Tag: Content strategy

AVOID THE BOREDOM OF BLOGGING FOR BUSINESS

Blogging for business

As a writer, I get a real sense of satisfaction from blogging for business. It’s a platform that I can use to share my thoughts and opinions. Like anything, writing is subjective and my passion for it isn’t always shared. For some, blogging for business is exciting – until they get bored.

I remember a time when it was rare for a business to have a blog. A website, absolutely, but there was a lack of understanding about what benefits regular updates could bring to an audience. After all, companies spent months on copy for their websites, so what more was there to say?

Times have changed, and most organisations will have a blog. That said, many forget to put the time and attention into establishing a tone of voice that will resonate with the audiences they want to attract. As a result, they don’t appreciate the value of blogging for business.

In this blog I hope to encourage readers to avoid the boredom of blogging for business by thinking differently and putting some simple processes into place.

Communities not just content

Blogging for business is about building communities. There should be a focus on sharing content that is interesting and insightful. Businesses need to think carefully about what their customers want to read and how they can be made to feel special.

It may be that a company shares the launch of a product on a blog before it is announced anywhere else. Social media channels could be used to tease the news and drive traffic to the website to amplify the message.

Alternatively, other organisations may want to use a blog to provide updates for stakeholders such as share price or investments. The news that is shared doesn’t have to be consumer focused, it could be very much about the business and its bottom line.

The wonderful thing about blogging is that you can share whatever you choose. The content is for you to decide, to draft and to upload. The difference between a good blog and a bad is that one will be written for the audience and the other for the company chairman.

It’s important not to fall into the trap of writing for an internal audience or for niche stakeholder group. There are other ways that you can communicate with these people. Put in place a clear objective for the blog and a target audience and stick to it.

Taking blogging for business seriously

Having a clear understanding of what will be shared on a blog will guide the content strategy. For a blog to be successful it needs to be taken seriously. This means that it needs the support of the board of directors.

It is no use passing a blog to a junior member of the team and leaving them to it. Not only will that person be responsible for writing all of the content, posting it and managing responses, but they will also need to collate the information in the first place.

This will rely on them having access to senior members of the team.

Blogging for business is a marketing tactic. It should be managed and coordinated by the sales and marketing function of an organisation. As a direct method of communicating with customers and prospects, it should be taken seriously.

Setting the tone

Once a company has agreed what information will be shared on a blog; whether that be product launches, category insight, industry comments or simply just news, a tone needs to be agreed.

It isn’t always as simple as to agree an approach and to stick with it. If a blog is to be used as an online magazine for a business, then the way that you draft the content will change. Taking into account articles will come from different sources, it would be unrealistic to assume everyone would speak in the same way.

As such, it makes sense to agree priority messaging, consistency in terms of language and then to add some personality. The last thing you want to do is to lose the story through overcomplicating the copy.

Blogs and the bottom line

Good blogs can attract an audience, capture attention and retain interest. Bad blogs will do the exact opposite. Just like all marketing communications, the opportunities that blogging for business presents to a company should not be underestimated.

With the right amount of time, care, attention and investment a blog could have a direct impact on the bottom line. In fact, entire businesses have been based on blogging and there is now an industry of influencers that are only too aware of the commercial benefits they can bring.

It all goes back to a point I made earlier. Blogging for business has to be taken seriously by the senior management team if it is going to deliver the results you expect.

Setting standards and sticking to them  

The simplest way to ensure that blogging for business delivers a return on investment is to set standards. Putting KPIs in place in relation to visitor traffic, dwell time and bounce rates will give the evidence of whether the content being shared is having the desired impact.

Testing and measuring new features – perhaps a day in the life – will showcase what the audience wants to see. Anything that shows a drop in analytics should be reconsidered or adjusted to make sure it is relevant and resonates.

Sharing not selling

I’ve yet to meet anyone that likes to be sold to. In order to keep the content of a business blog interesting, the focus needs to be on sharing. This could be sharing stories, sharing facts and figures, sharing product information or behind the scenes footage from a factory.

Whatever it happens to be, make sure the posts that are being uploaded have a value to the reader, even if that is purely interest.

Of course, blogging for business is a promotional tool and can be harmlessly used as such. For example, offering coupons or codes for money off. There is no problem with offering prospective customers an incentive, but make sure that it is interspersed with other posts. Blogging for business should always be about more than just another space to sell.

Don’t get bored of blogging for business   

When something is shiny and new it always attracts the most attention. Fast forward a few months and it’s just another piece of furniture in the office. Blogging can be the same. At first everyone wants five minutes of fame and to share their story. Over time this will change. People have less time to allocate and bigger priorities. It’s up to those that manage business blogs to retain interest.

What is great about blogs is that they can change and evolve. They don’t have to stay exactly the same and they can become a space to have fun.

Rather than getting bogged down in the detail, think of a business blog as a newspaper. Put together regular columns and updates from different members of the team. Test and review products or services and provide updates and feedback.

Use blogs for business as a way to add personality that you cannot anywhere else. Once you start to build a community, to interact with people and to attract the attention you want and deserve, you will come to realise the benefits of blogging for business.

