05 Jul Why Am I Doing This? – Blogging for Business
Don’t worry, this isn’t some kind of existential crisis or the beginning of a deep, soul-searching spiritual inquest into why we’re all here and the meaning of life. I’ll save that post for later. What I’ll be exploring in this edition are the advantages and pitfalls of writing a blog for your business.
Blogging used to fill me with a mixture of irritation and slight anxiety. In my mind, it had connotations of self-obsessed people writing endless pages in an online diary about what they had for dinner (this is what Instagram is for)/which My Little Pony is the best/why unicorns are so amazing/why Pele definitely shot JFK. In essence the ravings of the egotistical and eccentric. Apologies to My Little Pony & conspiracy theory fans for the example.
These types of blogs still exist all over the internet and can be a fascinating, and occasionally scary way to procrastinate (whilst researching blogs for your agency’s own blog). Before this post risks becoming an example of what it’s been complaining about, I’ll get to the point.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve all become used to sharing almost every aspect of our lives with an online audience. It arguably started with Myspace and Facebook before progressing to the point where we are now spoiled for choice for options to share our thoughts. Blogging has moved into the mainstream, and more specifically, into the business world.
Types of Blog
If you look at almost any business’ website, there will invariably be a blog section. These blogs normally fall into 3 categories:
1. News about the company
These posts provide updates about the business. It could be promotions, retirements, new hires, recent events hosted, or even new business or equipment. It’s easy to dismiss this as irrelevant and in most cases boring; do you really care that your stationery supplier has hired Gary, a sports science graduate in the sales team? If there was something truly interesting and newsworthy wouldn’t it be in the, you know… news?
Whilst a lot of blog posts in this category fail the ‘so what?’ test, when this type of blog is done well it can be the equivalent of a humble brag on social media. A member of the team has a new qualification? You can bang on about how experienced your team is. Having a Summer/Christmas party? You can talk about what a wonderful year you’ve had and how you’ve grown as a business. As long as you write engagingly, you can use this as a reason to show off how wonderful your business is and how you can help potential clients.
2. Thought Leadership
These posts aim to educate the reader about a topic related to the business, whilst simultaneously showing how knowledgeable the company is in their field, for example, about blogging. They are such experts and the reader will be so impressed with the depth of their understanding that you will be compelled to give them your business.
It’s possible to be an expert and have useful insights into a topic without being classed as a thought leader. We’ve written another blog about thought leadership here. The term thought a leader has become a buzzword/cliche in marketing at the minute. However, there is nothing wrong with sharing information and demonstrate you know your stuff.
3. We’re fun and totally different from our competitors
These posts are normally meant to show that the business has a ‘wacky’ personality in addition to a straight-laced professional side. It normally details summer/Christmas parties or team building activities. Think people awkwardly huddled together, possibly with ties around heads. The aim of these posts is to show that despite being super serious when it comes to working, the company is also relatable and friendly (so you should give them your business).
Regardless of the type of blog that you create, it must have value to the reader. This can be as simple as a chuckle at the razor-sharp wit of the blog post, helping them kill a couple of minutes during lunch, or teaching them something and passing on new skills. As long as the reader doesn’t feel like engaging with your blog was a waste of their time, they are more likely to return to your next edition and maybe even share your content.
Is your blog a secret?
You may craft the most thought-provoking, informative, life-changing blogs, but if you don’t have a plan to promote and share it, there’s no point.
A blog isn’t a stand-alone feature, it needs to be a part of your overall content marketing strategy. This means planning topics that dovetail with the rest of the strategy in a holistic, well-oiled machine for maximum impact.
This integrated approach also means promoting your blog musings using your other marketing channels and platforms. You cannot simply expect your readers to magically appear, sensing the sheer quality of your prose; you have to signpost it. You need to create steps to drive traffic there.
It’s also worth researching third-party platforms to host your content. Obviously, it’s essential they’re appropriate for your content and your intended audience. There are a plethora of blog sites that will accept guest bloggers if your content is up to scratch.
What’s the point?
It may seem like I’ve been fairly negative about blogging so far. The irony of this being on a blog itself isn’t lost on me, don’t worry.
When it’s done well (like this, we hope you agree), blogging can be a great tool for your business. There’s a vast number of sites and blogs that exhort the virtues of blogs. Some go too far, insinuating that all you need is a blog to have a successful business and seem to forget actually having a product or service in the first place. Some selected advantages of getting your content include:
Giving your brand a personality
A blog is an opportunity for you to give the company a tone of voice and inject a bit of personality. If the industry in which your business operates is a bit ‘dry,’ it can inject a bit of life and fun into your brand. As it is drummed into us all on a regular basis, ‘people buy people.’ If you can make your brand seem more friendly and approachable whilst retaining your sense of professionalism and expertise, that can only be good for business.
Moving away from the fluffy world of brand personality, to the hard, black and white world of data. Blogging can be a great way to improve your SEO ranking.
Appearing on multiple sites, with links back to your homepage can only be good for your search results. If you create content that inspires others to discuss/share/steal and put on a different site, that is all good for your brand awareness and exposure.
Blog views are trackable. As everybody loves stats, it always sounds good to say that you have promoted your brand to X hundred (or thousand hopefully) people over the past week. As there are a huge number of free hosting sites, e.g. this one. It really is free promotion.