It has become widely accepted that businesses should blog and many businesses have integrated blogging into their marketing strategy. Blogging has become established as a popular marketing tool because it can help improve search engine rankings on business websites.
The advantages of business blogging for SEO are threefold, 1) business websites that are traditionally content poor can steadily grow unique content, 2) blogs can be used to strengthen keyword targeting and keyword breath, 3) well written blog content is more likely to attract links, social sharing and conversation than other business website pages. The benefits of an effective blogging strategy include: sales, lead and referral generation, better B2B or B2B communication, development of authority, credibility and visibility and easy access to honest feedback.
However, the rise of blogging as an SEO tool has opened the flood gates for blogging malpractice. There are countless examples of businesses failing to effectively leverage their blog. Worse still, some businesses are investing time and money into a blog that is working against their business goals. With that in mind, here are 10 top tips for business to business blogs that will help you avoid the pitfalls of business to business blogging and get the most from your blogging activity.
- Post regularly
- Use copywriting best practices
- Promote your blog content
- Link to relevant sources in each post (internal and external)
- Write eye catching headlines
- Write for your audience
- Install Google Analytics
- Use Google Analytics to improve your blog
- Use mixed media such as video, photography and slideshows
- Remember the blogging is a social activity
The most common mistake businesses make is failure to keep their blog up-to-date by blogging regularly. If your business blog isn’t regularly updated it will reflect badly on your business and make you look unprofessional or no longer active. When setting out your blogging strategy put a blog writing schedule in place and stick to it.
Writing a blog post isn’t the same as news articles or press releases. The tone should be informal, friendly, personal and most importantly, conversational. If you’re unfamiliar with blog copywriting styles read a few of the more successful blogs in your niche and get a feel for the writing style. One of the primary goals of each blog post should be to stimulate conversation.
Quick tip: Ask a question towards the end of the post.
Blogging and social media should have a symbiotic relationship. Promote your social media accounts on your blog and your blog posts on your social media accounts. Use Facebook, Twitter, RSS and email subscriptions to build your audience. If you don’t already have social media profiles, set them up.
When referencing your products/services, related posts and information or assets from external sources provide a link back to them. It’s good for your audience and will help avoid any legal issues that may arise from failing to providing the correct sourcing for assets and information.
Your headline should be descriptive and eye catching. The goal of the article headline is to sum up the content of the article and draw readers in. Try to keep the length of article headlines to no more than 50 characters and make the most of them. Most blogging platforms use the article title for the title tag. It’s one of the most important on page ranking factors for SEO so ensure you include the keywords the blog post is targeted to rank for.
This may seem an obvious point but the rise of the blog as an SEO tool sparked the rise of blogging for SEO instead of blogging for your audience. Blogging activity is most effective when it stimulates inbound links, social sharing and citation from bloggers in the same niche. If you write for search engines it’s very unlikely your blog posts will gain any traction. You may find it difficult to write interesting articles in the business to business space but with a little thought and creativity it’s very rare there isn’t something great to write about.
Google Analytics is a powerful web analytics tool and it’s free. It’s easy to install on most popular blogging platforms and provides a wealth of information about your visitors, how they got to the blog, which blog posts are most popular and much more. Not only will you be able to monitor the success of your blogging activity, you’ll be able to improve your blogging strategy moving forward.
When Google Analytics has been accumulating data for a week or more you’ll be able to use the data to further improve your blogging strategy. For example, if there is a particular subject that has generated a lot of interest, blog about it again. Experiment with the design of your blog to display the most popular posts to make it easier for visitors to find them. When you have great data at your fingertips the options are endless.
Blog articles don’t have to be text based; try video, photography, infographics and slideshows. Infographics are particularly popular but video, photography and slideshows are also more likely to be shared via social media and social bookmarking websites than a text-based article.
Treat your blog as a hub for social media activity, sharing information and conversation. Always respond to comments and feedback. If someone helps promote your blog thank them for taking the time to do so.
The number of businesses using social networking platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube has undergone rapid growth over the past 12 months. There is no denying that social networking is going to be huge in 2011. As more people, spend more time using social media websites, businesses will expend more of their marketing resources to reach them. However, all the hype about social networking as a marketing tool has obscured another huge opportunity, social networking for communication and collaboration.
