Web 2.0 and the user-generated content it entails are here to stay, and the blogosphere has become a major tool in business communication. Blogging needs to be considered in a business's marketing strategy, or risk being left behind.
It's easy to 'enter the blogosphere', as blogs can be created in a matter of minutes. So, if you don't have a blog, I'll bet your competition does!
Here are just a few reasons why blogging should be part of your marketing mix:
Findability: Search engines find content which has recently been updated much more readily. Because your blog is updated much more often than your website, you will be 'found' more easily by potential new customers through your blog.
Communication: Blogs give you the opportunity to communicate effectively and interact in real time with your clients and prospects. When people take the time to comment on your blog, they've elected to invest time in communicating with you. This fosters loyalty and ongoing engagement.
Viral Capability: If someone finds value in your blog, whether it informs, entertains, or both; then can and will pass it on to others they think might like it too. This expands both your prospect base and your reach for very little outlay.
"Feed-ability": Blogs are a great 'funnel' to 'feed in' prospects and customers to your website. They read something on your blog that they like, click a link for more, and hey presto - they're on your website.
Trust: As your blog readers get to be more familiar with you and your business, they build trust in you. Trust is vital for any long-term business relationship, and continuing to drip-feed doses of helpful information helps to develop that trust.
Feedback: Blogs give you the opportunity to get real-time feedback on products, services and information from the people whose opinions you care about - your customers. You can also use your blog for product evaluations and testimonials.
Blogging is an investment - you invest your time and ideas in it so here are a few tips to help you to maximize that investment and make your blog work for you:
1) Create conversations. Web 2.0 is about developing two-way conversations, rather than marketing 'at' people. Be creative in opening conversations with your prospects and customer base. Why not hold surveys, ask for feedback, or use polls?
2) Blog regularly. Make a plan where you choose a frequency and try to stick to it. Once or twice a week works well for many bloggers - there's no need to produce reams of daily content. You can write your posts in advance, so you don't need to be available at a set time in order to post according to a schedule.
3) Respond. Whenever someone comments on your blog, it's important to reply to them. This fosters two-way communication and the loyalty and trust that goes with it.
4) Provide helpful information. Don't see your blog as a platform to continuously sell at people; they will just unsubscribe. Use it to provide information that your targeted prospects and clients will value.
5) Recommend other blogs. When you find another blog or other information source that your target market may find useful, share it on your blog.
6) Let your readers share posts. Make it easy for your readers to share posts from your blog with others - it's the quickest way to get more followers. One option is 'Sharethis' - www.sharethis.com
7) Cross reference. When you post to your blog, tweet the link to the update. There are plugins on Social Networking sites to automatically do this for you.
8) Get some special guests. Set up your blog so that guests may post, then invite subject experts to post. This can give your readership some added value and keep the content fresh and exciting.
9) Use analytics. Analytics are easy to use and help you to measure the success of your blog posts. They will tell you which posts generated more traffic. Use the results to tailor your future posts.
10) Use suitable keywords. To make your blog easier for the right people to find, make sure you use keywords in your titles and posts that your target market will use to search for the kind of information in your blog.
11) Use metatags. Like keywords, metatags will help your posts be read by the right people. Most major blog platforms give you the option to add metatags to your posts.
12) Practice Clockwatching! It's easy to spend more time on blogging and social media than you intend to. Set yourself a time budget and stick to it.
13) Be yourself. Even with business blogs, a blog is the voice of a person - you. It's important to be yourself and allow your own 'voice' to come through in your writing. People don't read the work of a corporate entity, they want to hear you.
In summary, if you don't have a blog, what are you waiting for? It's an effective marketing tool that's easy and cheap. You never know, you might even enjoy it!
Marsha Egan, CPCU, PCC is CEO of The Egan Group, Inc., a Reading, PA based professional coaching firm. She is a certified workplace productivity coach and professional speaker, specializing in leadership development and can be reached at email@example.com or visit http://www.InboxDetox.com.
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