A blog can be a cost- and time-efficient way to share your company's employment story, but it's not a one-size-fits-all approach. Here's my top 10 list for launching your own human resource blog:
1. Get your story straight.
The first step in creating a corporate blog is knowing the story you want to tell and why you want to tell it.
At Microsoft, we publish two primary recruiting blogs: JobsBlog, which helps prepare candidates for our hiring process, and Microspotting, which introduces the outside world to our amazing talent inside Microsoft.
Each blog addresses a specific business need for our talent organization. Before starting a blog, ask yourself: What problem do we want to solve? How can a blog solve that problem? And how will we know if we've been successful?
2. Know your audience.
Consider who you want to reach with your blog. College students? Experienced professionals? Current employees?
Once you know who is reading, you will have a better idea of how to tell your story. If it's an external blog, remember that competitors and the media may be reading too, so it's important to ensure you are comfortable with a broad audience having access to that information.
3. Give your readers a reason to visit your blog.
Telling a great employment story may not be enough. What other content -- like insider advice or information -- can you provide that readers may not be able to find elsewhere?
4. Set ground rules.
If your company doesn't already have a corporate blogging policy or guidance, create it. For example, Sun Microsystems and IBM publish their guidelines on their websites. These guidelines set a baseline for what you and your employees should and should not discuss.
5. Appoint a shepherd.
Blogging doesn't come naturally to everyone. The best bloggers likely have an interest in communications and may already have some experience with personal or professional blogging.
By appointing one employee as the "keeper of the blog," you can rely on someone to set the tone, keep it fresh, monitor results and communicate to key stakeholders.
6. Showcase your company's personality.
The most effective blogs are not corporate mouthpieces. Bloggers can still help tell a company's story while being real, honest and self-critical. Don't be afraid to take chances, and when in doubt -- write, wait and then publish.
7. Keep it interesting.
While still showing personality, individual blog posts should be concise, fun and easy to read. Pictures, hyperlinks, bulleted lists and short paragraphs help convey a message without burdening the reader with too much information.
Blogging is a two-way conversation between the blogger and the readers. Write blog posts in a conversational and genuine tone.
Converse with readers in the comments section. Develop future posts and features based on reader feedback.
9. Market your blog.
The "build it and they will come" strategy is not going to get your blog noticed. Your company may have an interesting story to tell, but your target audience needs to know you are telling that story and ready to engage.
Read, comment and link to other blogs, and make sure your blog is prominently referenced on your company's own Web site and in its communications.
10. Have fun.
Experiment and learn. The beauty of blogging is that, since it's a conversation between you and the readers, it will grow and evolve with time.
Gretchen Ledgard is the founder of Microsoft's JobsBlog and a marketing manager with Microsoft Staffing, where she creates and runs Web sites and programs that build tighter connections between the company, its current employees and its target candidates.