While Twitter, Facebook and other social media have gotten the lion’s share of attention recently when it comes to marketing your small business, an older standby — the blog —- is still important.
Blogs can drive traffic to your site and result in more customers and more sales. You can use blogs to reinforce messages you post on your social media sites, and vice versa. A good blog can set up both you and your business as leaders in your field — some customers may turn to it if they have questions or want more information.
So what makes a good blog? Here are five tips to keep in mind:
1. Show your personality.
Don’t make it a dry series of how-tos or product pitches. Let people get to know you by sharing personal information about yourself. “There’s nothing wrong with dropping the occasional ‘I’ in there,” says marketing expert John Rampton in theHuffington Post.
2. Avoid the hard-sell.
People may not want to sign up for a press-release feed or an endless series of ads. “Most people aren’t interested in your sales messages … They want to know what’s in it for them,” advises Henneke Duistermaat, author of “Blog to Win Business.”
Instead, write for others, not to them. Consider asking customers what they want to read about, plus ask them for their stories. Maybe you sell boats. Have your customers send in pictures of themselves on their boats or stories about their favorite boating adventure. Also don’t ignore customer messages and questions left in your comment section — responding to them helps create a sense of community on your blog and drives loyalty, says About.com blogging expert Susan Gunelius.
3. Integrate your blog messaging with your other social media efforts.
Don’t just repeat word-for-word what you’ve posted elsewhere, but amplify or restate your message (after all, a blog gives you a lot more leeway than other sites do).
Use easily shareable content, like photos or videos, which your readers can spread on their social media networks. Also, suggests Ian Cleary in Social Media Examiner, include “tweetable snippets” — text you’ve worked into your blog that can serve as a standalone tweet, which people can share on Twitter just by clicking on it. It also links back to your blog.
4. Use guest bloggers.
Use guest bloggers so long as they are credible, says Rampton. This helps you also get past the hurdle that longtime bloggers face: coming up with new content and finding time to get your blog written. Face it: it can get tiring, especially if you’re not someone who enjoys writing.
5. Update your blog frequently.
How often? Megan Totka in Small Business Trends says at least once a week is great — otherwise, she warns, “visitors and potential customers forget that your blog exists.”
Totka cites stats from Hubspot showing that companies can double their inbound sales leads by upping blog posts from 3-5 times per month to 6-8 times (in other words, going from about once a week to twice a week). New content is important, not just because it tells Google that your site is fresh and relevant, but because it keeps your blog readers entertained and coming back for more.