The corporate blog is something which has been discussed numerous times throughout the posts of this blog. In this post, we will collect and expand on these thoughts, showcasing how your company can use its blog as the central hub of its digital branding and marketing efforts, and ultimately drive sales.
The key element of the blog as it relates to your firm’s digital marketing strategy is the community it can build and the branding value this can have for you within the industries where you do business.
A blog allows your firm to share content with the world and for members of the blog community to interact with the website, either through subscribing to the RSS feed or e-mail newsletter, or leaving comments, contacting the author, etc. Through building a community of professionals in the industry your clients are involved with, you can establish yourself as an authoritative figure in the niche. The key to successful sales is branding yourself as an expert at what you do and thus, the blog is the perfect vehicle to do exactly that.
Blogging will also have a very positive SEO impact on your corporate domain as there will be new pages for search engines to index and it is commonly known that constantly updated content helps with search engine rankings. In addition, interesting posts will also draw links to your domain, increasing search engine rankings across the board.
In this post, we will discuss the type of content your firm should promote on its blog (after all in the blogosphere content is king) and share strategies to help your firm market its blog and gain a solid readership.
For your blog to be successful, it cannot only talk about the company and the people who work there. Constant self-revolving posts on your firm are of no interest to anyone outside or not working with the company. Hence, your blog will not be successful in its attempt to brand your firm as a leader in the industry.
Instead, the blog must talk about your firm, within the context of your larger industry. Posts can relate to your company; however, the focus of the content should be of general interest to members of your industry.
To illustrate my point, lets take a look at a case study of a company which has done this to perfection, SEOMoz. SEOMoz is a search engine optimization services provider. They help their clients rank better. The company has quickly become one of the leading search engine optimization companies in a crowded industry and they made it to the top via their blog. The SEOMoz blog is constantly ranked among the Top 5 SEO blogs on the web, no small feat considering how oversaturated the market is. Through posting meaningful useful content for individuals in the SEO industry, they were able to brand themselves as an authority in the industry and build a community. When I asked CEO Rand Fishkin what the key to SEOMoz’s success was, he said it was 100% based on providing quality content and building a community around the blog. SEOMoz branded itself within the industry and being considered one of the foremost SEO authorities, anyone looking for SEO services naturally found their way to the site.
A look at the blog reveals posts by company officials with titles such as, Do Former Search Engine Insiders Make Great SEOs?, 10 Steps to Advanced Keyword Research, 10 Steps to Advanced Keyword Research, posts which may not relate directly to SEOMoz, but re useful to individuals in the SEO industry and allows the company to showcase its knowledge and insights.
The issue also arises over whose name should be behind the blog? Which employee or employees should be the face(s) of the blog? I recommend that you find a few employees from various branches of the company (marketing, executive board, finance, human resources) to act as the official company bloggers. Your firm is a community and one voice should not speak for the whole community; however, readers like to see consistency and having 100 different bloggers changing every day will detract from the quality of the content. If a company representative outside the group selected to blog wants to make a post, they can do so in a guest post. However, the designated group of bloggers should consistently be adding content to the blog.
As far as post frequency is concerned, the more the merrier. With a group of regular bloggers, each blogger making a post one day a week will keep readers coming back frequently and will keep the blog fresh. The fastest way to kill a blog community is stale content. While you can determine what type of posting schedule works best for you, it should be ensured that the blog does not go more than three or four days without a new post. Still, a balance needs to be struck. Many firms, especially those involved with B2B selling, will have stringent policies regarding the content that it publicizes online. Editorial guidelines must be in place ensuring that the content submitted is not only interesting and relevant, but also secure and does not include any confidential information. When promoting any type of content online, security is a major issue. Implementing these guidelines requires time and effort so you need to determine logistically how often it can afford to make posts on the company blog. Refer to our earlier post on security in social media marketing for more information on this subject.
The key to successful blog marketing is to kick start your community. You need a passionate group of users who will continually interact with the blog before anyone else will start to pay attention. Finding this initial group of users can be a challenge, but for any company with multiple employees, the process is easily simplified. Have your network of employees be the original reader base for the blog and ask them all to read posts, post comments, subscribe to feeds, and share content with their personal networks
Through building a community with your employees, new visitors to your company blog are more likely to engage and become regular readers since they are joining an existing community, not starting one. Hence, visitors from search engines or social media websites notorious for never returning to a website will be more likely to stick around.
Aside from simply engaging with the blog, your employees should be encouraged to share content with their personal contacts. At the most basic level, employees can simply tell people they know about the blog and the content/value it provides. However, there is much more that can be done. Employees should be encouraged to link to the latest blog post in their e-mail signatures, share content from the blog through their Facebook and Twitter accounts, and forward interesting posts to friends. However, while getting content around is important, the worst thing you can do is spam everyone you have ever met. This will do nothing but hurt your brand image.
The community and culture you have already built into your company should carry over to the blog.
However, there are many tactics which can be used that don’t simply rely on word of mouth marketing. The practice of guest posting is popular in the blogosphere and is a great way to build authority. A guest post is when a company official makes a post on another blog, in exchange for a byline and description. Hence, the guest poster is given exposure to another blogger’s readership and is given the authority to share what they know and what they can do. Repeated guest posts amongst the larger blogs within a niche can instantly draw traffic and build credibility. This is a topic we will discuss at length in a future post.
Social network marketing and social media marketing are also two great ways to promote blog content. We have discussed both subjects at lengths in previous posts which can be accessed through the links above.
Aside from harnessing the power of social networking and social bookmarking, SEO is another great way to draw traffic to the blog. A blog allows you to keep a steady flow of fresh content coming on to your domain which is good for SEO purposes and creates more pages and context which can be indexed and accessed through long tail search queries. A blog also gives you the opportunity to naturally draw links from other blogs. Hence, you should focus on creating quality content which other bloggers will want to share with their readers. It would be a good idea to send an introduction e-mail to other bloggers in these niches, informing them about the development and launch of your blog. Guest posts will also help with attracting links.
The overall goal of this blog marketing development and marketing strategy is to build a dedicated community of users who are engaged with your brand and the product. While these members may not all be sales leads, they will help build your name in the industry and attract the attention of leads to come. It is a long term strategy which can have huge payoffs.