I sat down to write a post about the benefits of using social media to promote your business, but quickly realized that there are so many, and they can differ entirely depending on what platform you’re trying to use. So I thought it might be best to step back and start a “Why Social Media?” series of posts, starting with the simple blog*.
I’ve been blogging since 2005. I started a poetry blog in my third year of university; I thought I needed a creativity outlet, turns out I was just procrastinating about the piles of papers I had to write about the mountains of novels I was reading. No question blogging can be fun, but there’s real value behind starting a blog for your business.
Blogging creates an engaged customer or public, and that translates to a positive opinion of your brand, good word of mouth, and an increase in sales or reputation, which ever you may be aiming for.
Let’s break that down. Here are my six basic reasons to start a blog:
- People love a personal story – Sharing a personal story about yourself in your blog creates the opportunity to connect with your audience on a more direct (and personal of course!) level. When you reveal your own thoughts, opinions, ideas, you can give your readers the chance to identify with you, thereby creating a familiarity. So just think: when they go out to find a coffee/new pants/lawyer/photographer/insert your product here, don’t you think they’re more likely to go with someone they identify with over Random John they know nothing about?
- Provide transparency – Blogging about yourself or your business gives your audience a “behind the scenes” look. What really happens during that 9-5 day, or when customers aren’t in the store? What are your thoughts about it? What are your opinions about your neighbourhood, the city, the latest big issue to arise in your market? People want to know.
- Create dialogue – Providing these transparent, personal stories doesn’t just create a connection – but it creates a two-way connection. When that sense of familiarity is achieved, people feel the need to share back. Blogs provide this option for interactivity, which is one of your goals as a blogger. You want people to hit that share button, or that Facebook like button, and you especially want them to leave a comment and engage directly with you. This of course gives you the chance to chat back with the feedback – and boom! – two-way dialogue.
- Educate the masses – If nothing else, writing on your blog provides you with the opportunity to share your knowledge about your product. Even if there isn’t much engagement with your target audience, you’re still proving you’re an expert and know whatever it is you’re selling. Do it smart, and people will remember. It also doesn’t hurt to get your info out there to make it more accessible via Google searches!
- Employee engagement – You hire your staff because they’re good at what they do right? They’re experts in something. Why not let them show it? Celebrate your staff! Showcase them in the blog, or even better yet, let them write some posts for you! I recently read a great article that applied the theory of cognitive dissonance to employee social sharing. When they share your company’s messages, they come to believe them on a more personal level, and will become your own brand ambassadors, beyond the call of duty.
- Practical value (tips, tools, ideas) – I recently heard a “web expert” say that in general, folks don’t visit websites to find information. … What?! I call bullsh*t on that one. How many times have you gone to specific site with no intention of engaging, but just to find tips or ideas? Who doesn’t do that almost every day? How to eat healthier; how to cook pork properly; what do I need to build a birdhouse; where do babies come from… the list goes on! If you have any kind of practical value to provide someone – share it! Useful knowledge is a great gift, so if you can share that with someone, your credibility will skyrocket. And you’ll keep them coming back for more.
You don’t have to do all of these in one post – a good blog builds a solid foundation of these qualities over time. It’s what keeps people coming back.
Did I miss anything? Do you have any good reasons to start a blog to share with me?
*Check back over the coming weeks for more posts in this “Why social media?” series, focusing on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn.