Social Media Spotlight: How to Blog Successfully
It may seem that Facebook and Twitter get all the attention in social media circles these days, while the simple blog has been pushed to the sidelines. But in truth, a blog can and should lie at the center of your social media strategy. After all, a blog enables you to set the narrative for your company in a way that no other Web 2.0 tool can.
In fact, more than half of Internet users read a blog at least monthly and find them very influential, according to research from Technorati and eMarketer. Want to tell a customer success story? Need to spread information about an upcoming company-sponsored event? A blog can serve those needs, and more. Ultimately, you should think of your blog as the hub for your social media activities.
Setting up a blog on your website requires a little programming expertise (here’s some tips on how to do that), but once you’re up and running, it’s good to follow a few guidelines for shaping the content that you’re presenting.
Choose Your Topics
Not certain of what to write about? One of the best places to start is by introducing your company blog as a place to share ideas. Readers will be encouraged to hear that your blog is a place they can respond to—literally, with comments on your content. Inviting feedback is a great way to establish customer conversations.
From there, you can host a company-wide brainstorm session to see what topics customers ask about and where their pain points are. If you can address a customer need on your blog, or show customers how to do something, or lend your expertise, customers will look to you as a trusted source. (And this can also have the added benefit of boosting sales.)
You can also blog about a news story by putting your own twist on it and why it’s important to your readers. Another thing you can do is link out to another blogger and credit them with sharing something interesting, and offer your thoughts on the topic. The possibilities for content are endless.
Keep reading for more blogging tips.
Be Casual and Show Personality
Blogs tend to have an informal style by nature, so try not to present your company’s information in a manner that is stiff and official-sounding. (Issuing press releases over your blog is definitely not advised.) You want prospective customers visiting your website and reading your blog to really understand the nature of your company and what you do.
Keeping that in mind, think about how you would talk with one of your customers—how would you characterize what you are focusing on, if you were chatting over the phone, for instance? Write your blog entries as you would talk (fixed for grammar, of course) and you will have a blog that without question shows some personality.
Don’t Write Sales Pitches
You definitely want customers to know about the solutions that your company can offer. But you don’t want your blog to become overrun with sales pitches. Rather than focusing on what you can do for customers, think about what you have accomplished and share that information on your blog. Prospective customers will likely be intrigued by reading about your previous customer wins, as those will provide examples of how your company has demonstrated success.
Nothing looks worse than an untended blog. Dated blog entries will undoubtedly demonstrate to customers that you tried something, but gave up, and that’s the last message you want to send. So be sure that once you have committed to a company blog, you post several times a week.
Blogging can take a little time, because once you decide about what to write, you need to take the time to craft your entry, and then post it. But dedicating that time a few times a week can have a big payoff if prospective customers not only get a sense of your company culture, but also how your business will help them.
Worried about how to track what you’re working on? Creating a very basic content calendar using a spreadsheet can help you stay on target. But you don’t need to spend hours to start. Set aside a reasonable amount of time, say a three or four hours each week, to write, edit, and plan your blog entries.
Utilize Your Subject Matter Experts
Your company blog doesn’t need to have only one contributor—after all, each individual within your organization has different traits that help contribute to overall success. So solicit blog entries from different members of different groups, whether marketing, engineering, or sales, and help make them evangelizers for your company. Utilizing this type of cross-functional content will further demonstrate your company’s versatility and help show the personality and diversity of thought within your organization.
Promote Your Content
It’s great to post a blog entry, but now it’s time to get the eyeballs on it. This is where Twitter and Facebook can serve as useful tools to help promote your blog to customers. And make sure you promote your blog on your website’s home page, too. That’s guaranteed to drive customers to read it.
In addition to promoting your blog via social media and your website, reading and visiting blogs in a similar niche as your own and leaving thoughtful comments (with a link back to your own blog) is a great way to get your blog noticed and make some new blogging friends, too. Plus, reading other blogs gives you great content ideas. You can also ask the blog owner if you can be a guest blogger and vice versa.
Curious to read a few partner blogs? Here’s some links:
Got any other thoughts on how to produce a successful blog? Any blogs you like to read? Or want to plug your own blog here? Be sure to share in the comments.
Next up in our Social Media Spotlight series: Fellow Channels blogger Alex Krasne and I will offer our thoughts on how to conduct research, write crafty ledes, and create thoroughly engaging blog content. We’ll also include tips on how to include pictures and videos on your blog. Stay tuned!