Lee Odden

5 of the Most Important Content & Social Media Tips For A Successful Business Blog

business bloggingThe tendency for corporate marketers and their agencies to chase shiny social objects seems to be manifesting as conflicting trends in the usefulness of social media for business. Companies that execute their social media marketing tactics poorly often conclude the channel doesn’t work. A good example is the “corporate blogging is dying” story which contrasts with a study that shows blogging is the second most effective B2B lead generation tactic.

I’ve always said that tools are only as good as the skills of the people using them and the moving target of social savvy customers along with a rapidly evolving social web make social media marketing skills acquisition a bit tricky. I think part of the answer to the distracted approach to social media marketing efforts like corporate blogging could be arrested by mastering these basics.

If I were only to give 5 content marketing tips to a company that wanted to get the most for and from its customers through blogging, here are the tips I’d give:

1. Customer. Problem. Solution. 
Gather information related to what your target audience wants, likes and needs related to your industry, company, products and services.  Develop key value propositions about what your blog will stand for and the things your blog will solve for those people the business is trying to reach.

The mistake many companies make is to either talk solely about themselves, their products and services or worse: to never talk about themselves, their own products and services. A balance is the key and the trick is to find that balance for your own situation.

The “customer” for your blog need not be limited to people who buy. Other audience considerations include the people who influence buyers but may never be buyers themselves, journalists, other bloggers, industry analysts, business and marketing partners, existing customers, current employees and potential employees. What problems will content published on a blogging platform solve for them that will also help advance your business?

2. Define the Topics.
Once you’ve decided on goals, audience and key value propospitions the blog will communicate, the next step towards constructing a great corporate blogging plan is to identify the topics. The outcome of this exercise is the start of your blog editorial plan. Some inspiration and long tail definition for topics can come from a SEO Keyword Glossary and the Social Media Topics Glossary.

In fact, any content or media produced and promoted through a business blog should be leveraging SEO best practices. Being visible through search as well as sharable through social networks is a powerful combination. Download a free XLS file for keyword glossary and editorial plan here.

As a company gets more advanced in their content marketing, an editorial approach for specific customer segments and their sales cycle can be developed as outlined in this workshop from my presentation at Fusion Marketing Experience.

3. What’s the Story? Plan the Narrative.
Storytelling is one of the things that’s most often missing in many SEO-centric efforts towards blogging. Without an underlying story that connects what the business stands for with satisfying target audience information needs, the business blogging effort becomes more mechanical than meaningful.

Planning topics for specific audiences is great, but tying them together through a themed content plan, topics and keywords is even better. That means a story expressed through text, images, audio, video, interactive applications and any other content or media that can deliver the customer/brand experience in a meaningful way.

4. Attract & Grow Your Audience.
One of the most effective models for business blogging and community development uses a hub. We like a hub and spoke model of content marketing and social network engagement which allows for a deep, topical repository of knowledge to be supported by a constellation of social networks and other channels of content sharing.

As part of the ongoing business blogging effort, it’s important to factor in time to participate on other blogs and social networks with resources and links that point back to useful information on the brand’s blog. Many online versions of business publications also publish blogs, so it’s worth monitoring for articles on relevant topics and providing useful insight in the comments or even linking back to those articles from the business blog. The combination of links and off site engagement can expose the brand’s expertise to the media as well as new audiences that are not currently aware of the brand’s blog.

5. Set Goals, Monitor Progress, Measure Results, Refine. Repeat. 
With any content marketing, it’s important to engage in an adaptable cycle designed to make iterative improvements to content effectiveness. That means based on goals, monitor progress through key performance indicators like on and off blog comments, links, mentions, sentiment, referred social network traffic, referred search engine traffic and the behaviors of visitors one they arrive on the blog. Analysis of KPIs should reveal opportunities for improvement in SEO, messaging and interaction to result in more desirable business outcomes for the blog.  It’s an ongoing process and like the tasks of content creation and promotion, should be expected for as long as the blog is intended to be a communications tool to attract and engage.

Business blogging is a journey, not a destination. As a communications tool, it has the ability to contribute to thought leadership, lead generation, customer service, recruiting and many other business goals.  The question is, do you have a plan and are you working that plan as an ongoing, adaptable process?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.

Comments

  1. I agree with you that many businesses try every new shiny social tool, then when their half hearted effort yields poor results they move on to the next. Never giving another thought, or even understanding how it was suppose to work in the first place.

    • That’s why those who have figured out how to master social tools need to do a better job of communicating successes and demonstrating the how to’s like we try to do here on this blog. 🙂

  2. Yes, i agree with you too. Blogs this a very beautiful startup for small bisnessman! Sorry my bad english

  3. Totally agree: a fool with a tool is still a fool, only now he or she’s capable of making the same mistakes more quickly and with greater impact.

    To my mind, your 5 points are right on the money, especially the last one. I think of it as Continuous Process Improvements (CPI), and it’s mantra is: Think, Plan, Do, Measure and Repeat.

    In my humble opinion, there is way too little of the Thinking part done before people rush out to buy the latest shiny, magic bullet. And then they skip the planning part, too, and rush in to do something with the new tool. Anything, just to try it out. And then, needless to say, they don’t measure because they didn’t set a goal or metric for it. They don’t repeat the process and pretty soon they stop doing anything because, as you said, “it doesn’t work”. The tools do work, of course, it’s the person who isn’t working.

    For more on how to view your marketing function as a Process which can be run according to the dictates of Continuous Process Improvements, our site has a white paper on How to Run your Social Media Marketing Campaigns as a CPI process. Just check out the resources on site by clicking on my name and going to white papers.

    • Thanks Eric. I think there’s always a place for experimentation and one for deep planning but too often people think that experimentation is a substitute for a thoughtful approach that answers why, who, what, where, when etc.  I appreciate the reference to your CPI process. 

  4. icon infosolutions says:

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  5. Hi Lee!

    You’re all right here. Any tool or tactic will not work well if it is not use accordingly and effectively to its main purpose. 

    One problem that is facing by most marketers is their content. How could they generate a shareable and relevant content that readers could really appreciate and can interact via comments.  This 5 tips of yours helps a lot. 🙂


    Barbara

  6. peterscotts says:

    Hey Lee..

    Did you get my last comment 

    about writing your content down..

    Not like a book? 

    As in easy to read format..

    Like this..

    As mouse is in hand..

    AND

    People scroll down..

    Hard to read otherwise

    And 

    People can’t be bothered.. 

    That was the 6th tip

    ~Pete

    • That might be fine for copyblogger.com or if I was writing poetry but I’m fine with our format. Granted, we could use more images and write shorter posts.

  7. The question is, do you have a plan and are you working that plan as an ongoing, adaptable process?—

    My answer to this question is I have plan when it comes business blogging, but this plan can be amended to cope with the needs of time.

  8. Aristovnik says:

    Tnx for teh tips im working now on my project for school and im using one of the Hub and yes its make it much more easy and is fun to do it and dos it work? mmm yes and no you have to put a lot of time in to it and yes its bring more trafick…

  9. Shree Ram says:

    Thanks for fine compilation and many thanks for thinking so highly . 
    http://www.eindiawebguru.com/

  10. These are very good tips, even for small bloggers (not just corporate), like myself.   Thank you.  I think these tips are great reference points.

  11. Prasanna Bidkar says:

    I completely agree with your observations, Lee. Influencers in the Blogroll can boost your argument. Defining a process or Lifecycle for blogging can make the entire process repetitive and efficient. Great tips.