I'm noticing recently that a lot of business/company blogs are very stale and boring.  Here's some simple ways you can add flair and personality to your blog.

FlickrBadge.jpgAdd a Flickr Badge: Have pics on Flickr?  Then why not display them on your blog?  A Flickr badge serves up your pics on your blog, and is a great way to make your blog more visually interesting.  For example, I attended a conference last week and took a few pictures, which are now rotating on my blog's Flickr badge.  If anyone reads my blog and sees a pic of them showing up on the badge, they'd think that was pretty cool, wouldn't they?

Add a picture of yourself:  Yes I know that many of you think this doesn't matter.  Trust me, it does.  Put up a picture so that we can see what the REAL person that writes this blog looks like!

Add the perfect picture to your post using Flickr:  One of the biggest complaints I hear from bloggers is that they can't find the right picture for their blog post.  Just search here, and you can find all the Flickr images that are free to post on your blog.  Just make sure that you add a link to the person's Flickr profile to give them credit for the image!

MyBlogLogBadge.jpgShow off your blog's readers:  A great way to do this is with a MyBlogLog widget.  This shows you the pictures of the readers that are visiting your blog!  I love this because it makes the blog more interesting for your readers, because we all like seeing our picture on another blog, right?

Add a poll to your blog:  Another way to make your blog more interesting and visually appealing, is to add a poll!  This is a great way to get your readers involved, and it can help you tailor your blog's content, based on the feedback you get from your readers!  Vizu is a site that lets you add free polls to your blog.


So start thinking about ways that you can spice up your blog, and add some personality!  Or are you using some other ways to make your blog more exciting?  Share your tips in the comments!  

October 30, 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.






Comments(17)

How is that supposed to make a blog more interesting? In the end it's the content that counts - not the surroundings. Not to mention that feed subscribers won't ever see the pictures and stuff.

"How is that supposed to make a blog more interesting?"

Because humans are visual creatures, purdy pictures are preferable to most over blank white spaces.

Content is extremely important, but good content is the START, not the ending.

Great article. But 2nd sent should read, "Here ARE some simple ..."

I don't like tweeting posts w/ grammar errors. :)

Annie

I'd have to say it's a mix of both RST and your views on this one.

While Flickr can add a bit of pizazz to a blog, it's not always a suitable option. A Flickr widget would just seem out of place on many corporate blogs, for example.

Great content does have a lot more sway than pictures or images - yes, a visual appeal will always hook a new visitor initially, but if the content backing it up is poor or uninteresting, that visitor won't be back.

Too many ads also put me off, but that's just a personal opinion. :)

Personally I find 90% of widgets unprofessional looking, and without great care being taken they can really clutter up the place.

Danny and Toby, you say that widgets would seem out of place and look 'unprofessional' on a corporate blog. But do you think they would look out of place to YOU, or to your READERS? Because this is the thing, we ALWAYS have to look at our blog through the eyes of our readers. Believe it or not, but many readers WANT to see pictures of the bloggers that write for the blogs that they read. They WANT to see pictures of other readers when they arrive.

This isn't about making a blog that's 'consistent with corporate messaging' because that is boooorrrrrringgggg. You have to blog in the same way that your readers do, and for the same reasons. Which means a lot of times you will blog about stuff that has exactly ZIP to do with your company and 'selling more stuff'. But you know what? It's this stuff that helps your readers connect with you, and it makes you more INTERESTING to them.

Then when you come back next week and share some company news, they will be more likely to LISTEN. Content is great, but it's more important to find a way to connect with your readers via your blog. Content is a big part of this, but it's hardly the whole ball of wax.

I think the point is that many people are attracted by the visual elements of the blog. Beyond the content, which is critical, for many people, look and feel are an important differentiator. So is the personal connection - which is acheived through pictures and the ability to interact. As a person who frequent blogs, I many times find that people over visualize their site which distracts from the content, however I find the use of some widgets can enhance the experience.

- John
www.sbimonline.com

When looking for a company to do business with, I always read their recent press releases. If they haven't put one up in a while, I figure they aren't progressing much as a company. As for the blog, it's so simple to post things, it had better not be neglected.

BallparkBob

As with any social media, it has to depend on what your clients and readers want. You have to be pretty egotistical to think that a potential client devoting 30 seconds to skimming your whole web presence is going to be impressed by your Flickr gallery, your Last.fm playlist, or reader mugshots. Show them what you can do for their business to help them grow, expand, and make money. Don't show them a picture you took in the park.

Heather thanks so much for your comment, because that's exactly what I hear from businesses and companies that are curious about blogging. "Why would anyone want to see pictures of us?" But your READERS do. I'm not talking about people that landed on your blog via a Google search, I'm talking about the people that read your blog regularly. I know, because I connect and talk with them everyday. They do indeed want to see what your employees and you look like, they want to know what you do at work. We WANT to connect with people. Customers don't have relationships with companies, they have relationships with people.

