It used to be the case when you had a business part of your morning routine checklist included making sure the shelves were stocked [check], the floors were clean and clear [check] [check] , that your tie was on straight [check] or your hair looked professional and respectable [double-check] and that you were opened the doors on time [give or take a minute or two… check]. But, with the advent of the internet, especially social media, that morning routine now has gone 24×7!
Today, everyone is heading to their social media community as the litmus test of businesses before they engage with you on the phone or email, let alone face-to-face. One way for your business to stand out in your niche or area of specialty is to talk to your potential customers and sell the virtues of your business over the competition.
The problem is, how do you reach the night-owl who is “googling” and ready to make a purchase at 1am? In today’s 24×7 marketplace you write or “blog” about your business. Blogging, was originally a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a web page known as a Weblog. From the portmanteau of “web” and “log” came the term “blog”, which has now come to refer to a regularly updated website or web page.
There’s a twist to blogging. You don’t blog about your business, product or service per se but you identify a problem or question your potential customer has and demonstrate how a product or service (… preferably yours) can address their concerns. This is known as building “social authority.”
Put it this way, you’re more likely to buy the latest Apple iPhone because of their brand integrity. Why? Because over the last 40 years they have wrapped a lifestyle around cool technology in general (not just theirs). Over this time they have built up influence in your life by letting you know about their company (and who hasn’t heard of it’s founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak) and educating you about the pros and cons of technology they use. Apple have thrown your way special offers and deals that you just can’t refuse. From all this, you trust them because of the social proof formed from media and the experiences of your friends and family. Whereas, you’re (highly) unlikely to buy from a stranger on the street selling you a phone that you never heard of but touts itself with the brand “Best-Phone.”
Here are some tips for using your own blog to promote your small business
- Create a professional and visually appealing blog page.
- Ensure your blogs are easy to navigate to.
- Keep your writing positive and to the point.
- Follow sound customer service principles and always write with integrity.
- Create useful content for your target audience in your area of expertise.
- Share on other social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc). An RSS feed permits syndication of your blog material.
- Provide updates about your industry, and your products, services, events and sales.
- Provide links on your blog to your product pages and sales section of your website.
- Ask yourself “is this respectful and professional?” before posting your blog.
- Link to other relevant websites and blogs. Give credit where credit is due.
- Analyse your traffic. Review your web traffic and where your readers are coming from (e.g. referring domains, social networks, blogs etc).
You may now be thinking, blogging sounds great! … in theory, but in the real world of small business I don’t have time to continually churn out content. Here’s a hack, repackage content.
You can re-purpose your blog material the social media world. Since different social media platforms serve different functions, you can, for example write 300-500 word article, post it on your blog, then extract from that 6-10 tips to post on a micro-blogging site, like Twitter, over a given period of time one-by-one. Or create an eye-catching graphic to pin on Pinterest and link back to your blog post.
Here are 3 tips when spreading your blog across multiple social media sites:
- Use keywords (in the message, titles, tags and status updates).
- Keep the title and message concise (Most social media tools have limited character length so focus on one idea and keep it short and simple).
- Avoid the hard sale (social media is not a sales channel. Don’t blatantly pitch your products and service). The secret is to use social media to support the pre and post sales experience and the lifestyle around your product or service.
Blogs are most powerful in boosting your authority when they quickly and conversationally provide answers to your customers questions. It also provides a great opportunity to reveal a vignette of who you are, the human side of your business. Chris Fralic hit the nail on the head when he wrote “The best way to be highly influential is to be human to everyone you meet.”
How are you using blogging in your small business? Have you been able to help your customers learn about your products/services? Have you been able to offer a bit of yourself in your blogging efforts?
by TuiSiong Hie
Digital Media Strategist & Founder at Cross+word
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