We think it’s great that we can count 33 life science company blogs on our list, and we applaud those companies who are leveraging this flavor of social media. You may know that we are blog aficionados, however, and that we are very…ahem…opinionated as to how corporate blogs should be designed, both strategically and tactically. While I’m hesitant to specifically call out blogs that need improvement, I’ll provide my top five ‘wishes’ for them below to help life science companies succeed.
Use WordPress.org. There are several ways in which you can implement a blog ranging from 3rd party sites (e.g., WordPress.com, TypePad) which will host the site for you, to software that is installed on your web server (e.g., WordPress.org). Installing WordPress.org may take a bit longer at the very beginning, but it offers much more flexibility, and the benefits far outweigh any initial delays (which really should be minimal because the software is constantly becoming easier to install and use). WordPress.org is more versatile because there is much more control over the interface and functionality of your blog. WordPress.org installations allow access to hundreds of modules called themes and plugins, giving unlimited interface and branding options. We see several life science companies who’ve produced a blog that looks nothing like their website and has very limited functionality, likely because they’re using 3rd party software with fewer options. As we’ll discuss in the next item, this flexibility allows you to extend the brand of your website. As we explained in an earlier post describing our STIR Social Media system, engaging scientists and maximizing return on investment (ROI) requires creating applications with very specific attributes, so having maximal flexibility is important. (Note: WordPress.com and WordPress.org utilize the same software, the only difference is in where it is installed.)
Think carefully about branding. Everything about your blog should meet the high standards you have for your website. This includes all the hard work you’ve put into your main website interface and ensuring that your brand is represented accurately. We would like to see more life science companies remembering the importance of branding, as many of the blogs have little resemblance to their corporate site. As pointed out by social media guru Chris Brogan in his book Trust Agents, a big part of success in social media comes from garnering trust from your audience. Think about it, would you trust a blog from a company which had no resemblance to the branding you’ve come to expect from them? The MO BIO Laboratories blog is perhaps the best example of a well branded, integrated blog.
Choose a unifying content theme. Alleviating customer ‘pains’ is a good strategy for engaging scientists and achieving a good ROI with social media, something we discuss often. Learn about the biggest issues customers have in your product area, and develop a blog theme which addresses it. Stay focused on this theme, so that scientists know where to turn to with a problem. We see some life science companies having difficulties in this area, they blog about diverse topics which may be interesting, but don’t meet customer needs. A great example of a company that does it well is Accelrys–their blog is targeted and seems to fill a niche for scientists who have questions about their informatics products.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Along the same lines as extending your brand and having a consistent theme, is to rely on the same resources your company has been using for years to engage customers. We strongly believe that life science companies have been using social media-like strategies and tactics for years, by supplying useful newsletters, posters, and online applications. Why not breathe some fresh life into these resources, providing updates and more web-friendly versions of newsletters, application notes, etc. on your blog? Taking a look at what has worked well in the past will also point you towards a unifying theme for your blog.
Think outside the blog. Some companies who decide they need a blog forget about the the ‘social’ component of ‘social media.’ Personal bloggers start blogs for the love of their subject matter, and naturally seek out other bloggers, interacting with them by leaving comments on their blogs, etc. This is a major part of the reason blogs do so well with search engines–fellow bloggers link to each other, providing the inbound links that show search engines that a website’s content is highly regarded and worth a high search rank. This may sound like just an algorithm, but experience and common sense points to the conclusion that those who engage with the community are more knowledgeable and trustworthy. We’ve seen many life science company blogs set up as silos–independent of their corporate website, and with few noticeable ties to other blogs, twitter/microblogging, etc. (we may be wrong, correct us below!). An example is the Accelrys blog–no blogroll and a link to a twitter account that is inconsistently updated and mostly non-interactive (sorry, had to throw one criticism in!). Those of us who employ many facets of social media know that a synergistic strategy is crucial to success for many reasons, including achieving more engagement, benefiting from the community, and getting more leads. We want life science companies to be successful with social media, and would love to see you engaging with the community more.
We’ll be talking more in depth about first party social media applications such as blogging at our June 22nd Social Media for Life Science and Biotechnology Workshop in San Diego. We’d also be happy to give you training or a free consultation to help you get the most out of social media. Contact us for more information, and be sure to subscribe to this blog so you’ll get tips like these. Also, why not start engaging more by leaving a comment below?
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