Making The Most Of Your Blog

In 2008, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research conducted a study, which established that fast-growing small businesses are adopting social media at a faster rate than larger corporations. This may largely be due to the fact that for small businesses, social media can be a useful communications channel, allowing them to directly engage in a conversation with their customers and obtain feedback.

Beginning with this issue, PRMG will be writing a series of articles that provide in-depth information and tips that can help you understand and utilize social media effectively for your business.

If you have read or at least heard of blogs but don’t exactly understand how it can help promote your business or how it may fit into your overall marketing and communication plan, read on for our first article on blogs.

What is a blog?

Blogs are Web-based journals that contain opinions on different subjects. These can include plain text, links and audio/video elements. The authors of blogs read and comment on other blogs and also exchange links. This creates relationships between different bloggers and forms what is collectively called the blogosphere. Readers can directly subscribe to blogs using RSS or e-mail, or engage with bloggers by leaving comments on their posts.

Why launch a blog?

Business or corporate blogs can be used to demonstrate your expertise and leadership in your field or industry, helping to attract attention of the media or potential customers. They can also be used to continuously build a dialogue with existing customers in a more personalized way and share important updates with them on your products or services.

In the past, the only way most businesses could get their message out was through media coverage or advertising. With blogs and other social media tools, it is now possible to directly present your story to your target audience using your own words and in your own voice. This can be especially useful in times of crisis, when you want to present your side of the story. Apart from this, blogs can also be an additional channel for potential customers to find you and learn more about you, creating more access points and links in search engines.

How do you start a blog?

Before starting a blog, it is important to consider your objectives and target audience. If the market or target audience you cater to, does not engage in social media, blogging may not be the best channel for you. The best way to understand how blogs work and develop your own blog content is to read other blogs and participate in the blogosphere by commenting on posts.

Next, secure a unique and memorable URL that reflects the nature of your blog and can be optimized for search engines. Choose an appropriate blogging software like WordPress or Blogger, both of which are free and easy to use. Post a few trial entries before launching your blog, and promote it to your existing contacts through e-mail newsletters or links from your Web site.

Before launching your blog, you should consider if you want to allow your readers to directly post comments or if you want to moderate and approve them before posting. If you want to engage and build a two-way dialogue with your readers you should take some time to respond to comments on each post.

What should you post on your blog?

While planning your own blog posts, think about what type of information your target audience is seeking and how you may be able to answer their questions or solve their problems by delivering relevant, useful content. This will give your readers enough reason to keep returning to your blog if they find it to be a useful resource or channel that is worth reading regularly.

A great way to generate content is to write short posts on newsworthy events relating to your industry and offering your opinion on how it may affect your business or customers. You could also provide links on your blog to important news articles you have recently read, which you think may be of interest to your blog readers. Posting audio and video content can be a fun, interactive way of demonstrating your products or services or posting informative interviews with influencers in your field.

How do you become a part of the blogosphere?

To make it easy for potential readers to find your blog, register your blog on blog directories and catalogs (such as, Technorati and Blog Catalog) that will list your blog in a relevant category and create more backlinks to your blog. You can also create a blogroll, where you link to other relevant blogs in your field or industry, which helps you become known in the blogosphere and encourages other bloggers to link back to you, creating more backlinks and improving your search results.

Got a Video? Take It Viral

Anyone who has watched the videos of two geeky-looking scientists tossing Mentos mints into Diet Coke bottles would attest to the viral power of video marketing. In three weeks alone, four million people viewed the video produced by Fritz Globe and Stephen Voltz, showing them combine 200 liters of Diet Coke with over 500 Mentos mints. While the videos were not created by either Mentos or Diet Coke, it certainly led to a lot of free publicity for both brands, which would have otherwise cost the two companies millions of dollars in traditional marketing and advertising.

Yet, not every video can become a viral sensation and replicate the success of the Numa Numa Dance or even the Coke-Mentos videos. With thousands of videos being uploaded on YouTube and other video distribution sites every day, making a video go truly viral is no easy feat. But focusing on great content, sharing your video online and making it easily accessible, can be the first steps to creating a successful video. Injecting humor into a marketing video and presenting your message in an authentic voice (by avoiding “corporate speak”) can also be great ways to make your video popular with viewers.

To give you an example: KitchenArts, a small family-owned kitchen retail store in Boston, uses online videos to showcase its products and demonstrate how to best use them. Using these home-made videos, the store has been able to communicate with its target audience in a personal and engaging way, allowing it to compete with bigger brands like Williams-Sonoma, at very little cost. The main principle that KitchenArts follows is to communicate your story in an interesting and engaging way to your target audience.

Once you create your video, it is important to generate buzz by sharing your video online. Most organizations post video content on YouTube, the most popular video sharing site. To make the video easily searchable on the site, you must include an accurate description of the video along with relevant keywords and tags. If your company or organization creates and shares video content regularly, it may be a good idea to develop your own YouTube channel that can be used to create your own unique profile and drive audiences back to your organization’s Web site. You can also consider embedding the video on your blog or sharing them on social networks like Facebook and MySpace.

If you cannot create great content for your video, a great marketing strategy may be to take advantage of user-generated content to drive some buzz about your products and services. For example, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department announced a video contest in July, inviting the American public to submit videos on flu prevention and safety. The contest not only helped to create awareness about flu prevention but also helped generate press coverage about the Health Department’s efforts.

Similarly, you can launch a ‘Submit a Video’ contest, inviting customers to create and submit their own short video around a particular theme relating to your business. The best ones can be showcased on your company’s Web site or even used as a real advertisement, making your message seem more authentic and engaging.

View About.com’s list of top viral marketing videos of all time:

  1. BlendTec
  2. Mentos and Diet Coke
  3. Dove Evolution
  4. Levis
  5. Smirnoff Tea Party
  6. Sony Bravia
  7. Evian
  8. JK Wedding Dance
  9. Nike & Kobe Bryant

For more information on our video production and digital marketing services, contact us at johnzaher@theprmg.com.