While many small businesses are curious about blogging, few understand
the steps necessary to get a solid effort off the ground. Here's the
steps you should consider to create the perfect blog for your small
business.1 - Pick your writers.
It can be one person or a dozen. Ideally, 2-3 people are a good number so that the workload is more equally distributed. But smaller businesses might find that they only have one or two people that can blog. That's fine, and in that case, pick the person that's passionate about blogging, and that loves connecting with customers, because that's what they'll be doing.2 - Choose your template.
This involves quite a bit of personal preference, but I lean toward the 'clean' look with 2-column layout where the post area is given the most space. The 3-column layout can be tricky to pull off, but if you go for 3-columns, make sure that the column for your post is wider than the other two.3 - Put your business contact information where readers can EASILY find it.
Have your address, your phone number, and email address all where visitors can easily find them. Put the pictures up of ALL of your bloggers, and use pictures of your employees in your posts. 4 - Position your content from the reader's point of view, NOT from yours!
This is the area where many blogging businesses make their first mistake. Consider why a visitor would come to your blog, and what information they might be looking for. Notice that Graco doesn't blog
about its products, it blogs about parenting and toddlers. Homegoods doesn't blog
about its products, it blogs about interior decorating. If you blog for a pet supply store, would a visitor to your blog want to know what your weekly specials are, or how to properly wash their German Shepherd? Think about the information that your visitors would be looking for, and craft your posts with that in mind.
5 - Promptly reply to comments and THANK your readers for commenting!
You want your readers to give you feedback on the content you are creating, because that helps you create BETTER content, and it also gives you valuable feedback from your customers. Which, of course, helps you better market your business and its products and services to your customers! Do everything you can to encourage comments from your readers, and thank those that leave them! 6 - Create a posting schedule.
Shoot for getting up a minimum of 2 new posts every week. 3-4 is better, but you need at least a couple of new posts every week. And try to post them on different days, don't post two new posts on Monday, then fail to post another new post until Friday. Spread your posts out, and when in doubt, post them in the middle of the week, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. This is when blog traffic is usually the highest.
7 - Stalk your readers.
Ok maybe 'stalking' isn't the right term, but the idea is, follow them when they leave your blog. Figure out where you readers are spending their time OFF your blog, and interact with them there. It could mean simply reading THEIR blogs and commenting on THEIR posts. Or it could mean spending some time on Twitter and Plurk. But you have to remember that, not everyone is just waiting to come read your blog. You need to interact with your readers where they spend their time. This will also help expose your blog to new readers!8 - Put NON-company links on your blogroll.
Remember that you want to position your blog, not as a selling tool, but as a RESOURCE for your readers. If you blog for a realtor, you want to point your readers toward other sites and blogs that would help them get information on packing, moving, financing, etc. Doing so helps you create VALUE for your readers, and helps position you as an expert. Which means more of your readers will spread positive word of mouth (mouse) about your blog!
9 - Focus on your customers.
Literally. Post pictures of your customers, let them write a blog post. If they have pictures showing off your products, ask them if they would mind you posting them on your blog. The idea here is, let 'real' people have more input into your blog. We connect with REAL people easier than we do with anonymous businesses. And it also makes your blog more interesting.10 - Add subscriber buttons to your blog.
Go RIGHT NOW and create a Feedburner account, and burn a feed for your blog. Then add subscriber buttons to your blog for Bloglines, Google Reader, and Netvibes, at least. This post will walk you through how to do this
and many of the other ways that Feedburner can benefit your blog. The idea is, you want to give your readers the ability to quickly and easily subscribe to your blog, so that they are assured of receiving new content as you post it.
With these steps, you'll be well on your way to creating a solid blog that will be a tool to help you better connect with your customers, and grow your business!
September 10, 2008
Mack Collier is a social media consultant, trainer and speaker. He has been actively immersed in social media since 2005, and in that time, has helped advise, teach and consult with businesses of all shapes and sizes on how they can better connect with their customers via these amazing tools and sites. While being passionate about the social media space, what truly excites Mack is the human connections that can result from the proper use of these social tools. His motto is "Don't focus on the tools, focus on the connections that the tools help facilitate." His goal is to help his clients create those connections with their customers, and nuture them into relationships that help grow their bottom line.
His social media 'homebase' is The Viral Garden, which in 3 years time Mack has grown into an influential marketing/social media blog with a monthly readership of over 175,000. He is also a frequent contributor to the website Marketing Profs, as well as the marketing blog Daily Fix, and small business blog Search Engine Guide. His writings have been referenced in several mainstream publications and websites, including The Washington Post, MSNBC.com, Ad Age, CNET, and The Boston Globe.
Mack is also a requested speaker and has presented at some of the top social media conferences and events, including South By Southwest Interactive, Marketing Profs Digital Marketing Mixer, and Small Business Marketing Unleashed. He is also passionate about teaching companies how to use social media sites and tools more effectively, and offers training and seminars privately to companies, in addition to his public speaking schedule.
You can learn more information about Mack's social media training and consulting services here. If you need a social media speaker for your event, or want to know where Mack will be speaking next, click here. If you want to email Mack, click here.
Mack wrote this bio. The third-person thingie is just for fun.