Business

Blogs Mean Business

If you own a business with an online presence and you don’t have a blog, you’ve probably just emerged from underneath a rock of some kind.  Blogs are a hugely powerful business communication device and an integral part of your marketing and branding strategy, as well as a common sense way of getting closer to your customers… are you blogging yet?

You’ve probably heard about blogs… the online journal popular with angst ridden teenagers or maverick political journalists.

Blogs have been around for awhile and are part of the Web 2.0 revolution where web content is generated by users, as opposed to the ‘passive consumption’ of websites which are more like watching TV.

Now the blog has evolved past its fad status and come of age to become a must-have communication device for business. Savvy business people have grasped the huge potential of the blog as a way to reach and communicate with, and promote, existing and potential customers. Large corporations even hire writers to blog for their company.

Why Blog?

In a business context, blogs are a great platform for communicating with your customer audience and to recruit new advocates.

Your blog can be utilised for any number of purposes; promoting and showcasing products, for industry comment, as a way to educate customers about new products, to invite customer feedback and questions, drive traffic to your website, highlight your success stories, build your business’ profile as an expert for the media and even used as an intranet for your employees.

The uses for your blog are only limited by your imagination. Ultimately a blog allows you to combine your creativity with web technology for a win-win situation for both you and your customers.

Marketing expert Jeff Bullas says “Your goal in life is to discover what that is, embrace it and share it. Your blog can be the digital platform where it’s revealed.”

Any blog, whether it’s tied to a business or just a place for personal thoughts and ideas, should have a clear point of view and a distinct voice. It can be the platform that helps your customers get to know you better, and understand that your company isn’t just a faceless corporation – it’s got real people with real ideas behind it.

 Why blogs are popular

Blog readers are (according to experts) older, wealthier, web-savvy, online information seekers and they consider bloggers as experts on their blog topics.

Blog readers want to know what’s hot and what’s worth buying and blogs provide them with this information in a unique way. Blogs offer fresh content on a regular basis, they’re written in an approachable first person voice (which welcomes comments), and they provide further information via links to other relevant blogs and websites. Readers can also subscribe to updates of a blog via RSS feeds, like an opt-in e-newsletter without giving away their email address.

For a business, blogs create a dialogue with its customers by inviting comments and feedback.

Blogs are also a way to reach potential new customers. Jesus Manuel of popular online marketing blog Estilo De Vida Web says “Blogging is getting bigger and bigger in Spanish speaking markets, and can be an advantage for business trying to reach a whole new demographic of potential customers.”

Getting started

There are a number of platforms to choose from to create your own blog. Typepad is the widely accepted business platform  with different user levels at varying, yet inexpensive fees. WordPress  is another popular platform and is free and easy to navigate. Or create your blog within a community, which means more traffic and more support and encouragement eg flokka.com – a blog community for women in business.

Each of these sites’ homepages highlight examples of various blogs using their platform and these blog sites are worth visiting for ideas on the potential uses for your own blog.

All blog platforms have lots of features and functionality; the ability for people to post comments to your entries, to upload your profile, categorise and archive content, invite guest authors, link to other blogs and websites, and lots more.

You can even fire your web designer and use your blog site as your website, controlling the look and content yourself, and by pointing your domain name to your blog site. Or include a link on your existing website to your blog.

You can get your blog up and running in minutes, even uploading your own customised banner incorporating your business logo. If you have mastered email, then you can set up and publish a blog – it’s simple, inexpensive and not just for the tech experts.

Successful blogging

The most addictive and popular blogs are passionate, controversial or information rich with content added regularly.

Blogging takes energy and time and like a website needs a clear strategy. Determine the purpose of your blog and then commit to adding posts at least three times a week.

Most important of all, keep your blog lively and interesting – write content yourself, invite staff to contribute or hire a writer. Find your ‘voice’ and your niche through your blog and you’ll attract a keen and loyal audience.

Drive traffic to your blog by reading and commenting on other blogs and forums – be part of their conversation so they can be part of yours. Tell your customers about your blog; include your blog address on your emails, business card and marketing material.

If you want to know more about blogging, search Google for helpful tips – there’s lots of advice out there and blog experts are willing to share their knowledge and what’s worked for them and what hasn’t.

The best advice is… just get started and have fun!

Go blog!