Nov 30, 2010

Building a Successful Blog

It has been established that these days many businesses are using blogs to connect with their customers and promote their businesses. But after figuring out the nuts and bolts for actually putting together a blog (e.g., content to include, software to use, design, who will be administrator of the blog, how to get the word out about your blog), there are a few not so small things you might want to know going in.
Work, Work, Work
First and foremost you need to know that in order for a blog to be fresh, dynamic, and effective, and thus have a reason for being, putting together and maintaining a blog takes more than a few minutes of your time. Even the most modest of blogs, those worth their salt anyway, require a serious commitment, if not every single day then at least several times per week. An unattended blog, filled with stale, outdated information, whose last item is three months old could make a customer wonder what’s the point?
Ideally, a blog ought to be updated with fresh content every single day, and creating a thoughtful, effective post will take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the level of detail and amount of data included. (Managing comments on the posts and updating information in your posts require even more time.) But at the least, a blog ought to have a minimum of three posts per week.
As with any enterprise, blogging requires work, and it is important to know that going in. If you’re going to make a blog part of your broader marketing plan, you have to give it the attention it requires; and if you’re stretched to the point that you cannot, you may want to rethink even launching one in the first place.
Prepare for Pettiness
It is important, naturally, for a corporate blog to include a “comments” feature under each posting. After all, the point is to forge a “community” that brings in your customers. But you must be prepared for snarky, petty, and even dangerously inflammatory and offensive commentary. There are many people who do not respect playing by the rules, that is, being honest and forthright about making an opinion known, but without being childish, spiteful, or incendiary, even when they might hold strong opinions about your business or a topic being addressed on your blog.
Most blogging software enables the administrator to screen comments before they’re actually posted to the blog, enabling you to head off inappropriate comments. It is essential that you set up your blog to see comments before they are posted. While it does take away from the spontaneity and excitement of a blog, it can save you the frustration, and potential hassle, of having your blog come off like a junior high school slam book rather than a vital, spirited tool for connecting with your customer base. You will rest easier by doing this simple thing.
Add Value with Features
If you check out a range of corporate blogs, you will find that the most interesting, engaging ones are those that include not only the standard corporate information, daily postings, and commentary but also a lot of editorial features that make it worthwhile for customers to visit. An easy feature to create is a blog roll, a listing of anywhere from six to 20 links to your favorite sites and other blogs and ones that are relevant for your customers.
Widgets are also an engaging, attractive feature, with a range of topics available, from those promoting information from and linking to news sites such as CNN and the New York Times to those inviting your customers to opt into following you on Facebook or Twitter. You can even create a widget for your own blog, which customers can download to their desktops, reminding them to visit you often. One of the very best sites for widgets, and a very good place to start, is Widgetbox, a quick, easy, and free source for thousands upon thousands of widgets.
Read How
There are, of course, multiple resources providing tips and tools for blogging. One of the best and most popular right now is The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging, a book produced by the creators of one of the most successful blogs ever. Arianna Huffington’s ambitious site focuses on news, politics, business, and culture, and features well-known writers from politics, entertainment, and more, writing engaging copy.

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