Company Blogs: the First Step in Social Network Marketing

Blogs aren’t anything new, but in the few short years since they’ve become a mainstream marketing tool, their best uses and impacts have become increasingly clear. We have learned, for example, that blogs are a great way to share industry news, offer informative articles, and improve your search engine positioning. On the other hand, they tend to work less well as a direct sales medium. People like to read blog posts to be entertained or stay informed; if you do nothing more than ask them to buy, they will simply stop coming back to check out new updates.

Here are a few more tips for putting your company’s blog into action:

Post consistently. Perhaps the greatest challenge of business blogging is simply remembering to be a business blogger. For the average business owner, online marketing manager, or other busy professional, writing posts can easily become an item that gets consistently stuck at the bottom of the day’s “to do” list. But if you hardly ever post to your blog, readers – not to mention search engine spiders – will notice. Aim for a modest goal, such as one half-page post per week, and then be sure to make it a priority.

As a side note, one of the easiest ways to keep coming up with new blog topics is to come up with a series – just like this one. All you have to do is find a subject that can be explained over several weeks and in many parts, and then start writing one small chunk at a time. Taking on a topic in that way keeps you with a new subject always at your fingertips, and gives readers a good reason to come back again and again.

Stay on target. Because blogs tend to be less formal than industry newsletters and other regular forms of publishing, lots of bloggers tend to let their minds run free when posting. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; a good “stream of consciousness” first draft can often lead to ideas you didn’t even know you had. But try to clean things up a bit, and keep your ideas focused, before you get around to posting. A blog that isn’t about anything isn’t written for any particular kind of reader, so keep your posts centered on the issues at hand, like industry news, expert insight, etc.

Remember your voice. Earlier, we talked about keeping a consistent voice and tone throughout your social networking strategy. Your company blog is a great way to find and hone that, since it requires you to compose a fresh article every seven days or so. Have fun with that challenge and discover how you like to communicate with people. Over time, that’s going to give your blog – and your company – a style that customers and colleagues will expect and respond to.

Add links to other blogs, materials, and parts of your own site. Since most blog posts tend to run around three quarters of the page, they’re usually a short take on the subject a hand. That’s no problem; no one is expecting you to solve a global crisis in a few hundred words or less. What your blog should do, however, is shed some light on a particular issue, or offer a unique viewpoint. The best way to back those up, or continue the conversation, is by linking from your blog to other articles, parts of your site, or other supporting documents. Doing so shows that you’ve done your homework, but also that you have more to offer to the reader.

Be on the lookout out for keywords and phrases. It’s never hard to tell articles and blog posts that were written primarily with search engines in mind. They are so (awkwardly) stuffed with various keywords and phrases that they barely make any sense at all. Obviously, producing posts like that is going to be bad for business. You might get search traffic, but no one is going to stay to read anything.

On the other hand, it makes sense to be aware of your best keywords and phrases and insert them a few times and to each post, if it can be done naturally. As your posts build up, having the right phrase inserted consistently will do wonders for your search engine positioning – and even if it isn’t your primary goal, being more visible to Google, Yahoo, and Bing can only help your business.

Sell softly. As with every other activity in social network marketing, there is going to be a time to come straight out with your sales message. Just be sure it isn’t all the time. The best strategy – as you’re probably starting to guess by now – is to embed your marketing message consistently in a long line of interesting posts. If you are the preeminent authority in your field, show readers that’s true; once you do, it’s going to take a quick line here or there inviting them to contact you for more information to turn your blog into a source of leads. Remember the golden rule of social network marketing: sell softly, take your time, and make connections. The rest will take care of itself.