Just about every day at McLellan Marketing Group, we’re working with clients who want to explore social media and what it can do for their company. And almost all of them think they want to blog.
Not so fast.
I think one of the most irresponsible things we (MMG) can do, is simply give them the keys to a blog and set them off. Because many of them will end up in a ditch. Not because they’re not competent and capable. But because not every one or every company should blog.
Before we’ll build them a blog and teach them how to engage it….we review the 5 musts of business blogging and walk them through each step. If they can get through all five, they’re probably a good candidate to blog.
You must have a clear purpose.
The why sets the tone for everything. Who are you going to talk to? What types of things will you write about? Who should be writing? How will you decide if it’s working or not?
Way too many companies launch a blog simply because it’s the cool, new things to do. Really bad idea. Don’t do a thing until you have a vision for your blog.
Listen at least twice as much as you write.
Good bloggers are good blog readers. They read inside their own category and they read blogs that have little to do with their core competency. They read smart writers. They reference smart writers and they create a network of smart bloggers, inside and outside of their profession.
Jump into conversations and add value.
Most beginning bloggers believe that all they need to do is write their blog posts and voila, a following will show up. Rarely.
You earn your stripes and the respect of other bloggers, readers and the like at other people’s blogs long before you can earn it at your own blog. A good blogger is not only a frequent reader…but a frequent commenter.
And “great post!” doesn’t count. When you comment — add to the conversation. Do that consistently and you will entice people to your own blog. Skip this step and your blog becomes a dusty monologue.
Write and then write some more.
The tech blogs seem to have a new post every 5.7 seconds. For the average business blog, that would be insane. But 3 to 5 on topic, on target posts a week is what it’s going to take create the stickiness that will attract and keep readers satisfied.
We’re not talking thesis papers here. Blog posts should focus on one teachable message or thought. Short and sweet (shoot for 300 words or less) wins the day most of the time.
Be in it for the long haul.
Business blogging is not a quick fix. It’s relationship-based, whether that’s your relationship with your readers, with other bloggers, or with the media — it’s all about connecting.
If you’re looking for an insta-success, try something else. Even if you do everything just right, it’s going to take some time and discipline to create a community.
If you’re not going to give it a year, don’t give it a start.
Whew…if that hasn’t scared you off, then you’re probably a pretty good candidate for a business blog. Let us know if we can help.
And, a hat tip to my blog coach Mike Sansone. I learned all of this stuff at his knee a few years ago and keep on learning from him today.
Great post 🙂 Reading and following the advice of posts like this one has helped me launch and daily improve my business blog. Which may be another must-do: continuously learn about blogging. There’s always something you can do better.
This makes great sense. Your genuine coaching messages are very much appreciated, and have allowed me to feel at ease in asking questions that I once thought might come under the “DUH Factor.” Thanks for your continued efforts in educating all those who are interested.
I think being in it for the long haul is definitely a must. There are not enough people that want to be in it for the long haul. You’ll likely fail if you are not.
Thanks for the post Drew. What if someone’s reason for adding a blog is to simply keep their site updated and increase their google ratings? What if they don’t care for loyal readers, or comments? Is this still a good reason, and if not, what are the risks?
It seems to me that four of these five traits should come very naturally to a well run small business. “have a clear purpose….”; “be in it for the long haul….”; “listen…”; “add value…”.
Perhaps the only limiting factor is that business’s belief in small business blogging and a preparedness to commit to resources to ensure that they achieve the fifth ‘must’ – “write and then write some more…”
Even though I’ve been publishing my blog for over four years (you really do have to be in for the long-haul as there’s definitely no quick fixes with blogging in my experience), it helps a lot to have regular reminders of what I should be doing to make it worth the effort. Thanks!
There was a research done by Forrester around what people trust and corp blog are at the bottom of the list. Lots of work to change that and your guidelines are right on the money.
I’ve seen many corp blog and I see two issues you could transform in guidelines: 1) Too often they look like ‘press release’ talking too often about the company and its products 2) They just fail to engage with their communities and look like a voice in the vacuum.
Great content needs to be seeded in the right context within the right communities. That part is I think overlooked and also takes time on top of writing.
I have a little different take on this, Drew. You say “…not every one or every company should blog.” I’ll have to think some more about it, but I think I disagree. Every organization *should* blog. But not everyone is willing to make the commitment to have a successful blog.
I agree with all your “musts.” I think, though, that your “musts” are really a list of characteristics that would be good for all organizations to achieve. That they’re unwilling to commit to those changes doesn’t mean they shouldn’t blog. It just means that they should rethink their priorities so they will be ready to blog.
