Want to listen instead?
I like to call blogging the traditional social media because it’s been with us for such a long time and, compared to Clubhouse, Instagram and TikTok, it can sometimes look and feel a bit old hat.
But don’t dismiss it out of hand.
It might not be sexy, but blogging still provides businesses, organisations and individuals with an incredible opportunity to build visibility, influence and trust in the marketplace.
If you’re committed to taking an audience-first approach in your marketing and becoming your own media channel, I submit that a blog should be an integral part of the plan.
With this in mind, here are five key reasons why maintaining a content-rich blog can be beneficial for your business or organisation:
With a blog, the thing to remember is that you have total control of the content you publish: It’s a pure owned-media play.
If you’re using Facebook, for example, while you might control the content you publish on your feed, you have no control of its distribution (unless you pay for it). It’s ‘rented’ virtual land. Facebook can, and does, change the rules.
Meanwhile, with media relations, you have stuff-all control once a press release is dispatched to a journalist, editor or broadcast producer.
If you stage a media conference or photo call, you have no control over the outcome of that event. It could go wrong with one incisive, well-timed question from a journalist, or your client or CEO could be misquoted. You could go to great lengths to set up an exclusive interview with a representative of your company and the story never runs.
These things happen all the time in PR. But when you publish your own blog, these are not issues because you control the information and the quotes.
Google loves relevant fresh content that fills an information gap or solves a need people might have about a particular industry, issue, product category or service.
A keyword-rich blog that’s well read, that’s regularly shared on social media and that other websites link to — particularly sites that search engines deem to be authoritative, such as a major blog or popular online publication — will also provide valuable “Google juice.”
People will find your website through a variety of ways, not always via a random search on Google. Maybe they come to you as a result of a positive recommendation from a colleague or friend, or they see something you’ve posted on social media and decide to check you out.
When visitors jump on your website, will what they find do justice to your brand? It would be too bad if they don’t. Because a dynamic blog might well be the thing that gets them across the line in terms of a sale, sign-up or donation.
Blogs help humanise a business or organisation. While this is probably not a big deal for smaller businesses since they tend to be a lot more open and accessible to the public online and offline, many larger organisations remain relatively faceless, something I find anachronistic in today’s people-powered social age.
Blogging is a terrific way to take your customers and constituents behind the velvet rope, behind the scenes of your organisation to tell the stories of your people – your employees and partners.
It’s also an excellent medium when it’s used to shine the spotlight on your internal experts in order to highlight their expertise through useful and helpful articles and videos.
Having a regularly maintained blog will provide you with plenty of content to share on social media.
Yes, it’s good to share other people’s content on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. However, sharing your own blog content on social media is a good thing — it builds visibility and reinforces reputation.
If your articles are written with a specific audience in mind, you increase the likelihood of resonating with people who fit the description of your ideal reader. This is critical in today’s information-dense, mobile-first world.
For example, if people are on public transport scrolling through Twitter and your content jumps out at them because it’s relevant to their interests or information needs at that time, you’ve just increased your chances of cutting through the digital white noise and resonating with your message.
Reasons not to start a blog
Blogging is not for everyone. Seriously, if the following sounds like you or the business you work for, it’s probably best to give blogging a miss:
- You want quick results.
- You’re not willing to put in the time or effort necessary to get the desired outcome.
- You’re afraid of putting your thoughts, ideas and opinions out there on the web for everyone to see and criticise if they see fit.
- You have multiple layers of approval before anything can get published. This can be worked through over time, of course, but if it continues to be a roadblock, the resultant blog articles might become watered down, which is not great, or they’re not published in a timely fashion, which is not ideal if getting a time-sensitive message out is the goal.
Six golden rules of blogging
The following rules, if adhered to, will help keep you on track and improve your chances of blogging success.
1. Focus on your audience. Unfortunately for consumers, they must put up with businesses that bang on incessantly about themselves and how great their products and services are. Brands that do this are inward-looking and so enamoured with what they do that they totally forget about their audience and the people they’re trying to communicate with. Smart marketing and communications today is all about taking an audience-first approach, and nowhere is this more important than when writing a blog.
2. Show up regularly. As anyone who has produced a successful blog will tell you, it is essential to publish on a consistent basis. But showing up isn’t just about posting blog posts. It’s also about being active on those social channels where your intended audience hangs out. This is especially true today, when the ability to comment directly on blogs has diminished greatly and the conversation has moved to social networking sites.
3. Inform, educate, entertain, empower. When you succeed in focusing on your audience, you need to ensure that the content you publish on your blog is informative and relevant to your intended audience. Empower them with knowledge, and if you’re able to entertain them as well, so much the better. Popular marketing blogger Mark Schaefer says that if you consistently create content that’s RITE — relevant, interesting, timely and entertaining — you will be creating conversational blog posts that people want to share. Schaefer believes the most important element of the four, over time, is providing content that’s interesting. “Boring is death to a blog,” he says.
4. Be open, accessible and conversational. We’re humans. We resonate with people (bloggers, YouTubers, podcasters) who are open and transparent, even vulnerable, when it comes to creating content. We also like to see that openness extend to social media. We like to tweet bloggers and then to see them tweet back; we enjoy it when bloggers start, or become part of, conversations, whether on their own blog in the comments section or via social media. Bottom line, if, as a blogger, you engage with your readers, if you are open and accessible, it will help you build an audience for your work. If you’re running a multi-author blog, then including writers who are open, active and conversational on social media will help increase exposure for your online publication.
5. Show your personality. Bland and polished is out. There is a reason some bloggers have built substantial audiences in their niche. People crave personality, unique points of view, quirkiness and a sense of authenticity. Allowing your authentic self to shine through the content you produce will help you stand out in a sea of sameness. It will also help you attract an audience because people often gravitate toward bloggers and content creators in general, who they can relate to and, ultimately, trust.
6. Mix it up a bit. While most blogs are text based, today it’s never been easier to incorporate different content formats to keep things fresh and interesting. For example, add YouTube videos, SoundCloud audio snippets, GIFs, images (photos, charts, illustrations) or, if the story requires it, create an infographic. Video is the big one for me. An accompanying YouTube video that adds color and movement to a blog post might make all the difference between your message getting through to your audience or not.
- Over time, a blog should become the heart of your online content efforts.
- Maintaining a successful blog takes time, effort and commitment over the long term.
- A blog gives you control over the content you produce and can provide a springboard from which to build authority around a particular topic or field of endeavour.
- Successful blogs are run by people who understand their audience well and consistently deliver value in the form of content that educates, inspires, empowers and entertains.
- A blog provides businesses or organisations with the ideal opportunity to highlight their special niche in the marketplace.
- It can be useful as a validation tool for people who have come to your website via word-of-mouth recommendations.
Oh, and remember, if you’re just putting out a blog because you feel you have to, but your (corporate) heart is not in it, don’t do it. There are plenty of other content opportunities out there. The world does not need another crappy blog 🙂