Is it the only aspect of a successful blog? Of course not. But when I arrive here and see a picture of Jennifer and Sage next to their posts, when I see pictures of them at conferences, and speaking to attendees, it makes it easier to connect with them, and to ultimately trust them.

Mack, you seem to be confusing blog readers - social networks, in other words - with paying customers. Very, very rarely are the two the same. You can see what employees look like and do using basic company web sites. Yes, people want to see pictures and brief bios of the people they are buying from, but they don't necessarily want to read their ongoing life stories or see pictures of their latest booze binge. Social media blurs the line between our personal and professional lives, and very few small businesses have got the balance right. A readers gallery will not keep the customers coming in to your local shop. Tweeting doesn't prevent you from having to lay off staff.

Heather if you have a properly positioned blog that resonates with its readers, many of those readers will indeed be paying customers. I'm not saying that a company should turn its blog into its MySpace profile page. I am saying that a company SHOULD put up pictures of their bloggers and employees. And Flickr badges take minutes to set up and readers and customers DO appreciate these.

Is social media a savior for a bad business plan? Of course not, let's not be absurd. But it doesn't make much sense to write off or downplay the significance of these tools. They are incredibly ways to reach and connect with your customers, when properly positioned.

Hey Mack,
You have some pretty differing opinions going on here, great stuff. For us, with a small boutique apartment management business, great pictures of our buildings and units certainly helped set us apart from our counterparts, however once we added pictures of residents, and then pictures of residents at parties, pictures of residents pets, etc, the web traffic skyrocketed. We added a whole new space, a virtual "lobby" that has become a resident Meet and Greet, where they can exchange pictures, video, etc. We have a great flickr page, and we are also building a community there too, as well as with You Tube. The pictures emulate a Lifestyle, so as opposed to renting an apartment, which can be and usually is a commodity, we are selling a Lifestyle.

Introducing pictures and video of residents, their pets and their videos have enabled us to Engage and Entertain, and has been a powerful means to help us Break From Apartment Commodity

Mack,

As usual - great stuff. Could not agree with you more. Part of the "differing" opinions here comes down to understanding the differences between a corporate and personal blog. I do not believe in any way you are talking about combining the too. "Customers have relationships with people" You are talking about humanizing the blogs and making the experience more connected, more personal, more inviting. When you come into a physical store and you know the person behind the counter and you connect with them, you are more likely to come back. When you go into a restaurant or bar, and everyone knows your name (Norm!), you are likely to come back.

With lots of choice, making sure that you are providing a way to engage and connect is very important. Making sure you are providing easy ways to connect be it comments, email, chat and RESPONDING all go along with that.

I truly believe that the purpose of the corporate blog is paramount. I had a client that allowed reviews on their site but only published first names and the reviewer's city. It was impossible to know if the reviewer was 75 and a couch potato or 35 and active married, single etc and their wisdom came from "my" crowd. The photos make it real and more meaningful. What did pen pals do in the old days. They sent a photo at some point so people could see who they were connecting with. If I knew how to add a small photo to my comment, I would :-)

Best,
Gary

Eric it's been exciting to see how you are leveraging social media to grow Urbane Apartments. This reminds me of the story I once heard about a newspaper (I think in North Carolina) that only writes about hyperlocal stories, and makes a point to involve as many local residents in their stories. As a result, sales skyrocketed, because the residents of the area wanted to read about their friends and family being mentioned in the paper.

Same thing you are doing, you are focusing on your residents, and that not only makes your efforts more interesting to your current residents (and gives them an incentive to promote your apartments to others), but it also makes your apartments more interesting to POTENTIAL residents, because they see how much fun your current residents are having, and they see that you are using social media tools to reach out to them. Which are the tools that they are comfortable and familiar with.

And I love this quote: "The pictures emulate a Lifestyle, so as opposed to renting an apartment, which can be and usually is a commodity, we are selling a Lifestyle."

Love it!

"You are talking about humanizing the blogs and making the experience more connected, more personal, more inviting."

You nailed the point I was trying to make, Gary. The vast majority of corporate websites are fall in the floor boring. And many companies see their blog as being a second website, and position their blog as being a self-promotional tool with little/no life. So the blog becomes just as boring as the website.

Adding some personality makes it easier for readers to connect with the bloggers, and by extension, the company. Which means readership grows, online awareness grows, positive online mentions grow.

I think the benefits to the business are clear. Now I am not abdicating that a company stop having a good business plan in place, and only worry about blogging and tweeting, not sure how I got some signals crossed on that. But I am saying that IF a company is blogging and active in social media, that they should maximize their efforts. Being more personal and human via these channels, is a great way to do this.

Thanks so much from a newbie for these great suggestions!

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