Tactic #3 in the series ‘tactics and tools for tightening your tribe using social media’ is blogging and I’ll be covering not only the why but the how. Admittedly, though, the more obvious something is to me, the harder it is to write about it and blogging falls into the ‘duh’ category as in “Do you blog?” “Duh!” The benefits are that obvious! Let me back off a little though and see if I can make my case…
In the olden days — the days when my boys tell me I grew up — freedom of the press belonged to those with a printing press. Now, anyone who can fill out a form on a website can have a blog. Seriously, it’s that easy — why do you think there are so many bad blogs out there? 😉
A good blog, however, is a powerful tool for establishing thought leadership in an area. My good friend Dana VanDen Heuvel @ MarketingSavant describes it this way — the difference between a thinker and a thought LEADER is that the thought leader has a public point of view. That public point of view leads to share of voice, which leads to share of mind, which leads to share of market and that improves your bottom line! Personally, I know of know better way to make your point of view known than using a blog.
Internet marketer Jonah Lopin of HubSpot says:
“I am amazed at the blog-reluctance of many small businesses. I hear things like “I don’t have time to blog”, “blogging doesn’t make sense in my industry”, and sometimes even the dreaded “what the heck is a blog?”
The reality is if your company provides unique products or services, you should be blogging. (And if your company doesn’t, you should probably consider a career change.) Of course, the overall return on investment on a blog will vary from business to business. But there are 6 fundamental benefits to corporate blogging that should not be overlooked.” Source: 6 Reasons Every Small Business Should Be Blogging… Are You Missing the Boat?
You can go to the source to read his logic, but I have netted out the six reasons here:
- Gain visibility as a thought leader
- Engage customers in dialogue
- Every blog article is a search engine optimization opportunity
- Blogs are link bait
- They humanize your brand
- In Google, fresher content = better website
What business couldn’t use more of that? About.com mentions another benefit that may be the most important of all:
“Simply write your thoughts, link to resources, and publish to your blog, all at the push of a few buttons. Blog software companies such as TypePad or Blogger.com offer easy blogging tools to get started. Updating the weblog is a faster process than contacting a web designer with changes or doing the coding and uploading yourself.” Source: What are the benefits of blogging for small business, consultants, coaches, and free agents?
Few people have embraced this better locally than Donna Denil of Denil Wall Auto Mall. She has jumped feet first into blogging and her site — still a work in progress — already contains text, photos, and videos that she has gathered from around the internet with the goal in mind of establishing a better relationship with her customers. In the days to come, she’ll be linking it to search engines, social media outposts, and an electronic newsletter and using it as a vital part of her marketing program. It’s really cool to see how she had progressed in such a short time…
Blogs have become more full featured over the years and many blogging platforms can do the work of a ‘normal’ website with a blogging engine included. They can be ‘themed’ [given an appearance] in any way you want because the good ones use html, css, and php like other websites. This site is just one example of a blog-enabled website and there are millions of others. Oh, and forget what you think you know of bloggers, too. Many corporate marketers have an image of a blogger as a 50 year old guy spewing political hate from the his parent’s basement. More and more, big brands are learning what small businesses already know: the power of actively engaging their customers through a blog.
Having covered the ‘why’ of blogging, let me now cover the ‘how’. There are three tools that I recommend for blogging depending on your needs: Tumblr, Blogger, and of course, WordPress. Let’s break it down…
PCMag does a good job here…
“More of a “miniblog” than a microblog, Tumblr offers some of the instant gratification of Twitter and some of the richer formatting and media capabilities available in standard blogging services such as Blogger, LiveJournal, or Vox. Tumblr goes deeper than true microblog sites, adding richer goodies such as photos, video support, and feeds. With it you can create a “tumblelog,” which the company describes this way: “If blogs are journals, tumblelogs are scrapbooks.” These are usually full of prominently dated posts that are short on text and long on clipped pictures, video, quotations, and other Web artifacts. The archetypal example is Projectionist.” Source: Tumblr – At A Glance – Reviews by PC Magazine
I like Tumblr better than it’s peer Posterous — Tumblr seems to have more support in social media tools. My favorite feature is the ‘auto importing’ of up to 5 additional rss feeds to create posts. *Geek Alert!* The possibilities are endless, but I use this to merge the streams from my blog and my social bookmarks to create one homogenous rss stream for my content. If you want a drop dead simple blog, it doesn’t get much better than this!
Most people know I’m a huge Google fan boy, but this is one place where I break with the mother ship. While Google’s blogger is cool and easy to use, it is not a good corporate blogging tool. Dharmesh Shah of HubSpot weighs in…
“If you’re looking to build a successful business blog that will help you find more clients and grow your business, you should find a professional blogging platform that is designed for your needs. HubSpot has one such offering (it’s a piece of what we do). But, if all you need is a blogging tool, we’d recommend WordPress. If I didn’t have maniacal control over the HubSpot software, I’d likely be using the WordPress product for my personal blog. ” Source: Why Business Blogs Shouldn’t Be on BlogSpot.com
Go to the source to read his four reasons why. Use Blogger for your personal blog but not for corporate use…
Me? I blogged on Blogger for over two years and while it was easy to use and integrated well with Google’s other tools and gadgets, there were three things that made me switch to WordPress 18 months ago:
- The ability to easily create or buy custom themes to change the appearance. You can’t do it with Blogger — can with WordPress.
- The ability to add static pages to the blogging engine. You can’t do it with Blogger — can with WordPress.
- The availability of thousands of plugins to add functionality. Sorry, Google — the gadgets just don’t do the job WordPress’ plugins do.
Since I already started plugging WordPress, let’s go there…
In addition to the reasons mentioned above, WordPress has marketshare [which brings developers and their solutions] and developers [which brings customers and their marketshare]. Like Apple, WordPress has ‘an add-in for that’ allowing website developers to use WordPress sites for a wide variety of purposes. Perhaps that’s the reason why WordPress crushed TypePad and all other blogging platforms in their recent online survey…
“The results of this week’s faceoff though were remarkably different. On Monday we asked all of you to vote between WordPress and Typepad in order to figure out which blogging platform should reign supreme. The fight wasn’t even close, though.
3,102 votes were cast, and with 87% of vote, WordPressWordPressWordPress destroyed TypepadTypePadTypePad. WordPress garnered 2,714 votes compared to Typepad’s mere 267 ballots (9%). 121 of you decided to call it a tie.” Source: POLL: WordPress Overwhelms Typepad in Reader Vote
That about seals it for me. I defended Apple’s marketshare for over 15 years — I’ve found it’s better to sit smack in the middle of the mainstream sometimes and benefit from all the solutions that come about because of it.
Well, that about wraps up my perspective on the why and how of blogging. Question? Feedback? Leave a comment or use the contact page…