Description: I’d be thrilled to see your comments/suggestions for my new book: Social Media Changes Everything (for Business). Read on and reply…
Chapter 7: Writing a Business Blog
An ideal social media starting point for many businesses and organizations is blogging. It’s relatively low-tech compared to podcasting or creating videos, and it can be a significant time saver in many situations.
Further, blogging is more controllable (a word I am loath to use when talking about “conversations”) than many other forms of social media. Unlike on many platforms, with a blog you can approve or block (use sparingly) readers’ comments on a case-by-case basis.
There are many reasons to write a blog and two of my favorites are:
- It positions you as an expert in your field, bestowing upon you a “media halo”
- It allows you to communicate with your target audience over both space and time. You can interact with them via your posts and their comments independent of geography, whether they are readers today or they discover you in the future
Consider the second point. In your business, if you answer the same questions again and again, by directing people to a blog post addressing the topic, you leverage your time. Use this for motivation when you’re first starting out and have virtually no audience. When written to be timeless and educational, every new blog post is compelling content for countless future readers.
One major recommendation: Before you start blogging, identify your target audience and decide how you will create value for them. Use this as a guidepost every time you sit down to write.
For example, for my blog www.get121.me (hosted at www.davenelsen.wordpress.com), my objectives are as follows:
Target Audience: Executives and leaders of small and medium businesses who may want to engage me as their social media consultant, and event planners for industry associations and corporate meetings who may be interested in booking me as a keynote speaker or trainer for their next event.
Value Provided: Informative, educational, and actionable information including tips, how-to’s, best practices, real-world examples, and case studies about social media and social networking for business.
By sharing relevant information with my target audience, while not overtly marketing or selling, I keep myself top of mind and perfectly positioned to connect when they need help with their company’s social media strategy. Other people may become readers and subscribers and that’s not a problem; who knows where those connections will lead.
There are many blogging platforms to choose from. For business applications, I recommend using WordPress (www.wordpress.com). It is a feature-rich, free, hosted service used by tens of thousands of businesses in every industry segment. Should you ever decide to host the blog on your own servers, perhaps to further customize the platform, the WordPress software and substantial guidance is available from www.wordpress.org. This is also a good hedge against your blog provider going out of business. Not every provider has a viable business model and it’s smart to have a backup plan to preserve your intellectual investment.
To get started, go to www.wordpress.com and click the orange “Sign up now” button to create your company’s account. I recommend using your website domain name as your WordPress username (excluding “www.” and “.com”).
After signup, take a little time to complete your “Profile” and to customize the “Appearance” of your blog to give your readers the full experience.
Now you’re ready to create your first blog post on WordPress. Follow these step-by-step instructions:
- Log in to your account at www.wordpress.com
- On the left-hand side, under your blog name, click on the “Dashboard” link
- In the left-hand column, click on “Posts” (to expand the Posts list) and then click “Add New” in that sub-list
- The cursor will be positioned in the “Title” field – type a title for your new blog post
- Use the Tab key or mouse to move to the next field. Enter the text of your blog post. Notice the familiar formatting buttons for bold, italicized and underlined text, color and size of text, spellchecker, and even a handy “Paste from Word” function for those who have drafted text using Microsoft Word. Note that the rightmost button on the top line (Show/Hide Kitchen Sink) provides access to additional formatting options.
- Also notice icons to upload/insert images, video, and audio, as well as a button to create a poll. These functions add life and color to plain text.
- When finished (if not periodically while in progress) click the “Save Draft” button and then the “Preview” button, both in the upper right area. This will open a new window with a preview of the finished product. Close this window/tab to return to the editing window. Next, add some “tags” to help new people discover this post. On the right side in the box labeled “Post Tags”, type some words or phrases separated by commas that broadly describe the content of this specific post. For example, if this chapter were a blog post, I might use: social networking, social media, blogging, business, WordPress. Click the “Add” button when finished.
- Finally, on the right side, click the “Publish” button. Just above that button, notice that the default is set to “publish immediately”. You can set publishing for a future date/time if desired.
- Should you need to modify or delete this post in the future, execute the first three steps above to access the “Edit Posts” screen. Hover your mouse over the title of the post and you’ll see choices to edit, delete, or view it. Also note the buttons to see statistics and comments for that specific post.
Congratulations; you’re now officially a blogger!
Be sure to post regularly, meaning at least once a month but not more than a few times per week. Like Goldilocks, your readers will enjoy not too little and not too much information. Like you, they’ve got busy lives and want concise, high quality information that helps them in their pursuits.
 A hosted service is run by the service provider. No computer servers or software is required on the user’s end. Facebook and Twitter are also examples of hosted services.
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BEST of Social Media for Biz – August ‘09 « Social Media With Dave
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