It’s a fact: when conversation is coupled with content, people are more engaged. With so many organizations focusing on enterprise collaboration these days and the need to get people talking and sharing content and ideas, it’s no wonder that companies are looking for ways to extend dialog across their various enterprise applications. But while technology vendors are focusing on automation and machine learning, always looking for technical solutions to business problems, some of the focus should turn to a solution that’s been around for a few years. Enterprise blogs are not new, and some people may be wondering whether they are still relevant. Are they?
The short answer is yes, they are still very much relevant. The long answer is that they need to be more than an afterthought — or something your CEO only does once a quarter. Enterprise blogs can be one of the most important methods for delivering an evolving corporate message or new product initiative, and can be used to discuss and defend against competitive moves by rallying a call to action. But more importantly, they are a powerful way for organizations to couple content with conversation, helping disseminate information, improving the level of employee engagement, and bolstering the classification and contextualization of your information assets.
SharePoint and Blogging
Blogs came into use in the late 1990’s as companies moved from writing and editing HTML directly to their intranets or to external-facing websites to formal content management systems, coinciding with the advent of web publishing tools. While SharePoint added some basic blogging capabilities into early versions of the platform, the features were limited and the user experience lacking — at least until the partner ecosystem stepped in to fill the gap with more robust solutions. Even then, the pace of innovation outside of SharePoint was huge.
Enterprise blogs have evolved from a platform for community-driven commentary and news into an essential source for information sharing and two-way communication.
Inside the enterprise, blogs have been used at the corporate-level as a way of sharing information and internal strategy across the intranet, at the team or community-level and within specific project efforts to share best practices and details around research topics, as well as at the individual-level as a way for subject matter experts (SMEs) to communicate what they have learned. If done consistently, enterprise blogs can become a central aspect of your knowledge management strategy. When used in conjunction with a strong taxonomy and search strategy, blog content can add important context to content within SharePoint, allowing authors to share opinions, link to other ideas and additional content, and cite other authors and experts. Without a blog strategy, much of this context might otherwise be lost.
Evolution of the Blog
Blogs began as a one-to-many broadcast message, like a billboard. While this can be an effective way to share alerts or announcements, the lack of reciprocal feedback can limit its success. Studies have shown that by providing readers with the ability to like, share, or comment on content dramatically increases the sharing of additional information assets — which can be associated with the original content, building a rich web of contextual data. This contextual data can improve search results, and the findability of content by providing a more complete narrative or story around that content.
A recent study conducted by AOL and Huffington Post looked at the impacts of comments and conversation on content engagement, and found that more than two-thirds of readers react to content (share, like, or comment) only when someone has already interacted. In other words, people are more likely to add to the conversation if someone has already started the conversation. Blogging is a much more interactive format than a SharePoint list of documents and spreadsheets. Give people a way to react to content — to share links and content and the profiles of others — and they will usually oblige.
One of the leading consumer-based blogging platforms is Medium. Created by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, the platform built on the success of earlier platforms by adding new and creative ways for readers to comment, recommend, and share content based on tags rather than by author. One of the things that makes Medium so powerful is how it invites people to interact and create communities around its content.
While not an enterprise blogging platform, the latest product in the Microsoft Office suite of tools — Sway — demonstrates the move toward more dynamic and user-centric content. In some ways, Sway might be viewed as a “portable” blog in that it provides a way to share text, video, images and links in an interactive format. While the product is still young and not yet widely adopted, it can be viewed as a recognition by Microsoft that people want more interaction with their content. While there is no plan (that I know of) to make Sway into a blog authoring tool (which would be fantastic) it does speak to the need for making enterprise content more dynamic — and blogs are at the front of the line.
The enterprise blog continues to be an important part of the Beezy solution, as well, allowing our customers to establish multiple levels of internal communication. Recognizing the advances of Medium and other tools, Beezy has enhanced and extended what is possible with SharePoint and Office 365 out-of-the-box to help our customers leverage this powerful communication medium, and enhance their overall collaboration strategies.
Enterprise blogs are more than relevant — they are essential. Come take a look at Beezy and find out why we’re shaking things up in the enterprise collaboration space with our award-winning solution.
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