Blogging: The Missing Link of Social Marketing

If you’re tweeting, stumbling, friending, or participating in other social venues for your online business without a blog, why is this?

A blog makes a perfect home-away-from-homepage anchor for all your social marketing initiatives. You can tweet more than 140 characters at a time in a blog. You can get stumbled upon by others with a blog. And you will find many friends and would-be friends by way of a blog.

Again, I have to ask, why isn’t your online business blogging if you’re out there in the socialsphere? So I did.

Surprisingly, a few of those responding said, “I don’t know how to blog” or “I don’t know what a blog is.” For the dwindling minority of business people who live in a Web -1.0 cave, I usually take them to a blog search engine and pop in a rival’s names just to get their attention and show them what a blog is.

I also offer take them to Blogger and get them up and blogging in about 10 minutes. After pointing out that it’s much better to blog for your organization rather than for another, we start to talk about their real business barriers to blogging.

The most frequently mentioned barriers to blogging are content creation, time, and money. Many organizations seem to believe that creating good, interesting content takes too much time, and if it takes too much time, it takes too much money.

Let’s put time and money aside for a moment and talk about content creation first by answering the following questions:

  • Do you publish an e-mail newsletter?
  • Do you do direct mail marketing?
  • Do you offer coupons, specials, or discounts?
  • Do you publish a catalog?
  • Do you print flyers?
  • Do you belong to any industry associations?
  • Do you sell stuff?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you have something to blog about. You’re already creating content that can be leveraged to produce interesting conversations with your customers and potential customers. Furthermore, if you or any people in your organization are tweeting, stumbling, and friending other people, then you already have multiple venues to promote your blog.

Because we’re using already created content and already created social marketing personas, how much more time and money do you suppose you should waste on only producing an e-mail newsletter, direct mailer, seasonal promotion, and the like?

Quite frankly, if you aren’t leveraging conventional materials for cross-marketing in a blog, you’re actually wasting your marketing budget, which brings us to the heart of the matter. Starting a blog remains one of the most cost effective-business decisions you can make to promote your goods or services and stop wasting money.

No, I’m not saying that you can just regurgitate other marketing content into your blog and expect to be successful at driving new customers your way. A blog must be more interesting than that — it needs to present an appealing voice from an attention-grabbing personality and be responsive to other voices and other personalities. Blogging needs to be a two-way conversation among many; not a one-way shout-out to a few.

When it comes to content creation, the two most critical decisions you will make when starting a blog include in-site or out and broad focus or narrow? Both decisions will also impact just how much it costs to start blogging. The location of the new blog will depend on the focus of the blog.

If the blog content consists of a very narrow focus that is highly pertinent to your business, then a subfolder on your domain may be appropriate. For example, if you intend to comment on regulatory issues impacting your industry, then in-site development may be in your best interest.

But if you think your content will get a little edgy, be slightly humorous, and draw a diverse audience, then setting up your blog at a separate domain is probably better. Remember, when it comes to link building it’s far easier to earn links to an independent blog rather than trying to build links to a blog that has an e-commerce site at its core.

In either case, your content shouldn’t be entirely about products or services that you sell. A blog that only exists to link to its parent site or tries to sell items will not be trusted. Consider the reader’s perspective: “what’s in it for me?” The blog should provide useful information, insight, and a “wow” factor first, and upsell or link back to your primary site second.

The blog won’t thrive if it’s simply made up of posts about different products or promotions. The ability to create great content and provide visitors with valuable or entertaining information is essential and should play a large role in deciding which blog theme to go with where.

If this is just too much for you to handle, consider taking a baby step or two by offering to guest blog on someone else’s blog or by providing insightful comments on others’ blogs. Then think about developing your blog strategy.

Do a bit of research to discover what others in your industry are blogging about, pick a theme, and socialize it internally. A little brainstorming can go a long way to put all that tweeting, stumbling, and friending to work for you from a permanent home.

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