A piece looking at the concept of corporate blogging. How it came about, the reasons companies blog, the role social media plays in furthering the messages contained within them, and why, if you’re not blogging, you really should be.
There was a time that having a website meant little more than occupying and maintaining a space on the internet across a few pretty webpages. As time has progressed and the internet all but taken over planet earth, the way we approach our websites has had to change. The technologies that search engines use to present users with the sites most relevant to their searches have reached sci-fi level sophistication. To create synergy between these technologies and your website, the ‘launch it and leave it’ approach pretty much guarantees your website welcomes as many visitors as a bikini shop in the most northerly outreaches of Siberia. To create a buzz around your website, attracting visitors and customers alike, you need to be updating it regularly. You need to be blogging.
The history of blogging
The blog as we know it today has its roots in the earliest forms of diary entries that people began posting online in the mid-90s instead of scribbling down in a journal. By the late 90s, corporate websites started uploading ‘web-logs’ as a means of sharing latest news and company updates.
The short form, ‘blog’ was first coined as a joke by digital media executive Peter Merholz in 1999 when he separated the word ‘weblog’ into the phrase ‘we blog’ in the sidebar of his own web journal. It wasn’t long before the term ‘blog’ caught on, first as a noun, then as a verb and then lengthened to describe one who writes blogs; a blogger.
Why do people write blogs?
Asking this question of people generally is likely to throw up as many answers as people you ask. Some do it purely to record their thoughts, some to vent about politics, others to discuss sport, film, music, the reasons are endless.
Why companies write blogs however, produces a much narrower set of answers, and these can broadly be categorised in three ways:
- Establish authority – The first way an attempt is made at establishing authority is through the web copy on your site. The problem with web copy though, is that it needs to be succinct, general, and will rarely be altered.
Blogging allows companies to get into the specifics. To explore and discuss ideas, concepts, and products in a much more meaningful way. A good blog will pre-empt questions and quandaries a customer might have or be experiencing and provide thorough advice and help.
- Convert leads into sales – Establishing authority is vital in building and consolidating a company’s reputation. Developing that authority also make the website an attractive place for users to visit. Ultimately though, mere visitors don’t get the bills paid, customers do.
Blogs then can act as the virtual salesperson. The genial, knowledgeable shop-floor assistant who directs customers to the solution they’ve been looking for, and then seamlessly to the checkout.
Of course, care needs to be taken when writing blogs that they don’t become one, long advertisement. They must still talk to the reader as an equal, but with enough authority and confidence that the subject matter at hand is worth parting with money to acquire.
- SEO – Or Search Engine Optimisation for those unfamiliar with the term. SEO is a mechanism by which website managers work to make the website more visible to search engines, mainly Google. Think of it this way; say you want to buy a TV online. You fire up Google, type in ‘TV special offer’ because you love a bargain, and watch as the results are almost instantly presented to you. What do you do from here? Because statistics indicate that you most likely look at the top five websites on the results page before either making a purchase or abandoning your search. What you don’t do (unless you’re a very rare specimen) is start trawling through pages two, three, four, five and beyond. So, guess what? Unless your website is featuring on page one of search engine result pages, next to nobody is going to be visiting your site.
As mentioned above, your staple web copy needs to be succinct, general, and will rarely be altered. However, every time you publish a blog post, it’s another indexed page on your website. This in turn translates to another opportunity for your website to show up on search engines and drive traffic to your website via organic searches. It’s also another gentle reminder to Google (and other search engines) that your website is active, and that they should be checking in frequently to see what new content is being posted.
The social media freight train
If your company doesn’t have a social media presence, that needs to change as a matter of urgency. It’s free and it gives you access to an audience of potentially millions. The wider benefits of a strong social media presence we’ll cover another time though. This is for those of you already established on at least one platform.
Managing a social media account isn’t as easy as it sounds. Coming up with regular, fresh content that stands a good chance of being interacted with is a challenge. It’s also where blogging is something of a Godsend. Posting links on social media to blogs on your site has a potential that is two-fold. Firstly, if the content is engaging enough, it stands a good chance of being shared and your brand reaching out to new customers. Secondly, those reading the blog may well stick around on your site long enough to start contemplating a purchase.
As the internet continues to grow and develop so too does people’s understanding of how to utilise and optimise their websites. If the intention is to be noticed, regular blogging is something of a must. Effective blogging requires a knowledge of the style of content search engines favour, and an ability to write in a way that engages readers. If you can make available a budget to pay professionals to do your blogging for you, it’s an investment you’ll soon be glad you made.