According to a January article by eMarketer, research from the social marketing software firm Awareness, Inc. shows that businesses are thinking about getting back into blogging for 2012, and it’s about time. The survey also indicated that businesses are looking at expanding their social footprint to new platforms, but I think the “getting back to basics” with blogging is a particularly good strategy.
While I truly love the relationship-building of social media, it’s often a moving target responsible for a lot of “shiny new toy” syndrome. After a while, we begin to feel like jugglers spinning plates—sooner or later something’s got to give. However, that something shouldn’t be your blog. A blog is quite simply one of the best ways to enlighten prospects about why they should do business with you, and it should be at the core of your content marketing efforts.
From an overall web presence perspective, a blog is the information hub from which all social media activities radiate, and your social platforms should point readers back to it for a number of reasons:
- Blogging gives you control: You don’t own the platforms on which you publish social updates. These platforms control how that information is seen and interacted with, and they often make arbitrary changes. Not so your blog. You control the content, the visibility, the interactivity—the works. Even if every social network you are associated with disappears tomorrow, your blog content is still yours and is still working for you.
- The ultimate “branding”: When people find your brand on social channels, they look for a place to find out more and dig deeper before making a decision to do business with you. How you handle your blog says a lot about how you operate your business. Frequent helpful posts, intuitive categories and responsive comments position your brand as a group of people interested in helping customers obtain positive outcomes.
- Search engines love ‘em: Regular, frequent blogging is one of the best ways to improve your organic search engine rankings, because it adds to your “relevancy” quotient (especially when you use your keywords judiciously in your posts).
Aside from the content rewards, however, one of the biggest benefits to re-invigorating your blog is being an active member of the blogging community. Blogging is a social activity, and much can be gained from exploring that community and reaching out to other bloggers, which I talked about in an earlier post, “12 Most Significant Reasons I Love Bloggers and You Should Too.”
Even if you’ve never blogged before, exploring popular blogs in your niche and commenting when you can add value to the conversation is a great way to begin to develop recognition (and build relationships). In fact, even when your blog is established, seeking out and commenting on other blogs should remain part of your overall schedule.
What’s the biggest roadblock to developing a successful blog? For most businesses, the hardest part is actually creating the content. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the task, but remember… you don’t have to eat the entire elephant in one sitting! Here are a few tips for taking small bites:
- Create an editorial calendar of topics: Make a list of 10 categories of interest to your audience, with 5 to 10 subtopics related to each category, and assign each subtopic idea to a date on your calendar. That way, you’re not facing a blank page.
- Not all posts have to be written: Take a look at your editorial calendar and look for posts that could use an embedded video or audio as the main component. This will cut down on the amount you have to write.
- Schedule time to write: Block off time in your calendar when you’re usually fresh and your creative juices are flowing (say, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10-10:30am) and stick with it.
- Don’t forget your important events: Plug your important promotions or company events in the editorial calendar so you can create content around them.
- Get some help: Identify others in your organization who can help write posts, and assign appropriate topics to them (along with due dates). Also think about asking non-competing colleagues in your industry if they would like to “guest post” on certain topics. If resources are short, consider hiring a “Ghost blogger” who has experience writing in your niche to take some of the load.
Experienced marketers know how important it is to create and optimize a “content hub,” to feed customers the information they seek. So when planning your content marketing strategy for this year, take a leaf from their book. Don’t fall victim to the “shiny new toy” syndrome and ignore your blog—it can be your greatest resource!