Co-authored by Breanna Banford, Social Marketing Specialist, Xerox Enterprise Business Group and Kate Dobbertin, Communication & Collaboration Project Manager, Xerox Corporate Communications

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear someone is referred to as a blogger?

A.    An overenthusiastic writer sitting at her laptop too late at night

B.     A group of great minds coming together to share, mold, and explore some really cool possibilities

typing on a laptop

Most people think of blogging as a solo sport – one person sharing her point of view with the masses.  Sometimes, that is the case, but blogs can also be very collaborative efforts.  Blogs can be a catalyst for sharing, shaping, and even creating business value, both inside and outside your organization.

We share our points of view on the benefits of internal (Kate) and external (Breanna) blogging and how it can impact collaboration among employees.  And just so you know, we drink our own champagne – this collaborative effort will be posted both on Xerox’s external Business of Work blog and on Kate’s internal blog with some additional resources specific to Xerox employees.

Why create a blog?

(Breanna) In the B2B world, a blog serves as a great tool to really stretch your marketing content. It’s a way to lead readers back to your website, provide commentary on interesting scenarios, news articles or industry trends, feature your company’s products, services or solutions, establish thought leadership, offer detailed how-tos and tips, and expand your reach and marketing budget.

(Kate) Do you ever feel like your coworkers are asking you the same question on repeat?  That’s a sure sign that you have valuable knowledge that others don’t – and it’s the best reason to start an internal blog.  Internal blogs can also help corporate leaders to share a little bit about their lives with the employees, which, in turn, can help foster a sense of connection and trust.

How can blogs be used for external collaboration?

(Kate) Simply put, blogs help you to share what you’re doing with the world.  Blogs can spur direct collaboration when you throw ideas out there and ask your audience to respond by adding their point of view.  They can indirectly stimulate collaboration by educating others about your area of expertise, who may then apply your learnings to their own.

How does blogging support internal collaboration?

(Breanna) Xerox is a global company, which means we have a lot of knowledgeable employees in different locations. It’s important that our contributors represent different areas of the business since we are talking about a variety of topics. I find new bloggers during conversations in daily meetings, I get recommendations from my colleagues, and I keep an eye on Yammer, our internal social network, by following groups that might point me in a new direction and toward new contributors. It’s even better when people raise their hands to submit posts. It fosters some great conversations internally, which gets the creative juices flowing.

Why do you blog internally?

(Kate) It seems these days, deep thought toward something that will help you to do your job better is viewed as more of frivolity than an investment. It may help you to share what you’re doing.  It may give you a new perspective, either during the writing process or when reading comments. Comments may also encourage you and help you know you’re on the right path.

I blog internally because I want to talk about things that people outside of Xerox just might not understand.  My most recent post was a reaction to some words our CEO Ursula Burns shared during the 2011 Earnings Announcement.  This just wouldn’t have been relevant to those on the outside.

(Breanna) As Kate explains, an internal blog is appropriate when you’re sharing information to your colleagues that has a impact on their role or understanding of the company. Sometimes those internal conversations can inspire an external, customer-facing blog post. But, the caveat is that you shouldn’t post confidential information externally (seems like a no-brainer, but you have to be careful!). You can rework content to be accessible anywhere, all it takes is one idea to get the ball rolling.

How can you increase collaboration in your blog?

Here’s our list of top tips:

  • Be yourself.  Introduce a business-focused post with a personal story to help your readers get to know you.  If they feel a connection with you, they will be more likely to interact.
  • Reply to comments.  It shows you value your readers’ opinions.
  • Start or end every post with a question to your audience.  Otherwise, your readers might  not  feel inclined to react or respond to your post.
  • Include keyword links to articles by journalists or bloggers you follow regularly. Cross-linking helps grow your web of influence and build relationships with like-minded people.
  • Share with your friends and colleagues via email, on Twitter or Facebook. People who you know will be more likely to comment.
  • Grab a coauthor, like we did.

Before you start any blogging effort , find out if your company has rules about blogging.  At Xerox, we created Social Media Guidelines to educate our employees.

What’s your take – has blogging helped connect you to new people inside and outside of your business?