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Corporate Blogging Whitepaper

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At Paramore | the digital agency, we deal with a lot of companies who want to get into social media marketing, increase their SEO presence and basically "Do all that digital marketing stuff." One …

At Paramore | the digital agency, we deal with a lot of companies who want to get into social media marketing, increase their SEO presence and basically "Do all that digital marketing stuff." One important aspect that always comes up is should the question, "Should our company start a blog?"

It's a very tough question to answer in one sitting. There are definite benefits to blogging (i.e. SEO improvements, enticing content for fans, content to share on social networks, etc), but there are many pitfalls to take into account as well.

In this white paper, we delve into the necessary elements and pitfalls that come with the idea of corporate blogging and see whether or not you should start a blog or stick to other avenues of social content.

Enjoy!

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  • 1. Business BloggingElements of Success and Common Pitfalls PAGE 1
  • 2. INTRODUCTIONShould you be blogging? There are many positives to starting, writing and maintaining a blog for a brand orwebsite, but the answer to that question lies well beyond the possible SEO, authority and traffic increases. The realanswer comes down to whether or not you have the time and resources to keep your blog updated andmaintained. There are many success stories about corporations starting blogs and driving enormous amounts oftraffic to their website and even driving sales (88% of active blog readers say they trust information they read inblogs) 1. Often though, companies don’t take into account the time and content commitment of blogging and hurttheir online reputation by hosting a mediocre blog.This white paper will look at the necessary elements of a successful business blog and examine some of thedangers and pitfalls in creating a blog and then failing to maintain it. Any action that has the potential for great gainalso has the potential for detriments, and blogging is no different. When run correctly, a blog can give a brand anappealing, human voice, increase the SEO, traffic and authority of the brand’s online presence and occupy themindspace of customers on a more regular basis. When run poorly, a business blog can give the impression abrand is lazy, disorganized, or worse, unknowledgeable in their field. An ineffective blog can also be a huge wasteof money for a company, and nobody wants that.ELEME NTS OF A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS BLOGLet’s look at some of the most important elements that make up successful business blogs.1. Posting Often and Regularly - The most important word to focus on in this element is “regularly.” Posting often will mean different things for different brands. Sites like Mashable.com or HuffingtonPost.com can easily post upwards of 7-8 times per day; meanwhile for a site dedicated to steam engine repair, often may mean posting twice a week. In any case, it’s important to find a schedule that keeps you in front of your audience and stick to it. All industries are constantly evolving, which is true for your industry as well, so finding things to write about on a bi-weekly basis shouldn’t be an issue. If you can write new, quality content on a daily basis, that’s fantastic. At the very least you should be committed to writing a new blog post once a week.1 http://www.brafton.com/news/study-blog-marketing-impacts-purchase-decisions-800486825 PAGE 2
  • 3. 2. Understanding of Customer Needs - Successful business blogs understand why their customers would need to continue reading their content. They provide unique information, answer questions or solve problems. The blog run by Sweet Leaf Tea 2 not only provides information about accomplishments, but also takes time to showcase employee teammates (called “Tea Mates”) and their interests, giving a human connection to the brand. When blogs set out to answer questions and solve problems for their customers they have a built-in and immediate connection to their audience. The basis behind marketing and selling is the creation of a good or service that solves some need for a lot of people and your business blog should find ways to solve needs as well. The Citrix blog, “Work Shifting 3,” helps people in business when they are on the move. Citrix actually downplays their involvement in the blog in order to focus on the needs of the readers, thereby creating a blog that is bigger than the specific brand could be alone.2 http://sweetleafteablog.com/3 http://workshifting.com/ PAGE 3
  • 4. 3. Focused Focus- You can’t be all things to all readers and blogs that try end up being nothing but forgotten. What is your company’s focus? Who are the main groups of people your business wants to be talking to? Keeping the answers to those questions in mind when creating and writing your blog will help you focus in on your readers and bring out content that speaks directly to the people you want to speak with. Remember: As a business blogger, it is not about you, it’s about your audience.4. Calls To Action - You’re writing your blog for a reason and that reason is because you want your audience to do something (or a variety of things). Never underestimate the power of simply asking. Studies have shown in multiple scenarios that proving good information and then asking for the desired action, generates better results than simply hoping the action will be taken 4. Insert Call to Action (CTA) buttons on your blog that say “Download Now” or “Join Our Mailing List.” Include some sort of call to action in each blog post, even if it’s as simple as asking for people to comment on the post or give their thoughts on an issue.5. Entertainment - People’s attention spans are short online. The average blog reader will stay on any particular blog about 96 seconds 5. That doesn’t give you a large window to educate and retain them unless you give them something incredibly interesting or entertaining to read and interact with. Find new ways to present content by including pictures and videos (discussed next) or use guest writers or cartoons to grab people’s attention. Hubspot.com is well-known for including comics and fun staff-made videos from time to time to show a lighter, more entertaining side to the brand.4 http://www.copyblogger.com/social-media-call-to-action/5 http://www.problogger.net/archives/2005/03/17/how-long-do-your-readers-stay-at-your-blog-length-of-stay-statistics/ PAGE 4
