Social media is finally taking off in the UK, with over 13 million online social network users in 2008 - and growing. Quite likely, you have friends that use Facebook or your children socialise via Bebo or MySpace. There may even be a few Twitterers among you.
As consumers and professionals become more familiar with social media sites and comfortable with taking the 'conversation' online, your business must be in a position to participate as part of the web community. Publishing a business blog provides many opportunities for engaging with your customers online.
Getting Business Blogging Right the First Time Many companies are concerned primarily about three issues regarding blogs: a) the time required to source a regular flow of content, b) the costs involved in getting professional copy written, and c) the need to attract readers to make it all worthwhile.
To address these concerns, you can use the following 5-point plan, which will enable you to take a phased approached to preparing for, setting up, and running a successful business blog.
1. Establish Clear Objectives Knowing what you want to achieve with your blog will enable you to choose a clear direction from the start. Although it's important to use your blog to participate in a genuine manner as part of the online community, it is also completely reasonable to have your own business objective, which might include:
- Sharing your expertise in a friendly, entertaining way
- Driving traffic to your sales pages
- Engaging search engines in conjunction with a SEO plan
- Publishing product updates, reviews, and special offers
- Writing articles relating to your industry
- Conducting market research
As you set out your plans, you may find you have more than one objective - that's fine, as long as you can establish measures that enable you to identify what is working and where you may need to improve.
2. Know Your Target Audience You don't have to be all things to all people; in fact, it is better that you don't even try this approach. Identifying who you are writing for can help focus your content and help you 'find your voice'. Choose a style that will appeal to your intended readers and go out of your way to stand out from the crowd.
Good content is important, but the same news shared in a completely unique style can win over readers as well. Your corporate blog doesn't need to be stuffy; instead, you should see it as an opportunity to share some personality and engage customers on another level.
3. Devise a Workable Content Strategy This may sound a little like executive speak, but establishing a 'workable content strategy' from the start will enable you to keep your blog regularly updated - which is vital for attracting regular visitors (and indexing) from search engines as well as keeping your readers engaged.
Schedule time for researching content (using RSS feeds and news websites), writing posts (remember: it doesn't need to be an epilogue), and publishing it via your chosen blog platform.
4. Maintain Quality Control Be creative, be informative, be provocative even, but don't be boring. If you have nothing to say, keep quiet for now. Focus on quality over quantity. Your readers will thank you for it.
It's also important to maintain an appropriate tone. Over-familiarity in a business setting doesn't always go over well with clients. In other words, keep the latest about your ingrown toenail to yourself.
5. Include a Marketing Plan How are you going to spread the word? Online marketing is worthy of an article all its own, but for starters, the search engines and social media marketing are key for getting your blog noticed.
In addition, you may want to consider using one of the increasing number of web 2.0 applications that make it child's play to share your blog posts across numerous content platforms.
In conclusion, consider this: By refusing to engage with customers as part of the online community, you may actually be sending the message that you do not WANT to communicate. If you would like help implementing a blog for your business, call us on 01484 690430.