Is Blogging Worth it for Small Businesses?
By Mark Swartz
Monster Contributing Writer
Blogging can help you tell the story of your company. Blogs provide space to write much lengthier, more detailed posts than a micro-site like Twitter.
If your small business has something worthwhile to say, blogging may be for you. It can boost your profile and get your message out in a timely manner. The two most popular blogging tools are WordPress and Blogger. Both offer a wide assortment of features you can use for free.
But blogging takes commitment. Be forewarned: if you don't have time or meaningful content to spare, you may want to stick with your other social media platforms.
Where to get content
Whether showcasing your work, offering behind-the-scenes glimpses into your company, highlighting the people you serve, or keeping your readers current on trends and events, blogs can be an influential communication and PR device.
Here are some ways to gather – or inspire you and your staff to create – good content.
1. Trawl industry news
Share an opinion about a recent news story that’s affecting your industry or audience. Whenever possible, be current; you could benefit from the extra boost of being one of the first to comment on the topic. Latecomers may reference and link to you.
2. Trawl non-industry news, too
Play off a popular general news story and relate it to your own industry. In journalism, this is called using a “news hook.”
3. Reach into your community
Create content that showcases your readers, viewers, commenters and other active members of your community. If you notice that certain visitors consistently comment on your blog posts, for example, write a post thanking them; also point out who they are, and link back to their blogs or businesses. You might even highlight some of your favorite posts from their blogs.
4. Share real-time photos
Configure your blog to work with Flickr so that you can upload photos from industry events, meetups, or other gatherings. Snap photos to share on Twitter via Twitpic or other Twitter photo-sharing services. Having fresh content matters here, so consider posting photos straight from your mobile phone.
5. Monitor search keywords
What keywords are people using when they land on your blog or job postings? Tracking those keywords can inform your content stories and suggest new opportunities.
6. Monitor social media keywords too
Keep an eye on social media conversations, and trending keyword topics, on related blogs or Twitter accounts. Doing so gives you a sense of what people are talking about in real time and what matters to your customers now.
7. Research online
Use something like Google AdWords Keyword Tool to determine what people are searching for. If you sell toys, for example, you might be interested to know that 750 people have searched for “old fashioned toys” in any given week.
Why You Might Not Be Getting Readership
It takes time to create an audience for your blog. If you've been at it for a number of months yet readership's still low, ask yourself the following questions.
Are you creating online content, but focusing it solely on your product? Instead focus on a subject or topic of interest. Tell stories that draw the reader in. What do people care about that you can write/blog about? Keep your material relevant and human.
Do you lack consistency in posting? Have specific days on which you add content. This gets readers used to looking for your posts at certain intervals.
Does no one know about your blog? Make sure to broadcast your blog posts via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and your website. Also list your blog's URL on these sites for quick access.
Is Blogging Worth The Effort?
There has to be at least one person at your company who is able and willing to blog. That person will have to search for appealing content, write the blog, then monitor and respond to comments (if you allow these). This process may have to be repeated several times a week. You'll also need a social media policy to guide (and restrain) whoever's blogging for you.
If these requirements don't put you off, then by all means consider adding a blog. Spice it up with photos, video clips, audio, and links to other intriguing stuff. Your company's stories deserve telling. Blogging about them can engage your readers with freshness and depth.