The word “Blog” is a popular one on the internet these days. So popular that Wikipedia reports that as of February 2011 the internet is host to over 156 million blogs.
The term “blog” is short for “web log” and is traditionally best defined as an online journal created with either text, images, and/or video for the general public to view. One of the main functions that distinguishes a blog from a static web site is built-in functionality that allows readers to easily comment on the blog topic.
Sounds harmless enough right? However, whenever I suggest to a client or friend that they should start a blog to help improve their online presence they immediately look at me like I have just spoken a horrible four-letter word they want no part of. I’m always so disappointed when I receive this reaction because as a social media manager I can’t imagine any business serious about marketing themselves on today’s internet not having a blog as the centerpiece of their online marketing program.
I can only guess that business owners who are not fully engaged in the social space just yet haven’t realized that blogs have evolved far beyond being used for entertainment gossip and controversial rants to become powerful communication tools for business. Nowadays, blogs and websites are often actually one in the same and really just an easy and versatile way to publish just about anything you want. Those brands and businesses who are truly successful online have figured out that they not only need to have a blog, they need to make it their online business hub.
Here are 5 basic reasons why businesses should have a blog:
1. Blog are Free and easy to use: Blogging software such as WordPress have revolutionized how individuals and businesses publish on the web. WordPress is completely free and can be installed and set up in minutes. Now businesses may want to enlist the help of a professional to customize it to best reflect your business image/brand if you so desire. But at the core, the act of blogging is a free and very user-friendly way to share your information and open communication with customers on many different levels.
2. Blogs makes business personal: A well-done blog will humanize a business which is vital to success on the new social web. Being personal, letting customers know there is an actual human behind a cold professional exterior, can go a long way to warm up a customer relationship. Blogs provide a great platform where personality and knowledge can combine to deliver compelling content.
3. Blogs are interactive: In my opinion, the web sites of the past are essentially online brochures that do not create opportunity for interaction. The best sites “now” solicit audience participation and engagement. Standard blogs have a “leave a comment” section after each post, which may be one of the things that get people a little a little scared. WordPress and other blogging software enable the owner to moderate the comments which should ease some fears. However, good blog posts should inspire comment, both positive and negative, and ultimately be part of moving someone toward accomplishing site goals. And even more importantly, blog comments provide customers a place to voice their opinions and provide feedback and can be very valuable to an owner in the ongoing process of developing a business/brand.
4. Blogs build credibility: By providing helpful and insightful content geared to inspire and educate readers blogs can help establish individuals and businesses as industry experts and leaders. Gaining credibility leads to increased followers, trust and ultimately sales.
5. Blogs keep it fresh: There is nothing worse than landing on a web site that appears stale and out of date. Not only do viewers frown on old and uncompelling content but so do search engines such as Google. In fact recent updates to the Google algorithm are set to reward only those sites who make an effort to deliver current and engaging information that viewers want to share with others.
Please keep in mind that these are only some of the most basic reasons business owners should move past any of their preconceived interpretations of a blog and start employing one to not only attract more business but build deeper relationships with customers. Personally, I know when I am searching the web looking for information on a product, service or expert advice, more often than not I land on blogs before actual web sites and when landing on a web site, the first thing I look for is a link to their blog.
As you can see from my social media management web site, I took the approach of combining a web site and blog into one which is often called a “blogsite.” By doing so, I am able to present some of the traditional elements of a web site but also make my content a focal point for my users.
I hope you will check back next week for a post on how to start a blog but in the meantime if you are interested in learning how a blog can benefit your business, feel free to contact me.