I realize many of you reading this post are already up to speed with blogging. You may have a personal and company blog that you work on, and already know much of what I’m about to tell you. If you fall into this category, you may want to skip over this post. If on the other hand, you represent the millions of organizations that have yet to write a single blog post, this post is for you.
First, a primer. Blogs are essentially online journals. While some companies choose to integrate blogs directly into their websites, other companies link to blogs they author on do-it-yourself-free sites such as WordPress or Blogger. Either method works fine as long as the end result looks professional from a content and design perspective. If you already have access to Web design and development help, you may want to opt for a more advanced solution, such as installing WordPress on a server, which gives you much more flexibility in terms of the presentation and functionality of your blog.
So why should your company blog? Blogs can be used to influence key audiences. A study conducted by Jupiter Research found that 50 percent of respondents discover helpful purchase information in blogs. In a sense, blogs can become indirect sales tools.
Beyond the obvious marketing benefits to a blog, a business blog also delivers the following:
- Increased credibility and visibility. You will quickly find that you’ll generate awareness for you or your fellow bloggers as experts in the areas you write about. Blogging is one of the fastest ways to establish your self as an expert, providing the content you develop is interested, informative and engaging.
- Increased website traffic. Your blog posts will attract readers interested in the topics you’re writing about. If your readers are also interested in what your company does, it can be a great lead generation tool for you.
- Expanded reach. A business blog gives you the ability to dually publish your content on other social sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. So you can reach more people, in less time, where they prefer to receive information.
- More media coverage. Since reporters like to establish dialog with subject matter experts, you’ll find your posts are effective at promoting you and your colleagues as experts on a particular subject. If you remain dedicated to your blogging efforts, you might find you attract more media attention than you ever did with press releases.
So, you have a blog—now what? Attracting readers takes time. Posts are needed regularly for good search engine optimization and to attract repeat readers. In addition, blogs need to be promoted.
Here are some other tips to minimize effort and maximize return:
- Submit your site to directories that index blog content such as Google Blog Search or Technorati. You should also install an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed service so readers can subscribe to your posts.
- Add a “blogroll.” Blogrolls are lists of blogs in the sidebar of your website. Adding a blogroll—and requesting the same from other bloggers—is another way to grow readership. Having more links on your blog will also improve search engine optimization. While this tactic is less powerful for established blogs, when you’re trying to get a blog off the ground, this step can help to quickly establish a base of followers that can drive traffic to your blog.
- Share the workload. Although blogging responsibility typically falls to top executives, others inside your company can be regular guest contributors, offering insights on research & development, marketing, sales and more. This practice helps distribute the workload and ensures regular updates from different perspectives.
- Make posts interesting. Would you want to read a boring blog post? It is well worth the effort to occasionally write about controversial topics, as these posts will by far garner more readers…and the holy grail of blog authorship—posted comments.
- Drive reader participation. Blogging is a lot more fun when you get feedback from your readers. Blogs are unique in the fact they feature feedback mechanisms by design. Ask readers for feedback, or pose questions to kick off comments on your post. Be sure to review and respond to posts quickly (you can set up notifications for new comments), and be open-minded by accepting both positive and negative comments.
- Tell people about your blog. Once you have a couple of posts under your belt, let your existing audiences know about your blog. Include a link to your blog in your email signatures, email newsletters, business cards and any other company marketing materials. Your blog can serve as the hub for ongoing discussions with your audiences – if they know it exists.
Try to avoid blatant sales pitches in your blog posts. People read blogs to learn new stuff. The more you can help others learn from your experience and knowledge, the better. Readers will reward you with repeat visits, comments, mentions of your blog on their blogs, and so on. Before long, you’ll be a believer in blogging, and you’ll be telling all your friends that they need to start blogging too.