Just about every brand with a modern website now has a company blog to share updates, announcements and other relevant content. By offering unique insight into your business, you gain trust and respect from your readers, especially because your information is coming from a firsthand source at the company.
It's important to connect with your target audience on a personal level when you're creating blog content. Here are seven tips to help you make the most of your company blog.
Showcase your unique point of view
If you're writing the same things as everyone else in your industry, you're not going to get very far. But if you can offer a unique perspective on press releases and data that other companies aren't talking about in new ways, your audience will appreciate it.
"Answer this question: What data can you share with journalists that they wouldn't have access to otherwise?" said Charlie Cohn, director of marketing analytics at Wickfire Internet Marketing. "Even if you do not have your own data to share, find a story in the numbers, and present it clearly." [See Related Story: Content Marketing Lagging? Avoid These 4 Mistakes]
Engage your staff
A great way to make your blog more manageable is to ask your employees to contribute posts. This way, you're not doing all of the heavy lifting yourself. Additionally, it can be a great way to show your best employees some extra appreciation and allow them to show off their talents in other ways.
"Identify staff who are passionate about their work, and ask them to contribute to the blog," said David Erickson, vice president of online marketing at public relations firm Karwoski & Courage. "Let them come up with their own topics, if they want."
Use a style guide
Consistency is important when you're blogging, and one way to maintain consistency is by having a dedicated style guide.
"Readers of blogs want … a regular frequency of posts, and they want to trust the writing," said Jason Baker, senior editor of Mediander.com, a "knowledge engine" that connects search topics with relevant context and information. "Having a standard way to deal with names, capitalization, italics, links, etc., helps you establish that trust. And if your blog features multiple writers, a style guide will help you bring all those voices under one roof."
If you don't have the time to create your own style guide, you can consult existing ones, such as the "AP Stylebook," "The Chicago Manual of Style" or guides written especially for online publishing, like the Yahoo Style Guide.
Think outside your niche
You may think you can write only about things specifically related to your company's mission. But there are ways to appeal to your audience without pigeonholing yourself into certain topics.
"I always advise clients that they do not need to stay within their niche," said Mike Wood, owner of professional writing service Legalmorning.com. "In fact, I recommend that they travel a little bit outside their niche in order to attract leads that their competitors don't."
For example, if you run a real estate company and want to start a blog, you should consider blogging about topics such as the best schools in your city instead of only house-related topics.
Use a content calendar
Having great content is an important piece of the blogging puzzle, but if you're disorganized, your blog will likely suffer. That's why it's smart to use a content calendar, even if you're not blogging every day.
"Too many bloggers fly by the seat of their pants, not knowing what they're going to write about or when they're going to write about it," said Chris Brantner, owner of cable television alternative website CutCableToday.com. "They're making it up as they go along, and what inevitably happens is, they end up with a bunch of poorly executed content that gets no [views]."
Brantner said he likes to have his content calendar planned out about two months in advance, because it gives the blog more direction.
"It helps make certain we're hitting the right topics at the right time, and it allows us to plan our content-promotion strategies well in advance to ensure our articles are getting as much traffic as possible," Brantner said.
Focus on social sharing
Search traffic and SEO are only half the battle when it comes to gaining readership. If you really want your blog to have an audience, you need to turn your attention to social media. Emily Peters, founder of business-to-business brand-strategy company Uncommon Bold, said you should spend even more time sharing your posts than you do writing them.
"Many companies have a 'post and pray' approach to their blog content," Peters said. "Instead, brands should spend just as much time carefully, repeatedly sharing their quality content via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and email over the course of a few months."
If you're using a content calendar, try adding your social media sharing schedule to it, to help you keep track of when you should be pushing your content.
Don't undervalue editing
One of the most important aspects of running a blog is editing. Edit your writers, Baker said, and if you're the writer, have someone edit you. Making sure your blog posts have the right tone and are factually correct will save you time and embarrassment down the line. This process will also make you care more about your content, and can even bring new relevance to time-sensitive content.
"Even something occasional or topical can be written with feeling and style and context, such that it won't become obsolete," Baker said. "Things live forever on the internet, and oftentimes, you come across something that was published [years] before. If readers find your blog in this way, you want them to say, 'Wow, these guys were on the case. What else are they talking about?'"
Additional reporting by Brittney Morgan (Helmrich) and Nicole Taylor. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.