When you get your business blog started, it’s tempting to invest in a custom blog design, theme customization, or other features that will set your business’ blog apart from the rest.
My advice on this is quite simple; DON’T.
Don’t pay anything from a tech or development standpoint to get your blog up and running, particularly before you’ve figured out exactly what you will be blogging about, how your blog will contribute to your business goals, how you plan to convert your readership, and have experience blogging for some time.
There are a huge number of free options
WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr are fantastic blogging platforms, and for basic features, they’re free.
When you’re getting started, don’t feel pressure to invest in something that is beyond your needs. Even free blogging platforms offer vast feature sets and options for customization.
It might take a while to determine your needs
It’s immensely difficult to determine exactly which features are going to be desirable and useful for your blog and to your consumers until you get started and see how it is going to evolve and grow.
Spend time utilizing a free blogging platform so you will better understand which features will be most valuable to invest in when the time is right to customize your blogging experience.
Establish blogging as part of your routine
The number of custom designed blogs I’ve seen that haven’t been updated in over a year is staggering.
Before making a significant investment in you business’ blogging platform, make sure that blogging is going to be something you can sustain, and that will yield real business results. When you do, you’ll better understand your potential ROI and will be able to make informed decisions about your investment.
In time, you might find more cost-effective solutions
Robust developer communities support many of the large blogging CMS platforms. This means there are a huge number of developers and designers who are sharing their themes, templates, designs, plug-ins, and more for affordable rates, and in some cases for free. Chances are that even if you have very specific requirements in mind for the function, format or features of your business blog, that there is probably someone out there who has already developed a low cost solution that you can take advantage of.
Instead of rushing into making decisions about every last detail to do with the design and function of your blog and relaying those to your developer, take your time to see if there are more affordable solutions that you can implement. Chances are, there will be.
At the end of the day, your business blog is all about value
The value you offer consumers with your content should be the focus of your business’ blogging efforts, not the minutia of every little detail of design and functionality.
When you’re just getting started blogging for your business, don’t get caught up in all of the bells and whistles. Instead, focus on producing killer content that is going to build, sustain, engage and provide value to your current and prospective consumers.
Instead of investing heavily in the custom development or design of a blog for your business, invest resources in producing absolutely killer content for your targeted consumers, and promoting that content through relevant channels. The results you will achieve by providing valuable and engaging content will far outweigh the results you can achieve by paying to add the one or two features or design flourishes that you’d ideally like to see on your blog.
Be patient in the short-term and develop blogging to become an integral part of your business’ value proposition. When you’ve gained enough experience to see what works and what doesn’t, you’ll be in a better position to make wise investment decisions for customizing your business’ blog for you, and your consumers’ needs.
What blogging CMS do you use for your business?
If you use a common blogging CMS, what features or limitations would you love to see implemented?
In your experience, what has been the single most valuable aspect of blogging for your business?
It would be great to chat with you about this in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
Photo Credit: Veer
A blog post shouldn’t just be a blog post.
Any time you put the effort into writing a blog post, you should consider how to deconstruct it into several pieces of shorter form content to feed your business’ social media content pipeline.
I’ll describe how you can do this and a few things you should consider for each social media platform here:
Facebook, Google+ & LinkedIn
Each blog post should at the very least be cross-promoted on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or whatever social media platforms your business is utilizing. Instead of just posting the title to your blog post, try also sharing a key point, or posing an interesting question to drive engagement.
A word of caution here is to not over-promote your content on these platforms. Limit your cross-promotion to a single post on each of these social media networks so you don’t come across as spamming your audiences’ timelines.
Get the most out of your blog post by also cross-promoting it on Twitter. In addition to tweeting the title of your article with a link, schedule follow-up tweets to share each of the key points, statistics, and otherwise tweet-worthy anecdotes.
The number of tweets that can be created from the contents of a blog post is dependent on how many points of value you’re able to extrapolate. The key here is to ensure that each of your tweets can stand on its own as being of value to your audience.
Pinterest might not seem at first like an obvious social media network through which to extend the value of your blog post, but there are often opportunities to share content from your blog here as well. Create images that highlight key points, lists, ideas, how-to’s, or other information from your blog post.
Similar to Twitter, the number of Pinterest pins that can be created from your blog post is reliant on how many individual points from your blog post alone can provide value to your consumers. When creating Pinterest pins, ensure that the content you will be sharing from your blog post is enhanced by the added visual element that is inherent on the platform.
Your blog posts can be reimagined as scripts or speaking points for YouTube videos. Video content can be created to touch on all of the points included on your blog, or you can create a series of shorter vignettes to engage your consumers with more bite-sized content.
Alternatively, your blog posts don’t need to be the beginning and end of a conversation. YouTube can be used to dig into certain points, provide additional context, highlight practical application, or interview others to gain their perspective on your content.
In addition to placing a huge amount of effort into creating content that will provide value to your consumers, you should also be focused on how you can get the most value from the content you create. By deconstructing your blog posts into content for your business’ other social media properties you’ll be able to extend the reach of your content by reaching different consumers on different platforms, and you’ll be able to save your social media and content marketing teams a huge amount of time creating content.
How do you deconstruct your blog content for use on other social media networks?
