Business owners today might face some challenges when it comes to blogging.
Whether you write your own blog posts or hire a copywriter to create them for you, there is a time and money investment. Every minute you spend writing is time you aren’t spending in your business. And depending on your comfort level with writing and grammar, it may be cheaper, in the long run, to hire a writer.
Blogging is definitely worth the investment. Original online content is extremely valuable in building your brand and your digital footprint. Fortunately, once you completely commit to blogging, creating shareable content ensures marketing dividends over and over for years.
Today I’ll cover some blogging basics, and then I’ll get into some specific tips that will help old and new bloggers to overcome writer’s block and create engaging content readers will love to share on Facebook.
Let’s set the marketing stage to put things into perspective. When someone has a problem, chances are high they will search Google for a solution. Interruption marketing (ads) will strike out at them at every turn with pop-up ads and search engine ads. After disregarding the blatant marketing, they’ll look for genuine, non-corporate sounding information from people who have real experience.
Blogging can be that voice of experience! A business owner or brand with an online voice can set themselves apart from all the corporate shills hawking sales messages and calling it “information.”
Blogging isn’t journalism. Your opinion and viewpoints matter.
There are probably a lot of journalists who blog, but not all bloggers are journalists. Don’t think that because you’re blogging that you’re a journalist. A blogger is a regular person who expresses their viewpoint, experience, and opinions by using an online format called (originally) a “web log.” As in Internet log, or blog for short. It’s about being a resource in an area your business has expertise.
Journalists are required to present both sides of a story. Bloggers don’t have that requirement. The point here isn’t that one is better than the other. The point is they aren’t the same. Why is that important?
Blogs can be a genuine and authentic voice.
Telling it how it is, based on experience, sprinkled with common sense and a dash of viewpoint is a great recipe for blogging success. In Google, searchers seek clarity and insight on the problem they need to be solved.
Get ahead of 90% of the competition.
Only 10% of companies blog with the consistency of a clock. Everyone else blogs “when they have time” or when something momentous happens in their business. Blogs with occasional new content get occasionally indexed by search engines.
When content is consistently posted, the Search Engines visit a site consistently to index the content. To get ahead of 90% of the competition, all you have to do is provide great content on a blog on a consistent basis!
Never used a blog before? It’s not that complex. If you can use Microsoft Word, you can blog. There are a lot of great blogging platforms, but sites built with WordPress are created with SEO (search engine optimization) in mind.
Why Facebook is an Important Channel
“Everyone knows” referrals are the best form of marketing. Facebook puts the power of referrals from friends and family in easy reach with their Like and Share buttons.
Valuable, problem-solving content (without marketing messages) tends to get spread by willing and appreciative fans. One piece of content, well-written, can give a company unlimited mileage online. To be shared on Facebook, blog posts need to be “shareable.”
What is Shareable Content?
There are 2 types of shareable content.
- Content with share buttons or other means to be shared by others.
- Content so good, people actually share it over and over.
There’s no getting around it: Excellent content in blog posts is a must. So how do we create excellent content? Easy. Stop talking, and start listening. Everything a business owner needs to hear is probably already online.
Following is a three-step process for creating content:
- Monitor other blogs in your industry to learn what works for readers
Understand the potential customer’s viewpoints. There is an abundance of information already online on other blogs. Take the time to read what customers in the same industry are already saying.
In addition to using Google Search, Twitter is a wealth of real-time conversations, on and off blogs. To investigate blogs only, try BlogSearchEngine or Alltop’s “magazine rack” tool (Myalltop) to keep a permanent collection of blogs on hand.
Maintaining a window into the opinions of past and potential customers will help with the content creation process, stimulating ideas and giving a sense of direction.
- Create Conversations
Fortunately, creating content isn’t all up to a single person. Employees can be an excellent individual voice within a company blog. While participation guidelines can be important (i.e.., don’t bash the competition, etc.), letting employees share their experiences can be a huge boon to an online presence. For example, a camping equipment manufacturer probably has camping enthusiasts as employees. Let them blog about their favorite camping spots, mishaps and adventures and related content. No marketing message necessary.
Another way to create a conversation, outside of your own blog, is to create interesting experiences and events and invite bloggers to participate. Create the right experience and bloggers with huge audiences essentially refer you by telling the story of their experience. Examples could be a pre-grand opening or pre-product release. Give bloggers VIP treatment, early access and make it easy for them to get online and tell their story right on location.
Tell a good story, and sometimes other bloggers will pick it up and give it a boost. Fine artist Erin Hanson experienced this when art & design blogger Christopher Jobson posted a number of Erin’s stunning pieces on his Colossal blog (along with a brief bio). Erin had a massive spike in visits, along with the sale of an art piece worth thousands of dollars. Just another day for Mr. Jobson, but a profitable day for Ms. Hanson, considering she didn’t pay for the exposure.
Bloggers need content. Invite them in, and make it easy for them to take it.
- Creating content
A great rule of thumb to follow in creating blog content others will share is … write about what interests you. For the most part, forget about the corporate message, sales, etc. Marketing messages are everywhere. Real connections in life are rare. Be that connection. This CAN work on a business blog. People are attracted to true perspective and not just slick words.
Asking an audience what they want to know let’s your audience know you’re listening to them. Use online survey tools or email current customers and ask for input. They’ll feel honored to be asked for their opinion, and likely give some great ideas for content. Take it a step further and acknowledge their contributions in the blog – then watch your clients share the content even more.
Keep an eye out for content related to the next holiday, or note current trends that might be of interest to potential customers. Timely content is also always of interest to other bloggers, not just customers.
Visual elements help break up content and increase sharing – a well placed, striking photo or intriguing video can double the reach of a blog post, especially on Facebook.
To wrap up, proper preparation prevents poor performance. Knowing an audience, asking questions and keeping an eye out for content opportunities will give you everything you need to create great content. Content that will be shared on Facebook and all over social media.