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Secrets From a Ghost Blogger: How To Become a Thought Leader Online

Seth Godin, the author of Marketers are Liars, says “Beware of the CEO blogs,” and he’s right – a blog is not a glorified press release. A successful blog should reveal where your passion is, and what action you’re taking now to make that passion a reality.

Over time, those who blog regularly can build an enormous amount of goodwill for their organization, cause, and for themselves.

Here are some of the tips I’ve uncovered in my years working as a ghost blogger for CEOs:

Blog after you’ve forgot to blog: Business leaders have demanding schedules, and as with anything, if it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t exist. Successful bloggers block out a period of time each week (depending on posting goals) to ensure the blog gets written. But if you are going through a period when you stop blogging, don’t let that stop you from writing a new blog post — no matter how much time you’ve let slip without blogging. George Colony’s blog, for example, is a perfect example of a blogger who posts infrequently and gets away with it. When he does post, his words are widely read and shared.

Communicate during times of need: It’s one thing to issue a statement to the media, or to even arrange a press conference for the CEO. But ultimately, the media will still put their spin on the statement, and dice and dissect the CEO’s broadcast. A blog gives the CEO, and the organization, a pivotal voice in times of need. And, again, if there is an archive of blog posts already there accessible to support the CEO’s position, all the better.

Be controversial: You’ll never get a large readership by playing it safe. No one, including the media, is going to be interested in one more blog that shares the opinion of everyone else. CEOs tend to be fairly conservative people. However, once they are passionate about an issue, they will want to share their opinions — and this is the place to let those ideas be heard. Tom Gloucer, who was formerly at Reuters, does not shy away from controversial issues, blogging on everything from strategic issues and business ethics to the intricacies of European travel. CEOs, by their very nature, tend to be fairly conservative people. However, once they are passionate about an issue, they will want to share their opinions — and this is the place to let those ideas be heard.

Test your theories and ideas: Have the courage to shed light on some of your most profound theories. The simple act of seeing your own idea in print will reveal questions and validations within yourself – while simultaneously giving you instant feedback from your audience. The Cleanest Line gives the CEO and employees of Patagonia a platform to share their passion: the environment and discovering the outdoors. When they have a viewpoint regarding legislation and environmental politics, this is the place they let their views be heard. Blogs demand that you take risks. Those who speak out against the popular viewpoint often get shared as much as those who are the loudest voices in the industry.

Develop a voice: To develop a voice that attracts people, start blogging and write like you talk. Tell us what you are passionate about, and pay attention to what resonates with you and your audience. Doctor David’s Blog is a beautiful example of a doctor who has developed his voice to write about the painful issues of pediatric oncology. He is masterful at seamlessly combining personal stories to illustrate the latest in healthcare, legislation and treatment.

Engagement: A recent study of how CEOs engage with social media found that they are passive participants. They may be reluctant to share, like or comment, but they read online content. A leader who blogs may soon find herself discouraged by the lack of readership and social media shares. However, these indicators may not always be an accurate representation of how they are impacting their audience and the media. Some CEOs are actually embarrassed by the lack of comments their posts generate, even though they may learn months later at a conference by talking with peers how widely their posts are read. In this case, it may be helpful to turn off comments, and encourage commenters to respond to posts privately via email. (A separate/dedicated email can be set up for this purpose.) The Caterpillar blog page is unique approach to interactive blogging, by encouraging customer engagement while building customer loyalty through posts on their live forum. Customers are encouraged to post, as corporate leaders also provide answers to questions. This is a unique way to build customer loyalty, as well as providing a platform to create a conversation around unique particular industry issues.

Becoming a thought leader online has many advantages, including making your company more interesting, memorable and appealing to customers. I hope this encourages you to not only blog, but to write about what is in your heart.

Susan J. Owens is an personal and product branding specialist. You can find here: Plumbline1.com

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