We’re on the last article of our 6-part series on social media tools and how you can utilize them for your business. In our previous articles we’ve reviewed the history of the development of social media tools, and discussed specific tools such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Meetup.com. In this last article we’ll discuss the original social media tool: blogs.
Blogs are different from the other social media tools in several ways. While other social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter are specific products and platforms made by specific companies, blogs are a multi-platform medium: you have several products and technologies to choose from to create a blog – you can even build a blog platform yourself if you’re technically inclined. Some tools, like Blogger and WordPress.com, will host your blog on their own servers. Other blog tools allow you to download and install them on your own website, so that you can self-host your blog.
So what makes a blog a blog? Basically, blogs are a series of articles on a website, usually sorted chronologically or by category. Blog posts can be individual web pages, or there can be multiple blog posts on a page, depending on how the blog is organized. Oftentimes blogs will have “commenting” functionality, which means that site visitors can post comments on the blog articles. Comments are typically displayed in a chronological list at the bottom of the blog article, and oftentimes robust conversations can develop in a blog article’s comment area – similar to the format for LinkedIn Discussions, which I wrote about last month.
So why should your business website have a blog? There are several reasons. The first reason is that keeping a blog with interesting, regularly-updated content can be used as the “fuel” for the rest of your company’s marketing. For instance, a financial consulting company could write a blog article discussing changes in capital gains tax laws in the upcoming year, and analyzing the impact on their constituents. They could then put up posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media tools with an attention-grabbing headline – something like “New Tax Laws: What They Mean for Your Nest Egg” – and a link to their article. Their audience could then click the link to go to the article and read it themselves. After reading it, they might ask additional questions in the blog comments area or on the company’s Facebook page, to which the company can respond. Or they might forward it on to their friends and family, who can then read the article themselves. This can increase loyalty among the company’s existing customers, attract new customers through word-of-mouth, and enhance peoples’ perception of the company as a reliable and in-the-know place whom they can trust to effectively manage their money.
Another big reason for maintaining a blog is for the search engine optimization benefits it can bring. Content – text on pages – is the fuel of search engine rankings, and blogging is one of the most effective ways to increase the amount of relevant content on your website. Blog articles are also much better at attracting links from other peoples’ websites – people are much more likely to link to informative and timely articles on relevant topics than they are to link to pages that are merely canned sales pitches for a product or service. And finally, search engines will give higher rankings to websites that are updated regularly, and lower rankings to websites that appear to have been unchanged for a long time – the reasoning is that websites that are updated regularly are more oftentimes more likely to be relevant and useful than websites that appear to have been abandoned for a long time. Blogging is one of the easiest and most effective ways to post regular content updates to your website, and thus increase the likelihood of obtaining better search result rankings.
For the reasons listed above, and for many additional reasons as well, it is obvious that blogging is an extremely effective tool for your business. It provides the “fuel” to power the rest of your company’s marketing, it can increase customer loyalty, attract new customers and enhance your company’s reputation as an expert in your field. And it can provide great search engine optimization benefits as well. It is easy to see why your business should invest in a regularly-maintained blog. But as we’ve said before with all social media tools, you’ll never utilize these tools by sitting around and thinking about it – you have to jump in and start using them. Don’t be afraid – just go for it!