting the most views, and what articles are being picked up by other blogs. It’s a low risk environment–you just write some more articles and move on when you have a dud. You can take all the knowledge that you clean from this petri dish we call a blog, and apply to everything else. Use it to help prioritize strategic direction. Use it to craft your corporate site for maximum SEO recognition. You can’t afford to keep changing your corporate site nearly as often as a blog, or to test out seemingly unrelated approaches on the corporate site–you want to nail it right in as few iterations as possible. The blog is your handy sandbox, and it’s easy to write about the problems you want to solve (your benefits) without disclosing your “secret sauce” (features). Read these three steps to SEO and tell me a blog isn’t a must have tool when trying to execute on that.
The networking aspects of blogs are huge. I meet people continuosly through mine. The topics I write about drive interesting people to me that I never would have known to contact. The blog also serves as a wonderful introduction when I want to meet someone. Avinash Kaushik says blogs reduce our 6 degrees of separation to just a couple of pixels through blogs, and anyone who is a successful blogger would tell you they’ve felt it first hand. In terms of getting the word out, Fred Wilson writes about how Google launched OpenSocial almost entirely through blogs and it worked beautifully. Conferences can be helpful for a lot of launch and momentum gathering, but it’s hard to imagine one that didn’t have a big blogosphere windup to drive traffic to the conference and then to dissect what went on there so the content is repackaged and made available to those who couldn’t attend physically.
The decision of Path 101 to liveblog their startup is breathtaking in its audacity, but it underscores my belief that blogging is indispensible to startups. In fact, I think it is much more important for startups to blog than more established companies, although I firmly believe there are advantages for the more established as well. It’s just that a blog is a fairly intimate vehicle for communication if done right, and most large organizations are uncomfortable knowing their customers that well. What a pity!
Blogs are incredibly cheap and efficient at these things, save for one tiny little detail. To succeed, your startup needs someone who can blog. Finding that natural blogger can be difficult. I’m starting to wonder whether the lack of a natural blogger doesn’t wind up being a much bigger disadvantage for a startup than most would think at first blush. If I were a VC looking at startups, and I were really savvy with how products are being marketed, I’d want to understand how a company will go about leveraging the blogosphere for guerrilla marketing, and who that company’s spokesperson in the blogosphere would be. If I were a CEO, I’d want to know that my marketing people were adept at blogging. They have to be content producers. You can’t hire an agency to write your blog for you and hope to succeed. The medium is just too immediate for the kind of turnaround that happens when third parties are involved.