Blogging Best Practices
When it comes to blogging for your business, you want to be strategic about what you say in your blog posts and how you say it. Here are six ways to blog for business to help make your company blog an effective communications tool and a supplement to your social media marketing.
1. Speak To a Specific Audience
With any marketing initiative, knowing your audience is key to crafting appropriate and effective messages. Know whom you are trying to reach with your blog, and keep your audience in mind as you plan and write your content. Would your target market appreciate a more formal and authoritative approach or a conversational tone? Would “how-to” posts or narrative storytelling appeal to them – or both?
2. Provide Useful Information
Useful to you and your company may not be useful to anyone else. When you are crafting blog content for a company blog, ask yourself before hitting the Publish button: “Does this information provide value to my customers and readers?” One person may value entertainment while another values statistics while still another is looking for detailed product information.
Value is subjective, but knowing your audience (#1 above) will get you closer to understanding what they want to hear from you. When all else fails, ask your blog readers and your company's customers what they'd find useful in a blog through a survey distributed via email and social media.
3. Vary Your Posts
There are many types of blog posts including Narrative, List, Referencing and Multimedia posts, and there is no reason to stick with just one. Narrative posts that read more like articles and list posts consist of a numbered or bulleted list and are often titled something like “Top 10 Tips for Holiday Gift Giving” or “5 Essential Camping Gear.” Referencing posts are a great way to link to and comment on interesting or relevant articles to leverage other people’s content. Don’t forget visuals including photographs, illustrations and video for multimedia posts. All of your blog posts should contain at least one eye-catching visual.
4. Invite Dialogue
There is no single correct way to blog, however, a good rule to keep in mind is that if you want people to comment on your blog post, invite them to participate in the conversation. Include questions in your blog post to elicit response. If you allow comments on blog posts, you have the option to moderate them meaning every comment must be approved by your blog manager. While having some control over comments is ideal for company websites, this creates additional work so make sure you have the resources to cover blog moderation. The individual who moderates your social networks can also monitor and manage your blog comments.
5. Bring On Other Voices
As a business owner, finding the time and energy as well as the topics to blog can be a challenge. Don't blog in a vacuum, and don't blog alone, especially if the burden of producing so much content is more than you can manage. Invite other bloggers, writers and experts to be guest bloggers on your company blog. Provide specific guidelines for guest bloggers and retain final editing and approval control over the content that is published on your blog. Adding other voices to your blog can bring fresh perspectives, draw in new readers, and lessen your blogging load.
6. Post Follow-Ups and Reference Archived Posts
When appropriate, reference previous posts you have written to draw your readers back into deeper parts of your blog where your content is archived. If a particular post topic proves popular by the number of comments it received in the past, consider a thoughtful follow-up to that post with a link to the original post to keep the momentum going.
7. Add Social Sharing
Your blog should be integrated with your social networks. Leverage the social sharing feature provided by your blog publishing tool, and if it doesn’t automatically offer a way for readers to share your blog posts in social media, find a plug-in or software solution that adds that option. In addition to making it easy for others to share your blog content, regularly publish links to your blog posts as part of your social media marketing. You should be linking to your blog posts, regardless of where they are hosted, from LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, at the very least.
Having a blog can be good for building your company brand, enhancing your professional reputation, and driving traffic to key online destinations such as your main website, online store or even the social networks you’re using. Whatever you decide to publish on your blog, stay consistent with your company's brand style, tone, and overall business goals. Plan out your content in advance based around key company and industry news, events and promotions.