Blogging - everyone else is doing it, should you join the throng?
The answer is probably yes, as this article will explain by answering the most basic questions about blogging. Don’t know what blogging is? Then read on, as we answer...
Wikipedia defines a blog as A blog (a portmanteau of web log) is a website where entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. That’s a very precise definition.
For the layman, it means a rapidly updated website that is a journal over time. A blog is a website that readers want to come back to, to see what has changed, to follow a story or to interact with.
Blogs are easy to update and appeal to the non-technical. They require an investment of time, not money, so they hand the advantage to the underdog. They give a global voice to people and companies that might struggle to find the cash to buy a national newspaper advert.
A blog levels the playing field.
The last sentence of the previous paragraph said “A blog levels the playing field”. This is demonstrably true when you Google for a solution to a well defined problem, you’ll find that amongst the BBC, Yahoo Anwsers and pages of other giant corporations, there are some blog entries right there on the first page of the results.
Of course there are a million blogs that are much further down in the listings, but if your business can meet three of the following four criteria, your business should have a blog:
- Your business is cyclical - from toyshops and Christmas to garden centres to recruitment agencies dealing with the February blues, most businesses are cyclical.
- You get the same questions over and over again - your potential customers are curious. You can bet that the internet-savvy ones have searched for answers first. Either, they don’t trust the results, or they want to hear what you have to say. Both are great opportunities.
- You want to get noticed - there are no shortcuts to business fame, but joining in a global discussion is easy. If your contribution is inciteful, you will get noticed.
- Your marketing budget must stretch a long way - very few things in life are cheap, fast AND good. Try blogging.
The trite answer to this is “everybody, except the marketing department”.
Whilst a blog forms part of your marketing effort, it is much more of a conversation than traditional marketing. It is a means of answering questions from your customers and, more importantly, potential customers. It can show off your products by highlighting unusual ways in which they can be used and real, not perceived, differences compared to competing products.
Many successful company blogs are written by the product engineers, testers and designers. This helps to create a more honest, down-to-earth feel than a bland regurgitation of the same marketing slogans that appear in your other advertising. The marketing department should not be shut out of your blog altogether, since blog posts must not contradict your traditional marketing.
Try getting your marketing department to draw up a list of topics for posts and determine when the post should be published. They should also be involved in measuring the effectiveness of your blog publicity.
If the marketing department is holding a particular initiative - say a competition - then definitely get them involved for cheap easy publicity.
There are lots of places that will host your blog for you, Blogger and Wordpress are both very popular, and of course MMMeeja can help you too.
If your company already has a website, it makes sense to host your blog on the same domain. This will save problems later, since moving blogs can be a lot of hassle.
I’ve mentioned earlier that blogging software is easy to use. What is harder, is to keep up the effort and discipline required to make your voice heard - there are some simple rules of thumb than can help you:
- Assign one staff member to be responsible for the blog, its contents, comments and promotion.
- Post three to five days per week.
- Encourage every staff member to think of ideas for blog posts and let them see them through to fruitiion.
- A successful blog will have its detractors, they may be unhappy customers or even rival businesses trying to make you look bad. Determine a strategy to deal with this before the problem arises - but be honest and open.
- All blogs start slowly - keep going!
- 99% of your readers will just read so commenters may not be representative, find out what they like by analysing your statistics and experimenting. Get a strategy in place to do this from day one.
There is a lot more to learn but you’ll pick it up along the way. That’s the beauty of blogging - experimentation is very, very cheap.
Seriously, start today. Are you chicken?
If you want help starting a blog for your company, contact MMMeeja today.