Years ago, country music artist Barbara Mandrell recorded the song, “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.”
Well, years ago, I started blogging before it became a business phenomenon. It was my way of sharing thoughts about online marketing from a first-person perspective. As a result, I gained some recognition as a “thought leader” and trusted resource.
With the advent of social media, blogging took a back seat and ceased to be “cool.” People became enamored with sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. After all, it was much easier to post a Facebook status update or 140-character “tweet” than it was to take time to compose a full-length blog post.
Thanks to changes in Google’s algorithm over the past couple of years, famously known as Panda and Penguin, which gives greater weight to original content, blogging is back with a vengeance!
A study conducted earlier this year by Social Media Examiner, which surveyed 3000 marketing professionals, found that the social media platform they wanted to master most was not Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. Some 62% of survey respondents said blogging was number one. The old is new again!
“The power of blogging to reach huge audiences and prospective customers cannot be underestimated. If you want your voice to be heard on the social web, you need to have a blog,” stated Social Media Examiner.
7 Blogging Benefits
I can think of no less than 7 benefits blogging can provide marketers.
1. Search Engine Marketing
I believe that frequently-updated, keyword-optimized, thematically-relevant blog will equate to better returns on Google.
The reasons are four-fold: Blogs are primarily text-based, contain search engine friendly HTML code, tend to get crawled by the Google spider more quickly and bloggers are natural link builders. (In the earliest iteration – circa 1997 – blog posts were little more than lists of links to other resources.)
The changes in Google’s algorithm make blogging an even more crucial part of your online marketing strategy.
2. Direct Communications
Blogs enable businesses to bypass media gatekeepers and reach their customers, prospects and industry colleagues directly.
3. Brand Building
Blogs connects the reader with the brand in a personal way. As one person put it, “A blog is like an ongoing tour with a guide that you get to know.”
According to Steve Yoder, author of “Get Slightly Famous,” blogs allow you to:
- Differentiate yourself from the competition;
- Position your focused message in the hearts and minds of your target customers;
- Deliver your message clearly and quickly;
- Project credibility;
- Strike an emotional chord;
- Create strong customer loyalty.
There is a major shift away from brand building through the use of broadcast media to one that focuses on telling the brand’s story in a uniquely personal way. It’s a shift from “push” to “pull,” which is often referred to as “inbound marketing.”
By sharing your expertise, insights and ideas, blogs can help set you apart from the competition and build credibility, which leads to enhanced trust.
4. Media and Public Relations
Blogs can help get the media’s attention, which means they call you, not your competition.
5. Exploit Marketable Niches
Blogs are niche market penetration tools. Use them to target a single topic that’s relevant to your business or industry. For many industries, especially B2B, chances are good that you’ll be first to market – and being a first mover has its advantages.
6. Lead Generation
When combined with effective calls to action, blogs can help your business generate leads (and sales).
I don’t mean that you should turn your blog posts into glorified advertorials; it’s best to keep content editorially-focused. But you can surround the blog with CTAs much the way that Hootsuite, the social media management tool, does with its blog.
Hootsuite places calls to action in the right-hand sidebar that encourages readers to try its product (note the area highlighted with the red border).
Calls to action could include such things as newsletter subscriptions, ebook or white paper downloads, company contact information or links to other sections of the website.
For example, Bizzuka includes a sidebar call to action that promotes our free website assessment.
Another way to incorporate calls to action is by linking to different sections of your website within the post. This can lead to more time spent on the site and increases the chance that an action will be taken.
7. Promote Internal Communications
Blogs aren’t limited to external marketing communication; they can also be used behind the firewall as a “social intranet.” In fact, that’s exactly what we do here at Bizzuka.
Blogs make it easy to facilitate conversations among employees and get feedback on matters of concern to the company. It helps “flatten” the organizational structure and gives everyone a voice.
Business Blogging Questions
One question that almost always arises when it comes to the use of blogs is, “What do I write about?” It’s a fair question. Here are 10 ideas to help you get started. Write about:
- What you know – your “sweet spot”;
- What interests you and what you’re passionate about;
- Industry trends and breaking news;
- Customer case studies and testimonials;
- Interviews with industry leaders;
- Industry research data;
- Products and services;
- Lists – “Top 10, 5 Ways, 6 Trends, etc.” (people love these)
- Product reviews;
- Links to other articles and posts (we call that content curation).
The main thing is to focus on giving your readers helpful information that addresses their concerns, answers their questions and solves their problems. Do that, and you’ll become a blogging rockstar!
Another question is: “How often should I blog?”
My answer: As often as time allows. The more you post, the better, so far as Google is concerned. But if it comes down to a matter of quality versus quantity, I’d opt for quality any day.
Set a goal of writing a 350-500 word post once a week. If you can post more often, that’s great too.
I like what Brian Solis, a well-known public relations expert, author and long-time blogger said about the value of business blogging:
“After much personal research and experience, I’ve found that a genuine, helpful, humanized blog, combined with the art of cultivating and building relationships, can forge real connections, shape perception, improve customer service, and enhance brand loyalty, reach and resonance.”
Blogs provide a way to positively affect search engine returns, influence customer opinion and increase lead generation. So, what’s holding you back? Consider starting a blog for your business today.