It wasn't supposed to be like this. After hearing all the buzz about blogs and how popular they are becoming, your company decided to dive into the blogging waters. But that was months ago. And even though you've posted a few times, your blog has gotten little or no comments, and only a handful of visitors a day!
Before you give up and decide to pull the plug on your blogging experience, let's look at some ideas for revitalizing you blog so that both you and your customers can benefit from it.
It's Not About You
If your company blog isn't getting the results you were expecting, start by examining your blog's content. Consider how your blog is positioned: Are you using it as a selling tool, or as a tool to communicate with your customers and provide them with engaging information?
Many companies make the mistake of focusing almost exclusively on the products and services that they provide, thus replicating information that can be found on the company's main website.
Blogs are powerful communication tools, so the content you provide on your company's blog should be engaging and should encourage feedback from visitors. Instead of endlessly blogging about your products and services, give readers information that helps them with satisfy their wants and needs.
Consider the blog for VOIP (voice over Internet protocol) startup Jaduka. Its blog doesn't focus on Jaduka's VOIP products and services; the blog writers instead focus on social media and emerging communications technologies. The writers do blog about their products and services occasionally, but that's not their focus; they focus on giving readers relevant information that that can find helpful.
You Can Talk to Me
Engaging content will lead to comments. And how your company handles these comments will go a long way toward keeping your blog healthy and vibrant.
First, is your company moderating comments? Many companies choose to moderate comments to ensure that spam, as well as comments containing profanity or abusive remarks, isn't posted on the blog. If your company does choose to moderate comments, you must make sure that you approve these comments as quickly as possible. If users notice that it takes a few days for their comments to be posted, they may stop commenting altogether. Also, visitors tend to read those posts that have more comments—so the quicker you can approve and post comments, the more likely that post will receive even more comments.
Make an effort to not only reply to those readers who leave comments but also go to each commenter's blog and leave a comment their in turn. This is a great way of both saying "thank you" to visitors who leave comments and encouraging a first-time commenter to become a regular reader of your blog.
An additional benefit of reading the blogs of the people who comment on your blog is that you will gain better insight into your customer's interests—not only about the types of products and services they look for but also on how to tailor your blog's content to appeal to your readers.
So, do consider responding to comments left both on your company's blog and on the visitor's blog as your way of being a good community member and a good neighbor. Interacting with your readers in this manner is a wonderful way to ensure that they will spend more time on your blog reading and commenting!
You're Never Here When I Am
Possibly the best way to develop readership to your blog is to post regularly. Blogs are different from other Web sites in that the content on blogs is constantly changing. Readers expect to see new content almost every time they visit a blog. If they do not, they will either scale back the number of visits or stop visiting altogether.
A good idea is to set up a posting schedule for your company blog. If the blog has one writer, then you might want to shoot for 2-3 posts a week, or more if time permits. If your blog has 2-3 writers, then each might write 1-2 posts a week. The idea is to do your best to make sure that your readers are rewarded with new content every time they visit your blog.
Also, consider your reader's habits. Blog readership typically falls on the weekend and is normally higher during the week, with traffic beginning to tail off on Friday; like many of us, blog readers also want to get an early start on the weekend. Ideally, the majority of your blog's posts will fall on Monday through Thursday. Again, the idea is to get your posting habits in line with when your visitors want to read your blog.
Make It Pretty
Try your best to add a relevant picture to every post. Visuals immediately capture the reader's attention and give your post a fighting chance of being read. It's OK to add pictures of your products, as long as you are careful not to go overboard. If possible, use pictures that you and other writers have taken.
And don't be afraid to add pictures of yourself and other writers, and do so often. People are more comfortable around people they know and are familiar with, and adding pictures is a great way to help readers remember that a "real person" is writing your blog.
If you have a shutterbug or two at your company, consider setting up a Flickr account and adding a Flickr stream of these photos to your blog. Don't worry if the pictures are related to something totally different from your company. If your company sells soap, and your blog's Flickr stream has a series of photos up from your CEO's rafting trip through the Grand Canyon last month, your readers will love it.
