Friday, September 9, 2016

Should you have a blog?

Blogs are very popular with both nonprofits and businesses. In fact, they are often hyped as the quintessential engagement strategy.

Far be it from me to debunk that.

What the heck, this is a blog. If I didn't believe that it had value, why would I do it?

Aside from that, I have many clients whom I assist with their blogs.

So why blog?  There are a number of reasons:

  • ·         To keep current customers or partners engaged with your brand.
  • ·         To impart knowledge
  • ·         To increase or maintain sales or donations.
  • ·         To receive feedback
  • ·         To introduce your business or charity to new markets or donors
  • ·         To increase search engine rankings
  • ·         To research market trends

Blogs should have a clear focus and provide your target audience with some value for the time they invest in reading and following you.

Sometimes it is just engagement. That's a really good goal if you are in the business of creating social change or affecting public opinion. It gives like-minded people a place to belong, and the benefit of numbers.

Most of the time, it will be to enhance your business, either in terms of direct sales of a product or service, or in terms of attracting new clients and maintaining relationships with existing and former ones.

Blogs have the potential to be far more engaging that a short tweet, or a few words on Facebook.

Ideally they should foster a two-way communication, either one-on-one or even by just acquiring followers.

The reader who passes your blog along to a friend or another social media channel is doing some of your outreach for you.

A lot of people start blogs, but can't or don't maintain them.

Sometimes it’s a time crunch. Sometimes the blog doesn't seem to engage readers. Other times the cost in either time or actual cash seems unnecessary.

Believe me, I understand. In addition to this blog and another one of my own, this is part of what I do for a living.

Good posts take time. Just curating  (NOT plagiarizing!) other content and repurposing it for your own use is time-consuming, and good original writing is even more time-consuming.

If your blog doesn't seem to be producing the results you expected, there's usually a reason.

In my own experience working for clients with widely differing business profiles, the most common problem is failure to properly identify either the target audience or the blog's goal or both.

The blog needs to bring you or your client the sales or donations or volunteers or whatever  is needed.

For instance let's just say that I have a client who is a home remodeler.

That client does not want to teach prospective customers how to do the work. Yet I see many remodeler blogs that go into great detail about how to properly prepare a surface for paint.

Unless you are selling paint, that's the wrong emphasis.

Sure, some readers will say "Wow that's too much work. Maybe I'll call this business and hire them."

Most are going to say "Great. Now I can tell Cousin Charlie exactly what to do when he comes over to help me."

The focus should be on why the remodeler can provide a better outcome than Cousin Charlie.

One question I always ask my clients is "Who and what  is the focus of this blog? What do you want it to accomplish?"

You'd be amazed at how few people can actually provide an answer that benefits them.

Some have even said that they don't know, they just want to have a blog.

I guess I could say "Great. All the money spends the same. What do I care if the blog does you any good?"

I could, but I won't. I still have to look at me in the mirror every morning.

The truth is, there are times when you shouldn't have a blog.

If you don't have the time and/or the temperament to devote yourself to the blog, or to interact with me so I can produce quality posts for you, then a blog may not be for you.

There is a lot more to using a blog effectively than just the copy. Things like interacting with commenters respectfully, or converting readers to buyers are terribly important, but it can all start with the blog.

The blog is the gateway.  Don't put up a big "Private Property"  sign on your gate.

If you aren't sure whether blogging is for you, or you have a blog you'd like to have reviewed, drop me a line at rightwords@ida.net. I'd love to help.