Blogging for business is commonplace and forms the hub of an effective content marketing campaign, but there are still some people that get it wrong. Your business blog is not the place to put your sales adverts or pitches. Your company may be great, but if all your readers ever see are posts about how great you or your company are, they will soon look elsewhere.
People read blogs for many reasons and as well as finding out about you, readers are looking for reliable information, education and help. They are looking for solutions to problems or advice on new technology or products. Sometimes they are just looking for help in putting a persuasive case for change together to take to their line manager.
If your blog is too sales-focused, people will leave. If you don’t provide enough information about you and your company (allowing people to make a decision about whether you’re reliable), people will leave. It’s all about creating a balance, and here are a few dos and don’ts to get you on the right track:
DO get to know your target audience
Think about what’s interesting and relevant for your readers. What are their challenges or issues? What would help them? The more you know about your target audience the more effective your blog will be. Read your competitor’s blogs and see which posts are popular and get good engagement from their readers. Think about the tone, the topic, and the type of comments they receive, as well as who is commenting. Use them as a research tool, but make sure you stick to your own brand guidelines over tone and appearance etc.
DO comment on other people’s blogs
This is a good way to start building a following or audience. It may even be appropriate to link off to a post of your own, or one you recommend reading, but be careful if doing this – any link must be relevant to the conversation. Make meaningful contributions and stay away from overt sales tactics. You could explain why you (dis)agree, ask a question or give a fresh angle on the topic. Keep relationships friendly, as you could potentially become a guest blogger on non-competitor blogs.
DO use the appropriate social channels
If your target audience has given up with Facebook but is hot on Twitter or LinkedIn, make sure that you are reaching out to them through those channels. You may be tempted to cover all bases and post on all social media, but it will be more effective to concentrate your efforts where they will bear most fruit. Put social sharing buttons on your blog making it easy for your readers to share your blogs. You’ll also be able to see where you gain your shares and so can focus your efforts there.
DON’T forget to plan ahead
You will find that there will be occasions when you have lots of time to write and post. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security and think this will always be the case. Use your time wisely and make a content and editorial plan. Use as much detail as possible and draw up a content calendar showing what should go out and when. Then, when things are quieter and you have some time, use that time wisely. Write posts with content that is not time critical and stock pile them ready for publishing.
DON’T go for the hard sell
People are reading your blog because they are interested in a particular topic or enjoy a specific type of writing. It’s fine to add the odd personal touch or point of view but don’t make the focus how great you or your product or service is. Telling a story about how you solved a problem for a client (case study) is one thing; shouting about how great you were at doing it is something else. Keep the conversation light and accessible, and use catchy headlines to attract people rather than using vague and repetitive phrases like ‘read my latest blog’. Give your readers a chance to air their views and comments and reply to them, acknowledging their opinions even if you don’t share them. If you’re going to let readers comment then you need to engage with them. If you don’t have the time to do this, then it’s probably better not to allow comments at all.
DON’T overdo third party advertising
Some people like to gain advertising revenue from their blogs and that’s fine, but be careful about how much you allow. If people come to your blog and are bombarded with pop ups or flashing Ads, they’ll probably leave. Also be careful about where you allow advertising to appear. I was reading a LinkedIn post the other day that mentioned an associated blog post and contained a link through. Now, the LinkedIn post was of interest, and so I clicked through to the suggested blog link. When I clicked through, immediately below the blog header and title of the post (which was of interest to me) was an Ad for walk in showers – nothing to do with the marketing blog topic I’d clicked on. Was the blog post good? I have no idea. When I was faced with a giant Ad and no readable content linked to the title of the blog I closed the tab and left.
While the main body of your blog shouldn’t focus wholly on you or whatever you are selling (unless it’s a case study of course), it is perfectly acceptable to add a comprehensive call to action at the end. You might want people to visit your website for information or look at an event, product or service. All are relevant, particularly if your post has been about solving a problem that your readers may have. Whatever the call to action is, make sure it fits with the subject matter and isn’t forced or clunky.
On that note, if you want some help or advice about your blog or content marketing, get in touch.