Last week, I attended BlogWorld & New Media Expo, a three-day conference and tradeshow for bloggers, podcasters, Web content creators and social media innovators. While I wasn’t able to attend all 130+ sessions, I did listen in on some very good ones and have been recapping them here.
Also available: 7 Deadly Social Sins, a recap of the session featuring UnMarketing’s Scott Stratten; How to Humanize Your Brand, featuring Livefyre’s Jenna Langer; Reporting for Bloggers, with tips from journalist David Copeland; 7 Don’ts of Online Community Management, featuring Debba Haupert; How to Attract Members to Your Online Community, which featured a panel of four experts; 40+ Content Creation Ideas for Your Blog, with Rich Brooks; 8 Ways to Master the List Post, with Nate Riggs; and 10 Business Blogging Mistakes, featuring Marcus Sheridan.
Bloggers and Business Owners: A Love-Hate Relationship
Blogging can feel like a business owner’s worst enemy when they don’t understand the need to blog; don’t know what to write; don’t know how to get people to read their blog; don’t see their blog bringing in business; and don’t have the time to blog.
Business owners must understand that their objective is not just to share information, but to strategically market their business at the same time. You don’t have to write 15 posts a day, but you should blog for your business – and here are five reasons why:
- To be searchable: When used correctly, blogs help people find you.
- To stay connected: Create a space to have ongoing conversations with your customers.
- To build a brand following: Develop a community around your business to foster brand loyalty and recognition.
- To build credibility: Quality content can boost your reputation as a credible authority within your industry.
- To show your “social proof” and build your following.
Questions to Ask Yourself
All business owners who are blogging should ask themselves these questions:
1. Am I hiding behind the business or sharing my story? “Blogs are not cogs – they should not be filled with generic articles,” said Henry. Resonate and build relationships by integrating your stories into your blog.
2. Whom am I trying to reach? Don’t try to reach everyone. The best blogs include unique content and signature offerings, and seek to appeal to a specific audience.
3. Is this a hobby blog or a business blog? Don’t shy away from sales. Learn how to strategically sell within your blog posts by writing content that highlights your offers. Henry suggested Copyblogger.com as a good site for learning how to write copy. Some good content to post: how-to pieces, customer feedback and reviews, FAQs, videos of products or services, and new inventory and seasonal promotions.
4. Whose attention do you want to grab? What you write and how you write it is dependent on whom you’re trying to reach:
- The media is looking for experts and buzz. Developing a series of posts that show you’re well-versed in a particular topic can attract interviews and PR opportunities.
- New customers are looking for quality, value, deals and trust. Bloggers build trust by sharing consistently, showing previous customer satisfaction, and being all-around helpful. You want to make sure that if a new user comes to you, you have content that’s ready for them.
- Return customers want added value, exclusive offers and resources that show you value their brand loyalty.
“Productive bloggers write with a purpose,” said Henry.
5. What is my market searching for? Write a list of keywords in your industry and consistently work them into your content.
6. What can I offer my market? List the offerings you can use to hold viewer attention and keep them coming back for more – e.g., samples, free downloads, e-books, Web series, etc. Make your blog a “honey blog” – sticky and sweet.
7. What is your PR past? What have you done in your business? Have a searchable library with previous PR exposure, best-of material, brand partnerships and past lessons learned.
8. What is my social proof? The more content you create (text, audio, video, photos), and the more people you engage, the more your online presence will grow over time.
Attracting Media Attention
You attract media attention with the right partnerships and solid PR, said Henry.
- The right people are all around you. They’re building followings, establishing connections, and are excited about making new alliances.
- Create a list of print and digital publications in your industry. You can find reporters on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and query services.
- Be where the reporters are. They often tweet out requests, join niche-specific networks, or attend local events in search of experts and thought leaders to interview. Be where they are and get inside their loop.
- Talk to them via comments, tweets, and direct messages. Conversation starters: reference their work, answer their questions, share your story or unique offering.
Building Blog Buzz
Henry recommends these tools to build buzz for your blog:
- Twitterfeed: Sync your blog’s RSS feed to Twitter and Facebook.
- FeedBurner: Use as an email subscription service for your readers.
- Klout: Analyze your social presence across platforms.
- Copyblogger: Work on your writing, online marketing and sales copy.
- Google Alerts: Track your brand, yourself, and popular topics in your industry.
The True Objective
Your blog should be a digital gateway to your business. Use it to help people and to help them get to know you better.
To keep things simple, focus on three things:
- Building your list
- Attracting new and potential customers
- Keeping your current customers happy.
ProfNet, a service of PR Newswire, has helped journalists and experts connect since 1992. Writers can search the ProfNet Connect database of more than 50,000 profiles; send a ProfNet query by email to thousands of subscribers around the globe; or get timely experts and story ideas by email.