Blogs are a vital component of any professional service firm’s business development and social media marketing; yet so many fail to have one or to use it to anything like good effect!
Social media marketing is all about establishing trust and building relationships; a blog has a central role in this process; it’s also where the business gets done.
If you use your blog well you can make great progress, use it badly, or not at all,and a great opportunity is lost.
So what should you be thinking about?
The key question we will therefore address is this: Is having a blog central to a social media plan and if so how should it be used?
Something that is often missed or passed over by many commentators when talking about the effective use of social media is the importance of your own website or blog in the context of your social media activities. Indeed listening to some all you need to do is have a Facebook account!
No. This is not the case; its selling yourself and your firm far short.
Working with a blog should be central to everything you do. Don’t let web designers or agencies who want to develop an expensive Web 1.0 style website tell you differently; refer them to this blog post.
The social media provide the means to build rapport, relationship and trust; this is where you become known, liked and trusted but it’s not where the business is conducted.
Because this is done back at your blog. The blog should be you centre or hub where everything is pulled together in one cohesive, substantive and all encompassing centre of excellence.
The social media utilities are where you create excitement interest and enthusiasm, your blog is where you pull it all together.
So if its that important, where should one start?
The starting point is not to start but to look and learn!
The starting point is to research the social media world; try it out as a user. In this way you’ll come to see how your blog might fit in the wider context; then
- Set up an RSS reader and subscribe to blogs;
- See what is really popular and think about what it means for you and your output;
- Sign up on twitter and see what others in your sector are saying and doing [it may not be good]; its a good idea to do Twitter searches on your competitors;
- Make a commitment to actively follow people on Twitter who you find or who you know put out great quality content on their blogs so you get to see it as it comes up;
- Sign up at a mix of social book marking sites and engage; see how others use their blogs in this context;
- Visit the main networking sites for your service arena;
- Visit relevant forums and start posting a few comments, but only when and where you can add value;
- Get a feel for it, take your time, see how it all works; get a feel for where you feel most comfortable
Remember that when your social media plan, your online videos, your podcasts and all else is in place you’ll have a fully interconnected series of new media sites that work in concert on your behalf; but don’t try or even think you can set it all up in a day and that’s it; it doesn’t work like that!
When you’re comfortable the 1st thing to do is to set up your own blog and simply start blogging with your very best materials.
A blog is a powerful tool as it allows your readers to: add content and to subscribe so they are automatically notified when content is updated; they also automatically ping the search engines when content is updated.
I recommend a WordPress blog as they are simple to set up and there are many free plug-ins available giving extraordinary functionality dependent on what you want to do.
The great thing about WordPress is that there is almost no set up but the downside with hosted blogging is that it does not deliver as much search engine benefit because the content does not reside on your website domain; therefore I recommend getting your own keyword focused domain name and placing your WordPress blog there;
All the main hosting providers have ready made arrangements for facilitating a WordPress blog so it really is very easy to set up.
The keys to effective use of your blog really are very simple:
- Focus your posts on things that are current;
- Address issues your target audience are concerned about or interested in;
- Make sure each blog post is keyword optimised for words people are searching for that the post focuses in on;
- Encourage people to contribute to debates;
- Post the answers to the questions, problems, and challenges that you know from looking elsewhere that people are asking;
- Don’t be afraid of controversy and taking a stand; this encourages participation; and
- Focus on developing active conversations that draw more and more people into the frame;
It’s also important to:
- Post links to your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn sites whenever you make a new post;
- Think about guest Blogging on other high traffic, blogs using well written posts with a bi-line and a link back to your own blog;
- Keep asking for comments, asking questions, seeking opinions and do make sure that you comment on all the substantive comments that folks make on your blog;
- Visit the blogs of those who are commenting and write on their sites; and where appropriate link to their content in your blog posts and via Twitter; all is well as this becomes infectious and everyone benefits.
WordPress templates are also readily available giving preset functionality helping the newbie to quickly achieve the desired results. I use the Socrates template which you can find out more about by clicking on the Affiliate link word ‘Socrates’ at the very bottom right hand side of my blog page; see the bio for the address.
Your blog should become the main way for people to really come to know you and your firm.
Do people want to go to your blog per say? No! So why have one?
Because on your blog, with its keyword titled and optimised posts, prospects will find the answers to their questions and get to know you as you help them to understand more.
When considering the potential of the social media, its not the utilities themselves, be it your blog, Facebook, twitter, the social book marking platforms or news sites or LinkedIn that are important, it’s the information they contain
Set up an RSS feed:
1. RSS feeds benefit publishers by letting them syndicate content automatically at the same time as benefiting readers who want to subscribe to timely updates from preferred blogs or websites.
2. In essence what happens is all those feeds from as many sites as you chose to draw from come into one place where the reader can view them all.
3. RSS feeds are read using an “RSS reader”. A user subscribes to a feed by clicking the RSS icon in a web browser. The RSS reader checks the user’s subscribed feeds regularly for new work, downloads any updates that it finds, and provides a user interface to monitor and read the feeds.