So what’s next? Now that we have removed any doubts in their mind, the next question is – what should a CEO blog about? Their brand? Products and services? Or what is happening in the world around them? Should they interpret industry trends or should they prognosticate paradigm shifts?
While CEO blogs are alarmingly low in the online world (or at least ones that are consistently updated with real information and analysis, as opposed to standard press bytes) the following FIVE blogs from CEOs are perfect examples of what a CEO should blog about.
1. Explaining your vision: Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft:
In this blog, Satya talks about amazing concepts that only a true techie (certainly not moi!) would understand and appreciate. Here he is espousing on a “Mobile-first, Cloud-first” world his company proposes to unleash.
“Mobile without cloud is limiting. The cloud without mobile is mostly latent potential. But the place where they meet is magic. And in the full arc of time, we will get to a world of ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence that powers all our daily experiences.”
What? Okay, so I don’t get it. But what I liked, no loved, about the blog is how he bravely charts out the digital world today, and explains his (and Microsoft’s) perspective on where they are going. He envisages a brave new world where any device becomes YOUR device, and an ecosystem that connects devices and tools you love to create work that you love. All at the speed of thought.
As a vision, this is mind-blowing to a layman like me. (And yes, I was wondering why my iPad does not have Word, and Satya is busy bringing it soon to an iPad near me). But I get it. I get what he is trying to do with one of the largest technology companies in the world. All in the space of 1300 words. This may not work, and what he is trying to do may peter out. But as an example of a blog that encapsulates a vision and spells it out, this is indeed a remarkable one.
2. Announcing a product release: Bill Marriott, CEO of Marriott Group:
As Bill announces the launch of his 4000th hotel at Washington DC, he humbly says – “In this city of monuments, we have built a monumental hotel. This has been an incredible journey and a homecoming for our business. Just blocks from here, 86 years ago a newlywed couple named J. Willard and Alice Marriott opened a small root beer stand employing six people. They worked hard, pulling apart sticky nickels to deposit in the bank. From my parents’ humble beginnings, hundreds of people will be employed in this one hotel, over half district residents.”
The Marriot Marquis Washington, DC, plans to serve the famous Hot Shoppes ‘Mighty Mo’ burger in memory of Bill’s parents who helped launch the Marriott dream when they served these burgers at the beer stand. Sounds like a publicity stunt that tugs at heartstrings? Maybe. But read the blog, and what comes out from this “Without Reservations” author is a tale of success from humble beginnings. Even when announcing his 4000th success (spread across 78 countries, might I add), he remains true to his roots. A perfect example of a blog that connects a product release with its brand vision and values.
3. Connecting with the target market: Mark Cuban, owner of Dallas Mavericks:
Mark’s blogs cover nearly every topic under the sun – from Facebook and Google, to his SEC filing issues and some of the great advice he gets from his NBA fans! (Numerology, Mr. Cuban?) But with 2,143,675 followers for his blog, he must be getting something right!
Take this blog about the future of colleges, for instance. He puts his wide experience in traveling all over the country and talking to students to use in this blog with a hard-hitting “Will your college go out of business before you graduate?” title. And he follows it up with statistics on the economics of 4-year schools. And his final advice to students?
“The smart high school grad no longer just picks a school, borrows money and wings it. Your future depends on your ability to assemble an educational plan that gets you on your path of knowledge and discovery without putting you at risk of attending a school that is doomed to fail….. We each take our own path, but nothing shortcuts the dreams of a 22-year-old more than owing a shitload of money.”
As a blog that continues to connect with its target market (and while reflecting Mark’s “shoot from the hip” image), this is a must-read if you are thinking of blogging for your target market.
4. Establishing thought leadership: Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute:
Joe walks the talk, all the time. As one of the premier blogs on content marketing, Joe literally practices what he preaches – by putting his experience into blogs, and his advice into execution for marketing his blogs.
With over 80,000 followers and a publishing frequency that would put most writing farms to shame, Joe’s blog is a must-read for anyone who wants to know more about content. And its influence on your business. You could argue (and a valid agreement it is) that creating content is his business, and therefore why he writes often. I agree, but what attracts me to his blog is his unabashed love for content, and how he goes about demonstrating his expertise in this field.
Take from example, his content from the latest blog – “If your content marketing is for everybody, then it is for nobody”:
“Quick test: Who’s the audience for your blog? How about your eNewsletter? Your podcast? If you are like most enterprises that sell multiple product lines to multiple audiences, you may have two, three, four or more different audiences you are trying to target with the same content initiative. How’s that working for you?”
Apparently not too well for most of us. Heck, we have trouble targeting a single audience with content!
He follows this through-provoking opening with examples of businesses that are doing great by knowing exactly who their target audience is. While this may seem very simplistic advice, it works because we face this scenario every day. We use a single blog or a Twitter account to market not just different products and services, but also our corporate identity. To quote Joe, how’s that working for you?
As an example of a blog that consistently displays thought leadership, and translates that into actionable content, check Joe’s blogs out.
While all the above seems like great things to talk about, and CEOs that blog do delve in detail on these topics, what is it that typical customers, employees and industry experts expect from a CEO’s blog? How about the truth, for instance?
5. Speaking about the true state of affairs: Mark Pastin, CEO of the Council of Ethical Organizations:
In his blog “Three reasons we value truth-telling in CEOs”, Mark says
“The requirement that one avoid lies is especially stringent for CEOs. Because employees, investors, regulators, and others base decisions on even the minor pronouncements of a CEO, the zone of forgiveness for CEO lies is small. Many CEOs know this and become averse to conversation about their business for fear of “being trapped” into a lie. CEOs recognize the consequences of even the slightest inaccuracy, let alone an outright lie.”
We know that a CEO’s words enhance credibility and trust. We also know their words represent (or ought to represent) the state of affairs in their businesses and in the industry. And automatically, we attribute authority to everything a CEO speaks or writes. And the result? The CEO has this incredible responsibility to speak the truth.
After all, as Mark points out, every CEO knows the consequences of uttering the smallest inaccuracy………
In my next blog, I will explore what a CEO needs to be (ahem!) trained on, before he unleashes his words on the digital world!