Blogging is a great tool for businesses. It's an effective way to share information about your company or establish yourself as an expert in your industry. But it's important that you run your blog the right way, or it will be more of a time-waster than a business-booster. Thinking about launching a blog on your company's website, or looking to revamp your existing blog? Follow these five tips for success.
Get help from (and encourage) 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. If they are at a loss as to a topic, help them brainstorm one, but by all means, tap their passion."
Erickson noted that it's important to edit gently and offer constructive criticism with a positive, helpful attitude. You should also be sure that your employees get bylines and that you give them feedback and metrics about how well their posts are doing in search. If a post does really well or if an employee writes her or his first blog post, share the link with the rest of the staff and give that employee public praise, Erickson said.
"The idea is to give them the encouragement, public acknowledgement and feedback to give them the confidence and enthusiasm to continue blogging," Erickson said.
Have a unique take on things
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.
"My number-one tip would be to answer this question: What data can you share with journalists that they wouldn't have access to otherwise?" said Charlie Cohn, head of marketing at peer-to-peer learning marketplace StudySoup.
"Even if you do not have your own data to share, find a story in the numbers and present it clearly," Cohn said. "For example, we recently put together a post called 'Top 25 Colleges Where Women Earn More than Men,' looking at data from the U.S. Department of Education."
Putting your own spin on important information in your company's blog can also be the key to getting more press.
"It wasn't our data, but we did the heavy-lifting analyzing the information and shared it with journalists to amplify our message," Cohn said. [How to Make the Most of Your Business Blog ]
Venture out of your niche
You may think that you can write only about things specifically related to your company's mission. But there are ways to stick with subject matter relevant to the industry and appeal to your audience without limiting yourself to niche topics.
"I always advise clients that they do not need to stay within their niche," said Mike Wood, online marketer and 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 are probably going to consider writing things like "5 Best Features in a House" or a post about how to find a real estate lender, Wood said. These are great topics you should be covering, but it's also a good idea to travel a little outside of these subjects and consider blogging about topics like the best schools in your city.
"After all, people looking for houses are going to first check out certain areas to see if they even want to look for houses in that area," Wood said. "This will lead them to the site, and hopefully help convert them into a client."
Use a content calendar
Of course, having great content is the most important piece of the blogging puzzle, but if you're disorganized, your blog will likely suffer. That's why it's so important 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 that 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
There's no point in keeping a company blog if no one is going to read it, and search traffic and SEO are only half the battle. If you really want your blog to be a success and have an audience, you need to turn your attention to social media. Emily Peters, founder of B2B 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.