ONLINE MARKETING

Lessons From 5 Company Blogs Actually Worth Reading

Plenty of companies have blogs. The question is, does anyone read them? Here's how the good blogs get readers--and keep them coming back.
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A smartly-executed company blog is a valuable asset. Not only can it draw visitors to your website, where they may poke around and learn more about your products and services, it's also a space for your business to demonstrate its domain expertise and desire to serve customers.

"Smartly executed" are the operative words, however. Lots of companies get blogging wrong by doing dumb things, such as using a stodgy voice instead of an authentic one, posting too infrequently, or using the blog solely as a sales tool instead of a way to engage with customers and prospects.

Want to avoid such blunders? Take some cues from these excellent company blogs.

Offer solid advice.

With a steady stream of posts written by expert contributors, the FreshBooks Blog keeps readers coming back for the solid and free advice it offers. Other than an occasional company news item you won't find posts overtly touting the cloud accounting platform or sneakily corralling readers to a sign-up page. Rather, content includes subjects such as tax tips and advice on motivating prospects and avoiding cash flow problems, as well as stories from entrepreneurs who offer their perspectives on various trending issues.

Use wit to entertain.

Unless you're a buttoned-up type, you'll likely find the bold and funny voice used on Eat24's blog entertaining. The mobile food ordering service recently posted "Eat24 Trolled By Its Own Customers" in which it lists 10 dirty jokes and a perverted word cloud generated from a customer survey.

"Turns out, the comment box at the end of the survey was too much for you guys to handle," the blog reads. "Maybe we're naive, but we were expecting something along the lines of 'My 'hood needs more deep fried cheeseburger options!' or 'Please create a taco teleporter ASAP.' But no. What did we get? Dirty jokes. Tons and tons of dirty jokes."

Not that the blog doesn't offer utility as well. Eat24 also offers people coupons and then says things like, "Want another coupon? No problem. Ask us nicely on Facebook or Twitter," which just keeps engagement on social media rolling.

Appeal to distracted readers.

Considering the surplus of modern distractions, lots of people suffer from some form of attention deficit. GE's blog on Tumblr excels with large beautiful images and short captions that offer snippets about all sorts of topics involving science and technology. If readers want more information about a subject hyperlinks let them dive deeper.

Be transparent.

With 100,000 readers, project management platform Basecamp is doing something right. For one thing, its Signal v. Noise blog does a stellar job of gaining reader trust with its consistent use of transparency.

Why did its Android app in just a few weeks garner 358 ratings in the Google Play store compared with the year it took to get 578 of them in iTunes? The company doesn't have a clue and asks readers to chime in with explanations.

An even more concrete example: After criminals recently disabled the platform for an hour and 40 minutes with a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, Basecamp not only sounded the alert on Twitter and its status page, it apologized two days later for taking 20 minutes to do so while giving scads of other metrics and information about what happened and what the company is doing to improve.

Offer content people like to share.

If you can get people sharing your blog posts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or wherever else they hang out online, you'll attract new readers and bolster your brand. Marketing consultant James Porter gives fantastic advice on creating viral content in a recent post on The Moz Blog, a heavily trafficked marketing resource in its own right.

He says it helps to use video, image-based, and interactive content as well as themes that are applicable to a broad audience.

"As a content marketer, it can be pretty difficult to create an emotional reaction if you're in a boring industry," he writes. "But you need to look beyond your products to your audience and the things they love and care about. Think of the Dove Real Beauty campaign. Soap is boring. They took an existing emotional issue that their consumers cared about and developed it into an incredible marketing campaign."

IMAGE: Shutterstock
Last updated: Apr 1, 2014




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