I think most people still believe that if they build/write a blog — their audience will just magically appear.
As you and I both know, they’re a lot more work than they might appear!
Thanks Peter —
I’ve checked out your blog. You’re off to an excellent start. I’m looking forward to reading more!
I’m pretty sure there is no such thing as a duh question around here. Ask away! I’d love to field some questions.
I think lots of people launch a blog, thinking it will be an instant hit. But it’s a long haul and takes quite a while before anyone even notices you’re around.
Humbling but part of the process.
Excellent question. Watch for a post on that topic on Thursday of this week.
You might think so. But honestly, I’ve been working with clients for 20+ years and most of them can’t articulate their purpose. It’s just not what they were taught in school and it’s natural to us because we live it.
We invest a lot of time teaching clients how to listen better and how to figure out their own story.
Every once in awhile, we all need a little reminder that we’re on the right path! Glad I could give you a boost.
The corporate speak (sounds like a press release) is really a prevalent problem. I agree…it hurts the trust factor in a big way.
You make some very valid points. Thanks for adding to the conversation.
Tell me more about your theory. Do you really believe that every single business should have a blog? Every DQ operator, every mortician, every car mechanic?
I think every business should interact with blogs via listening and commenting. But, I don’t believe every organization needs to or is cut out to blog.
I’m looking forward to hearing more about your thinking.
Drew and David,
I kind of agree with David but may be the term ‘business’ is to vague. I’m thinking business that provides a unique value to a community should blog. To take an extreme exemple, McDonald should ( probably do but I haven’t checked), but probably not every Franchisee ;-). In us, human being, and in every business exists two apparently conflicting forces: Being Social, being individual (for business it would be ‘unique’,’different’) – and I see blogs are the perfect place to bring together those two forces. Blogs are social, Blogs make you stand out from the rest of the pack. In web1.0, it was ‘everybody should have a website’ (because the need was to provide information); in web2.0, it’s everybody should have a blog (because the need is to build connections, trust, respect and a deeper understanding of your ecosystem). Am I missing something?
Thank you for your information. I am a new blogger with a work from home business – HERBALIFE. I may need your help to promote my website http://www.getliftoffnow.com/lraymond and weight loss and nutrition business. I do Weight Loss Challenges to help clients to manage their weight in a group and fun way.
Great information here I must say…especially for somebody who has started blogging recently.
Would love to know ways of getting traffic and then how to earn revenue from the blogging as well.
I would add a 6th item to your list of 5 Musts. You must be yourself and blog as an individual who works for the company. This is the way you develop a voice and relate better to readers. It also helps break through the “blogged press release” post.
Also, it cannot be said too many times, if you just write it, they will not come. You MUST engage with others to promote your blog and bring people to it.
You’re very right. Authentic voice is critical to a blog’s success. As is reaching out to your audience.
You can’t just write and wait for your audience to arrive. Like any relationship — you have to reach out and make a connection first.
Welcome to the world of blogging! There are lots of experts on how to monetize your blog. That’s not my focus or strength.
But, I can tell you this. If you want to drive traffic to your blog, you need to follow the rules above. And give it time. Building a blog audience takes time and patience.
But it’s worth it!
Glad you found the information useful. Best of luck with your new business venture.
I’m not sure there a clear cut answer to the question. If a business wants to create a community, share their expertise and has the staying power to really invest in the effort for a long time — then they should blog.
If someone is in it for the quick fix or just to generate traffic — the audience will see through that in a heartbeat and go someplace else.
It sounds like you have discovered that blogging is not a short term solution. Welcome to the club! It’s tough to post day after day and not get many visitors, let alone a comment.
But, for those that stick it out and reach out on other blogs, Twitter, etc. — the rewards are plentiful.
So hang in there!
Adding a personal touch to my blog is the best way to connect to my readers but also, it’s the best way to establish my blog and branding.
How do you weave personal touches into your blog? Is it something you do intentionally or does it just happen organically?
Great post! (I sooooo could not resist)
Not sure if you will dig this take on blogging, but I suppose I should add more substance than just my quip: http://briandrake.wordpress.com/2009/03/22/hip-hop-and-blogging/
I was about to start a business blog and this info help me out a lot !! Thanks!
Happy to help out James. Come on back and let us know how it’s going!
Welcome to the world of blogging!
This is the only thing i need of for my blog 🙂
Actually adding value is more important ,but for beginners yes you got to have a clear purpose.
Yes, adding value is really important. Only this way, the readers will think of you as an expert in that particular niche. And they would like to visit your site too.