5 Tips For Effective Blogging

June 4, 2014 | Armen AkopyanBlog or not to blog

So you’ve decided to start a blog on your company site? That’s a smart decision! Blogging, particularly for small businesses, is a powerful means for connecting with your customers, developing and refining your brand’s unique voice, and testing out different approaches to audience engagement. It’s also one of the simplest methods for consistently adding new, relevant content to your site that makes it stand out to Google as a well-maintained, trustworthy site.

For new bloggers, though, getting this project off the ground can be confusing; there are few things more demoralizing to a would-be blogger than staring blankly at an empty WordPress window wondering where to begin while content by your competitors is trending and being shared far and wide. To help you get started, I’ve put together some simple but fundamental advice. Keep It Current People don’t like being marketed to, and nothing will get you unfollowed faster than an obvious hard sell. Keep your audience informed about new developments and upcoming events related to your brand, but blowing up their feed with the same bland posts just to remind them you exist is the business equivalent of texting someone “Hi” 74 times a day. Your resources are much better spent coming up with new ways to be relevant, like creating a new promotion, getting your brand featured by other outlets, and updating your products and services to address current trends. Providing a steady flow of new, relevant blog content becomes much easier when you’re actively improving and expanding your brand on all fronts. If you can’t write anything new because nothing’s happening, make something happen! Do Your Research The first step of any writing endeavor is the research stage. Your goal in creating blog and social media content for your brand is to become a destination for visitors who enjoy engaging with your content, and convert them to customers/clients based on the trust and enthusiasm you’ve built. One of the best in-roads to destination status is to build a reputation for your company as a great resource on an industry or trending topic. You don’t have to be the leading expert on a subject to offer thoughtful commentary and accurate information, but if you’re new to a particular topic, take the time to read multiple perspectives, check facts, and examine criticism of other writing along those lines. Sensationalist and misinformed messages tend to thrive on the web, and if a piece like this goes viral it can cause severe and lasting damage to a company’s credibility. Your customers don’t know you– there’s no way they can be sure that your honest mistake or careless reposting wasn’t an intentional attempt to mislead.

Visual aids like infographics engage visitors who retain information differently
Interactive visual aids like infographics engage visitors who retain information differently

Don’t Rely On Words Alone I am a writer, and as most writers, really like to read. When I was a kid, I was the classic book nerd who literally walked into walls on the way to class because every spare moment was potential reading time, and as an adult I have lost entire days on Goodreads visiting old friends and plotting my next library expedition. I REALLY like to read. That said, we need to remember that not everyone optimally communicates or receives information plain text form, and failing to consider that when creating marketing content like blogs and social media posts neglects a major portion of your audience. Communication through images, infographics, animations, sound, and video are every bit as valid as the written word, and for many people these other ways of communicating are far more memorable and effective. A blog is about delivering information via text, so writing skills and a strong representative voice are very important– they’re just not all the pieces of the puzzle. Offering blog content that includes strong visuals and interactive features as well as great copy will form the most lasting impression with the greatest number of site visitors. Share Experiences Did you see what I did up there, when I was making my point about writers liking to read? I shared a little bit of information about myself that many people probably relate to.

Relate to visitors on a personal level to build trust and rapport
Relate to visitors on a personal level to build trust and rapport

Those things were true and said with sincerity, but they’re also a great illustration of another tactic for making your blog more successful. People share things that resonate with them personally. It’s understood that in business, one has to spend money to make money, and that same reciprocal principle applies here: to appeal to audiences on a personal level, it’s necessary to open up to them. That’s not to say that your professional blog should be a 24-hour direct feed of your entire inner life (that way lies the screenshotted public meltdown), or even that any one person needs to be the name and face of your brand. The key is to remind them occasionally that a real person is behind the interesting text and pretty pictures. When done with finesse, a personal anecdote that’s within the boundaries of business ettiquette and good taste isn’t out of place in a blog representing a very traditionally corporate brand. The bottom line is that when it comes to blogging and similar types of highly social customer outreach, outing yourself as a human being is never a bad thing. Keep It Fun Again, this element can seem challenging to include in content for a company that requires very formal, professional branding, but as before it’s a simple matter of making that human-to-human connection. Encouraging interaction and feedback is an effective way to make your content consistently interesting and entertaining while adhering to the necessary voice. Prompting readers to respond to open-ended questions (“tell us about”, “what do you think”, “what does this mean to you”, etc) encourages detailed, meaningful replies that build trust in your brand and provide you with valuable feedback about the things that matter most to your customers. If your brand reputation and outreach are decidedly more Milennial in nature, almost anything goes. In those cases, cross-platform promotion is an excellent strategy because it boosts your profile and gains you new followers and interactions across the board. Additionally, taking note of the platforms where your content or prompts didn’t perform as well audiences can highlight weaknesses in your overall marketing plan and alert you to which new trends you should be aware of and which old ones it’s time to retire. When done properly, blog content gives your company’s online reputation and general name recognition a major boost and draws visitors to your main site in search of more great content. As your blog gains followers and becomes a more visible extension of your brand, the customer engagement and feedback gained will become a major influence on how your company evolves and grows. Tell us about your experiences with blogging for your brand! What kind of new connections and discoveries are happening?