27 February 2013 By Northern Lights
The Liberal Democrats have had better months. The will they won’t they regarding the Eastleigh By-election is enough to deal with, without the reveal by Channel 4 about Lord Rennard. And of course, there is Chris Huhne’s guilty plea to add to the pile.
Or it could be seen as a good result as the internet is awash with stories, comments and blogs about the controversies surrounding them. And it is all free – you couldn’t pay for such publicity and whilst none of it is positive, it is ensuring daily coverage and encouraging a flock of commentators to come out of the woodwork and blog their two pennies worth.
So blogs are now the new front page. As we all know, the internet is replacing the role of the daily newspaper and it is estimated that at least 165,745,689 people are accessing the web while 105,170,327 are surfing away each day. Since the first blog was developed in 1994, it has progressed from a means of telling anyone and everyone about your life to a serious marketing and communication tool for business.
Now blogs are everywhere. They are not only a means of keeping up to date with the characters of a reality TV show but are also a necessary way for those with ill health to communicate with family and friends.
For business, they are a public relations dream as their instantaneity can endorse or protect reputation as well as promote new initiatives and products. They also allow feedback from stakeholders and customers – vital tools in today’s market place.
So what makes a good blog for today’s business? Having trawled the internet, I stumbled across an article in Forbes about Thought Leadership, a process I was not familiar with. On delving further, Thought Leadership – yes, it does sound like another one of those buzz phrases – is a necessary tool for not only incorporating in your business, but also when thinking about writing your blog. By applying it, you can show that your company is thinking outside the box and is reactive to the needs of its customers, potential clients, and staff.
When you first start thinking about writing your blog, think who your target audience will be and make sure what you say will support your business goals and be strategic. You should be looking ahead – not only focusing on your current customer base but also earmarking potential customers as well as referrers of work and those expressing opinions in your marketplace.
It is also important to include keywords that will link to campaigns as well as topical and national events so that SEO can be maximised. Research has revealed that 60% of search engine traffic goes to websites listed in the top three results on Google, with more than 36% of that traffic going to the top result. Would you believe that 75% of Google users will never go beyond the first page of results? Something I am guilty of! So for businesses, this positioning could be make or break and the difference between success or failure.
Another key factor is blogging regularly – your customers want to know when you plan to post. They have expectations and need to know how your business is keeping abreast of developments and the impact these may have. They also want to hear how you can help them with achieving their business goals and a blog is a good way of doing this. To achieve continuity, it is a good idea to keep a diary of when your blog needs to be written by. That way there are no disappointments!
As with anything, variety is the spice of life and this applies to blogs – not only do they need to be different and innovative, they should also be penned by at times different people. There is nothing like a guest blogger to possibly raise some eyebrows and encourage comment – that’s the reaction you want. Search your customer base and also invite potential new clients to hit the keyboard – a great way of targeting new business. After all, no business can afford to turn down free promotion!
So, what about the future? Blogging has dramatically changed since its early days as has the number of those using it as a platform. A report produced by Nielsen Data in October 2011 stated that 181 million people were actively blogging and no doubt this figure will have significantly risen since then.
But what does this mean for business? Yes, blogging has grown, but do we have the time to spend reading them? Or are Twitter and Facebook the best way forward for businesses to get their message across?