Thursday, March 18, 2010

How to Create A Killer Company Blog

by Kristin Dziadul
reposted from Social Media Today

Are you blogging but not sure why?  Not seeing business impact from creating blog posts?  Wondering how and why to blog for your company?

With a few quick yet critical fixes, you can turn your not-so-hot blog into a killer blog that will generate tons of traffic.

First, some considerations:
1. Decide on a two-column or a three-column layout. Two-column layouts are the best and most functional since they are clean and easily organized. With three columns, it can easily get cluttered with information overload. However, if organized right, it can be highly effective (Dell does a good job of this.)

2. Decide how many bloggers you will appoint for your company. The more bloggers there are, the less time each has to spend writing, you can have an eclectic set of posts, and the voice of the company can be spelled out from various people, not just a singular blogger.

3. Decide if you are comfortable editing the blog’s template, or if you need to involve the IT department of your company in the blog management.

4. Decide if you want to host the blog on your own website or on a separate site. Either way is fine; this is more of a personal choice of what platform you feel most comfortable using.

5. Ensure that your company has the appropriate amount of time and staff to make an effective blog. Blogging does involve a good amount of time and creativity, so ensure you have those readily available before starting.

6. Consider employing brand evangelists from outside of your company to blog for you. Coach them on your blog’s tools and the style of your blog posts, and have them write from an outsider’s viewpoint to vary the opinions and give more credibility by having evangelists support the brand.

7. Set up comment moderations on your blog and put the commenting policy on the site so readers know how their comments will be managed.

Now onto the blog details:
1. Create captivating, eye-catching titles. Making some of your blog posts ‘guides to doing something’, using numbers (1-10), or even putting an interesting fact in the title will capture attention quickly.

2. Unique, interesting pictures or videos: Once someone clicks on your blog link, a creative picture or video will immediately capture the reader’s attention and invite them to find out the story behind the picture. For example, a past post of mine “A Guide to Getting Seen Online Using SEO” has a picture of a large eye. Readers may wonder what the eye has to do with the post, and read on.

3. Incredible content. If you can create value to customers, write about new information, captivate them with your writing style, and be seen as an expert in your field, you can almost guarantee your blog will become popular and revisited. The only reason a person will share or come back to your site is if they find great value in reading what you have to say, so ensure you are proving readers with relevant and very informative posts.

4. Blog on a consistent basis so readers come to expect your posts. If they subscribe to you on their RSS and hardly see any new posts from you, they will likely unsubscribe. However, if you give them a reason to come back (one being consistent posts) they will be more likely to visit and read.

5. Keep your blog focused on a particular niche industry or topic so users know what to come to your blog for. If you write about random topics not focused around anything in particular, they may not know when or why to go to your blog. However, if you focus on ‘how-to guides’, industry trends, or on particular product markets, people will know exactly why they should read your blog.

6. Don’t just sell your product/service/brand in all your posts. Instead, focus on valuable information that the customers and prospects could use when making a purchase decision (i.e. if selling security software, blog about issues or advancements in the software industry, or top fraud schemes to watch out for).

7. Invite comments and comment back. By leaving your posts open-ended, unfinished, or with a question at the end, readers are encouraged to process your information and comment. If you receive a negative comment, don’t just delete it. In fact, deleting it may be one of the worst things you can do. Instead, take the time to address the issue in the appropriate manner; this will leave a positive impression on others. Also, when commenting back to comments, address the person by their name (if they post with their name), as this adds for personalization.

8. Make it easily accessible to subscribe via an RSS feed.

9. Optimize your SEO.

10. Promote on social media sites in a friendly way. This will allow friends, fans, and followers to read about what you are thinking and doing, and they can converse with you on social sites about it. They may even share your links on social media, which is a huge plus. Keep track of your blog’s analytics to see where the most visits to your site are coming from to determine which areas to focus on.

Search engines love blogs, so you should not have a problem getting your blog seen. However, even though it may be highly searchable, you still need to create incredible content, blog on a consistent basis, and make it interesting and captivating to keep readers coming back.