8 Tips for Using Social Blogging to Grow Your Business

8 Tips for Using Social Blogging to Grow Your Business

Quick takeaways:
1. Position yourself as an expert.
2. Share experiences and information.
3. Keep it fresh and mix it up.
4. Encourage interaction and feedback.
5. Use schedulers and update apps.
6. Make your blog the central hub.
7. Link back to your website.
8. Use a personal touch.

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Use continuous updates and punchy messages to heighten interest and keep your customers informed about products or services which in turn can boost sales.

Social networking. The big corporations have bought into it. Smaller companies, too. Even independent consultants use Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to do business. It is a great way to get the word out about your product or service. It boosts brand awareness, it builds loyalty, and it attracts and retains customers.

But more companies are exploring ways to get a bigger pay off with social media. The next frontier of social networking and weblogging is social blogging. This ever-changing construct represents a way of communicating for people who like to inform each other about their daily activities and share common points of interest, according to Wikipedia authors Lambert M. Surhone, Mariam T. Tennoe, and Susan F. Henssonow. This is usually done through continual updates that often include text, pictures, audio, or video.

In general, you want to use social media to increase your visibility, improve your search engine results, and drive more traffic to your company’s website, which stands a good chance of increasing sales and growing the business. Social blogging is simply another tool to add to your overall social media strategic toolkit.

Business owners whose companies are at all levels of growth, from promising start-ups to established and mature firms, are looking for effective promotional tools that are also cost-effective, says Gail Z. Martin, author of 30 Days To Social Media Success. “Though social media is one of the most exciting new communications tools to emerge in the last twenty years and can provide cost effective marketing, it’s one of the most misunderstood mediums,” says Martin.

Social media, be it weblogging, microblogging (i.e., Twitter), or posting status updates, is a different kind of marketing. It’s not about creating a sales pitch for your product or service. Instead, it’s about generating interest and keeping your audience current on news, events, and the latest product developments. A social blog is essentially a form or combination of microblogs (short posts) and status updates. Users post content such as short sentences, images, or video links to large groups of friends, followers, or co-workers. As with traditional weblogging, users can write messages on topics that range from “what am I doing right now” to thematic ones such as “best places to eat sushi.” These messages can be transmitted via posting, text messaging, or e-mailing.

Businesses can use the concept of social blogging to provide up-to-the-minute news as they will find the need for quicker, current, and condensed information far more useful to their audiences, say social media gurus. But social blogs and status updates on Twitter and Facebook, for instance, aren’t just limited to news content, businesses also can use these as effective forms of communication to reach large groups of consumers and associates instantaneously to learn about their needs and wants.

Starbucks Corporation is a social media giant when it comes to engagement, including incorporating blogs, status updates, tweets, and forums. When the trendy Seattle-based coffeehouse chain realized that its sales were stagnating and that competition was becoming fierce, it had to find ways to solidify and expand its market share. In 2009, Starbucks launched the interactive MyStarbucksIdea website and corporate blog. While some industry analysts doubted whether the site would catch on, well over 100,000 internet users had visited the site by the end of its first week online. The site allows users to submit ideas for new drinks, food items, packages, even store designs. Suggestions are voted on by Starbucks consumers with the most popular ones getting highlighted.

But Starbucks took it a step further, adding an “Ideas in Action” blog that gives updates to users on the status of suggested changes. Starbucks doesn’t just communicate news and business developments with its audience, but it also lets them know which of their suggestions the company has really taken to heart. Starbucks also has fully embraced Twitter beyond notifying consumers about bargains; @Starbucks focuses on sharing interesting events and music information or brand- and charity-related topics the company would like to address. It’s not a one-way monologue. Followers are not just entertained. They are being engaged in a brand and conversations around it.

Like Starbucks, Zappos embraces microblogging to manage customer relations. Tweets @Zappos are used to highlight interesting facts, and to talk to customers in a way that is friendly, helpful, funny and trustworthy. The Brooklyn Kitchen keeps foodies up to date on events from notices about the new book club in full swing to the next skills knife class kicking off. Amateur chefs Taylor Erkkinen and Harry Rosenblum opened The Brooklyn Kitchen in 2006 after scouring the neighborhood for kitchenware and coming up empty-handed. Today, their homegrown shop is crammed wall to wall with tools for both serious cooks and hobbyists. The duo focuses on providing useful and targeted information in their posts whether it’s through their website, weblog, or twitter account. From videos on how to shuck oysters or saber a champagne bottle, Erkkinen and Rosenblum always provide real value for enthusiastic cooking fans.

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This type of added-value and engagement translates to increased brand awareness and direct sales. These companies demonstrate the effective use of compelling and condensed content aligned with ta
ngible business objectives. Here are some tips to help you make the most of social blogging:

1. Position yourself as an expert. When people are looking for a product or service, oftentimes they will first look for information about the subject on the Internet. In general, blogging is about having conversations in a public space that position you as a subject matter expert. “The type of discussions you ideally should have ought to be answering questions that people out there on the Internet are searching for,” says Adria Richards, Organic Technology Consultant and blogger. “For me, social blogging is a way to have conversations with potential customers and to draw traffic to your site.” For instance, you can answer questions from consumers via Twitter, which is a popular thing to do.

2. Share experiences and information. Social blogging is often used to share experiences in addition to business ideas and concepts. Always seek unique opportunities to share your ideas and offerings with not only your readers, but their associates as well, which will eventually bring in more prospects. Announce upcoming events, awards, and other news. But do it in a conversational tone. Hopefully, your target audience will retweet or share your story. Don’t overlook Tunmblr, which is popular in the microblogging realm. Users can post text, photos, quotes, links, dialogues, audio, video, slideshows and “Tumble” other posts. Tumblr provides the option of custom domains. You can auto-syndicate to Facebook and Twitter. Users can track stats with Google Analytics.

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