It’s 2013, and you might be thinking about how you are (or should be) using the latest social channels to engage with audiences. I’ve had some clients ask me, “Isn’t blogging over? Shouldn’t we be concentrating on other channels like Google Hangouts, Pinterest, etc., etc., etc.”? Don’t misunderstand me — there are lots of channels worthy of your consideration, but those social networks should be considered spokes to your content hub, which takes its best form as a blog. Quite simply, people like reading blogs—in fact, 46 percent read blogs multiple times per day. And company websites that have blogs get 55 percent more traffic than those that don’t.
Think about it. One-hundred-forty characters can only get you so far — that’s why as much as 80 percent of retweets have links to external content. The old saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but is your presence on Pinterest or Instagram really telling your full story? Getting people to come and watch your videos on Google Hangouts is great — but once you get your audience intrigued and jonesing to hear more, where do you send them?
A social media effort without a blog is like an email campaign without a website. Once you get someone intrigued, you need to have place to send them for more information. Posting, commenting, pinning and liking across social outlets are all a means to an end — namely to get people to come hear your full story. That’s where your blog comes in. Consider that B2C companies that blog get 88 percent more leads than those that do not, and B2B companies get 67 percent more leads than those that don’t.
But having a blog set up with the occasional written post is not enough, so here are five tips for boosting your blog presence:
1. Get over yourself. If your content is all about you — your products, services, news and overall greatness — it has limited appeal and very little chance of being shared. Readers want to be informed, entertained and educated — not sold to. Instead, share content that is thought provoking such as industry data, response to hot market news and lessons you have to share. If you have a blog, ask yourself: does 75-80 percent of the content I post fit these criteria? If not, you probably don’t have a very successful blog. Try to remember: If readers like the way you think, they will then take the next step to see what it is that you sell.
2. Publish, publish, publish. Organizations often get blog fatigue after a few months. They publish once per week, and when readers don’t flock to their blog, they start to question the value. Publishing content four times per month is simply not enough. Remember, you are seeking engagement, and how can a reader engage when you are only saying something once per week? So how much should you blog? You should try for three to five times per week. Blogs that publish 20 or more posts per month get 20 times the traffic of those that blog once per week or less. How can you accomplish this? At InkHouse, we work with clients to create content calendars that assign dates, topics and authors (and sometimes ghostwriter!) to certain days, and we then work with multiple contributors across the company to make it happen. Remember that you can also curate content and ask guest bloggers to participate. It’s also important to remember that your blog content doesn’t need to be formal — and if you use a platform such as Tumblr you can get away with short, informal posts (and networking is built right in!).
3. Create content in many forms. Remember that text is not the only way to go when it comes to your blog. Consider multiple formats — infographics, motion graphics, slideshows, photos, videos, etc. We encourage our clients to integrate at least a four to five visual content posts per month. For one B2B client, we launched a cartoon series satirizing the problems their customers face. Readers love to share visual content, and it will keep them coming back for more.
4. Engage your readers. Remember that the goal of blogging is to engage your readers. So don’t treat your blog like a one-way publishing platform. Ask for comments. Encourage readers to ask questions or share their opinions. And if they disagree, so be it. Most importantly, don’t delete a comment just because the reader disagrees or criticizes you. When you are criticized, respond to the criticism and maybe even thank the reader for their opinion. Allowing negative comments to remain on your blog shows your readers that you are interested in an authentic conversation with them.
5. Make your posts shareable. Of course you need to make sure that all your posts are easily shareable, so offering buttons that allow readers to quickly tweet, like on Facebook, post to Google+, etc. is important. But sharing isn’t all about having the right buttons. Having the right headline is critical. If your headline is clever, but says nothing about the value of your content, it probably won’t work. Why? Because if and when your post is shared, it’s the headline that will be shared, and if it communicates nothing, you will get virtually nothing from it!
So keep blogging! I’m sure I have missed a few tips — have any to share?