Blogs are absolutely soaring in popularity these days. It seems like everyone from our airlines to our hairdressers are publishing something online. But why? What makes blogs such an important social media tool that Marriott and Coke have decided to adopt them? And more importantly, what separates a good blog from a not-so-good one?
The first thing every social media person should know before diving into the blogosphere is what a blog is and what a blog isn’t. Technically what a blog is is a website that people update semi-regularly with news, information, commentary, or just general day-to-day details. Blogs can either be professional or personal, and both types have their own unique set of guidelines. As far a business bloggers are concerned, a proper blog is—
A Whole Slew of Pages that Search Engines can Index
Any blog platform worth its salt will give each of your posts its own unique URL, which means that every entry you post will be a page that Google can index. If you’re a chef and restaurant proprietor, odds are that you didn’t devote a main page of your site to your love affair with Wusthof knives. However, if you write a post about why you love your Wusthof Le Cordon Bleu sandwich knife for slicing cucumbers, searchers could potentially find your restaurant by way of Googling a combination of Wusthof + knife + cucumber + sandwich (trust me, stranger search combos have been Googled).
A Place Where You Answer Frequently Asked Questions
If you hear a question a lot, why not post a thorough answer on your blog? You should answer the customer queries immediately, of course, but you could also direct them to your blog if the answer is particularly long or complicated. And chances are, if many people are asking you, many more are asking Google, and wouldn’t it be nice if a few of those Googlers happened upon your company’s blog and used your services?
A Place Where You Demonstrate Your Expertise
When potential customers visit your website, they want to know that your company is the best one for the job. If your blog is full of well-written, informative posts, customers will know immediately that the people behind your business are capable and competent.
I’m not saying you have to update your blog every day, but if there are month-long gaps between posts, old readers will lose interest and you won’t accumulate any news one. A loved blog is an effective blog, so try to keep your update schedule consistent.
Now for what a proper blog is not—
Entries about why your creamed corn/seared tuna/artichoke dip is the best and/or better than the creamed corn/seared tuna/artichoke dip down the street aren’t going to be all that useful. Sure, you can post an occasional announcement or promote a product, but by and large blogs aren’t really intended to be hubs for blatant advertising. If you want to post about the 22nd Annual Half-Price Oyster Week at your restaurant, consider doing so in an interesting way (perhaps you could post about how Oyster Week grew into the tradition that it is today or about which wines go best with fried and raw oysters).
A Will/Business Proposal/Other Official Document
A blog is a pretty informal thing, so have fun when you’re writing it! Use contractions and colloquialisms when they’re appropriate. Joke with the reader. Just remember that the voice behind your blog is the voice of your company, so keep it professional and keep it consistent with your company’s image.
Remember that above all else, good blogs are the ones that people find interesting and valuable. If people like what you’re saying, they’ll come back for more, and there’s a pretty good chance that if something you write is especially useful or fresh, it will get passed around, which could translate into more exposure for your business and potentially more money in your pocket.