Boost Your Small Business with Strategic Blogging
Blogging is not just for ranters anymore. More than a soapbox, when properly utilized, blogs become a powerful marketing tool. They can drive traffic to your site, develop leads and contacts, and establish a sense of rapport and community with readers who them become customers. Here are some ways to get the most out of your business blogging.
The personal stuff
1. Establish a blogosphere presence. Gain credibility. Read related blogs and make insightful comments. Become a part of the community by spurring and participating in discussions. The more you post insightful (as opposed to self-promoting) comments, the more aware of you and your blog both the authors and readers become. With your consistency, they will identify you as a voice of authority in your chosen niche. Most importantly, do so with character. Be positive. Be respectful. Never berate another person or use profanity. Both are unprofessional and reek of immaturity. Rudeness is a sure-fire way to send readers running the opposite direction. Nothing turns off another reader faster than anger and insult. It’s okay to disagree, but do so in a way that invites discussion, rather than the reverse.
2. New discoveries are good. Your discoveries are good. Be excited about them. No matter the subject you choose, be brave enough to write original content. Don’t talk about ‘what’s out there’. Write from your own particular viewpoint. Share things you have learned personally. However, remember you are writing a business blog, so keep out the clutter of your day-to-day. Think to yourself, “If someone asked me how my day went, what would I share?”
3. Reveal your own personality. The business is not writing the blog. Neither is the computer. You are. Allow your personal voice to sound in the readers’ heads. It amazes me how intensely readers come to not only identify with but also feel a sense of ownership to compelling, genuine bloggers. Those are who they follow, whose blogs they must check every day with their morning coffee, whose comments sections they delve into and add to repeatedly. These are the blogs they share on Facebook and Twitter. These are the blogs they personally endorse. Whether you’re writing about marketing strategies, use instructions, or the best way to utilize a particular product or service, be yourself. Know what you’re talking about, but don’t sound like a technical manual. Who actually reads technical manuals anyway?
4. Sound intelligent. Take the time to edit and re-write. All writers live for the times when the words simply flow from their fingertips, as if they are taking dictation. However, I have found that when this happens with me, what comes out is not always coherent. I need to to proof the grammar, spelling and content for it to make sense. What you have to say is important. Do not distract your readers from your ideas with bad spelling and poor sentence structure. Proof your work, and your message will take center stage.
The strategy stuff
1. Redefine your perceptions of blogs. Give blogging grown-up status in your marketing tool kit. Blogs are accessible 24/7/365. They do not intrude on your customer’s time or blare white noise which is easily tuned out. However, they do provide an excellent means of disseminating information. Again, referring to popular keywords, set a content calendar. List different ways each category means something to your business or product and write about it. Set aside time to research and write your blog, rather than ‘when I get around to it’. Add compelling calls to action.
2. Identify your blog’s purpose. Is your blog meant to drive traffic to your business website? Use traffic data to determine the best keywords and content to use in your blog. Are you blogging to generate leads and conversions? Blog about products and services and include links to forms and other calls to action. What about community? Do you want your business or product to get talked about? Write blogs that invite discussion. Be friendly. Ask for comments. Get people believing in you and they will share with their friends. Social Media Examiner delves deeper into this subject.
3. Use captivating headlines. Keep it short, concise, and snappy. Some bloggers take an irreverent approach. If that suits your personality and your target demographic, go for it. However, establish a line you won’t cross and stick with it. Know your audience. Show off your expertise. Don’t call your (or your company’s) maturity into question. Be fun, but not foolish.
4. Get the word out. Use social bookmarking to bring readers to your blog. Every time you post, submit that information to social bookmarking sites, such as Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon and Furl. Remember Twitter and Facebook as high-traffic sites. Include a short but compelling description and the URL.
5. Increase your exposure through guest blogging. Contact bloggers in the same niche and invite them to post on your blog. Ask to write posts for theirs. Make sure links to your blog are included on their page to drive traffic to your site and vice versa. You can find out more about guest blogging etiquette here. Guest blogging can be a win-win situation, but make sure that you choose bloggers of like mind. Again, it goes back to character. In the information age, once data gets out there, there is no calling it back, and it can stick around for a very, very long time. Research your counterpart before you to commit to a blog you will later come to regret. It’s your and your business’s reputation. Protect it.
To sum up
Believe in your business and say it through blogging. Share your excitement by using the mediums both familiar and comfortable to your clients. More and more customers research their decisions, so put your product information at their fingertips. Use keywords and popular content to get grabbed by the search engines, but find new and innovative ways to go about it. Tell the world something it doesn’t know. Remember, your viewpoints are unique, and that is something no other blogger can provide.