By Les Robinson
Blogs take work, and that’s why many businesses are reluctant to start them. Many wonder if starting a blog would be just adding another task to the ever-growing to-do list, and if the return would justify the effort.
I’d suggest that blogs can serve as another important tool in the marketing arsenal to better communicate with and understand your current and potential customers. With a small but dedicated effort, a blog can deliver significant benefits, as well as help augment and bolster the marketing and communications initiatives of your company.
Five reasons to have a company blog
1. Humanize your business: Giving your company a personal voice is a top objective of not only blogs, but social media in general. There is a “human” expectation when you’re using social media to talk to others. People want to know that they’re reading posts from real people. Whereas your company website may take on a more formal, corporate voice, your blog is an opportunity to establish and reinforce relationships and talk to consumers on a more “personal” level.
2. Control the messages: You’re in complete control of your blog, so you decide what content your audience gets to see there. Take advantage of that — talk about topics you know the most about, and provide the viewers with unique information they can’t easily get anywhere else. Also, use your blog to coordinate messages with your other marketing and advertising channels. Understand that you’re not simply placing a typical marketing message that ran somewhere else — such as in a newspaper ad — onto your blog. It is an opportunity to repurpose content with a human, personal touch.
3. Establish yourself as the authority: Determine what the focus of your blog is going to be and then ensure that the content has consistent messaging and a unique voice. You are the landscape and irrigation expert, and your blog is a place where visitors can get information in this area from someone they trust. It’s okay to occasionally post something out of your realm that helps personalize your blog, but, in general, the content of your messages should not be so scattered that viewers don’t know what to expect. Remember, they’re coming to you because you told them what you were going to deliver, and they liked that promise. Make sure you fulfill it.
4. Show you’re ready have a conversation: When you launch your blog, you can allow viewers to comment, or you can turn that functionality off. Consider that allowing comments shows that you’re ready to listen and take part in the conversation. Comments can be a great source of immediate feedback. You’ll find that you’ll make connections with the audience through interactions, and that allowing them to have a “voice” gives them a sense of community, making them more likely to become advocates for your company. Be prepared, however, for negative comments. While not a pleasant thing, they can be an opportunity to allow your fans to defend you, or you to “flip” a negative commentator into being a fan.
There’s also a case to be made for not allowing comments. If you are unable to dedicate the time needed to interact with your community, or don’t wish to deal with negative comments, it’s better to not allow comments than just let them sit there unanswered. Also, if you’re not interested in feedback because the messages you’re sending out are intended to be one-way, it’s okay to turn commenting off. The decision is yours, based on your goals and objectives for the blog.
5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): There are certainly many SEO benefits to having a blog for your business. Here are a few of the reasons to get started:
Blogs increase and diversify the pool of keywords driving traffic to your website. In other words, your company website might be optimized for general terms like “landscaping,” whereas a blog post can get much more specific, like “storm cleanup.”
Blogs are a simple way to build high-value links to pages deep within your website.
The posts within your blog also give a compelling reason for others to link, share, and comment, because they’re more timely and “human” than your business website.
Blogs feature fresh content, and search engines love fresh content.
Blog posts have keyword-rich titles and URLs. Blog software usually builds URLs out of the blog post titles. For example, a blog post about storm cleanup, titled “Storm Cleanup After a Hurricane,” would include something like http://www.yourblog.com/2011/06/storm-cleanup-after-hurricane. Search engines value keyword usages within URLs.
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Les Robinson, a five-year veteran with social media, is the social media specialist for Stihl Inc. Stihl’s blog is www.stihlusablog.com.
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How to create a successful company blog via Mashable.com — http://mashable.com/2010/03/01/company-blog/
The 10 Best Corporate Blogs in the World via SocialMediaToday.com — http://socialmediatoday.com/markwschaefer/258359/10-best-corporate-blogs-world