Anatomy of corporate blogging 1/2: Hatena

Cinnamon – the mascot character of Hatena, Inc.

This is the first of two analysis of corporate blogs. To view the other, please read the next entry.

Some background
Hatena is a Japanese internet service company offering blog hosting, social bookmarking, groupware, etc. Hatena has a big presence in Japan especially with their social bookmarking service, Hatena Bookmark, boasting the biggest market share in Japan.

What is this blog about?
This blog is supposedly a diary by Hatena’s mascot character, a Welsh Corgi dog named Cinnamon. The blog is built using Hatena’s own blog hosting service. The target audience is very broad: it is not only about users of Hatena’s service but also anybody who is interested in blogging (or dog). The goal of this blog is not explicitly stated, but supposedly there are two of them: one is to encourage users to start their own blog by being Hatena’s showcase (therefore this blog is a perfect metaphor for eat-your-own-dogfood practice), and the other is to increase Hatena’s profile among users – techie and non-techie alike.

Design and layout
Below diagram shows the content structure, with notable features marked in red.

It is a standard two-column blog with relatively few visual elements. Each entry consists of the photo of the day and a short message from the dog himself (written by his owner, a staff member of Hatena). Hand-drawn background picture of animals and warm coloring clearly indicate the blog is family-friendly. Users can comment on each entry and if he already has his own blog through Hatena, he can add a “favorite” mark (here it is a dog icon) to his favorite entries. The number of “favorite” marks instantly shows which entry is popular among Hatena communities. Each “favorite” mark can be clicked which leads to the blog of the person who added the mark.

What is special about this blog?
The most intriguing aspect of this blog is its non-corporate style. The main content (photo and message) only mention ‘personal’ issues about the dog and nothing about Hatena or its service. Same for the links: no newsfeed, event, or advertisement. A link to dog-lovers blog group is visible, but that is a common practice for pet-oriented blogs in general. This blog is about letting Cinnamon, the mascot dog, be “just there.”

Does it work?
This blog meets its goal remarkably well: its design and structure are approachable by anybody and it shows how to utilize Hatena’s blogging service including its unique “favorite” marking system. Each entry consistently acquires a dozen or more “favorite” marks, therefore it is fair to say the blog has a good amount of followers. My guess is that the reason it works so well is because there is no smell of “corporate” inside this blog. It is in itself a simple yet well-maintained blog dedicated to a beloved dog.