business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

What is the Living, Breathing Part of Your Business?

I just came back from a local business owner networking group.  Our monthly meetings are informative and inspiring, but no matter the predetermined topic, eventually we wrap things up with everyone complaining about social media.

Today I heard all the reasons why small businesses do not need a blog.  No time. No money. No staffing. No results. My observation:  FEAR.  Fear of writing.  Fear of content.  Fear that customers will read it.  Fear that customers won’t read it. Fear of making mistakes. And most importantly, fear brought on by a lack of understanding at the simplicity of creating a blog.

It’s important to understand this: Social media is not about one time hits and viral posts that make it on the Ellen Show. It’s about building loyal followers, over time.  Followers that really enjoy what you have to say.  They get you! They want to experience your process, your thoughts, and your vision of the future.  They identify with your company values.  You are part of their Newsday.

How simple is this: One day you have the Engineering department post some cool blueprints and then the staff in HR write a post about how they collected food for the local food bank (with pictures and passion of course.) Finally, your design team posts a few sketches (because who doesn’t love seeing the sketches of products next to the actual, final version?)  The reader gets to be a part of your process like a secret agent.  It is not about selling or presenting your mission statement.  Your blog is a living, breathing part of your company. …the right brain part!

“Blogging is to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud.”    Andrew Sullivan, former editor of The New Republic

Just focus on the extreme sports part of that quote, and don’t freak out about the writing part.  Believe me; every company has lots of things to say.  And I am confident that you have more than enough people who work for your company who can (and would love too) contribute to your company blog.  You just need to ask. Ask who is interested.  Ask for topics.  Ask people to contribute photos of anything related to the company.  Ask people for articles that relate to their jobs.  “Many hands make light work,” so show the people behind the process and you will find loyal followers who will buy your products and services.

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Need more convincing?

Here is the list on the importance of blogging:

  1. Blogging gives you a fast, cheap and fun way to spread information—and that includes marketing, public relations and branding efforts. Some statistics claim that businesses that regularly blog generate 54% more website visits than those that do not blog.
  2. Blogging is an effective way to court new customers and if you include some form of call-to-action (contests, discounts, freebies) which will take your visitors to a special landing page, you will find more appointments/orders for your sales department.
  3. Blogs which regularly publish fresh, fun, interesting and informative content (that is optimized for search engines of course) will grow organically, generating traffic beyond belief.
  4. Think of your blog as the perfect platform to launch new products and respond to any questions that potential or existing customers may have. This is especially true after your annual trade show.  Link your Pinterest page and share photos. Invite people to join in on the conversation.
  5. You do realize that you own your Blog, right?  You are not sending out press releases and packets to get “in the news.”  You own this, you are the news, and the beauty is that any department can step up to the plate and hit the ball!
  6. Blogging can support all your social media marketing efforts. It helps to make that overwhelming job seamless and coordinated.  Why wouldn’t it?  Your blog content gives you something to talk about on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Create content (from a variety of departments) so that you have a mix of topics that will appeal to your whole audience.
  7. And do not forget, blogging gives your business a voice on the internet. Blogs give businesses an opportunity to explain their vision and passion, as well as their management philosophy.  It doesn’t have to be dry and hum drum, and it shouldn’t be!  Put in the proper tags and your company will show up more often where it counts, on the search engines.

One of the business owners at my networking meeting said that he read  “only 35% of businesses today are blogging.”  His perspective was that it wasn’t a proven tool.  My perspective is that you can establish yourself as a pioneer with a strong following before every business has a blog.  Of course you need to have a social media policy in place and someone who will coordinate content on your Social Media Calendar (both absolutely essential to success) but you can (and should) start that blog as soon as possible.  Just get it on the agenda and make it happen.  You will see results.

How has your company benefited from a regular blog? What challenges did you face in getting it started?

 

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