Business blogs can serve many purposes, including improving search traffic to your primary site and boosting your brand and brand messages. Unfortunately, without sound and consistent execution of good blogging practices, it's highly likely your business blog will just become a shell filled with hopeful expectations. Here are suggestions for making your new business blog effective at capturing your expectations of success, or for making your existing business blog even better.
Make it your own
Mike Volpe, VP Inbound Marketing at HubSpot, points out on the 19th slide in this presentation that the biggest mistake people make when setting up blogs is using free URLs from Blogspot or Typepad. Those URLs are not going to serve your brand very well because they are not your URLs. Get a domain that fits your brand, or, add a blog to your existing website. Once you do that and start posting, all the link love and page rank will be yours.
Plan for success
Make an editorial calendar that shows posting frequency, post titles, and most importantly, who is going to develop each post. Develop is a key term here because a post should always try to be more than just writing; visuals, podcasts, and video need to be planned ahead of time, whether they are sourced elsewhere or prepared in-house. The graphic in Figure A shows one way you can set up an editorial calendar using a spreadsheet program.
Source: Duane Craig
To get a good, tight integration between your blog and your entire social media program, you should plan to make your blog the anchor to all your social media efforts. Your blog is where you can develop depth to your brand's personality and is where people can get a personable story about what you do and what you sell. You should use the blog content to spin-off topical posts to your social media platform pages and timelines. This, too, can be planned ahead by looking at each planned post and listing the spin-off content.
Figure B shows the rest of the editorial calendar shown in Figure A. This section shows how you might incorporate a social media integration plan into your editorial calendar, keeping in mind that all that broadcasting requires potential interaction.
Source: Duane Craig
Take care of the technicalities
You should add social media sharing buttons to your blog and not just on the home page but on each post as well. Where you can, you should have your blog's RSS imported to external social media pages that you maintain.
Your blogging platform will often provide the option of having your post titles and URLs automatically added to your social media timelines/walls as they are posted. There is an abundance of cautions about automatically posting to social platforms, but unless you're posting multiple blog posts every day, the possibility these autoposts will reflect poorly on you are pretty slim.
You should also provide outbound links within your posts to content that adds value to the post. If you've taken the time to research a topic, you probably have several links to related content that can add to credibility and provide more depth of coverage for the reader. Particularly when you quote something from another source, it's a good idea to follow journalistic standards and provide a link to the source of the quote. Don't overlook your own content. You may have white papers, case studies, screencasts, webinars, slides, and other materials you've developed over time that can add value for the visitor.
Make it memorable
Descriptive headlines draw the reader in and can improve search results if also seeded with keywords that describe what the post is about. Using descriptive phrases and words in headlines, subheads, and excerpts brings your posts to life. For instance, instead of using great as an adjective, you should describe what makes the subject great — is it innovative, easy to use, futuristic, enthralling, or visually stunning?
While it takes longer and often requires multiple edits, there is something to be said for writing finely crafted blog posts. Your time and budget are going to dictate if any of your blog posts fit that description, but even if 10% hit the mark, you've made the entire blog that much more memorable. Of all the social media venues, blogs provide the greatest amount of space to develop ideas and concepts and to tell stories. Blogs are not subject to the same truncated displays offered by "timelines" and "walls." When you have a topic that lends itself to being presented as a mystery, try putting it out there that way. If the topic could be analogous to a season, craft it to mimic aspects of that season. For example, think of autumn, with its shortening days and yellow light casting longer and longer shadows. That "feeling" can be appropriately evoked in a post about a company's decision to retire a product or service.
It's true that reading is being increasingly passed over for the visual experience, but when words are fashioned into rich sentences and paragraphs, they will inspire, inform, and spur action, often in surprising ways. Blogs still offer ample opportunities for standing apart from the crowd.
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Duane Craig reports and writes on technology, construction, finance, food, and agriculture. He's been published in trade print magazines, the Washington Post, and widely on the web.