Blogs aren't going anywhere - and every brand blog could use a little upkeep, particularly as new methods of optimization emerge.
One has to wonder whether blogs will ever get old.
For close to two decades these journal-style sites have found favor with consumers, drawing regular readers and spawning everything from new platforms to products and books. Blog readers, an audience that's some 76 million Americans strong (nearly a quarter of the country's population), are a brand's honey bees, skipping from post to post to gather good content and spread it across the Web on our behalf.
Blogs are the foundation of many a company's content strategy, central to their need and desire to mingle, inform, and engage. In the interest of keeping this marketing must-have fresh, here are five simple strategies for ongoing success.
1. Give Your Blog Credibility by Featuring Expert Guests.
Posts written by corporate executives lend some authenticity to your blog. Even better, though, is content supplied by the partners and industry experts with whom you work. Whole Foods' Whole Story Blog features posts by certified nutritionists, published food writers, and charitable foundations associated with the brand. Stonyfield's The Yogurt Dish is updated in part by the organic dairy farmers who produce the ingredients used in Stonyfield's products. In both cases the blogs come off as trustworthy and represent a resource for knowledge. By association, consumers perceive the brands in the same positive way.
2. Post on the Weekends.
According to new data reported by eMarketer, readers share blog content significantly more on Saturdays and Sundays than they do during the workweek. That said, only 13 percent of blog posts are published on the weekends. Brands that follow a 9-to-5 schedule and limit their updates to weekdays are doing themselves - and their content - a disservice. Look to your readers to help you determine when to post and you'll get far more shares.
3. Share Your Posts Through Google+.
Recently, research firm Forrester released the results of a survey that found Google+ incites nearly as much engagement and user interaction as Facebook. "Top brands" using the social network are generating 90 percent as many fans through Google+ as they are on Twitter. Sharing blog content on the site extends its reach and exposes it to a new and active audience of potential fans.
Late last year, Google began testing +Post ads, ad units designed to boost posted content. As of last month, the ads, which run across the Google Display Network, are available to Google+ users that have more than 100 followers. Early data shows that brands like Toyota are seeing engagement rates 50 percent higher than the industry average. Coupled with quality content, the ads can help increase both blog traffic and followers.
4. Ratchet Up Multimedia.
Adding more photographs, videos, infographics, and animated GIFs to your brand blog is one of the quickest ways to up engagement rates. Not only will 40 percent of your audience respond better to visuals than they do to plain text, but content that features a "compelling" visual component has been known to receive 94 percent more total views. Product shots, photos of your team, Twitter collages, and YouTube videos all represent viable multimedia features (for more ideas, see social media director Bob Cargill's recent ClickZ post).
5. Optimize Your Tumblr Pages for Mobile.
Earlier this month, Tumblr made an update to its iOS and Android apps that introduced the ability to customize the look of its blogs on mobile devices. Users can combine header images with font and color choices to create something unique to mobile users, as well as to your brand. Tumblr reports that mobile engagement is up 124 percent year-over-year, and more than half of its users are accessing the site through their smartphones. Additionally, the microblogging platform says almost half of its total posts now come from mobile. Customizing one's branded Tumblr takes just minutes, and it can improve the brand experience for those countless followers who prefer to access your page on a phone.
Every brand blog needs a little upkeep, particularly as new methods of optimization emerge. With regular maintenance this cornerstone of content marketing is certain to live on - and thrive.
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Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.
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