Social media has become a common phrase in the business and professional world though the roots of social media may have begun at a more literal social level. Websites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn probably jump to mind when you think of social media, but the list is much longer and at the top of it is blogs. In its most basic definition, a blog is a tool that allows you to create and publish content that in turn allows site visitors to offer feedback. Statistics from e-Marketer show that in 2008, 45% of U.S. Internet users read blogs on a monthly basis. Their prediction is that by 2013, 58% of U.S. Internet users will be reading blogs on a monthly basis.
Blogs are an opportunity to communicate with your audience be it other businesses or consumers. By not blogging as a business, Google results in searches for which your company name ranks may be dominated by others who are blogging about you. Though you can certainly post comments on others’ blogs (and you should), there is much to be gained by maintaining a blog of your own.
The main component of blogs of course is content. Since your blog is intended to connect with your audience it is important that blog posts be about topics and items that your audience is interested in and can relate to. This means your blog is not a sales pitch. While your posts should establish your expertise in the industry they should also provide valuable information to the reader. The Best Western blog for example is loaded with travel advice, destination stories, and personal travel experiences of the bloggers.
Blog posts are typically written in an engaging conversational tone and invite response from the reader. The comment field of blogs is the ideal place for your audience to respond to your post, ask questions, or share additional information. While the “fear factor” might exist that negative comments could be posted, if that happens it is an opportunity for employees or managers to address and resolve any negative feedback. However, there are many more upsides to having an open comment field. Allowing comments empowers your audience and often their feedback will make the overall post more interesting.
As you set up your blog it is important to consider who in the company will do the blogging. There is no perfect recipe for who should blog but it is helpful if the person(s) responsible for the blog is comfortable using new media technology, is passionate about sharing valuable content, is a good writer, and is dedicated to keeping the blog up to date. In an era of “doing more with less” it may be ideal to have several people responsible for the blog so that it regularly has fresh content posted. Whether posts come from the GM, receptionist, bartender, or a CEO like Bill Marriott who has a blog, the content should be about the customer. Blogs can also incorporate different forms of content like the video blogs Wini Roche uses in her Harford County Tourism blog, sometimes referred to as vlogs.
You don’t have to be an expert in social media to have a business blog; you just have to know your audience. The topic of blogging and other social media tools will be covered in detail at the MTC’s upcoming Summer Seminar and Seasonal Savories event July 23. Register now so you can have all your social media questions answered and start connecting with your customers.