Blogging and blogger relations for small businesses

You’ll have heard of blogging, may have set one up for your company or read a few already. They’re a great tool for small businesses, but how do you make your blog perform as well as it could for you and how should you engage with other key influencers in your community?

By
11th November 2009 at 2:40 pm

The blog has become a common business practice. Indeed, the lack of a company blog can be perceived as a conspicuous absence. Whatever you blog about, it’s great from a thought leadership perspective and it’s also really helpful for your search engine ranking – all content helps!

Starting Out

Getting the branding of the blog right in the first place is critical to its long-term success. If you opt for a hosted service pick a name and URL for the blog which involves a keyword, where possible. This will help from a search perspective. Also, ensure that the look and feel of the blog accurately portrays your company’s personality; there are millions of blogs out there, you need to stand out and entice readers to come back.

You can set them up on your own site, but other programmes are available, such as the popularWordPress.org and Blogger.com, but you need to consider the loss of control over design and features that you’ll get with hosted programmes. For a professional organisation, it’s generally accepted that hosting a blog on your own website appears more professional.

Some General Top Tips:

  • Content should be engaging, thought-provoking and informative. The ideal length for blogs is 350-500 words.
  • Make sure your blog is optimised for search engine purposes: download the SEO Blogger tool from Wordtracker to help you choose keywords when drafting blogs. It works with several blogging platforms.
  • You should allow comments, but monitor before publishing, so set filters from the start You are completely responsible for the content on your site, so to best ensure you’re not containing defamatory comments or sensitive information.
  • Insert hyperlinks on relevant words where possible and use the blog as a kind of summary leading the reader to more in-depth content on your site or elsewhere which they can read at their leisure.
  • Remember to tag your blogs with at least 10 relevant keywords.
  • Register your blog on Technorati and Feedburner, these help you expand your reach and monitor feedback and following.
  • Insert follow and bookmark options, such as RSS feeds or del.icio.us, and upload links to social media news sites, such as Digg and Reddit, which will enable people to promote your blog to others who might be interested.
  • Use your Twitter feed to promote the blog. Your following will be made up of people in your industry so many will be interested to hear your views.
  • Provide links to other blogs in your industry in your blogroll and ask them to link back. This ‘cross-blogging’ is important for your own blog’s authority.

Blogger Engagement

Bloggers can be hugely influential, so it’s critical to engage with the leading bloggers in your field. A high-profile case in point: Computer manufacturer Dell was faced with the full force of a disgruntled blogger in the form of Jeff Jarvis, which prompted a complete about-face in the company’s policy on blogger – and customer – engagement.

There are a few protocols to follow when reaching out to bloggers:

  • Use tools like Technorati and Alexa to check on a blog’s ‘authority’ –  so you can focus your efforts on engaging the bloggers with the biggest and most relevant audience.
  • Don’t treat bloggers as journalists, they’re not paid to read press releases and are under no pressure to post, so there has to be something in it for them.
  • Don’t try and bribe the blogger with product, it could easily backfire.
  • If you can, meet them personally. This goes a long way to building a lasting relationship.
  • Check the regular contributors on blog sites, they may be – or become – influential bloggers themselves.

Top tips

If you’re worried that you don’t know what to worry about, inspiration is all around you. You know your market and the concerns your customers have, brainstorm what you think they’ll like to learn about. What are other people blogging about? Is there a different angle or repost you can counter their argument with?

The more quirky and confident the blog is, the more people will be likely to bookmark you or return on a regular basis. Lists are particularly good at generating debate, as are top tips. The key thing here is to remember to be neutral and non-salesy – people have come to your blog for advice, not to be sold to. If they like what they hear they’ll progress to the sales stage in their own time.

You can find podcasts on blogging, blogger relations, social media marketing and other marketing best practice advice on my website. I’d also recommend you check out ProBlogger for more great blogging advice.

Chris Lee

Chris Lee is a freelance public relations and digital media consultant. Having spent a decade straddling both sides of the technology media fence – within independent tech PR agencies and also as a journalist for IT Week, Computing and latterly New Media Knowledge. Chris is also the founder and editor of Run Marketing, a DIY marketing site dedicated to small businesses. http://www.runmarketing.co.uk

Commenting Is Easy

Do you agree with this blog post? Disagree? Have something to add that others might find helpful? Then please leave a comment in the box below.

If you'd like to have your image included next to your comments here, then you can set yourself up with an avatar in just a couple of clicks.

Leave a comment

Photostream

Listen to the sales podcast for SMEs Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes

PARTNER PROMOTIONS

If looking to boost your businesses performance with promotional marketing, travel incentives or incentive schemes get it touch with NDL Group