They will respond because it shows them that your company is made up of real people with real interests and real hobbies. Just like them.
Share the (Blogging) Love
Now that we've worked on getting your readers to spend more time on your blog, we want to send them away. I know what you're thinking, but stick with me for a minute.
When you add links in your posts to additional information on other sites and blogs, you are encouraging your readers to leave your blog. But from the reader's point of view (again, we want to shift our focus to that of our reader), they see your linking to another site as a way of helping them find helpful and relevant information.
In other words, you are making an effort to provide them with a better experience and are willing to risk having them leave your site. Readers see this as your putting their wants and needs above your own.
And don't hesitate to link to your competitors, either. Yes, from your company's point of view, this might seem like "helping the enemy," but to your blog reader your doing so makes your company seem confident in its products and services. Perhaps more importantly, it helps establish your company as a leader in its field.
Why Are You Blogging?
If you've started blogging and you're not satisfied with the results you are achieving, it might be time to take a step back and reconsider your motivations. When visitors arrive at your blog, they are looking for something. It could be entertainment, it could be information, it could be a chance to leave you feedback.
Your job is to tailor your content so that it satisfies the wants and needs of your visitors and readers. Your job isn't to hype your products and services post after post. Your job isn't to ignore the comments from your visitors and readers.
A blog is, more than anything else, an incredibly powerful communication tool, but very few companies use it properly.
Your primary motivation for blogging should be to better understand your customers. And you can better understand your customers when you are communicating with them, and that's where a blog comes in.
When you engage your customers in conversation, you understand them better and you can more efficiently market your products and services to them. The result is not only more satisfied customers but also lower marketing costs, because you now understand how to more efficiently reach and satisfy your customers.
If you are viewing your blog as a tool to sell more products to your customers... stop. Your blog's readers don't want to be sold to. They want to talk to you, and learn more about your company.
So open up the communication possibilities of your blog. View it as a learning tool that will allow you to talk to your customers and better understand them. You simply cannot place a dollar figure on the value of having a better understanding of your customers.
The Power of Understanding
The biggest improvement you can make to your company's blog is to shift your mindset—from viewing it as a promotional device to seeing it as a powerful communication tool. When you do this, you will start to find ways to shape your blog's content so that it appeals to your customers, and encourages feedback.
Consider your blog as a conversational starting point between your and your customers.
But will you increase sales? When a company begins to receive and act on feedback that its customers leave at its blog, its marketing becomes more effective and efficient. Which drives marketing costs down. And as customers see that a company is actually encouraging feedback and reacting to it, they will begin to provide even more feedback, helping you to lower marketing costs even more.
When customers see that a company is making an effort to talk to them and learn from them, that makes a serious impression on them. The customers begin to trust the company, which not only leads them to give more feedback but also drives them to tell others about how well you company listens. That, in turn, leads to more customers, and more devoted customers, and helps encourage customer evangelism. And that lowers your company's marketing costs even more.
So What Does It All Mean?
If your company blog isn't taking off like you had hoped it would, you can improve its performance.
Make sure that you are tailoring its contents so that the visitor benefits. Don't turn your blog into an online brochure for your products; that's what your Web site is for. The job of your blog is to give your readers other information they want, and can use. And this isn't always about your products and services; in fact, often it won't be. By giving readers information they can use, even if it isn't about your products and services, you ensure that they will continue to read your blog, and tell others about it as well.
Make sure you allow your readers' comments to post as quickly as possible, and make every effort to respond to them as quickly as possible. This ensures that you will receive more comments, which gives you more customer feedback.
Also, make a point to visit the blogs of the readers who comment on your blog, and leave a comment on their posts. Essentially, you're telling them that you appreciate their stopping by, and it all but guarantees that they will come back again. And probably bring their friends!
Finally, don't view your blog as a selling tool; consider it a communication tool that helps you better understand your customer, which in the long term leads to more sales. But remember that you cannot get a better understanding of your customers until they come to your blog, and they won't come to unless you give them information they can use and a sense of being heard.
Position your company blog not from your point of view but from your customers', and you'll be amazed at the results.