Top tips when blogging for business

When starting a blog for business or reviewing the content strategy that you have in place for your online communications, remember to cover the following points:

  1. You are creating communities not just content. Don’t write for you, write for the reader and you will get more engagement and repeat visits.
  2. Make sure you have the support of the senior team before you start. Don’t waste time on something that will become dormant in a matter of months. Put your ideas on the table and get the team excited about the benefits blogging can bring to business.
  3. Take the time to get the tone of voice right for your blog. This doesn’t have to be rigid but sharing consistent messaging and language will stop you from confusing the reader.
  4. Remember that blogs can have a positive impact on the bottom line, but they take time and that means money. Be realistic about what can be achieved and put measures in place.
  5. Set standards that will ensure your content is well written, credible and reflective of the business. Don’t be persuaded to rush a blog or to share content you know is not up to scratch.
  6. The content you post should be about sharing not selling. Don’t fall into the trap of constantly pushing your message to people. Engage and encourage them to join your community.
  7. Don’t get bored of business blogging. Make it exciting, keep it fresh and have some fun. Some of the best content comes from the most surprising of businesses, make sure that you are one of them.

Calling on the professionals

As an agency we work with many clients that have business blogs. As well as managing the press office and social media channels, in many cases we will draft and upload the copy for their blogs too. Every organisation we work with is different, but to provide one example, we have been working alongside the YM to create a series of lockdown stories which have attracted a lot of attention.

Rather than use the blog to sell to others in the business community, the YM has created a space that shares insight, support and camaraderie during some of the most difficult times. It is a great example of best practice when it comes to blogging for business.

If you’d like to discuss ways that the team at Open Comms can help to raise the profile of your brand, manage the reputation of your business and support with your content strategy throughout 2021, contact us on info@opencomms.co.uk, call: 01924 862477 or follow @OpenComms_.

WHAT IS A CONTENT STRATEGY?

Creating a content strategy

As with many phrases that are industry specific, people often ask us what is a content strategy? The simple answer is that it is a plan which supports what information you will share, where and with whom.

There is a misconception that marketing and communication for a business is easy. You simply talk to the right people, at the right time and in the right place. Ok. In principle that is correct. In practice it takes a great deal more thought, time and effort than that.

Audience mapping

The first challenge is to define your audience groups. This can be more difficult than it initially appears. The reality being that once you are honest about who your customers are, the rest will follow.

Knowing who is purchasing your product or service is key. This doesn’t mean that this will be your audience forever. It is possible to have a captive audience, preferred target and aspirational community.

This is where PR can be really beneficial.

You see, nothing is fixed. The idea that you put together a plan and that it never changes would be absurd to anyone working in the specialism. Much of what we do is about test and measure. Even when you get the results you are looking for the strategy will need tweaking to make sure the plan evolves alongside the business.

Getting the messaging right

The next step in preparing a content strategy is getting the message right. Consistency is really important if what you want your communications to resonate with your audience. Keep it simple. Don’t overcomplicate what you are trying to say to sound intelligent.

This is one of the most common pitfalls with companies that want to engage with their prospects. The belief is that using big words and jargon-laden phrases will impress. The truth is that people don’t have the time to digest what you are trying to say.

Getting straight to the point and showcasing expertise in the examples you share will work far better than writing like you have swallowed a thesaurus.

Choosing the medium

We have more opportunity to communicate than ever before. As well as printed marketing materials and company websites, we also have newspapers, broadcast (TV and radio) and social media channels.

The trick is to identify what mediums your audience(s) will be most likely to access on a regular basis.

Putting your message in the right place is what makes PR so powerful. It allows you to speak directly to those that you hope will buy your product.

Going back to mapping, think very carefully about where to put your energies. Businesses can find PR overwhelming because there is so much to do. Breaking this down into bite-sized chunks and being honest about where your customers access information will make life simpler.

Timings  

Timing is critical when it comes to getting the best results from PR. If you have a product that you sell directly to consumers, then you may want to consider how soon you can make announcements about new products.

With some of the clients we work with, we are planning more than six months in advance. It seems inconceivable but in February we are planning for Halloween and Christmas. This is because consumer publications work so far in advance.

With business to business, it’s essential that you keep abreast of the wider media agenda. Even local events that are taking place could command space within a newspaper that may otherwise have been allocated to your story.

Think about what is happening, key dates throughout the year and the local and wider media agenda. Identify the times that would give you the best opportunities to share your message with the right people.

Don’t choose those that will be most popular. All you will do is make your job harder than it needs to be. Think about your angle, the news you want to share and then draft the content for that specific medium with your audience in mind.

Pulling the plan together

Once you have covered the above, it’s time to pull it all together. This is where you start to see a content strategy unfold.

There is no need to purchase expensive software or to find impressive charts. Use an excel document with relevant columns; audience, message, medium and timings throughout the year.

Once you have populated your spreadsheet, you can identify any gaps. This will give you the chance to think carefully about what you want to do in this space. It may be that greater thought needs to be given to this or that it is a longer-term objective.

The devil is in the detail

Content strategies will evolve quickly. You will see what your audience is most receptive to and you can do more of that. Equally, you will see what they choose to ignore, and the time spent on this can be redirected accordingly.

Make sure to review your content strategy regularly, then you know you have a document you can work from that will deliver results.

Alternatively, call an agency and get the professional help and support that you need. PR may not be a dark art, but it is an essential and business critical tool for those that want to succeed and expand.