I had the distinct pleasure of serving, along with Michele Linn, as a "blog therapist" during last week's B2B Forum. While this experience definitively demonstrated to me that blogs have become a fixture in the marketing mix (seems like everybody's got one), it also highlighted that everybody is wrestling with the same or similar problems.
Here are the common points of pain that my patients shared with me as well as the remedies I prescribed.
1. Promotion Begins at Home
The good news is that people are writing (although, as I'll discuss in a second, there is pain here as well). The frustrating news is that people aren't necessarily reading what's been written. The good news (again) is that you can do something about that.
There's plenty of advice out there on promoting your blog, but the sheer quantity can be overwhelming. The advice I gave was relatively simple: Start with what you got.
If you already send an email newsletter to your customers, use it to drive traffic to specific posts. If you have a website (wait, you don't?), put a widget on the homepage listing recent posts. If you sponsor webinars and such, link to supporting posts in your invites, follow-ups, and on your landing pages. If you have LinkedIn or Facebook pages, post there. And so forth.
Whether you realize it, you've already built a publishing platform or network. Turn it on!
2. Content: Quality AND Quantity
Most people I spoke with had fairly modest goals for post frequency (to the tune of once or twice a week), primarily due to resource constraints. Frankly, the one or two people responsible for the blog can only churn out so much because they have other things to do. And while folks in the company may express interest in contributing, who has the time?
To get more posts up per week, I recommend broadening the range of content on your blog. Sure, everyone wants the killer 600-1,000 word post that sets the blogosphere on fire, but if that's your constant standard, it's going to be a hard slog. Instead, fill in the space between the blockbuster thought-leadership stuff with:
- Quick response pieces: "Blogger X wrote [pertinent quote]. We agree/disagree because [insert reason]. The question we have is [insert question]. What do you think?"
- Link lists: This Week in [Industry]; What We're Reading; Our company in the news; Upcoming Events of Interest; Etc.
- Recruitment (Give your recruiters a post a week to highlight hot jobs, internships, etc.)
As far as enabling those in the organization to contribute, I find the quick interview to be one way to work around their time issues. That is, they might not have two hours to commit to writing something awesome, but they will probably have 20 t0 30 minutes to share their perspective with someone who can do the writing for them.
3. Making Your Blog Purpose-Driven
Thanks to the miracle of technology, you don't need a purpose to start a blog; the blogging platforms just don't seem to care. However, decisions regarding blog content, not to mention blog promotion strategies and everything else, will become a lot simpler if you can with confidence answer the question, "Why does your company have a blog?"
If that question gives you a hot flash, it may be comforting to know that you are not alone, but it is also important that you set about finding a purpose and quick.
There are many reasons companies blog:
- SEO (Blogs are, after all, a quick and easy way to add keyword rich content to your site.)
- Sales support
- Community engagement
- A combination of these
There is no one right purpose---it really depends on your business model---and deciding on a purpose is just the start (fulfilling that purpose is where the real work happens). But if you are blogging without a clear purpose, how can you say with any certainty whether your efforts are succeeding?
Blogging ain't easy. But, if you have a clear reason for doing it, rely on a range of content-types, and use the tools that are ready at hand to promote it, it does get easier.
Now, tell me, where does your blog hurt?