By Tara Lane, Staff Writer
You’ve probably heard the word “blog” thrown around many times, and for good reason. Today more than ever, it is important to have a company blog. No matter what size business it is—from a small firm to a large corporation, blogging is one of the best ways of communicating with customers and clients, and finding a larger audience. Many companies want to blog, but they don’t know where to start or what to write about. Mapping out where you want your blog to go, who you want to reach, and what you want it to accomplish must all be thought out before opening your blog to the world. Taking the time to work through these steps will lead to a better outcome and greater readership. In this week’s top five, we’re exploring the benefits of effective blogging.
1. Low Cost, Big Audience
A company can start a blog for free in just a few minutes. Setups for WordPress and Blogger are user-friendly and can be customized to suit virtually any need. Just by posting a link on the main company website, your audience can grow in a matter of days. With free or very low-cost analytics and tracking tools, you’ll keep a pulse on your readers and gauge where they’re coming from, how often they visit, and get a view of the overall impact your blog is having. Using these tools, you can target certain people and areas, see what topics are most popular, turn leads into repeat customers, and use the information to grow your business in a way that was not possible before.
Adding good content is a must, not only to keep people coming back, but for making it search engine friendly, so even more people can find it. For large and small companies, a blog is a way to connect with readers on a more personal level, and bring the news to them instead of them needing to search it out.
2. Create Opportunities
For small businesses especially, a blog can help you gain exposure with other businesses who may need your services, or who may offer to help you promote your blog. Blogging can establish valuable connections and networking opportunities, as well as help produce new ideas through creativity and reader input. You can use your blog as a launching pad for new products and services, creating a buzz among readers who may then pass that information along to others.
Blogging can provide a company yet another outlet, and one that’s less stuffy or less formal than the corporate website. On a blog, you can truly reach out and engage the customer in a casual, entertaining way. The possibilities provided by establishing a presence for your business in the blogosphere simply aren’t possible with any other venue, and can provide lasting impact and information for everyone involved.
3. Build Credibility
With the rise of Gen Y and their increased use of social media, it’s important to be able to relate to audiences through the platforms they use most. Showing your audiences and customers that the company is up on the latest technologies is a great way to increase their trust in the brand and the products. Audiences are highly aware of what they’re reading and can recognize when a blog isn’t authentic. The Marriott company takes this tactic to heart, by having the CEO, Bill Marriott, doing the blogging himself. He provides news about the company, intertwined with personal anecdotes to engage customers and make them feel closer to him and the company as a whole.
4. Engage Customers
One of the largest benefits to blogging is the way it encourages customers to interact on a new platform. On a blog, you can truly reach out and engage the customer in a casual, entertaining way. A blog is a way to break down to corporate wall, and let customers into the minds of the people behind the brand. Many companies use their blog as a platform for contests or polls, producing interactive media, or a place to introduce new products and causes. In addition to having a reputation as one of the most engaging airlines around, the Southwest blog is fun to read and look at. With regular polls, videos and news about the airline, its adds another touch of personality to the company as a whole.
5. Gain Valuable Feedback
A company blog is a great opportunity to start a two-way communication between you and the customer. Allowing a customer to comment on a post makes them part of the conversation. They know someone will see it, and that their voice will be heard. Comments are valuable for getting honest feedback without going through multiple channels—surveys, focus groups, customer service calls, etc. This feedback also lets you know where you stand with your customers, who your customers are, and where they’re from. It’s also immediate—you can be alerted to a problem much easier than if a customer was to call, fax or E-mail—and reach out to the customer before an every bigger problem occurs.
Photo by Ginny Austin from Stock.Xchng