  • 5. 6. Multiple Types of Rich Media - Just like in other areas of online media, blogs that use multiple types of rich media (i.e., photos, videos, Slideshare, Infographics, etc.) bring more to the table and grab more attention than those that stick to merely text. Southwest Airline’s blog, “Nuts About Southwest6,” is a great example of a blog that mixes up the types of media it uses to engage its readers. They use written articles, videos, photos, polls and surveys and more to capture the attention of all interested parties that make their way to the Southwest blog page. They usually lead off each blog post with an image to draw in the reader, which is a tactic that should be used by all business blogs.6 http://www.blogsouthwest.com/ PAGE 5
  • 6. 7. Social Elements - Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and your blog’s RSS feed should all be in your arsenal of possible avenues to continue the relationship with your readers. Giving your readers obvious and simple ways to share the great content you’re putting out will benefit your blog in areas of traffic and new visitors. Include the social sharing buttons at the bottom of each post and at the top of most pages so your readers have no chance of missing them.BLOGGING PITFALLSA lot of work and time goes into creating a quality blog for your brand or company. There are many pitfalls that canbecome immediate dangers to business blogs though. These are the most pressing and immediate ones lurkingfor almost every business blog on the Internet.1. Time Management - The decision to commit to a company blog is not one that should be made lightly. A corporate blog is not a one-time thought; it is a long-term commitment to ongoing communication with customers, prospects, employees, partners and the press. There is a considerable time and personnel need when starting a company blog. Outside of simply finding people to write posts for the blog, you have to take into account the time necessary for coming up with a posting schedule, editing chain of command and deciding who’s in charge of keeping track of the writing, editing and posting deadlines. As with many other things, there is a “honeymoon period” when it comes to blogging. During the first couple of months, it is easy to find interesting content to push out to your audience, the buy-in from corporate is in full- swing and writing about the company and the brand is exciting. After a while, the reality of the commitment sets in and it is easy to let the maintenance of the blog slip as people miss deadlines and it becomes harder to find content for posts. This is the time when it is important to have a strict posting schedule and a mindset to stick to it. A poorly-maintained blog comes off lazy to people who may find it online. In addition, the SEO benefits of having constant content on your site will quickly start to dwindle and the blog will become a waste of time, personnel and money.2. Sell, Sell, Sell - One easy pitfall to stumble on with any corporate blog is the habit of only selling. Allow the tactics presented before of answering customer questions and solving problems to do the heavy lifting of PAGE 6
  • 7. generating trust and interest among your readers. You should already have CTAs built into your posts and buttons visible on the site, so there’s no need for every post on the blog to be a targeted sales pitch. As soon as your readers feel they are constantly being sold to on your blog, they will pay as little attention to them as they do television commercials and magazine ads.3. Negative Comments - If you’ve done your research and looked at other blogs in your vertical, you’ve probably noticed negative comments on posts here and there. One fear many companies have about starting a company blog is the possibility of people responding negatively to posts and news. When deciding to start a blog, understanding that there will be negative comments is something that must be accepted and planned for rather than feared and avoided. It’s going to happen. The best way to handle disparaging comments is to have a process pre-defined that will help you respond and react rationally and logically. See what others have complained about on competitor blogs and go into it prepared to act with professionalism and tact.4. No Fun - If you want your readers to have fun while reading your blog, strive to have fun while writing it. You should have a specifically defined voice for the blog (even multi-authored blogs) and make sure every aspect of that voice comes through in your writing. It’s easy for corporate blogs to believe they cannot show a human side or emotions in their writing, but some of the best corporate blogs out there truly capture the heart and soul of the organization and brand (i.e., Disney7, My Starbucks Idea 8, Patagonia 9, etc.).FINAL THOUGHTSSo, is blogging an important practice? Yes. Should your company or brand jump right in and start one? It depends.There are a lot of benefits that come along with running a successful corporate blog (niche authority, websitetraffic, SEO improvements, etc.), but the brands that truly achieve those benefits are the ones that understand thetime commitments and necessary elements and dedicate themselves to the job of writing and creating content.It sounds easy to just “start up a blog thing” and get into the game when all your competitors are doing it, but itreally comes down to your motivations as a company and how much time you’re willing to put towards the effort.For some companies, it may be safer and more cost-efficient to sidestep those pitfalls and focus on other areas ofgrowth and customer conversation. For companies willing and ready to step into the blogging world, get ready andstrap in because it’s a wild ride that will take you to some awesome new places.7 http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/8 http://mystarbucksidea.force.com/apex/ideaHome9 http://www.thecleanestline.com/ PAGE 7