Blog Analysis: Safeway

safeway John Cass had a post informing readers about some new additions to the Fortune 500 corporate blogging wiki.

If you haven’t visited the corporate blogging wiki yet, it’s a good place to see which large companies are using blogs as a communications tool. (It’s also interesting to click on some of the links and see how long its been since many of these blogs were last updated.)

There are some valuable takeaways from each of these new blogs, and so I thought I would share some of my observations and invite you to do the same. I’m going to start with the Safeway blog .

BLOG OVERVIEW

According to the About section on the right side of the page, the blog is written by a Safeway employee named Kate and it’s about, "family, food, value and fun." Kate makes a special point to ask readers to "join the conversation."

STRENGTHS

Audience: Kate writes that she is a mom, and that a large part of her job is getting to hear from a lot of women out there about everything that’s important to them. She has a specific audience in mind (women) that she’s writing for, which sets up certain expectations about the content. Targeting this demographic makes the content more relevant, which is appealing.

One Author: Kate is the only contributing author that I saw. She writes in a conversational tone and I don’t feel like she’s trying to sell me anything. She is a passionate participant, and that goes a long way.

Frequent Updates: The blog is updated regularly, and I like the diversity of the topics, from greener cleaning products to new foods and recipes. And even though the subject of each post changes, it’s always in some way related to Safeway and its products.

Images: Most posts have an image with them, which makes the overall site much more appealing. It also helps me as a way to navigate through the posts, since I can see an image of, say, frozen peas, and choose to skim over it without reading.

Integration: The blog is well integrated into the larger Safeway site with a prominent placement on the navigation bar on the main Safeway homepage. So many companies bury this link.

CHALLENGES

Zero Post Links: Despite the number of posts, there’s not one link, external or otherwise, in any of the entries. This is by far the biggest weakness. Not only would links improve the site’s SEO , but it would help readers to take action as a result of reading the blog. For example, the post on e-coupons should include a link to a few of the company’s e-coupons.

One Author: I know, I also listed this as a strength. As the blogger for Safeway’s official blog, I want to know more about Kate. There’s no picture of her next to her profile, nor does she indicate where she works or her job function. These details help readers to feel as if there is a true human behind the blog. It also helps us to better communicate with her as readers. If she works the deli counter in Oregon, I’m probably not going to ask her about the company’s work on improving the technology infrastructure for its chain.

No Conversation: It was encouraging that the blog asks readers to join the conversation, but nobody at Safeway seems to be listening. Not every post has a comment, and that’s fine. I don’t think a blog’s success should be measured strictly by the number of comments it receives. However, the comments (and questions) that are posited should be addressed by Kate or someone else at the company, and they aren’t. If Kate wants Safeway customers to participate, then she needs to actually engage them when they do.

Access: To see the blog archives, I’m asked to register. While this may be a feature of the blogging platform Safeway chose, it’s no excuse. I don’t want to sign up for company emails just to read your archives. Open those suckers up!

UPDATE: SAFEWAY’S RESPONSE

Shortly after writing this post, I received the following email from Rohini Jatkar, Safeway’s Online Marketing Manager. With her permission, I’ve posted it here:

Hello Aaron,

We want to thank you for your recent review of the Safeway blog on Disruptology. We are very excited about this opportunity to have a dialogue with our consumers and being reviewed by someone like you. You provide valuable information and feedback that will help us improve the blog and community experience on our site.

We are looking into expanding this section of our website significantly and making it more interactive. To this end we are exploring the addition of Forums and we are definitely looking into bringing in guest bloggers who are subject matter experts on occasion.

Your suggestion of providing links back to relevant sections of the site in posts (for example a link back to eCoupons) is great and we will implement more of that going forward.

Regarding the identity of the blogger, it’s her personal wish and a company requirement that she remain anonymous. We are not prepared to provide an interview at this time, but will look into this.

Regarding access to blog archives, you can currently access posts from each week via quick links on the bottom right of the page. We did notice that ‘View Complete Archives’ link at the end takes you to a registration page. We agree that this should be "free for all" so we’re going to open that up immediately!

Thank you on behalf of Safeway.

Regards,
Rohini

YOUR TURN

What do you think? Go check out the blog and provide some constructive feedback. And Kate, if you happen to see this, I’d love to hear from you!
Photo credit: mattieb

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