Setting foot into the blogosphere can be a paralyzing task for many marketers. Despite the technological ease of entry, there are major psychological and organizational hurdles that have to be overcome. This new series will look at the brave marketers who overcome internal and external forces to join the conversation.
Kenneth Cole is the latest major consumer brand to swing into the new media jungle. Their new blog, Awearnessblog.com, focuses on social issues that are a major part of their business philosophy. If you are a Kenneth Cole customer you already know about the company's support of AIDS research and other causes as well as their quippy way of telling their story. Those things are combined here to tell a new story.
The blog has very little direct product messaging outside of a small link in the top right corner to "Shop Kenneth Cole". They've no doubt found that their customers share their social advocacy and it does in fact drive sales. The technology behing the blog itself is
WordPress MovableType and rebranded to fit the Kenneth Cole look. The four main categories are navigable at the top of the page (social rights, hard times, well-being and political landscape).
I liked the way that they decided to launch this. Every newcomer should consider the following formula for launching a blog on the right foot:
- Tease the blog's launch well ahead of time and do PR outreach around it
- Allow people to be notified by email when it launches (one-click signup)
- Build a solid foundation of content (2 weeks minimum, but 1 month is preferable)
- Allow a group of advocates early access to build the conversation (comments in the case of a blog)
- Use imagery and video whenever possible
- Engage the head cheese (yes, Kenneth Cole himself has a voice here) to show commitment and understanding of the shift in the marketing paradigm
I think this is a solid formula to follow to get up and running. The following points are how I rate the effort overall:
The blog stays true to its mission and the content is very focused. The voice of the brand comes through in the content as well as the auxiliary content.
This blog launched with a very strong, focused cache of content. This allows newcomers to jump right in, see the direction, subscribe if they like it and start engaging through commentary. Having the top post be from the leadership of the company is a nice touch to set the tone right away.
The design is clean and to the point. The blog looks as I would expect being a Kenneth Cole customer, but also sets the tone for the brand to new customers. I would like to see a few items be added to make sharing easier including a clear RSS icon, subscribe by email feature and more prominent social bookmarking icons (del.icio.us/digg/etc.).
The quality of the content is really fresh, aligned with the tone of the site, carries through the voice of the brand and sets the stage for things to come. I love the use of photography and video to grab your eye and keep you engaged.
Content update frequency
The team at Kenneth Cole is setting the bar high right out of the gate. The posting frequency is around 3-4 posts per day which makes me wonder if they can keep that up. The initial frequency sets an expectation that is hard to back down from once started. This is a key consideration for any company looking to start out. Make sure that the expectations match the reality of your finite resources.
The conversations that were already going when the blog launched this morning make it clear the team knows what it is doing. These are not websites that we're launching. These are two-way conversation vehicles. The comments on existing posts make sure that newcomers feel comfortable sharing their thoughts. This is the same situation as in a classroom, nobody wants to be the first to raise their hand. The KC team has eliminated that anxiety.
The top post on launch day is from Kenneth Cole himself. This shows a firm commitment to the medium as well as positioning him as somebody who knows what social media is and why it is important.
Are there other measurements that you would add to this list? What do you think of Kenneth Cole's Awearness blog?
If you are ready to launch a new media effort at your company and would like me to cover your launch just drop me an email.