What a weird word, but, oh, how it crept into mainstream marketing and business vernacular. Blogs seem to be boundlessly popular and somewhat simple to maintain, but why should your business do it? Why spend your time maintaining an editorial calendar, writing mini essays, monitoring comments, and responding to your audience? Why is a blog so important? Why does everyone, from bird-watching enthusiasts to Hewlett-Packard, embrace the power of the blog?
I’ll tell you why: It is a soapbox– a platform– allowing you to pontificate on your passions. It is the perfect complement to a social, “web 2.0” world. A good blog is honest, informative, and enlightening. It is the epitome of push marketing. You generate content based on your insights and expertise and then put it out there for people interested in what you say to find, discuss, and share.
Creating a body of work that examines your industry, discusses best practices, and highlights hot topics like case studies begets for your business a position of thought leadership. Thought leadership establishes you as a forerunner in your sphere as it pertains to your services, products, and the insight your experience gives you. The more informative and well written your posts are, the more likely they are to speak to people searching for answers. This can easily lead to a perception of expertise that gets your thoughts shared on social channels and your perceptions sought by others on the lookout for an experienced voice. This esteemed perception will do great things for your business, as demand for your voice grows.
A blog qualifies as social media because it can serve as a form of communication as well as a marketing and public relations tool. Your posts can generate buzz and create conversations around topics that, in turn, gives you tremendous insight into your audience and the perceptions of your industry, business, and products. These insights can help you shape your business to meet the needs of the public or simply give you more fodder to develop ideas and stories for your blog. Like social, it offers a level of transparency for your company, allowing users to see beyond the logo and into the minds and hearts of your business through posts by the owner, CEO, managers or other internal specialists. It lends a touch of humanity to your business especially with direct messages that address crisis management by creating a two-way conversation with readers.
One of the strongest assets of a blog, when it is used strategically, is search engine optimization. Whether it is part of your website or a stand-alone component, every article or post builds keyword-rich content about what you do, gives you a platform to explain your business, and provides an excellent opportunity to further develop your linking strategy. Mentions of products in an article can link to product descriptions and the e-commerce portion of your site. Talking about services and clients can link to case studies or demonstrations of your portfolio page. If you are business-to-business, a blog can also allow you to reward clients by talking about their business or projects and link to them. In return, they may link to you.
Blogs provide a space for you to include contextually relevant ads. This is great because people may find an article by searching a certain subject. While your post informs them and showcases your extensive knowledge, an ad that describes the service mentioned in the post can drive that user towards a conversion for you. If you are Mushnik’s Flower Shop running The Little Blog of Flowers, and you build an informative article about The History of Wedding Flowers or Top 10 Most Overlooked Wedding Flowers, you can utilize that space for an ad. A nicely designed ad with the call-to-action, “Looking for Wedding Flowers?” and a phone number that sits on the page’s side bar that links to your wedding package page when clicked is an excellent way to leverage a digital channel.
It’s very common for a business website to stay static for long periods without adding content, but a blog allows you to build new and relevant content on a continuous basis. This content can be augmented with video, audio, and images— all of which contribute to a strong SEO mix. Beyond being another portal to your site and business, a blog is also another way to draw interest and drive readers to your social channels through strategically placed social badges (the little icons for Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter and more that serve as links to those pages). Engaging articles also have a viral quality if you add “Like,” “Share,” “+1,” or “Tweet” functionality to your posts.
Blogs can be fun and really tap into your writer/creative side. At this point, it is almost a must, as more and more people turn to the web to research everything from dentists and mechanics to camping equipment and vacation spots.