Anthony Wiktor is the Creative Director and Principal of the award-winning strategic design agency STARMEN, based in Hollywood, Calif. He has received degrees in design from Columbia College Chicago and Woodbury University, and was recently featured as an Industry Expert in Web Designer Magazine’s Hot 100 issue. Connect with Anthony @creativeanthony or via his LinkedIn profile.
Facebook? Perhaps. Twitter? Maybe. Blog? Absolutely!
Blogs began as basic, often tawdry online diaries fueled by caffeine and wine. Some launched writing careers, but most simply enabled their authors to vent views or scratch creative itches.
But as the blogging craze grew, many corporate marketers adopted blogs to provide regular company updates and insights…and almost as quickly, many marketers abandoned them. The reason?
Regularly writing articles turned out to be challenging and time consuming; writing articles that attracted readers proved even harder. After all, who wants to read a corporation’s diary? So when Twitter and other microblogging platforms came along, corporate communicators happily replaced their 500-words of weekly wisdom with concise 140-character tweets.
And that’s when marketers discovered the real value of blogs.
For businesses, blogs aren’t just for venting or scratching; they serve multiple purposes that Twitter can’t come close to serving. In fact, many corporations are now discovering that it’s actually harder to create a worthwhile Twitter account. So now we’re seeing a blog revival. Here are 3 key reasons why…
1. Blogs Build Better Business Brands
It’s hard to provide much brand value in a tweet. Indeed, with Twitter it’s easier to make a brand-damaging mistake with an “accidental” tweet than to build your image and reputation in 140 characters.
With blogs, you get all the words you need to say what you want, and you can do so with a fully fleshed-out personality that suits your brand and appeals to your customers. And since full-length articles take more time and attention to create, you’re far less likely to “accidentally” publish a brand damaging blogpost than a misbegotten tweet.
Brands also enable you to demonstrate your expertise: you can show that you’re not just a product or service provider, you’re actual experts in your field. And you can do so not just by flaunting your knowledge, but by providing valuable advice and insights to your customers.
All this is delivered in a conversational tone (like this blogpost here) — not in stiff “corporate” voice, and definitely not in the form of press releases — and that conversational tone makes the business personable.
Of course, it’s critical to maintain professional standards when blogging. A hastily assembled (not to mention abandoned) blog, or a blog post filled with empty hype or unimportant info can do more harm than good. And by all means, don’t be boring! As advertising legend David Ogilvy once said, “You can’t bore people into buying your product” — or into reading anything you ever write again.
2. Blogs Give You The Goods To Get Social
One challenge that many marketers face with social media is simply finding something to say. Simply talking about yourself or your products every day turns you into a drone. (See the David Ogilvy quote above.) But using your social media to talk about irrelevant matters (the weather or holidays) is a waste of time and resources.
With regular blogs, you now have something of value to share on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Indeed, sharing a value-filled article with a relevant LinkedIn Group is a great way to drive potential customers to your website. And that’s what you want to do with social media: drive all those fans, friends, and followers to your website (never the other way around).
Note that this sharing is critical for building a blog readership. The problem with the early business blogs is that marketers just built them and assumed that readers would come. Now they realize that they have to get the articles out there. That’s why it’s important to have both social media and a blog side-by-side.
3. Google Loves Blogs
Google and other search engines will someday recognize photos and videos, but in the meantime, they want words, words, and more words. Blogs, of course, provide plenty of words — including keywords and phrases that your customers might be plugging into search engines. Indeed, many customers type in entire questions into search engines, so a great blog format is a Q&A.
What makes blog posts even more search-engine friendly is that they’re fresh. Google tends to favor websites that have been recently updated, but who rewrites their “About Us” section on a weekly basis? Blogs provide fresh content regularly.
Something else that Google loves is backlinks. Those are the links from other sites to your site. If you have a blogpost that’s valuable and compelling, it may attract backlinks. In addition, it may get shared on social media, and that also helps search-engine results.
Finally, Google favors “high quality” content. How does a computer determine whether an article is any good? (Artificial intelligence has come a long way, but computers still can’t assess creative content quality — at least not just yet.) Google does so by watching human behavior. Those backlinks and social shares are one sign that your content is valuable. Another sign is how long customers spend on your page, and whether they click on anything while they’re there. (Google can track all this when you install Google Analytics on your site.) A high quality blogpost will guarantee that visitors will spend more than a few seconds on your site.
So Let’s Get It Started…
Now that you see what blogs can do for your business, designate specific writers or an agency to create regular posts that are relevant and valuable to your customers and your brand. In addition, invite guest bloggers to provide more content while attracting their fans.
Now don’t worry if your readership numbers don’t explode out of the box. Blog posts are long-tail content, meaning that they might not get discovered until months or even years later, but in the meantime all those blog posts will provide a wealth of content that boosts your brand, gives you something to socialize about, and keeps Google well fed.