A corporate blog done well offers a platform to demonstrate thought leadership, showcase your successes and share your views on current industry issues. It also provides a great opportunity to engage with both prospective and existing customers, address their particular trouble spots and offer sound advice.
The value of blogging was highlighted recently in research by HubSpot, which found that businesses who publish a blog receive 55 per cent more traffic to their website than those that don’t. However, the content, tone and style you adopt will influence how effective your blog is as a PR and marketing tool. Here are our ten top tips to help you get the most out of your corporate blog:
1. Get the content right
Informative content is a must as visitors are unlikely to return if you fail to offer them anything of value. First and foremost, you need to remember that a blog is not a sales tool! If you try to sell to someone before you’ve established their trust, you are fighting an uphill battle. Remember, readers are interested in your knowledge and expertise, so think about your audience’s pain points and how you can help to solve them. If you offer credible advice and insight, readers will stop thinking of you as a vendor and will start thinking of you as a trusted resource.
2. Keep it short
Readers will quickly give up if they need to wade through tons of text and scroll down endlessly so try to get your point across in as few a words as possible. If you do find your blog post going over 800 words, then consider breaking it up into two parts. Subheadings, bold text and hyperlinks also help to make content more digestible.
3. Think about the style
A business blog should obviously be professional but that doesn’t mean it has to be stuffy. Make sure you inject some personality into your posts and adopt a conversational tone. At the same time, do approach it as you would any other form of published content and ensure your blog is proofed by at least one other person to avoid any embarrassing mistakes.
4. Invite comments and be open to criticism
Companies are often nervous about opening their blogs to comments from readers, fearing negative feedback. However, blogs are a great opportunity to get a better idea of how your organisation is perceived by the wider market and the benefits of interacting with readers far outweigh any disadvantages (besides, you are allowed to moderate all comments as they come in). Just be sure that if your blog does receive comments, that you respond appropriately, so readers know their input is valued.
5. Promote your blog
Once you start blogging, don’t just assume people will come and find it. You need to actively promote it, so ensure the link is in an obvious place on your home page and your email signatures (it’s surprising how many firms forget to do this), and crucially, disseminate it via all of your social networking channels. Furthermore, registering your blog with sites such as Technorati and submitting posts to bookmarking sites such as Digg, StumbleUpon and Delicious will make it easier for readers to find it, which brings us nicely to our next tip…
6. Get social
Social media is one of the most effective ways of promoting your blog. Including share tools for the major sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter allows readers to quickly and easily post your content and helps drive traffic to your blog. However, it’s just as important to encourage your employees to do the same. All posts should be tweeted, published to relevant LinkedIn Groups and shared via Google+, Facebook and any other social presence you or your employees may have. Moreover, using RSS feeds will also ensure readers are notified every time you publish new content.
Web analytics tools such as Google Analytics enables you to measure the traffic generated by your blog and includes a wealth of additional information such as where referrals are coming from and which posts are generating the most interest. It’s important to use this information to refine the way you blog and keep giving readers what they’re looking for.
8. Don’t forget the headline
Headlines play a critical role in getting people to read on, so obviously they need to grab their attention. However, they are also used by search engines to identify what the post is about so make sure headlines contain keywords and are relevant to the subject of the post.
9. A picture paints a thousand words
Interesting images such as infographics, photos and video content can all help make your blog more compelling but what many people don’t realise is that they can also be a useful SEO tool. Although search engines can’t read or interpret images, adding tags and titles to visuals can help your blog to be found (and use keywords wherever possible).
10. Include a call to action
Again, another element often missed is that each blog post should include a ‘call to action’. This should motivate people to take the next step, whether it is to comment on the post, connect with you on Twitter, or sign-up to your newsletter.