The 1st Birthday of a Unique Corporate Blog – The Connection Cafe
This is my site Written by Alora on March 30, 2009 – 9:23 pm

1st Birthday Connection CafeA year ago, Austin-based Convio launched a company blog: Connection Cafe. Unlike so many other company blogs, Convio decided to take a slightly different approach with the hope of gaining slightly different results.

While many organizations opt for a CEO blog — particularly companies with in-demand CEO’s, like Convio’s Gene Austin — or a blog written by the marketing team, Convio ultimately elected to implement a corporate blogging strategy that showcased not only the depth of their internal talent, but also the breadth of their client’s experience and interests. Their solution was a group blog, with volunteer authors from all across the organization.

From the beginning, the rules for the blog authors were simple: be real, write about what you care about, and no selling. Because the blog was launched on its own domain, separate from the corporate website, and because the goal was to provide content of interest and value to a wide spectrum of readers, Connection Cafe was designed to be a source of value for both clients and non-clients — and, because of that, it could not be product-centric.

Jordan Viator, the Interactive Communications Manager at Convio, provided a loose framework for the bloggers to get started. But the key to the blogs success — both inside Convio itself and with the readers — is that the authors are volunteers whose enthusiasm for what they write is genuine, and whose passion for the work their clients are doing is evident in what they write.

The number one goal for the blog was trust. While the ‘no sales’ rule was designed to meet that goal, so were the operations of the blog itself: authors write what they want, and self-publish. No one from Marketing or Communications reviews or signs-off on their content. Once the author is ready to publish, they do it themselves. Jordan outlines a loose editorial calendar and reminds contributors of up-coming events that might prove good fodder for content, but what an author writes is up to them, and merely needs to be relevant to the non-profit technology theme.

Because Convio’s various teams all work on different areas of the customer experience, each one has a different perspective and different content that is of value to both clients and non-client readers. Even more importantly, because the target audience can range from large, old school, brick-and-mortar non-profit organizations to small, bootstrapping two or three person tech-based collaborations, the types of content they find of value differ radically. So having an author-base that covers the full spectrum has been essential in ensuring that Connection Cafe’s content is relevant to as wide an array of readers as possible.

When talking about Connection Cafe’s success over the past year, Jordan gives major kudos to both the energy and enthusiasm of the Convio staffers who make the time to contribute, and to the Convio leadership team who very easily could have insisted on a company blog that was tightly bound to the corporate brand and focused on a sales- or marketing-only content. Because of the value readers find in Connection Cafe content, the blog has seen a month-over-month traffic increase of 21% since it was launched last March.

One of the unexpected side-effects Jordan is clearly most proud of is the level of engagement that Convio employees have demonstrated since being given the opportunity to blog and converse directly with clients, in a way that is slightly different from their daily roles. She notes that, while Connection Cafe has received high praise from readers and industry peers, that is only possible because of the energy brought to it by contributors.

As Connection Cafe moves into its second year, Jordan sees a great deal of potential in the blog’s growth. New authors, new technologies and a seismic shift in the economic and political climate all spell change for the non-profit and technology sectors. And as long as that continues, she is delighted to keep the conversation flowing and the team enthusiastic about empowering people and organizations to use technology to do good works.