Whatever you blog about, don’t do this

I came across something last week that shock me to some degree. A major, multi-national company had made a post to their blog that basically outlined their services. It was like reading a company brochure. It was painful to read. I almost commented on the post but realized my sanity would be better served if I just left it alone.

If you are blogging, or plan to blog, do us all a favor and please do not post anything that feels “corporate”. And please do not write about anything that belongs on your website. Your posts should be informal, informative, current, trustworthy, honest, and to the point. Blogging is about having a conversation and providing insight not telling the world what you are selling.

As my CEO said in the first post on our company blog, “Yes, this is the ATR blog and I could write about ATR, but that’s probably not what you want to read. If you want to read about ATR, you would go to our website.”

Amen.

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Mario Sundar on business blogging

I thought this was a concise and helpful list of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Business Bloggers. Mario put this together after his participation at the Blog World Expo.

15 thoughts on the basics of blogging

Everyone seems to be blogging but you. You’ve probably read a few articles about it, maybe even checked out a few of them (heck, you’re reading one now), or maybe you even have some favorites that you follow. But how the heck can writing a blog help sell your service? Let’s review some basics.

One of the keys to selling a service is to be viewed as an expert at what you do. Services are purchased based on a promise that you or your company can perform the task you are being paid for. And being perceived as an expert reinforces your capabilities to the client. Blogs offer a great way for your customer to arrive at a general understanding of your knowledge and capabilities before they agree to purchase your service. Here are some basics:

1. Post at least once per week.

2. Let your customers know about your blog. Have a link on your website. Put the URL on your business card. Tell them about it.

3. The blog must provide information your clientèle will find of value.

4. Keep the posts short and to the point.

5. Be sure to respond to anyone that takes the time to make a comment on your blog.

6. Read Copyblogger.

7. Think about what your customer wants to hear, not what you want to say.

8. Stay on topic. Your customers don’t want to hear about your opinion of the iPhone. Unless, of course, you sell iPhones.

9. Write in a conversational style. Blogging is about having conversations and exchanging ideas.

10. Don’t be afraid to link to other blog posts you find interesting. Its about facilitating ideas and exchanging information.

11. Make comments on other blogs. Join the conversation.

12. Use Technorati or Google Blog Search to find other blogs that might interest you.

13. Blogger is a good place to start. There are more advanced tools you can move to as you become comfortable.

14. Learn to write good titles for your posts here.

15. Get started today or you will never start. Remember, you are the expert and there are people out there that want to hear what you have to say.

Common social media tools and marketing a service

There are lot’s of them. But let’s look at the basic one’s and how they can be used for marketing a service.  

YouTube (video sharing) – Great tool if you have the resources to make it work. The quality has to be there or a video could actually be damaging to your companies reputation. And reputation is huge for a service company. Don’t simply make a commercial. Create something of value for your target market. The videos can be easily embedded into your website. Users will forward it to others if they see value. That’s the power of social media.

SlideShare – Poor man’s version of YouTube. Same idea except its slideshows instead of video. A great stepping stone if video is too intimidating.

Blogs – Don’t blog just to blog. Have a reason and provide value. Blogs are a great way to demonstrate your knowledge and encourage exchanges with your clients and target market. 

Social NetworksFacebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Bebo, Friendster, Orkut, etc. There are literally thousands of social networks if you count all the niche networks created using sites like Ning. But be careful which networks you join. Your brand can be effected by where it hangs out. Do your research as some of these networks have special tools for companies looking to take advantage of them.

Second Life (virtual world) – Cool concept but I’m not sold yet on its effectiveness as a marketing tool. Have fun with it but don’t expect much just yet.

These are some of the most common examples of social media. I plan on expanding on each of them in a future post. I’m also planning on discussing some other social media tools at a later date. 

Social media is negative

Have you ever tried getting someone’s opinion when you have them on the phone or are talking face-to-face with them? Most of the time they will not be 100% honest. By nature, most people do not want to create waves so they tend to respond in a way that may not be completely honest. I know I am guilty. Take for example the following exchange I recently had. I’m guessing you’ve had these too.

Friend: “How did you like the condo I recommended in Maui? Wasn’t it great?”

Me: “Yeah, it was nice.”

Friend: “We just loved it. Its so cute.”

Me: “Yeah, it was really nice.”

Friend: “I mean the furniture was a little outdated, but the place was nice. Didn’t you just love it?”

Me: “Yeah, we had a good time.”

The fact is, I hated the place but I just didn’t have the heart to tell the person that recommended it to me. The same can happen with your clients. Account Mangers develop relationships with individuals and those individuals are probably not always honest with the Account Manager due to the relationship and not wanting to cause friction.

In steps social media. For whatever reason, people are more honest when they are not directly speaking with another human being. Blogs, wikis, forums, online surveys are all great ways to get honest customer input. Phone calls can be made afterwards. The key is to get the customer to provide unfettered input and then react accordingly.

I believe it can be summed up best with a quote that I heard a while back from the CEO of Southwest Airlines. “Negative is the new positive.”

Am I allowed to blog?

A colleague of mine wondered out loud recently “Am I allowed to blog?” She was worried that her Career Blog had too much personnel information in it and certain members of management might not approve of blogging as a work related activity. My comment to her was that business is not always about business. When a sales person goes on a sales call do you think they spend 100% of the time talking business? I sure hope not. Blogging is about being authentic. Authentic thoughts, authentic ideas, authentic exchanges. If being authentic isn’t good business we’re all in trouble.

Blogging

We were discussing blogs in a meeting this morning and someone used the term “thought leader.” Now this obviously doesn’t apply to everyone that blogs, but I would say that many thought leaders do blog. And what better way is there to show you are an expert at what you do then to put your “thought leading” thoughts down for people to read and comment on.

If you are an expert in your field, blogging is the singular most important place to show it on the web today. So the logical conclusion is that if you are a service company, someone from your organization should be blogging. Blogging allows you to show that you are an expert…or not.