How to Blog for Business

by Rodger Johnson on October 12, 2009

rodgerthumbBloggers can be big influencers. They can help or hurt your brand. Businesses can no longer afford to dismiss bloggers as a passing fad. But we need to reach out to them. We need to build relationships with them. And we need to be blogging too.So, there are two point to consider:

  • Businesses and other organization need to formulate a blogger relations strategy for engaging bloggers. The numbers of active bloggers looks comparatively small — 8 percent of adults actively blog once a month and 21 percent of online youth between 12 and 17 years old are blogging monthly — there reach makes the reach of mainstream media pale in comparison.
  • Businesses and organizations need to start blogging themselves. Study after study show that blogging is good for search, and that’s good for business. If you don’t believe me, check out Business Week’s article, Blogs Will Change Your Business.

People Trust People More Than Advertising

People just don’t respond to advertising anymore — at least not as they once did. Just the other day, a small business owner told me he put down $4000 for advertising in The Indianapolis Star and doesn’t know whether he’s getting a good return on his investment.

Truth be told, he probably should have saved that money and used social media instead.  “Today’s consumers prefer a more conversational approach, ” writes Peter Kim, a Forrester Research Analyst, ” turning to recommendations and reviews from people they know for making purchasing decisions.”

Here’s two strategic points to consider:

  1. Using third-party bloggers to write about your brand creates a two-way communication channel for you customers. Not only can they get the POV of a third-party, but they can see and engage with others who comment. If your product or service is good, and people say so, then that drives new consumer decisions in your favor.
  2. Or, you can create your own organizational blog. But here’s the trick. Let your employees do the blogging, especially the passionate ones. As your employees tell stories of their interactions with customers and the products or services they sell, others will chime in, because they will have had a similar experience.

Over time, personal opinion trumps advertising because it’s unsolicited, it’s authentic, it’s real. And that’s what people want.

Talk More Earn More

Yet another point to consider is that talk is no longer cheap. It’s got value — Google value, that is. And, social media PR firms can help your cash in. There’s a lot of companies that still rely on the static website to drive business goals and generate leads. It just doesn’t work that way. First, Google isn’t too hip to static website content, and neither are your potential customers. “Bloggers are more likely than their peers to tell others about the products that interest them,” said Kim. You can do the same with an organizational blog. See, Google likes fresh content. And the more of it, the better search ranking your company blog and website will earn. This does several things:

  • Earns better page rank.
  • Makes information readily available.
  • Creates the all important conversion you want.
  • Builds trust with your customers and prospects.

Here two strategies for leveraging bloggers and blogs this way

  1. Work with a trained social media PR agency that can identify bloggers that might be interested in your organization. Then personally reach out to them. (We’ll talk more about this in another post.)
  2. Use your own organizational blog and employees to talk to and engage with consumers online. Tell your customers about your new blog. Give them a card with the blog’s address on it. Ask them to spread the word.

Advertising still has its place; I don’t want to rag on it too much. It’s still an effective tool to get people talking. But that’s about as far as it goes. While that is true, blogs help extend the  conversation over time. It connects people to people, gives them a sounding board for their opinions and thoughts. More important, it gives them time to weigh their options and come to a decision on their own. When they do that, you’re building relationships. You’re giving them reasons (fact and third-party opinion) to choose your product or service over a competitors.

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