October 30, 2017

20 best practices for effective business blogging

WHAT IS A BUSINESS BLOG


Simply speaking, a business blog is one that promotes a business. It can be part of the main website, or it can be a standalone blog.

I assume that you already have a website, because no business - except perhaps nomadic or hyper-local trade - can survive without a website these days.

Normal websites are static in the sense that their content does not change too frequently. Even if some part of it is dynamic [e.g. share quotes in an equity investment website] or a part is updated fast [e.g. websites introducing or reviewing new products], the updation is part of the core of website. On the other hand, the blog is there for updating on matters that the website may not do routinely (We'd come to that in the third section).

Business blogging
photo courtesy: Pixabay
The blog is not only an extension of the website but also a platform to engage existing and potential customers. But unlike Facebook and Twitter,  the blog is not a 'quickie' social networking platform. It is of a more permanent value and so it needs a special treatment from the business owner/ firm.
  

WHY MUST BUSINESSES BLOG


Businesses big and small must blog. If you, as a businessman, are not convinced, do read this section. Otherwise jump to the next section.

Without taking time, let me tell the main advantages of a business blog:
  • By its very nature, i.e. because of its fresh content, the blog is better search engine optimized and so can quickly climb to the top of search engine pages.
  • It drives relevant traffic to landing pages. It has been found through studies that websites get significant traffic when they are linked with a well-maintained blog.
  • It is also an additional channel for suggestions and feedback.
  • The bonds built on the blog are of much higher value than those through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • As the blog grows older, its value increases because of growing resources and reputation. You can also re-purpose its content for giveaways.
   

HOW BEST TO DO EFFECTIVE BLOGGING FOR BUSINESS


Let me present a list of 20 best practices for using blog for business functions: engagement and feedback, promotion, brand building and sale.
  1. Give the blog an identity that will enhance the your brand's recall.
  2. Host the blog on a paid host (Don't open the blog on a free website builder/ blogging platform).
  3. Invest a bit of money in buying a professional theme for the blog.
  4. Write information beyond what is given on your main website. Think of having blog pages on the range of products you offer even if these are on the main website; just write these in a more informal style. Give a page on FAQs on your product, use blog to give updates on your new products, and so on.
  5. Give a variety of useful information: on your product, on industry, on how to solve problems or create things by using your product, other useful information that is not directly related to your product. Sometimes even give away your secrets. Well, these won't be your business secrets or patented tech, just helpful bits of info deep into your area.
  6. Have the content tagged to different categories and link each category with a menu on a well-laced menu bar on the blog.
  7. Announce new products, talk about discounts and seasonal sale, share if you have opened a new branch office... but do not indulge in vulgar promotion. Try to give detailed information rather than asking for a buy. People don't like to be fooled; so, if you are itching to promote your product on the blog, be open about it. A good practice is to write an informative article and at its bottom give links to other relevant content, including a promotional/ landing page.
  8. Whenever you write a post on the blog and whenever you want to refer to a blog post for detailed information, don't forget to give a link on your social networking entities. Link relevant posts, but avoid too much internal linking, especially deliberate and artificial looking links with the landing page.
  9. Write posts regularly on the blog. It has been found that the traffic on business blogs grows proportional to frequency of posting up to 2-3 posts a week.  
  10. Make a regular schedule of posting. Reinforce the regularity with subtle sign-off announcements such as this: We will meet next Sunday with discussion on... 
  11. Have a comment box at the end of posts, and respond to each comment. Thank people who give useful information/ feedback or endorse your product.
  12. When you get an angry response, ask publicly how you could help and what might have gone wrong. Offer help, e.g. by giving phone number, and suggesting other ways of grievance redressal. When you get an abusive comment, write back politely, but don't engage in abuses. If needed, remove the comment and make public that you removed the comment as it could not be shared publicly. Do not malign, threaten or expose the abuser, unless required for legal or such other reasons.
  13. Think of using the blog to seek experiences. When you get personal stories from users, share them on the blog.
  14. It helps if you have a public face to write on the blog, rather than the firm's name or your designation.
  15. Use in first and second person ('I' and 'You'), to make a bond with the visitors.
  16. Have an opt-in form to get subscription to the blog. E-mail subscribers are a very prized audience for any blog.
  17. Don't think of the blog as a social networking platform. Write much more valuable content on the blog than what you'd write on Facebook, Instagram, Google Plus or Twitter. Reserve Twitter etc for networking, quick updates and answering queries.
  18. If you are a medium or big sized firm, you can use the blog as house magazine. Encourage staff to write on the blog, and reward them for it.
  19. Once the blog has enough resources, you can bind them into e-books and offer them as free giveaways for subscribing to the blog.
  20. Do a bit of ethical SEO so that your blog comes on top of search results for your type of products or services. 
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