The sidebars of your blog are a great chance for you to not only give
readers information they need, but to also shine the spotlight on
them! In Part Four of my 'What Makes a Great Company Blog' series,
I'll look at how superior blogs utilize their sidebars to attract and
grow their audience.
There are three main areas you should concentrate on when crafting your sidebars:
1 - Your contact information and bio
2 - Feed subscription options
3 - Putting the focus on your readers and other bloggers
First, your contact information is a must. I must know who you are and how to contact you. You can even get creative and put this information in the header, check out the header for the Corner Violin Shop's blog
You should also have a picture up of every writer the blog has, as well as either their bio, or a link to their bio. This makes it much easier for us to trust and be comfortable with the writer, if we can see what they look like. Wal-Mart (of all companies) does a great job of this at their Checkout
You also want to make sure you have the standards such as categories, archives, and a search button. But also make sure that you have plenty of options available for letting your readers subscribe to your blog's feed. Also, where you place the subscriber buttons can affect your subscriber totals. If the buttons are placed at the top of your blog's sidebar, you'll likely get more new subscribers than if it's placed at the bottom.
Also make a point to focus on your readers. You can do this in several different ways on your sidebar, perhaps the easiest is to create a blogroll. Sure you can add your company's site to the blogroll, but also highlight the blogs of your readers, as you begin to notice readers commenting, see if they have a blog, and if so, add it to your blogroll! Also, if you discover that certain blogs are popular with your readers, consider adding them as well.
Another way to put the focus on your readers is to add a section highlighting the most recent comments left on your blog. This is a great way to not only put the focus on your readers, but to also encourage them to comment more often, so they will show up on your sidebar!
As with the other elements of your blog, view your sidebars as a way to provide information that your readers are looking for, but also as a way to put attention on them. Consider it a way of saying 'thank you' to your faithful readers by shining the spotlight on them!
Tomorrow I'll conclude the 'What Makes a Great Company Blog' series by looking at some of the best company blogs!
Be sure and read each of the posts in this series:
What Makes a Great Company Blog?
What Makes a Great Company Blog: Posting Schedule
What Makes a Great Company Blog: Comments
What Makes a Great Company Blog: Sidebars
Examples of Great Company Blogs
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.