Blogging for business is akin to writing a newspaper column. It conveys a mix of information and opinion, and maintains popularity when it appeals first and foremost to its audience. So, the first step in establishing a worthwhile blog is to identify and understand the audience you want to engage and influence.
Once that vision of the audience is clear, then the blog is named, designed and written with a topic or charter that is broad enough to remain fresh over time. This is why newspaper columnists of the past gave their columns titles or categories such as “Restaurant Reviews,” “Life in the City,” or “Political Opinion” – these expansive topics create a deep well from which to extract content for years.
How can you find a category, or deep well, for your business in the computer repair, thrift shop, or cold storage and distribution fields? Or any other business? Think of your audience; chances are they mentally place your business in a larger category, and to appeal to them you can share their interests by adopting that larger category for your blog. For example, “Living with Technology,” “A Life of Value,” or “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” offer large enough umbrellas to allow appealing tangents to come into your blog with regularity. And this is the genius of great blogs – they offer a composite of entertainment and information, all within the same interest category.
A successful blog is really a communication channel. The benefit of such a channel is that your company is the only sponsor. And just like any advertiser that wants to keep its audience, you should interrupt regular programming only occasionally to sell products or services.
Role of a Business Blog
Every blog has a job. Often, it is to attract readers to your company website. Also, it can establish its author as a “name” in the business category, or enhance a company’s voice of authority and thought leadership, or improve search engine results. Occasionally, a blog is built to attract outside advertisers for revenue. Whatever its role, a blogger must keep that purpose front-and-center when choosing blog topics and determining how to express those ideas. Again, the newspaper columnist provides an example, where the column’s job was to attract restaurant advertisers, or to become an integral and conversational part of the city’s daily life, or to leverage the reputations of leading local thinkers, thus improving the value of the newspaper’s brand. Similar end results are worthwhile goals for blogs.
The best business blogs are usually free of jargon. Why? Jargon inherently limits sharing, and sharing is vital to increasing audience size.
Often with blogging, one finds it easy to think of topics on which to write early in the game, and then frustrating and exhausting to keep the blog going. Or, one slips into the habit of writing about what a company wants to say, rather than writing about what a follower wants to read. In either case, blog frequency and effectiveness suffer, and the blog becomes a dull chore rather than a sparkling feature of the business.
If you seek help to overcome these issues, start by ensuring your blog writer understands the chief purpose and best audience, and then jointly create a broad approach that will appeal to readers over the long haul. For our clients, we establish a matrix of audience interests, adding in seasonal, business, industry and cultural priorities, to create a detailed blog calendar – ideally coordinated with and supporting the client’s other communication themes in email marketing or advertising – so the blog topics are established well in advance. This keeps blog publishing on schedule, and provides an opportunity to collect inspirational material in the weeks and months preceding publication.
How a non-blogger blogs: One of our clients calls blogging “the giant time suck,” but knows that it brings him business; so he paints his ideas in broad strokes by phone, and we provide original content according to an established calendar. This approach lets him blog with consistent frequency, yet imposes minimal impact on his time.
A blog, like many marketing activities, needs repetition over time to succeed. If you want to begin or revive a blog, it’s best to commit to it for a year so your audience has time to find it. This process can be accelerated if the blog is well promoted, if it uses effective search engine optimization techniques, or if the company already has a large audience.
One popular question about blogging concerns frequency; and the reason it remains a persistent question is because there is no single answer. The frequency of your blog depends on your business category, the characteristics of your audience, the interest level of your content, the availability of your writer, the frequency of fresh content topics, their vital nature (or lack thereof), and other variables.
Whatever the frequency, it’s important to maintain a consistent pace. If a weekly blog always appears on Tuesday mornings, then followers can more easily develop a habit of reading it regularly. Make this easier on yourself by keeping a few extra, fairly timeless blog posts “in the can.” That way, if you are suddenly without a blog to publish, you can slip in a spare and your audience will be none the wiser.
- What is your purpose for a company blog? What do you want from it?
- What resources can be directed toward the blog? Do you have existing staff, time or audience?
- Who is your audience and what do you want from them? More importantly, what do they want from you?
- When is the best time for your blog to begin, or when would you like to re-launch a blog that has lost its way?