To Blog or Not to Blog

A blog primer

One of the questions that we get on a regular basis (it’s right up there with, “you don’t get out socially much, do you?”) is: “what is a blog and can it really help my business?”

The easy part of the question is the definition – a blog (which is a geekspeak mashup of the term “web log”) is really just an online diary, rant or diatribe. The tougher question to answer is whether or not it will help your business. It certainly can, and if you have the following ingredients the chances of success increase exponentially:

  1. You have someone who is an entertaining writer
  2. Aforementioned entertaining writer has TIME to write blog articles
  3. You have an audience interested in the articles.

So let’s suppose that you have folks interested in what you have to say, you’ve saddled the “new guy” with the job of writing, and you are now blogging ferociously. How does any of this help?

Humanize the company

Blog writing can be some of the easiest writing possible. You can drop the stuffy corporate rhetoric and marketing sound bites. A blog is written from a casual standpoint – it’s more like an informal lunch conversation. This serves a couple of useful purposes. One, it’s much more readable, entertaining writing. Two, it helps humanize your company – especially useful if you are in a heavily regulated or stereotypically stodgy industry (musk-ox ranchers, take note).

Instant feedback

You know that slick, glossy brochure that you spent six months developing? How many times did someone actually write and give you feedback on it?One of the most powerful functions of a blog is the ability for readers to comment right away. You get instant input on your topic, and know right away if what you have written has struck a chord (or a nerve) with your audience. As the Visa folks have put it once or twice – priceless.

Timing is everything

In a perfect world, when your clients have a need for your services, they would hit your speed dial number and ask where to mail the check. The reality is that if you don’t happen to be on their mind at the moment they need something, you could miss the opportunity.

What to do? Find ways to keep you, your name, and your company in their sights. A great, unobtrusive way to do this is with blog articles. If you are able to develop a cadre of devoted followers, you get the chance to keep in front of them 2 or more times a week and establish yourself as the authority in your field.

Remember, out of sight is out of mind.

Big Brother is watching

One of the biggest impacts that a blog can have is appeasing the Google gods, which happens to be a primary motivational reason for a lot of companies to create a blog in the first place.

Make sure every blog article has a link (or multiple links) to your site. That way, if the article gets forwarded to others and/or gets picked up by other sources, you stand a good chance of getting increased traffic to your site. If your blog has been set up the right way and your articles are being submitted to news feeds, one good article can send thousands of people to your site. This makes Google feel very warmly towards you, and that’s a good thing.

So should you?

Blogs can provide a return on investment that is off the charts; imagine what would happen if your site was promoted to the first page of Google. But unless you have the right formula (entertaining writer, time and an audience) all you may get out of it is a crash course in becoming web geeky – and the glamorous social life that comes with it…

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