Welcome to the interesting world of business blogging, BSmith4664. I’ve had a chance to read your first posting to the Quickbooks Team Blog, entitled View from the General Manager and would like to offer up a few thoughts and pointers…
First off, whether you’re an executive or using a spade in the trenches, I do think that it’s quite helpful to tell us who you are. “BSmith4664” sounds a lot more like a Hotmail or AOL address than the General Manager of the Quickbooks team, doesn’t it? I realize that 60 seconds with Google reveals that you’re “Brad Smith” and that Intuit’s CEO Steve Bennett has said “We’ve been searching externally for a while and determined that Brad Smith is the best person – inside or outside Intuit – for the QuickBooks leadership role. He’s proven his ability to lead a team to win decisively in an intensely competitive environment.”
Very impressive. But why make me do the work?
A good metaphor for business blogging might well be having five minutes in front of a professional networking group or conference roundtable. Certainly your name, your title, your responsibilities, some comment that indicates you’re paying attention to the discussion and the interaction style that’s become the norm in the group, and so on. Bonus points for something amusing about yourself.
Since we aren’t in the same room, however, I’d really like to see a picture of you here, as part of your introduction, Brad. It really further helps personalize the weblog and helps us establish a foundation of trust for our future discussions. You can see my picture on this page, for example. Now you know what I look like. Something to think about.
Second, I like Quickbooks and your company. I like that you’ve quite successfully held off many competitive threats in the last decade, even from the 800 pound gorilla. You’ve got the industry leading product and produce something that thousands of business people use every day. So where’s the pizzaz, the visual design, the immediate visual feedback that you’re a leader in this marketspace? Surely your team could shanghai a graphic designer from elsewhere in the firm to help make your weblog more visually interesting?
In fact, there’s danger in having it be too bland: it doesn’t give me any confidence that you really are the Quickbooks team and so you lose out on the potential credibility boost that can’t but help you with your blogging mission.
Another point: you have a long, thoughtful article, but you aren’t offering me any visual cues to help navigate the material. You’ll do much better to have a few hyperlinks to other Web sites and even use bold and italics for some visual variety. I realize that there’s a niggling anxiety about pointing to a third-party Web site that isn’t vetted by legal, but if you’re going to be a business blogger, you need to take the plunge and point to other sites. You can always sneak in a disclaimer if you feel you must, but it’s widely accepted that someone pointing to another site doesn’t imply that they’re related in any manner.
Generously linking to other sites is a very blog-friendly philosophy too, and linking to other bloggers will frequently cause them to link back to you and perhaps even help you gain visibility in your target community. It’s certainly a ‘best practice’ for business blogging.
I also have a strong preference for long weblog articles, but expect that some people will shortly be complaining that frequent, short entries, even as short as a sentence or two, are the preferred style for the blogosphere. Ptoi on that. Write what you feel most comfortable writing!
Finally, I’m intrigued by your comment about the upcoming QuickBooks 2006 release. Trickling out feature lists, screen shots, and general tales of beta testing feedback and user stories (and testimonials) would be a splendid use of this weblog, and could also help increase product visibility further.
Again, welcome to the world of business blogging, Brad. Stay in touch.