Leave your blog to fend for itself.
Just write a couple of â€œawesomeâ€ posts. Present the company, the business, and its products. Maybe share a few juicy secrets or tips about your services and then leave it at that. Having several excellent and informative posts will be enough to keep your readers updated on what your company is all about. Your posts are just so great that you do not really need to post new entries from time to time.
Donâ€™t use pictures.
They just clutter up the blog. This is business, anyway. Who said that businesses had to cater to the visual pleasure of their clients? All you need is content and that is the end of the discussion.
Donâ€™t mind the comments.
Who cares about what other people have to say? You just wanted to establish your presence online anyway, didnâ€™t you? Who said that you have to interact with the rest of the world through your blog? Just as long as you have had your say, you should be content.
Ads are the best thing in the world.
You can never have enough of these. Just post them all over your blog and give your readers the pleasure of enjoying them before they find your post. Just imagine the sense of achievement that they will feel once they have waded through the plethora of ads and finally find your post!
Play it safe â€“ all the time.
You donâ€™t want to offend anyone. Youâ€™d be better off just riding the fence on issues. That way, you can get a wider audience. Pleasing all the people on earth is easy â€“ just donâ€™t take sides. Plus, you wouldnâ€™t want anyone to disagree with you and find yourself discussing ideas with others.
The blog boom is nothing short of miraculous, with countless new blogs being created each and every day, in all parts of the world. Everyone knows about this. Yet if you look a bit deeper into the situation, you can also see countless blogs which have died or are dying. Your business blog, as easy it may be to set up, can be one of these dead-dying blogs if you are not careful. Here are some practical ways to become a mere statistic in the blogosphere â€“ needless to say, my aim is for you to avoid these.
Donâ€™t maintain focus.
Instead, jump from one topic to another all the time. Avoid being thematic and presenting clear and coherent ideas to your reader base. Talk about marketing the next day and then feature the latest reality TV show the next. This will surely keep your readers on their toes and away from your blog.
Be ambiguous about your domain name.
So what if your domain name can be misinterpreted for something else? That is the name you want, so stick to it. It doesnâ€™t matter if the people who are looking for your blog find something else because your domain name is not clear. Neither is it important that people stumble upon your blog even if they are looking for something else.
Focus on keywords and nothing else.
We all know that the key to rising in the search engine rankings is to populate our posts with keywords, donâ€™t we? It doesnâ€™t matter that the posts almost make no sense at all because of the wording. What is important is that the posts are over rich in keywords. Never mind that human readers cannot make sense of it.
(to be continued)
Another aspect to Googleâ€™s blogging protocol is that the blogs of each product team is focused solely on Press Relations. That means that comments are turned off for the blog posts. This in turn means that readers cannot voice their opinion and bloggers cannot respond. In short â€“ conversation is not possible.
How can this be beneficial?
I have always stuck to the belief that one of the strongest aspects of a blog is the fact that you can encourage readers to comment and share their own ideas. Gathering information from readers in this way is quite efficient and effective â€“ both in terms of time and money. So how does Google do it without allowing people to comment on their posts?
Perhaps Google already has an advantage of, well, merely being Google. Despite the fact that they do not allow comments in their blogs, their posts serve a purpose similar to that of a pebble being thrown into a placid pond. A tiny pebble thrown into calm waters gives off ripples that have a far reaching effect. Same thing with Google posts â€“ they incite such active discussion in the blogosphere such that their ultimate aim of making their presence even more felt online is achieved.
How can your business benefit from this strategy?
I think that you can adopt a similar policy of using your blog as a venue for press releases. Though you may not feel comfortable letting go of the traditional press release as of yet, you may want to ease into this pattern little by little and see how it can benefit your own business.
Image from: Drawn
If there is one success story that a small business should look up to, it would be Google. This once small start up is now one of the biggest companies in the world. Individuals from all parts of the earth crave to be part of Google. So how does blogging figure in in all this?
Google has its own blog network â€“ official blog network, that is. Their blogs have made the way to success and the maintenance of this success much easier, I would say. Other businesses â€“ small, medium, or large â€“ would do well to take a look at how Google operates its blogs and learn from them.
