In my last blog post, I addressed some of the common fears Small Business Owners have about jumping into the Social Media realm to promote their business. You can read more on that blog post here. To build upon the concept of being held back by the fear of the unknown, I wanted to expand on the fears of using blogs for your business.
Some common questions I’ve received are: “How will blogs help my business? How will blogs drive traffic to my website or into my business? How do I get people to interact with my blog? How do blogs fit together with my social media efforts?”
I’m glad you asked! Blogs are a way to provide insight and other helpful information that your followers are perhaps looking for; bloggers want to share what they’ve learned with others, and isn’t that what you want to do? Building rapport with your followers will show you care about them as individuals rather than a sales number, which will help convert social media fans into real customers.
There are many other reasons your business should be blogging, but I wanted to address the above questions in today’s post because this is what your business should know about blogs if you are to use them efficiently.
To assist in answering these questions, I reached out to blogging expert, Ashley Verrill, a Managing Editor for the Customer Service Investigator blog and a Market Analyst at Software Advice.
1. What are the best practices for ensuring that you write blogs that drive traffic?
There’s basically three important factors: quality, uniqueness and search optimization. Before you do any of these things, however, you need to make sure you are targeting the right audience. It’s not always about the volume of traffic. You also have to think about the quality of that traffic. If you are attracting site visitors that will never feasibly buy your product or services, you’re kind of defeating the purpose (although, other kinds of traffic can still share and engage in your content, which is also valuable). Making sure you drive the right kind of traffic starts with creating a buyer persona, or a hypothetical profile of your ideal customer based on data about your real customers. This should include demographic information, as well as what their biggest business challenges and goals are. Next, focus on creating content for them that is unique and well-researched. Then optimize those articles around keywords that have low to medium competitiveness.
2. How can businesses encourage readers to comment, share, and interact on their blog?
It really starts with creating quality content that aligns with your audience. After that, it’s really important that you build relationships with key influencers in your space. Klout is a really good tool for identifying these people, but don’t just cold email them asking for something. Start by engaging in their content. Follow them on social media, share their posts, write insightful comments on their articles (meaning, don’t just write “great article.”) After you’ve laid some groundwork, then you can reach out to them. You still might want to start slow — write a really personalized email about an article they wrote, or a presentation they recently gave. Include comments about why you liked it, and how it aligns with work you’ve done (include links!). Invite them to produce some content for your blog, or participate in a podcast, hangout event, or something else that doesn’t require a big time commitment. Once you’ve established this kind of rapport, these influencers will start naturally commenting and sharing your blogs, but you can also ask them to if you have a long-standing relationship. Another really useful strategy is just to get out there and comment on articles yourself. Again, you want to make sure that you actually have something insightful to say. You’re wasting your time if you just go comment with “Great article!” and a link on a 100 different blogs. Be strategic about it. Find blogs with an audience that aligns with yours, and only drop links if it makes sense in the context of your comment.
3. How do the other Social Media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) fit together with blogging?
These platforms are important not only for promoting your content, but also during the research stage. I like to use things like Quora and LinkedIn during my topic research. I search for questions in my topic area and then scan through the discussion threads to see what my audience is asking about. What do they want to learn more about, and which questions get repeated over and over? You can also see which topics are shared and discussed the most. You can create articles in that same topic bucket, but again, be sure you aren’t just rehashing the same information. There’s no better way to turn off your social media following then sending them a bunch of articles they’ve read a hundred times. Also, just one quick tip for Facebook – image posts perform a lot better than link updates, so instead of sharing a link to your article, post a picture and include the link in the caption of the update.
About Ashley: Ashley Verrill is a Market Analyst at Software Advice as well the Managing Editor for the Customer Service Investigator blog. She has spent the last seven years reporting and writing business news and strategy features, including articles for GigaOM and CIO.com. Her work has also been cited in myriad publications including Forbes, the New York Times and Inc.