Blog because you want great employees

Recently I have had a few interesting discussions with a few start-ups looking for advice on blogging. Each start-up was very different from the other but the one thing they all had in common was that they were in ‘stealth mode’ (see bottom for definition).

Some of the common questions I hear are:

  • When do we start blogging e.g. 1 month before ……. launch? 2 months before private beta? etc.

  • How do we blog if we don’t want to talk about our product?

  • How do we market our company via the blogosphere?

  • Should we have a full time blogger? Should we contract someone to post a few times a week?

    • What does hiring a contractor say about our company?

  • How many blogs should we have? One with a corporate view, and one for customers?

  • How do we break news of our product? Blog or homepage?

  • Is blogging for us? How will it help us? Does our target market blog?

  • What software should we use when hosting our blog?

  • Should we use a hosted product e.g. Blogger.com, WordPress.com, Typepad or self-hosted Wordpress.org, Movable Type, etc.?

  • What capabilities should we support? RSS, Atom, Email subscription.

The problem with these questions is they miss the indirect value of a blog.

Recruitment.

How does a start-up recruit A+ developers? Well first you need to find out where developers gather (cough…cough) blogosphere. Developers are prolific blog readers and blog writers. This is opinion is supported by the thousands and thousands of readers and writers of MSDN and Sun Microsystems blogs.

So if you are a small startup that is in stealth mode and a virtual unknown how are you going to compete? How will you promote your company as a better employer worth leaving the security of Microsoft, Sun, IBM or Oracle? Don’t imagine that these talented individuals ever look at your company name with its missing vowel e.g. plunkr, junkr, etc and think I want to work there because its cool.

Scenario of an A+ Developer: I work at Microsoft, I read the blogs from Microsoft, IBM and Oracle about what is happening at their company, sometimes I even meet after work and talk about my day. We find we have lots in common. If I am thinking of leaving Microsoft, can you guess which companies would be high on my list of desirable employers? To the developer teams I know via the blogosphere or that company with a cool name and a few million in the bank but no certain future?

Little fact: Did you know Google has the highest number of recruiters to employee of any company in the world? Its twice as many as its nearest competitor. (sorry couldn’t remember exact details)

When considering whether a blog is necessary pre-launch and what value if any does a blog bring to the business equation don’t just consider the above list of questions, also consider how a blog can help with your ability to recruit.

Stealth mode: Haven’t heard this term before? Stealth mode refers to a company that has received enough funding to launch a product/service, but hasn’t yet reached the stage of alpha or beta testing. They are usually very secretive about their product/service not wanting to give away tactical business planning information to their acknowledged competitors.

Great dilbert comic today

I am a huge fan of Dilbert, nothing makes me smile with inward glee like reading dilbert.  Recently the University of Hertfordshire where I work hired a consultant and he loves Dilbert so every morning we grab our coffee’s together and have a laugh about what situation dilbert illustrated for us that day.  Sometimes if we have time we reminicse about our real life experiences that relate to the daily comic strip.

Today is my day off and I am still reading it.  Anyway I am glad I did because this one is great.  What do you think?

[tags]dilbert[/tags]