GM Shares its Blogging Mistakes

Many large companies have embraced blogging. One of the most notable implementations is GM’s Fast Lane blog, where high-level executives like Vice Chairman Bob Lutz contribute. The story of how this blog came to be is pretty fascinating and worthy of review by any company seriously considering a jump into the blogosphere. What is more helpful is learning from the mistakes GM has made in the process and mistakes they have acknowledged and worked to correct.

Like with any new endeavor, you’re bound to make mistakes. Blogging is no different and in order to make blogging work for your business you’re going to have to learn from those mistakes. In this spirit, Christopher Barger, Director, Global Communications Technology at GM, shared some of their experiences at the GM blog. The full article is published at the MarketingSherpa blog. The post has the top ten mistakes they made at the GM blog, and to help you, it also contains some thoughts on how you can avoid these mistakes.

I wanted to highlight three things from that article and discuss my thoughts.

Mistake #1. Treating the blog like a channel for corporate messaging

I see this all the time in many corporate and company blogs. It is a fundamental mistake and a very easy one to make. Let’s face it, no one wants to read your corporate press releases and corporate speak. Any blog full of corporate messaging will fail for the same reason consumers hate 800 numbers with endless options. Consumers want to hear from you directly, personally and without any filters. That is why they visit blogs, to hear the other side, the inner side. Not to be met with the same old same-old of the past.

Companies make this mistake because they are fearful and not sure how the readership will respond. Perhaps they are afraid of the legal consequences or maybe even of their bosses. All of this of course stems from a lack of understanding of the blogosphere and how it works. In the blogosphere everyone is human and transparency is the selling agent. And corporate speak is not human and is not transparent!

Mistake #4. Ghostwriting blog posts

This touches on the issue of transparency. When it comes to blogging, you can’t fake it. In order to really blog successfully you have to be you. It’s a personal business. Which means your personality, your interests, your life, your views, your hobbies will and should be visible as you blog. I’m not suggesting that you’ll talk about them all the time, but you will certainly draw from these aspects of your personality and life experiences as you blog. A ghostwriter cannot possibly ever draw from these aspects of you, no matter how good they are. So, let’s face it, if I’m reading a blog post coming from a VP then I expect to read about some high-level topics over which they have control and influence. Not petty topics and simple links.

Mistake #10. Editing, hiding, or taking a post down when you make a mistake

Blogging is about building relationships with clients, prospects and well-wishers. And like any relationship, you will make mistakes. Think of all the different kinds of relationships you’ve been in and the number of times you’ve made mistakes. Mistakes happen. It’s a part of life. Just like in any good and healthy relationship, if you make a mistake you own up to it and fix it. You don’t try to hide it, lie about it or throw it under the rug. If you do, that relationship turns sour in an instant.

The same applies to blogs. If you make a mistake on your blog, don’t go back and try to edit it or delete it or anything like that. Your readers will call you on it and you’ll certainly lose credibility, which will be very hard for you to gain back in the future. This is hard, especially in the corporate world, but necessary if you’re seeking to gain any kind of traction on your blog. The main lesson in this is that you need to pay good attention as you blog, but if you happen to make a mistake in the process, don’t sweat it. Correct it and move on. Your readers are human, they’ll understand.

GM learned some powerful lessons in its blog implementation. As a big company delving into the unknown, their experience provides powerful insights for those testing the waters. You don’t need to make the same mistakes or learn from hard knocks what others already know. So, I suggest you do your homework, because you really can’t do blogs half fast.

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