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
Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s pretty ridiculous that I’m writing a blog post about not writing blog posts.
Anyway, indulge me, and maybe you’ll find something of value here.
Typically I like to write for this blog as my publication dates approach every Monday and Thursday. It allows me to write about the things that I find to be relevant in the moment, and pass along as much of that information to you.
As I’m sure you can relate – particularly if you work for, or own, a small business or start-up – life and work can get a little crazy at times. Work piles up, due dates approach, new opportunities present themselves, and who knows what else.
Things get busy, time is at a premium, and something has got to give.
For me, today was one of those days. Just unbelievably busy, but busy with great things. Lots of work and lots of opportunity. So, I worked on those things because they are important and took priority over pumping the same amount of time and effort into my blog that I typically do. And that’s okay.
It’s easy to get hung up about executing a social media strategy and ensuring that you never miss the publication due dates you place upon yourself. While it really is a good idea to get in the habit of making social media a part of your regular routine, you shouldn’t let other business obligations slip as a result.
So, what does this mean for you?
Don’t worry about ensuring that your social media activity is executed with 100 percent precision. Producing killer content and having high-quality interactions on a regular basis are important, but if you miss one of your own publication due dates, don’t sweat it. People will value the experience they have with you on social media, and they’ll stick around. Most people probably won’t even notice.
Social media is only going to work for your business if your business is in amazing shape. So make sure it is. Don’t sacrifice your ability to handle more important business-related responsibilities for social media. If you’re spending all sorts of time on your social media marketing, or writing for your blog, but you’re not making things happen for your business, your priorities are probably out of whack and it’s time to re-think how you’re going to achieve your broader business goals.
Have you ever caught yourself prioritizing social media activity over things that are probably more important?
Let me know in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
Image Credit: Veer
‘I want to shut down my Facebook page because I don’t want to deal with all of the negative comments that people have to say about my business’
Have you ever heard something like this?
Have you ever thought this?
If you’ve thought it, please, take a moment to hang your head in shame.
I’ve recently had discussions with several friends and colleagues who have shared stories of their clients wanting to remove their business from social media because they don’t want to have to address negative comments, the headache that trolls can cause, criticism from their loyal consumers, or simply because they don’t have time to address these concerns.
The very thought of wanting to ‘remove your business from social media’ is completely missing the point.
You can’t remove your business from social media.
All you can do is remove yourself from the discussions that are going to happen about your business, regardless of whether you’re participating or not.
Just because you ignore issues, doesn’t mean they’ll go away
Consumers don’t limit their online expressions of discontent, enthusiasm, or other opinions on businesses to only those with a Facebook Page, Twitter timeline, Pinterest board, YouTube channel or blog.
They have their own blogs, their own Facebook profiles, Twitter feeds, message boards and almost numerous other options for sharing their experiences, opinions, and perspectives on your business.
By not engaging in social media, you’re willingly being ignorant to these discussions and removing your ability to participate, make things right, and in some cases, defend yourself.
You can learn from negativity and apply it to improve your business
Consumers complain and spread negativity for a reason; they’re unhappy with your business. Sure, trolls exist, and some people are just inclined to complain, but most consumers have legitimate criticisms when they take their frustrations online.
Even when consumers are being negative, this is can be positive for your business. For every single person who expresses their criticism online, how many consumers are biting their tongue, vowing to themselves that they’ll take their business elsewhere in the future? It’s worthwhile to listen to what they have to say, and to view this as an opportunity to improve your business.
You can set the record straight
On occasion, there are consumers who express concerns on social media who are doing so unjustly. Maybe their negative experience was an anomaly, maybe they used your product improperly, maybe they didn’t set your service staff up for success. Whatever the issue, being able to receive these complaints also gives you opportunity to set the record straight and help those consumers out with their problems.
This will not only help the consumers you’re directly connecting with, but future consumers will be able to see these interactions and have greater faith that you are going to support your product or service, which can positively influence their purchase decisions. You might be able to avoid these issues or complaints in the future by creating record of your interactions, as a sort of FAQ or troubleshooting guide.
In my opinion, there is exactly one reason why engaging in social media could be viewed as a negative, and that one reason is that you no longer want to be in business, or no longer care about the future success of your business. This isn’t to say that the success of your business is entirely dependent on social media, but the perceived downsides are actually incredibly positive in most situations.
Have you ever been frustrated by complaints or negativity expressed on your social media properties? If so, how did you handle that situation?
If you have anything you’d like to add or discuss further, please feel free to do so in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
Photo Credit: Veer