Gone are the days where companies are faceless. With the rise of social media consumers are getting smarter and smarter. Whether it's the middle of July or during the Holidays, the first thing anyone does is search for something online. It doesn't matter if your company is service or product oriented if you're not online... and online in multiple ways, you should be.
Social media is great; I'm a HUGE fan. It provides a platform for businesses to easily connect with their customers, and if you're using it correctly can produce a 100% increase your bottom line. I've recently gotten two different clients solely from Facebook. Now- did that happen over night... absolutely not, I've been on Facebook since it was first established... however, it has now become a vital part of my overall business strategy.
The problem with today's "social media" (and I say "today's" because if you think the concept is new, you're wrong... it's just a new platform) is that if Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc all disappeared tomorrow and you haven't moved your "friends," "followers" and "fans" to a list that you can market to you're in serious trouble. This is why it is VITAL to have a blog on your website... and ideally not just a link from your company site to a blog page... but actually incorporated into your website (this is better for SEO). Although the thought can be overwhelming, I promise you it is worth it. Here are some simple steps to helping you tackle this task. If you already have a blog, still read the rest of this as these guidelines can be used as a formula for organizing the various aspects involved in creating a successful business blog.
What You Will Need to Set Up a Simple Business Blog
People visit a business blog for information. So it goes without saying that this is the most important aspect of any blog. Be prepared to provide useful, quality content that readers will appreciate. Try to include pictures, diagrams, screenshots, and video wherever possible as this helps to break up passages of text and makes the blog appear more vibrant and interesting. The biggest question I get asked is "How often" should I post... and my answer... is always... you have to test. And although it may sound like a "cop-out," it's not and it is very true. What works for one market might not work for another. The relationship you have with your list will also dictate how frequently they want to hear from you. Once great way to find out- ask You can do this very simply with a survey on your website. If you're on wordpress, check out http://lesterchan.net/wordpress/readme/wp-polls.html it's a great plugin that allows you to setup surveys quick and easy!
- Who Writes?
This question really boils down to 1 thing... What is your highest and best use, or your personal ROI?If the answer, take a sales call, speak an at event, meeting with a client, conference call or really anything other than sit down and write a blog, then my answer will be: outsource. There are some FABULOUS ghostwriters out there. I have several that I snatched up to write for our clients. Here's the key to making a ghostwriter work for you. They MUST know how to write with personality. This is VERY important. There are fabulous writers out there, but they can be dry. You need both a technical writer so there are no grammatical mistakes, but also one that can capture your voice.
- Marketing and Promotion
Just because you build it, does not mean it will come! Unless you're a celebrity or some major company like Apple, just because you throw up a blog doesn't mean you're going to see new profits overnight. This is one of the biggest misconceptions out there, and ultimately, this is what makes social media so powerful. You must look at the blog as a business. You don't just open your doors and all the sudden you're a millionaire (and anybody that tells you that is lying). You open the doors and then you market your business, interact with your community. Same with a blog, you start your blog then use the power of social media to market your blog and interact with your customers. It's a two-step process and if you're missing either step it won't work.
- Monetization and Profit Generation
I'm not talking about your own products or services, but rather the affiliates you promote or other advertisements you allow on your blog. These "other" promotions need to be carefully planned and you need to make sure what you are promoting is in line with the type of business that you are in.
Here are a couple of ways you can make a little extra money with your blog: Charging other businesses for hosting their ads on your blog; Placing affiliate product ads on the blog; Using CPC textual ads (like Google Adsense) to increase blog revenue; Incorporating CPA adverts into the site.
There are many ways to increase the profit from a business blog. The main point to concentrate on is that advertisements can distract from your content so choose wisely. External ads should be topically related to your own content so that readers are likely to be interested and more liable to click on the ads and earn you money. The look of the ads is also important. They should blend in with your blog theme and should be attractive, not garish. Textual ads can appear tacky and distracting if overdone.
- Overall Design and Brand Establishment
There are a couple ways to have a blog from a technical standpoint. If you already have a business website and you are unable to incorporate a blog that is actually a part of your domain (for example: www.YOURDOMAIN.com/blog) than you can set up a standalone wordpress blog and link to it from your website. If you have the option, ALWAYS have the blog actually a part of your website (this means that your whole website will be put onto wordpress), this is the ideal way to go for search engine rankings. However, if you don't have that option for what ever reason make sure that you design your blog so that it mimic the overall business (and business website). Also that you link often back to your main website, and have lead capture on your blog just incase your visitors never make it over to your main website.
- Direction and Purpose
Think about why you are creating a business blog and what you want it to achieve. Do this before you start thinking about how it will look and what content it will contain. Is this a blog designed to increase customer interaction? Are you hoping to gain valuable free market research? Is this blog simply going to be another extension of your sales department? Are you looking to use the blog to promote a new product or boost a sales campaign? The various aspect of a business blog can be altered to facilitate different functionalities. Pure sales blogs will differ from those hoping to work more on CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Of course, there is no reason why a business blog cannot incorporate numerous roles, but if this is to be the case then the specific aims should be established before the blog is designed. Knowing what you expect from a blog and the direction it should take increases the chances of achieving a positive end result with fewer design mishaps.
The Bigger the Effort, the Better the Result
A good business blog should be looked at an extension of your business and a part of your sales time. The easiest way to make sure it's not overlooked is to set some editorial guidelines and stay on track for posting content. Blogs can perform a multitude of beneficial tasks and provide a business with an additional source of income, increased brand recognition, and enhanced customer interaction.
Don't think 'why do I need a business blog?' Think 'why have I not got a business blog already?'