In the rush toward a social media strategy, many businesses throw up a blog--and then have no idea what to say. Here's what you may be doing wrong.
When I consult with clients, I frequently hear, "What do we write about? How do we come up with new content ideas?"
Social media, thy bane is content—even if Shakespeare may not have said it exactly that way. For many businesses, trying to embrace social media by producing a regular stream of content causes all kinds of pain.
Blogging is one of the most effective forms of social media marketing, particularly for business-to-business (or B2B) companies—but businesses must move beyond mere content production challenges in order to be successful.
Here are eight of the ways that business blogs get it wrong.
1. It's All About Them
Posting only self-serving, company-centric content is about the worst offense any blog can make. This kind of content seldom attracts repeat visitors or blog feed subscribers and instead quickly turns readers off. Most people do not want to read about you— they want to read about things that will help or inform them. Save your self-serving content for your newsroom.
2. Inconsistency or Infrequency
Like any good publication, blogs must be updated frequently and consistently if they are to attract a solid audience. Visiting a company blog that hasn't been updated in several months conveys a lackadaisical approach to how you run your business. It's like publicly advertising that no one's really minding your shop. Is that really the impression you want to make on your prospects?
3. Little to No Diversity Among Post Types
When businesses struggle to come up with fresh ideas for their blog, too many of their posts end up sounding the same. Generating different kinds of blog posts starts with thinking about all the different directions you can go to come up with ideas.
I like to share the below "mix and match" content matrix to help stimulate thinking.
4. Boring, Run-on Text
These days, blogs are so easily enhanced that it's a crime to just have paragraphs and paragraphs of text. Enhance each post with pictures (photos, illustrations, charts), quick polls or survey questions, audio and video clips, or other multimedia elements.
5. Weak or Absent Company Voice
Don't know what I mean by "voice"? Think about the voices of Apple vs. IBM, or Southwest Airlines vs. Delta. The company voice represents the personality of the brand and the tone with which it wants to communicate that brand. Having no voice is like having no personality. Who wants to do business with a limp noodle?
6. Failure to Delegate
Woe to the poor marketing person who tries to tackle blogging all on his own. That would be like the editor-in-chief of Inc.com trying to produce all the articles on the site by himself! Without relinquishing control, the blog manager can and should recruit others inside and outside the organization to help produce blog content then merely review, edit and finalize the content before it goes live.
I call this the "willy nilly" approach. As a blog deadline looms, the company scrambles to find something to post. With no plan behind it, the post winds up pretty far off its overall marketing goals—or out of tune with its target audience.
Developing a true content strategy helps to crystallize and validate each blog post you desire to generate.
8. No Long-Range Plan or Editorial Calendar
Most of the preceding mistakes can be avoided if you have a content strategy and editorial calendar in place. Your content strategy should set an editorial vision, and then the calendar acts as a guidepost throughout the year. It forces you to think ahead:
incorporating key dates or seasonal topics you ought to be writing about
assigning topic-writing tasks to various members of your company
identifying gaps where you'll need to generate new ideas or insert commentary on current affairs.
Getting your content strategy and editorial calendar right might seem like a lot of work at first—but in the long run it will save you a lot of heartache and help you produce a quality blog you can be proud of.
Client advocate, digital strategist, and thought leader HOLLIS THOMASES, founder of Web Ad.vantage, helps companies navigate the complexity of the ever-changing digital marketing landscape and develop digital strategies. @hollisthomases