One of the things that Google is most known for is the image of being loose, easy, and relaxed. Yet despite this image, they actually have some very conservative ideas when it comes to their blogs. One of their strongest protocols in regard to their blogs is that all blogs are overseen and monitored. According to Karen Wickre (â€œMother of Googleâ€™s Blogs):
While itâ€™s important to have a review, I never want to overwrite what a Googler is saying about their topic or product. All posts are reviewed by a few relevant people on the immediate team, plus a PR person for approval. As a rule, this isnâ€™t labor-intensive or overbearing. We try to encourage original perspectives and stories insofar as company blogs can feature those. We share drafts in Google Docs and do edits there. Again, I try hard not to overwrite or have the team wordsmith to death. Thatâ€™s not going to get us interesting reads.
I believe they have struck a balance between monitoring and freedom of speech, which is what you also have to do with your own blogs if you want to protect the company and encourage ideas as well.
(to be continued)
Image from: SCIAM
What is knowledge management? It is the control and dissemination of information relevant to an entity with regard to the people within the entity. So if you are running a business â€“ no matter how big or small â€“ knowledge management is making sure that the right people have the right information at the right time.
How important is this? Imagine a scenario wherein your customer service representatives have different information from the current SOP of the company. What is going to happen if a customer asks them for help? It is bound to be a disaster.
There are different ways by which a business entity can manage knowledge and information within the ranks. One easy and cost effective way is through blogging. Now I am talking about internal company blogs as opposed to the business blogs that we normally talk about, which are open to the public.
Take for example, a situation wherein a new query from a customer arises. No one has handled such a query before. The representative who takes care of the situation can resolve it and document the process in the blog, making it easily retrievable by other employees who may need the information in the future.
More so, internal blog posts can serve as an interactive tool for employees. They can exchange thoughts and ideas regarding various issues and concerns. It opens up a venue for problem solving wherein limitless ideas can be exchanged.
Of course, you would have to instill some sort of control regarding posts as things might get out of hand. Still, this is easily implemented and the advantages far outweigh the potential risk.
Image from: MITRE
Who isnâ€™t interested in knowing something about the future? That is why we have fortune tellers and all sorts of schemes to give us a peek into what tomorrow holds for us. Why not let this tiny aspect of human nature do your work for you and your business?
Give your customers a peek into what you have in store for them in the near future by posting entries in your blog.
Remember when Sony was still working on the PlayStation 3 and all they had were little snippets of information? How about Steve Jobs and Apple with the iPhone? These two giants in the tech industry know how to build up the anticipation for their products. They know how to give just enough information to their customers and heighten their excitement for what is to come.
You can do exactly the same thing with your business blog.
Make a big deal about a product or service that you are about to release in the near future. Give your customers an idea of what it is about but keep some details hidden â€“ for now. You can even throw in a teaser or two to keep them guessing. Of course, you have to be accurate and honest â€“ you donâ€™t want to be accused of false advertising.
You may not have as big a customer base as Sony and Apple but it doesnâ€™t matter. With such a strategy employed, your blog readers will certainly get the word around. It will only be a matter of time till you get more of the exposure that you are aiming for.
Small businesses can learn a lot from the big players in the business world. If you need more proof of how a business blog can help your own enterprise, read on to find out how Cisco Systems did it â€“ and is doing it â€“ blog-wise.
Letâ€™s go back to when it all started, in 2006, when Cisco was caught in the middle of a PR disaster. They were being accused of messing around with their routers in order to pacify the Chinese government. Instead of using the traditional means of getting out information, they turned to the blogosphere to get their side of the story out. It all started there and now, Ciscoâ€™s blog network has expanded to way beyond the original plan.
So what can we learn from Ciscoâ€™s experience?
Think long term.
In life, short cuts do not always work. Success in blogging takes time. You cannot expect changes to occur overnight. Neither can you expect the results you are looking for in a short amount of time. You have to be prepared to spend time and effort on building up your blog.
Get your people involved.
