We are advising a B2B company about their social media marketing strategy and the question came up: "Should we integrate our blog with the web site, including navigation and look 'n feel, or should it be a stand alone entity?". A great question, so we asked the experts on LinkedIn for their advice.
Background: The company sells PowerPoint templates to business professionals. We advised them to create a blog, and leverage other channels, to establish thought-leadership in creating and giving effective presentations. A natural tie-in for their product, yet useful information that business professionals can value (without an obligation for making any purchase).
Results: The over whelming response was to maintain integration, including branding to the B2B eCommerce site. The blog should not be sales oriented however - the content should be neutral to the templates and related offerings provided by the company. This follows the business networking notion of give and give, and returns will follow. Provide good useful information and establish trust and credibility - sales will follow. Of course, other blogging rules apply including frequent and fresh content, staying on topic and allowing people to comment and add to the conversation and wisdom.
Why would a company not integrate their blog? We aren't sure - please add your comments if you have a compelling reason to dis-associate your web site from your blog.
Selected quotes from the LinkedIn response (we could not have said it better):
“Staking out a thought leadership position in the market for our products is an integral part of establishing your value proposition, and something customers would expect to see from a supplier charging premium pricing. Said another way, if you want to charge premium pricing, you better have a blog site with your subject matter experts providing non-proprietary information on how customers can solve problems.“ (David Wick)
“Rather than the commerce side devaluing the blog, I think a useful and well-written blog enhances the reputation and trust in the company and its products. If visitors come to value the information on the blog, then they will turn to your clients company for templates, before searching out another source, because they already trust them for being an authority in this area.” and
“…if the content is good, it will build credibility and that will support sales. My clients tell me that they find my blog helpful, and new clients tend to contact me after first exploring my blog entries.” (Heidi Cool)
“I feel blogs add a personal side to a company and help the (potential) customer to relate to the company and get a feel for their level of passion and enthusiasm.” (Carl Wilson)
"I think that incorporating the blog is a great idea. Why make it stand alone? They are experts, the blog is the place to make their expertise known and have them shine.” (Melissa Galt)
“The best case for not adopting the same look at the "mothership" site is when the blog is a sponsored blog, rather than the company blog” (Michael Martine)