It’s 2013 and large scale blogging is more than a decade old. It was 10 years ago that Blogger was acquired by Google. The people embraced blogging quickly. Businesses needed a few years to get accustomed to the idea.
By now it’s obvious though that having a store-front on the Web aka your website and a billboard on Facebook is not enough to generate the kind of business you want.
Of course you can go the strict SEO route but then you end up competing with others for the dwindling number of searchers who still use generic key phrases to find a business. Most people know by now what they want and where they get it. People want a book? They go to Amazon. People want to look something up, they go to Wikipedia. People want to socialize, they go to Facebook. Where are you in this equation?
Even in case people use search, they might “search” for Facebook, or simply click on the #1 search result for a given book which in most cases is of course Amazon. By now they won’t probably have to click through to Wikipedia to read a definition.
The Web interface between you and the people is the blog. On it people can do window shopping to find out more about you and your products without being really interested in them yet.
Businesses that don’t have blogs rely on third parties like Google or Facebook to make their offerings visible on the Web.
These people will stick to Google and Facebook though. They won’t return regularly to you just because they clicked a search result once or they “liked” your fan-page in exchange for a give away or something.
A blog is tailor-made to make your users stick. Call it customer retention or social CRM if you like. They come once and then they come back for more. Once they need a service or product like yours they remember you and buy but most likely they will share your articles and tell others about you long before that happens. Sadly most businesses don’t understand that. They may start a blog in the technical sense of it but then they fail to make one time visitors come back.
It’s NOT Blogging About Your Business
Who in their right mind would want to read every week or let alone day about your business?
- Your employees? Nah, they want some leisure after work.
- Your wife? No, she’s probably bored with all the talk about your business already.
- Your customers? No, they want to buy and use your product, not to read about it daily.
- Search users searching for your product? Well, some of them, but most of them won’t. Only those who don’t know enough about you yet.
Whose left? Not many people. A business blog is not a place for dumping regular press releases. You can mention what you are doing from time to time but make sure it’s not the sole, most important or even prevalent topic of your blog.
It’s NOT Blogging to Generate Business (at Least Directly)
A blog article is NOT a landing page. Of course every page is a landing page but not a landing page in the strict sense of a page being optimized for conversions. You can sell on a blog or generate leads, but it’s more a side-effect. A blog is not a sales channel.
- So how is blogging for business meant to work?
- Why is it called business blogging at all?
Also you are probably in the business of selling your products and services and not in the business of blogging, aren’t you?
A blog is meant to generate awareness about you and your brand. It’s best used as a tool to establish authority and make people trust you.
Popular blogs like Problogger or Social Media Examiner are business blogs that made the business of blogging itself work for them. They sell advice on how to blog. That’s just one version of business blogging, the hardest one. It’s by far easier to add a blog to an existing business and make the blog ultimately sell more of your products or services. It’s just not as straightforward as you might like.
So you don’t sell on the blog you
A site that only sells, like an ecommerce shop for example will logically have mostly people visit them who want to buy something there. So the exposure will be quite limited. Even the people who actually want the product or service you offer do not want it necessarily from you.
Why would you buy from a stranger? People know they can trust Amazon, Walmart etc. Who are you in the first place?
People reading your blog get to know you and your business. They can see your values and decide whether they like them. As the content you publish on the blog is adding value by itself they not only recognize you they also tie your brand to value they get. So you get exposure to people who not yet seek your offerings but might in the future.
It’s difficult to define a blog. How does it differ from an old school website? Sure it does get updated regularly in the ideal case. The newest posts are on top. It reflects a subjective opinion etc. One of the most important features of the blog is the comment section. By now many blogs turn off comments. Comments are the easiest and most accepted way to connect with your audience. Even people complaining in the comments are better than no readers or silent lurkers.
In the worst case people who have no place to complain on your site will do elsewhere on social media.
In contrast people you really reply to in the comments and in the best case solve the problem they bring to your attention will have a positive connection with you from now on and will recommend you in the future. Why? It’s beacuse you showed them you care. Moreover other people see that you care once there is an issue and are less afraid to spend money on your site.
So now that you have written something on your blog and people commented they might further engage with you or the blog itself.
- For example they might decide to discuss your features and ask for more.
- They might inform you about minor bugs or issues.
- They mights suggest new markets even.
You realize that this is more than just complaining. A blog is a good starting point for such engagement. A feedback community like Get Satisfaction might be the logical second step to use the wisdom of crowds to improve your business.
Engaging in the conversation is not a cliché.
In case you refuse to talk to the people who care enough about you to ask you something you will make enemies. The same people could become your greatest allies once you show your appreciation, offer a refund or simply suggest a quick DIY fix.
Get Shares & Links
Once you have convinced the people that you rock they will tell their friends online. They will spread the word for you. They will show off your product and explain how satisfied they are. Or they will simply share your content as long as it’s helpful. They will return for more and may even link to you in a perfectly organic way. Yeah, that’s SEO! You get links from people you made happy. So provide hands on advice, inspiration, resources and the people will “make your content travel”.
Nourish Brand Evangelists
A great piece of content, like an infographic, will get a ton of shares and links when you are lucky. A blog by itself can’t compete with that. So does it mean that you rather need to invest money in high profile content creation instead of sheer blogging?
Well, blogging is about being there more than once. An infographic gets shared once and then the people forget about you. A blog is a place to come back regularly.
Ideally you get regular visitors who also like and trust and share your content more than once. People who repeatedly support your company are called brand evangelists.
You have to literally nourish such visitors. Find out what they like and offer more of that type of content in the future. Follow up on the same topic. Update your old posts with new developments. Cover similar topics again and again. Simply repeat what has worked with your audience.
* Creative Commons image by Tim Parkinson