It would be great to chat with you more about this in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
Not to take away from the amazing results that can be achieve by reaching a large and highly targeted audience with your blog content, but not every benefit of maintaining a business blog is dependent on having huge readership.
The reality for most business blogs, at least when they’re first starting out, is that readership can be low… very low.
It can be discouraging to those who are contributing content, and working like crazy to keep a blog afloat to not see unique visitors, page views and subscribers come in droves from the get-go.
Additionally, it can be tough to justify the ROI of your business’ blog to supervisors, management or ownership without having incredible reach.
If this feels familiar, don’t sweat it. There is huge value to be had in maintaining a business blog, even if your readership is low.
Demonstrate knowledge, expertise and experience
Direct prospective consumers or clients to your blog so that they can learn about your depth of knowledge, expertise, and industry or categorical experience. You don’t need massive readership for these incredibly targeted visitors to your blog to experience value from their visit.
If your content is compelling and created to differentiate your business from the competition, you can expect huge conversion rates from these limited visits to your blog.
Feed your social media content pipeline
An article on your blog isn’t necessarily just an article on your blog. A single article can easily be reverse engineered into updates for Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn, a multitude of tweets, inspiration for your next YouTube video, a series of Pinterest pins, and more. Needless to say, a single blog post can feed your social media content pipeline and translate to huge value across the various social media properties you are engaging consumers on.
Supplement pitch or RFP submissions
Many pitch and RFP requirements dictate what material is to be submitted, which limits opportunity for some organizations to showcase their the full breadth and depth of their capabilities. While decisions under these circumstances are typically supposed to be made based only on officially submitted materials, it would be negligent to think that there isn’t accompanying research done on contending businesses such as yours. Take advantage of this by strategically posting content to your business’ blog to support or prop up key capabilities, demonstrate relevant thought leadership to the RFP requirements, or otherwise supplement your case to be awarded the business you’re pitching for.
Have you ever been discouraged to continue putting effort into your business’ blog?
What value have you experienced as a result of maintaining your business’ blog?
It would be great to chat with you more about this in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
I botched a blog post that I published earlier in the week. There. I said it.
The good thing is that by making some mistakes on this post, it reminded me of a few rules I try to apply to all of the content I create, and maybe it can save you from making some of the same mistakes.
Earlier in the week, I published a post about the Grammy Awards’ social media efforts, and an opportunity I felt they had missed to fully capitalize on the incredible social media activity that was buzzing about the event.
You can read the post in question here.
At the time, I felt like I had identified what would be a unique angle on the social media activity for the event. I was thinking that while most people would be commenting on the incredible viewer involvement and engagement with the Grammys on social media, I’d be identifying an area of opportunity for the awards show.
Until I reflected on this post again today, I thought that I had published a quality piece of content. In reality, I failed to follow a few rules that I typically try apply to my blog posts, and now I feel like I’m the one who missed an opportunity. I’m hoping that by reviewing the mistakes I made with this post that there might be a few tips that you can apply to the creation of your content.
Create obvious, easily applicable value
Much of my botched post describes the opportunity that I feel the Grammys failed to capitalize on. It goes on to make recommendations for what the social media managers could have done, but never demonstrates how this thinking can be applied more broadly. The net result is that unless you are very specifically a social media manager for the Grammys, you would have had to extrapolate value from the post and spend time thinking about how my recommendations could be applied to your social media efforts.
How you can apply this:
Make things easy for your readers. If you are hoping to impart knowledge or experience, make sure that your points are clear, and that you serve up your content in such a way that your readers can easily apply what they have read. Your content will be seen as more valuable, and your readership will appreciate you connecting the dots for them.
Ensure that your content is relevant to your targeted readership
While the intention of my post was to demonstrate how social media could have been more meaningfully integrated into the Grammys’ broadcast, the reality is that the subject matter is most relevant to an incredibly small segment of people interested in social media, and is probably viewed as being irrelevant to the majority of people who are likely to read my blog.
How you can apply this:
Ensure that your content will be relevant to your targeted readership. If relevance isn’t immediately apparent, don’t worry, but make sure that you find opportunities to tailor your messages to be more directly relatable. Try things like applying lessons learned to familiar and relatable opportunities for your target reader.
Publish contextually relevant content when it is contextually relevant
I hesitated. I knew when I was watching the Grammys that there was a post I wanted to publish about the event. I should have published it as my regular Monday post, which would be the day following the awards, but I didn’t. I published it on Tuesday, the day after the world was buzzing about the Grammys.
How you can apply this:
Bear down. As Brian Solis so astutely noted a couple of years ago, ‘news no longer breaks, it tweets’. A result of this is that if you want to be commenting on news, pop culture, or current events, you really need to be a part of it in real-time, or very near real-time. To do this, you need to be prepared to interrupt your normal publication or posting schedule, you need to be quick and nimble with your content ideation, and you need to work your butt off to produce quality content in record time.
At the end of the day, things happen. Despite your best efforts, not every piece of content you create is going to be your very best. This said, it’s important to learn from your mistakes and try to mitigate them in the future.
What content creation missteps have you learned from?
What methods, techniques or tactics do you employ to ensure the content you publish meets your standards for quality?
It would be amazing to hear your thoughts and discuss this with you further in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
Image Credit: Veer