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Starting a corporate blog takes just a few hours, not a few months, so there’s no reason to stall on this one. Having a corporate blog exposes you to your customers and makes you more accessible. Without a corporate blog, your company looks and feels “cold” to the rest of the world. It’s fine to be stoic if you’re selling aluminum or steel girders or something like that, but most companies could benefit from having a little bit of a personality. Before you rush out to start blogging, here are 10 best practices you should obey. After all, you’re a business and not a personal blogger posting pictures of cats doing silly things.
#1 – Consistency
Don’t start a blog if you’re only going to post twice a year. Pick a schedule and stick to it. If you want to build up a readership, you should be posting at least once a week. Having something meaningful to say is important, and a good 500 to 1,000 word article about something related to your industry will keep your readers engaged and coming back for more.
#2 – Identify Target Audience
Don’t just write to whomever fogs a mirror. Make sure you have a defined audience in mind. It’s fine if you turn some people off. Not everyone is your customer. Get used to it. Only speak to the people who matter: the people who put money into your company’s bank account.
#3 – Understanding Keywords
Keywords are what drive the web. If you’re going to blog, you need to understand keywords. If your company sells exercise equipment, your keywords will be focused around that keyword. Maybe you sell rowing machines. Your keywords will be derivatives of the “root” keyword “rowing machines.” For example, you might compose a post with the title “How Rowing Machines Help Women.” This helps your blog to get indexed by Google. Once Google ranks your website for “rowing machines,” it will almost force traffic to the blog. This is how you get visitors.
#4 – Conversion is King
Some people say content is king. That’s half-true, but it doesn’t matter how many people read your site if you’re not engaging your audience and making sales. You need conversions. You need people to take action. Blog posts don’t’ have to be “pitch fests,” but they should lead people to a page on your company’s site that makes them an offer to buy something. For example, you could append your posts with a byline that links to your products page.
#5 – Be Human
You’re a corporation, but the purpose of a blog is to humanize an otherwise faceless company. Don’t just be a cold and uncaring company. Show your audience that you have passion for what you do. Show your fallibility Most corporations won’t commit image suicide, but that’s what really needs to be done. You cannot live in mediocrity. No one will remember you. In a sea of corporate blogs, it’s the interesting ones that stand out and attract attention. The companies who try to “cookie cutter” their blog are the ones that scratch their heads when the blog posts never convert into sales or anything measurable.
#6 – Serve Your Reader More Than Your Employer
If you’re the owner of the company, don’t be offended when your bloggers serve the reader over the company. If you’re blogging for the company, serve the reader. In today’s world, many consumers don’t trust businesses – especially big businesses. The bigger you are, the more skeptical people are going to be. You need to “break the ice” by showing them that they are important. Send readers away from your blog to your competitors, when appropriate. When is this appropriate?
Let’s say you know that you can’t serve some people within a defined demographic. Send those people away. They will respect you more than if you try to sell them something that they can’t use or that won’t benefit them.
#7 – Join Conversations Before You Start New Ones
Many people are already talking about an issue that interests them. Before you start blogging, look at what other people are talking about on other blogs. Get in on the conversation happening on other websites. Then, when you start a conversation of your own, you have credibility.
#8 – Never Stop Learning
Learning is an ongoing process. Never stop. Learning about your market, and your audience, allows you to continue to develop and tailor your message to them. A great way to learn about your market is to link your corporate blog to a Facebook fan page or a Twitter account. See what’s happening in your potential or existing customers’ lives.
#9 – Develop A Company-Wide Style Guide
Most companies would do well to adopt a standard writing guide. The AP style guide is appropriate, but some companies might want additional rules in addition to the AP guide. Whatever you adopt, make it consistent. All of your bloggers should follow the same guide. It’s the little things like this that will stand out to your audience. Consistency in how blog posts are constructed, punctuation, headlines, etc. Readers will notice.
#10 – Have A Voice
Don’t be a drone. Your bloggers shouldn’t all sound alike. You should talk to your audience as though you are sitting in a bar after work. Your tie is loosened (or off), and you’re having a beer together. What would you say to your audience in this kind of relaxed setting? Your blog is the right place to be “business casual.” Share your thoughts and tips on corporate blogging below.