Do not severely limit your people from participating in your blog. In Cisco, most anyone can blog. They merely have to apply to write for the blog. There is a blog team which then looks through the applications. Having more than one person blogging provides more input and also prevents a single employee from burning out. Cisco bloggers also need to follow a policy set by the company regarding blogging.
Make the blog part of company communication.
Remember Cisco suing Apple? They discussed the issue strongly and actively in their blogs. By doing so, they were able to get their side of the story out in the mainstream. In fact, using the key phrase â€œCisco sues Apple,â€ their blog came out as the second search result in Google during that time.
Image from: Tech Shout
People are inevitably drawn to free stuff. One surefire way to get more traffic to your blog as well as promote your product is by hosting a contest on your blog. What makes a good contest though?
From what I have seen there are several mistakes that bloggers make when hosting contests. First is that some make it too easy to join the contest so that contestants become one time visitors that wait for results via email. Second is the opposite. It is so hard to join the contest and there are too many exclusions (buying a product, writing long essays, etc.) that you automatically turn off the majority of those who might have wanted to join. And last, is offering something “worthless” as a price (like a backlink when your blog obviously has only two readers – no value).
From these observations I came to realize that for a blog contest to be successful you need to do the following:
- Have cool prizes. What is cool will depend on your target audience. While being added to the blogroll or having a post written about them is great note that this won’t be seen as valuable unlesss your blog has lots of traffic. Online gift certificates are great because winners get to choose their prize.
- Have 3 or more winners. Having just one winner is discouraging. Always give away prizes to 2nd and 3rd place winners or to category winners.
- Give varied ways to join and win prizes. For example while some may win a small prize by simply leaving a comment and thus be included in the random draw (easy way of joining) others can hope for bigger prizes by linking back to your blog (Yay for links!), posting a related story there or posting a picture. Buying a product from your online store can also earn them points for the raffle draw. This way you will get more people to join the contest as well as get something out of it automatically.
Image Source: MK Rules – Keeping it Positive; Keeping it Real
Listening is one skill that is of very high importance â€“ no matter what context you may be in. Think about your latest meeting â€“ how did you glean vital facts about your competitor? How were you able to deduce that critical insight? Probably by listening very acutely to what was going on.
Now translate this skill â€“ listening â€“ to cyberspace, more specifically to business blogs. We have been talking on and on about how business blogs can help you â€“ there is no doubt about it. If your business has its blog, there are a thousand and one benefits that you can reap â€“ merely from having your own blog.
Yet do not let the fact that your business has a blog limit you. It does not mean that you have done all you can to improve the business! Think beyond the box, so to speak. Look beyond your own business blog and visit other blogs.
Why? Because by doing that, you are listening. And listening gives you more information â€“ information that can be very useful tools in your path to success.
Listening is actually being done in your own blog â€“ by reading readersâ€™ comments, you have hearing out their concerns. That is one way to gather information that you can use. Yet beyond that, try visiting other sites and blogs and see what your â€œnon-customersâ€ and competitors are thinking and doing. This kind of information just might give you the edge that you need to get ahead of the rest of the pack.
Bad press is a fact of life. In spite of the fact that you are a well established company worldwide (or come to think of it maybe because of this fact), you can still get bad publicity. Of course, being a small company does not make you exempt from this possibility as well.
More often than not, there are two ways of dealing with this problem. One is to sit it out and ignore the allegations. If this is not possible, then companies have to give their own side of the story. This would entail PR firms and a lot of expense.
Yet there is another solution â€“ blogging.
Letâ€™s imagine a scenario wherein an â€œindependentâ€ entity conducts a study one some of your products or services and they find something to criticize. Normally this should not be that big of a concern â€“ we should be open to criticism. But letâ€™s say that the results of the study are totally unfair, somewhat untrue, and gives a deceptive picture of your company and your products or services.
If you have a business blog up and running, it would be an easy matter to post an entry refuting the allegations against you. More so, you could easily refer to previous posts that could bolster your case. Even more importantly, your readers â€“ who we assume are your customers as well â€“ would be part of the whole thing. They probably follow your blog already and know the real deal. They would probably even throw in their 2 cents worth.
Get the picture I am painting here?