The wide variety of social media outlets in the business world is enough to make your head spin. You can’t help but wonder where your small business should be. Does it make sense to have a presence in all of the different venues, or just one or two? Before making a decision, it’s important to examine your business to determine the best fit.
If you are a business-to-consumer (B2C) business, it may be more advantageous to leave your footprint in a more widespread way, communicating directly to your customers through Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other outlets. On the other hand, as a business-to-business (B2B) organization, you may find that just one outlet is sufficient for effectively reaching your customer base. Whether your business is big, small, B2C, or B2B, there is one important social media space you should be in – if you aren’t blogging already, it’s time to start.
First and foremost, what is a blog? Basically, it’s an online site in which the author (or multiple authors) share written thoughts, opinions, pictures, videos, links, interactive polls, and any other content that’s deemed useful and/or entertaining. While this is the generally accepted definition of a blog, there is no specific formula for it. Blogs can be about anything – spanning from travel, to food, to the latest technological gadgets. In other words, if you have an interest in something, it’s almost guaranteed there will be a blog (or many) about it.
If you are new to the world of blogging, you might assume blogs are mostly created to be “fun.” Along those same lines, you may be unclear how blogging applies to your small business, especially if your products/services may seem straightforward, or even dry. Remember, there are people that are interested in your content – even readers beyond your customer base. Your small business blog is an opportunity to showcase your organization as an expert, a leader, and/or a pioneer in your field. Not only can you educate people, but you can also attract customers (existing and potential alike) that will contribute to your profitability.
Blogs are pretty powerful tools. In fact, just look at a few of the statistics recently published by Magnet Social Media in the “15 Blogger Stats 2013” round-up:
- 81% of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs.
- 77% of Internet users read blogs.
- 57% of companies with a blog have acquired a customer from their blog.
(Sources in order of bullet order: BlogHer, The West Program, HubSpot)
Harness the Power of a Blog
To harness the power of a blog, you need to be smart about your strategy. This is a place for your small business to shine. Here are some very brief guidelines summarized from Inc. Magazine’s “8 Tips for Effective Social Blogging”.
1. Position yourself as an expert. Provide the answers to the questions that people are looking for.
2. Share experiences and information. Whether it’s a unique concept, a photo, or information about an upcoming event, think about providing content that people will find useful and share.
3. Keep it fresh and mix it up. People like new and updated content, so make sure your blog isn’t static.
4. Encourage interaction and feedback. This is a huge opportunity to get direct feedback from your most important customers. Just remember this is a two-way dialogue, so respond back to questions and comments that need follow-up.
5. Use schedulers and update apps. Check out apps like Seesmic that let you update and view content from different social networks. Other helpful tools include Hootsuite, Cotweet, and status update schedulers for Facebook, Twitter, and LikedIn.
6. Make your blog the central hub. Make your important announcements on your blog, especially since you can control the voice.
7. Link back to your website. Always tie your content back to your company website to boost your search engine rankings. Remember to use the most relevant tags and keywords, too.
8. Use a personal touch. Powerful and effective communication begins with your people – whether it’s your employees or CEO – so use the blog to showcase your most knowledgeable assets. This personalization goes a long way with your customers.
Blogging and Beyond: What Else Matters to Your Small Business?
At the end of the day, your organization can’t blog if you don’t have your doors open. While social media is certainly worthwhile, make sure you take the time to uncover all the nooks and crannies in your organization, specifically examining your financial foundation. Rely on money-saving and time-maximizing tools like accounting software programs. These platforms, paired with computer checks or even custom computer checks allow you to create checks within the system, print them, and track all financial transactions in a seamless and accurate way.
Business computer checks are just one example of how your small business can cut out the fat and utilize valuable employee time for more profitable (and exciting) ventures like blogging. After all, an effective blog may be a critical component to your long-term success.
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