Blog enthusiasts are excellent evangelist candidates. They're early adopters. Often, they're serial buzz spreaders, and they can funnel waves of others just like them toward your blog and your organization, especially if it's a small business.
B2C or B2B? Doesn't matter. Companies that sell primarily to other companies may find that a blog more easily bridges the feedback loop between end customers and channels.
That bridge is often missing or difficult to create using existing tools—like focus groups, or the telephone.
For any organization, a blog is part of a long-term customer evangelism strategy. Since blogs are easy to set up and pay for (some are free), launching a blog should be at the top of your to-do list.
Among dozens of reasons, here are seven:
- They fan the flames of customer evangelism. Their personal nature helps humanize you and your organization.
- They function as an instant-feedback mechanism. Most blogs allow readers to respond to your posts or link to them on their own blogs. These features provide almost real-time feedback on ideas and issues that strike a chord, or highlight new or existing problems. A blog can reveal a little problem before it grows into a bigger one.
- They compel you to "Napsterize" more of your knowledge more often. A blog is about sharing what you know, think and believe; search engines index your ongoing knowledge sharing, making it easier for customers and prospects to find you. Attracting is always easier than hunting.
- They facilitate the spread of buzz. Honest, informative or thought-provoking posts about issues important to customers and prospects tend to be spread more often.
- They allow you to have more simultaneous conversations. It's more than you could ever do in person.
- Most blog service providers offer good-looking templates to use if your existing Web site design is embarrassing or nonexistent.
- They help position you as a knowledgeable expert in your industry.
Once you start blogging, here are five blogging don'ts:
- Do not have someone else write your blog. Write it yourself.
- Blogs should not be managed by a PR department or ad agency. Blogs are best when they're authentic, which may include run-on sentences, detailed analysis or critical opinions. Typically, those qualities run counter to the sensibilities of traditional public relations.
- Do not have a thin skin. Comments to your posts may bite or sting, especially while other people watch. But a benefit of blogs means unwarranted criticism often causes other customers often to spring to your defense. Trust-based relationships emanate from taking the bad with the good.
- Do not let your blog go unattended for weeks at a time. Focus on several posts per week, even if they're just a few paragraphs.
- Do not make your blog a branding exercise in self-centeredness. If you endlessly promote yourself and your services, no one will care.
There are several blog service providers, but here are two of the best:
Although the following are not representative of the tens of thousands of business blogs out there, they offer a few good models to explore:
This 215-person New Hampshire dairy maintains five excellent blogs about the company's products and the organic lifestyle.
Berman is a law professor at Ohio State University. His widely read blog has helped him become the preeminent expert on sentencing law. His blog was also the basis for a favorable write-up in the Wall Street Journal.
Carolyn Linzner operates her own shoe store in Sonoma County. Her blog features lots of customer testimonials and photos.
Keiko Groves, a 20-year-old Florida college student, has marketed her successful Internet-based clothing business entirely via her blog.