Why Start a Blog for Your Business?
Recently, I sent an email with a link to my (humour) blog to a kind and, I should add, well-educated friend. Several days later, she asked, tentatively, “So this blog…? …can anyone read it?” I responded that it is, indeed, public, anyone can go to it and that it could be accessed by clicking on the graphic . This was met with a slightly baffled look. I’ve encountered that look before. You probably have too.
Yes, you’re a blogger and you know about this stuff, but not everybody does.
So, say you have a friend who may be open to it (why do I suddenly sound like I’m trying to interest someone in a fetish act…?) but doesn’t really get it. Well, this post is for them. Send it along. (You can thank me with money. Or good karma. Yeah, sure, karma’s fine.)
So, what is a blog? Common Craft explains it all for you:
OK, now how do I work this thing? If you don’t feel comfortable starting the blogging process on your own, there is help available. Carol Sill and Isabella J. Mori are the founders of Alphablogs, and they are passionate about what they do, which is teaching people to blog and about blogging.
Carol and Isabella are enthusiastic about coaching people through the process even if that sometimes involves a little hand-holding. They are especially supportive of those with limited technological know-how. “There is no condescension,” emphasizes Carol. “We know how hard it is to be aware of everything.”
How can blogging help a business? Carol: “Often people opt to get a website and it’s not necessarily the best way for them to go.” They might be better served by a having a “dynamic and easy-to-update blog.” And it can be far less expensive. The duo feel that blogs can be advantageous to small/service-oriented businesses and that posting can be just as useful for the 20s-30s set (for which blogging is becoming intrinsic) as for baby boomers, a demographic that is sometimes hesitant and often fearful about the practice.
Isabella believes that “business blogging is an excellent way of acquainting people with your service, expertise and business style.” In fact there are so many choices that the deciding factor for consumers is becoming the “emotional quotient”. People want to feel connected with the company. “It’s about relationships,” says Isabella.
Blogging gives you a real voice, making you more three-dimensional to your clients and prospective clients. Who would you rather hire or work with – a real person or an amorphous entity? Sure, you know you’re a real person, but a stranger doesn’t. Yet.
And blogging, if done properly, can give you that edge. Carol mentions that one of the first things she does upon hearing about a business is to Google them. If the business has a blog that appears in the search, it provides her with the opportunity to gain more insight about the company/person. Think she’s the only one doing that…?
Is anything off-limits? Obviously, some topics are best not blogged about. Remember who your intended audience is: potential clients. That said, it is a personal decision and depends on you and your industry. “What’s important is not so much what you blog about, it’s how you blog about it,” says Isabella. People will focus on your perspective, your voice. So your tone is critical. “No ranting,” she warns.
She also cautions that you need to “be aware of your industry – for instance if you’re a real estate agent, you shouldn’t be negative about any particular community.” True enough. After all, a potential client might want to purchase property in that area and you won’t be the go-to person if you’ve disparaged the place.
What would I write about? Most anything, really. You can post about news items which relate to your business or industry. Or respond to industry-related questions or concerns, perhaps topics you feel your clients might be thinking about. You may read an interesting post on another blog and be compelled to comment about it or the subject. Isabella reminds us: “most of us businesspeople don’t exclusively talk business, especially not with our best clients… [And] it’s the same with blogging, you want to let people into your life at least a little bit. When you can’t think of yet another angle from which to talk about your mortgage brokering business, or when you just feel totally uninspired talking about home insurance – well, then it’s time to share a funny picture of your pet, or tell about that fiasco you had with trying to repair your dishwasher (which, now that you think of it, was actually quite comical).”
What else?: Setting up a blog isn’t the difficult part. Being a “good blogger” means, among other things, writing in your own voice, not being overly promotional and posting regularly. Blogging isn’t easy.
You also have to be open to feedback. If your blog is out there then, inevitably, someone will post a comment disagreeing with you, or possibly write a commentary on their blog referencing what you wrote and the problems they have with it.
You may wish to ignore such input, or turn off the comments feature – but that’s the wrong way to go. Dealing with these situations properly can be quite beneficial. As Isabella remarks: “How you handle such comments will give potential clients a view into your personality and conflict management style.”
It is important to address issues in a way that represents both you and the company. You have to present your best face. This is an opportunity to demonstrate that you can handle difficult situations and comments with grace. (I’ve heard Tod Maffin speak briefly about his “S.W.A.R.M.” theory and I think some of these can also be applied to dealing with post conflicts.)
Keep in mind that everything you say is public – so responding to all comments, be they good or bad, is imperative (and good manners). Thank people for their input, follow up on points made and answer questions posed etc.
Most importantly, know that a blog is there to represent you. “We connect with people who we know are going to stick around, and people who will let us have a glimpse of who they really are,” underscores Isabella. “Blogging is perfect for both. In the end, there is no better branding than just showing who you are, with your little quirks, your likes and dislikes, and bits of your personal story”.
Entry filed under: 1, blogging, marketing - general, Social Marketing, social media, Web 2.0. Tags: Alphablogs, blogging, blogging for business, blogs, Carol Sill, Common Craft, Isabella J. Mori, Monica Hamburg.