According to a recent report by Forrester Research that looked at 90 blogs from Fortune 500 companies, most corporate blogs are “dull, drab, and don’t stimulate discussion.” Sadly, two-thirds hardly ever get any comments, 70% stick strictly to business topics, and worse 56% just republish press releases or already public news. That has lead many to think that corporate blogging isn’t really worth much effort, which is a shame, because properly done a corporate blog can have tremendous value. Below is a list of 15 companies that really get corporate blogging and produce blogs that are informative, fascinating, and a joy to read even for people who aren’t die-hard fans of the company.
- Dell – Though Dell’s corporate blog rarely strays from Dell-centric news, the company posts with a great conversational voice, often breaks news on their blog (which keeps people coming back), and listens and responds to customers. Dell also posts regularly (1-2 posts per day at least) which keeps content fresh and encourages repeat visits.
- Lenovo – The great collection of blogs from computer maker Lenovo demonstrate that the company really understands blogging. Lenovo intersperses posts about its product line with musings about business, design, life, and technology. Definitely don’t miss the Design Matters blog, which should be a must-read for any designer.
- 37signals – 37signals is kind of the poster child for corporate blogging. Their “Signal vs. Noise” blog has almost 100,000 RSS subscribers and there’s a good reason: 37signals rarely blogs about their products anymore (they split off a separate product-only blog for that), but instead shares advice and insights about business, design, editorial, and other topics.
- Adobe – Adobe offers a huge collection of employee blogs, many of which are great reads. By allowing employees to blog, Adobe has empowered them to evangelize their products for them — many post tutorials, advice, reviews, and other great tid-bits promoting Adobe products — while not pigeon holing them into talking only about Adobe.
- BBC – In addition to their news blogs, the BBC publishes a series of behind-the-scenes blogs. They’re tremendously interesting, especially The Editors blog, in which BBC News editorial staff dissect the broadcaster’s news coverage and the media industry in general.
- Southwest Airlines – Southwest Airlines’ “Nuts About Southwest” blog doesn’t take itself too seriously — and that’s a good thing. The company blogs about itself and the airline industry with a personal touch and has been producing a series of fun, behind-the-scenes videos that are both interesting and engaging.
- Sun Microsystems – Like Adobe, Sun allows their employees to blog. They’ve been doing it for a long time, and their blog portal has over 4,500 bloggers covering over 110,000 posts. Some of their blogs, such as that of Web 2.0 and Web Services Evangelist Arun Gupta, have become quite popular on their own. That’s 110,000 posts of promotional gold for Sun and they know it.
- Freshbooks – Taking a page from 37signals, the team at Freshbooks uses their corporate blog to share advice and insights into their way of doing things. Slowly, and in large part due to their blog, Freshbooks is turning their users into true fans.
- Marriott International – Marriott on the Move is the official blog of Marriott Hotels, Resorts, and Suites Chairman and CEO Bill Marriott. Though a self-described technophobe, Marriott uses the blog to talk about his thoughts and opinions on all sorts of things related to being a hotelier. Marriott, who was recently featured on NBC Nightly News for a story on corporate blogging, says he blogs because it is “a great way to communicate with [your] customers and stakeholders in this day and age.” We agree.
- Seagate – Penned by Seagate Global Marketing Manager Pete Steege, Storage Effect is a must-read blog for anyone in the computer storage industry. Beyond first looks at upcoming Seagate products, Steege mixes it up with musings about the industry and fun posts like a recent one about Batman’s storage requirements.
- General Motors – The GM Fastlane Blog is a great example of corporate blogging because GM has clearly realized that regurgitating press releases is not what blogs are made for. GM talks a lot on their blog about their cars and trucks and the design choices they make while creating them, but they also throw in interesting treatises on current hot-button issues, such as alternative energy.
- Quicken Loans – Quicken Loans publishes a handful of unique blogs — unique among corporate blogs in that they’re not overly self-referential. Their What’s the Diff? blog, for example, publishes stories about “things that make the difference in business and in life.” The Quizzle blog, on the other hand, posts advice about how to understand the home loan market. It is all subtle marketing for Quicken Loans, but it is done in an informative and useful manner that will win points among customers.
- FiveRuns – FiveRuns, who create products aimed at Ruby on Rails developers, also publish an excellent blog. Along with regular tutorials about how to do things with Rails and use their products, the FiveRuns team also posts weekly five question interviews with prominent members of the Rails community. Brilliant stuff.
- Accenture – Consulting firm Accenture publishes 8 blogs that are definitely worth checking out. Rather than just blog about what Accenture can do for your business, the company has tapped some of its smartest employees to share insights on business, communications, technology, consulting, and hiring. A sample of recent posts: how to balance work and life, thoughts about Twitter’s downtime, and musings on GTD theories.
- Amazon Web Services – Amazon’s Web Services blog is truly one of the great corporate blogs because it reads like a fan blog. You’d never know that Jeff Barr, the scribe behind the AWS blog, is a Web Services Evangelist at Amazon just by reading his posts. That’s because Barr doesn’t write like a corporate flak. Instead he writes with the voice of someone who is truly amazed each day by the stuff that people build on Amazon’s suite of web services, and that makes reading the blog a pleasure.
My friend and former colleague Marshall Kirkpatrick also wrote a round up of good company blogs over at ReadWriteWeb in May. His list has some other great blogs that you should definitely check out if you’re either looking for something interesting to read or trying to figure out how to take advantage of your own company’s blogging efforts.
What other corporate blogs do you enjoy reading? Let us know in the comments.
Josh Catone joined Mashable in May 2009 and is Executive Director of Editorial Projects. Before joining Mashable, Josh was the Lead Writer at ReadWriteWeb, the Lead Blogger at SitePoint, and the Community Evangelist at DandyID.