For close to a decade, Search Engine Optimization practitioners have used blogs to build links to websites and improve their clients’ positions in search engines. However, the widespread use of blogging as a business tool has become popular only over the past several years. Today blogging is one of the most common tools in the social marketer’s arsenal. One reason for this ongoing popularity is easy integration with other popular forms of social media, including videos and various types of social sharing. While no single tools exist to meet every online marketing need, blogs continue to serve as the foundation for all other online social media promotion.
How the Pillars of Communication Should Define Blogging Strategy
For blogs to be effective, they should be written in the language and terminology of the intended audience. A good blog must overcome communication obstacles and act as an open message to your target audience. It must reflect the passions, insights, thoughts, judgments and informational needs of the audience. The most successful blogs stimulate participation by encouraging conversation through comments.
Before you start a blog, you should develop a plan. As an essential preliminary to entering the blogosphere, marketers should consider these 6 steps that were developed using the Pillars of Communication.
- Determine the Purpose of Your Blog
You should have a specific purpose in mind before you start a blog. Will the blog be used as a marketing channel to share company news and updates and express thought leadership and industry analysis, or will the blog be used more as a public relations tool? Of the many reasons to use a blog, before you start one, you should determine the specific goals and audience that are most applicable to your purpose.
- Define Your Blog’s Audience
Once you develop a profile of your intended audience, you can then plan for the creation of content that your readers will find interesting, helpful and insightful. Specify what your blog will cover and what tone you will convey. Generally, blogs are not used for promotional purposes. Rather, they are intended to provide useful information that add value to your product and service offerings.
- Identify the Resources You Will Need to Write the Blog
To provide useful information, the content for a blog should contain clearly thought-out and researched articles that provide value. Because valuable content is difficult to produce, it can be created only by writers who understand a company’s clients and reflect the company’s persona. These writers must speak as humans free of overblown marketing speak.
Aside from having resources that write articles, a blog needs professional graphics and images that are compatible with the blog’s style, personality and content. Blogs targeting international audiences will need to be translated into other languages. When translation is necessary, make sure you hire a reputable translation services company.
- Establish an Ethical Blogging Policy and Posting Guidelines
In today’s litigious society, it is critically important for your company to have a legally binding document that protects the integrity of your company and armors it against liability. It’s also important that any employee involved in blogging receive special training regarding materials and statements that can be made on the site.
By its very nature, business blogging centers around the buyer–seller relationship. As a result of this relationship, ethical questions can erupt around issues related to the communication of product features, pricing, claims, channels of distribution, and market research.
- Collaborate with Your Audience Without Dominating Communication
The comment section of a blog can turn into a free-for-all means of communication. However, for business blogs, good policy mandates some censorship of what actually gets published. Without censorship, a comment section can quickly fill up with spam advertisements, off-topic comments and crude dialogue.
When responding to comments that are critical of information contained in a blog post, the best approach is to review each comment. If the criticism is unwarranted, then remove the comment from the site. However, if the comment appears to be a genuine attempt to address a concern, it might make sense to allow the comment and respond fairly to it.
- Decide on a Secure Blog Platform
Blogging platforms in use today sport their own advantages and disadvantages. Among the most important factors are whether your blog has a unique URL that your company owns and whether your company hosts its own blog or assigns hosting to a service such as Weebly, Blogr or a similar site, among the number of free and paid services available.