The features that have made social networking websites so popular for personal communication have been transposed to business environments. The result, a new breed of enterprise social networking solutions look set to transform communication, sharing, organisation and collaboration in the workplace. Enterprise social networking may be in its infancy but tools such as Yammer, Salesforce Chatter, SocialText and Tibbr suggest a very bright future.
The approach of each of these four tools to enterprise social networking varies and to compare them directly would be a disservice to their individual qualities. The market for enterprise social networking applications is hugely diverse and each application has been designed to best deal with a unique set of problems. Of course, there will be crossovers, and as the market matures, a minimum set of common functionality will start to manifest. But the long term success of each social networking tool will be determined by how the software evolves and grows to serve broad industry requirements and fit into niche working environments. Here’s taster of what four of the most popular enterprise social networking solutions have to offer.
Tibbr by Tibco, is one of the latest social collaboration platform to hit the market. First announced in 2009, Tibbr has been extensively developed with the goal of producing the archetype social networking tool for large enterprise environments. Tibbr follows a similar design philosophy to Facebook but users are able to follow subjects and machines. Tibbr’s capabilities for application integration will make it particularly enticing to large organisations that need a solution to optimise and prioritise data flow from existing internal systems.
- Salesforce Chatter
Salesforce Chatter incorporates CRM-based events with updates on people, documents and groups to create a real time news feed. Chatter has been developed to enable a secure environment for real-time communication and collaboration as well as a comprehensive set of features to streamline sales teams. The design is similar to Facebook and Twitter which helps dramatically reduce training and integration costs. The ability for users to investigate sales figures and seek out new sales opportunities makes Salesforce Chatter the market leader for sales-orientated business environments.
- Social Text
SocialText is a web-based enterprise social networking tool and provides common social networking features such as microblogging, user profiles, groups, directories and news feeds using separate applications. Businesses and organisations are able to use a selection of these applications to create a flexible and lightweight application that best suits their business needs.
Yammer is a well-established enterprise social networking service and was launched in 2008. Used for private communication within businesses and organisations, Yammer was created as a micro-blogging tool similar to Twitter but run on a closed network. Since its launch Yammer has since evolved into a fully featured enterprise social network. Access is management by the registration process; member’s can only join using a company email address, i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org. Yammer will appeal to businesses and organisations looking for a proven enterprise social network with a strong track record in commercial settings.
Are you considering using social media to promote your small business? Here are 10 social media tips for small businesses to help you get the most from social media.
- Be aware of free learning resources
There are literally thousands of blogs and forums full of social networking advice for small businesses, some of the better ones includeSEOmoz.com and searchenginewatch.com. If you’re going to run your social media campaign in-house, ensure the staff made responsible for its management are given the time to learn and develop their skills.
- Research your competitors social media strategies
Social media and social networking websites are already very popular amongst small to medium businesses. If you’re new to social media, take a look at what your competitors and other local businesses are doing. An effective social media campaign isn’t about reinventing the wheel; it’s about making the best use of the tools available. After researching how they’ve used social media and what’s worked for them, you’ll be in a much better position to plan your own strategy.
- Plan your social media marketing strategy
The first mistake many small businesses make is not taking social media seriously. If you have a social media presence that isn’t planned and managed professionally, you’ll run the risk of doing your business more harm than good. Your social media strategy should be treated similarly to any other marketing activities and integrated into your overall marketing plan. Use careful planning to set out a clear roadmap for your campaign and have specific goals and objectives. It’s likely your plan will be split into two stages; 1) campaign set-up and launch, 2) monthly management.
- Establish how you the success of your campaign will be measured
Social media management is time consuming so it’s important to ensure that your efforts convert customers and achieve a positive return on investment. Manually record leads and conversions that come directly from social media accounts. Set goals for Twitter followers and Facebook likes. And use Google Analytics to track visitors to your website from your social media accounts (Google Analytics is very simple to set up on the majority of web platforms).
- Launch your social media campaign
Having learnt about social media from the experts, planned your campaign and determined how success will be measured you’re ready to launch your campaign. Set up a business email address to set up the accounts and fully complete your social media profiles before promoting them. Don’t invite all your friends to like your Facebook page, invite only those who may be interested in hearing about your business. If you have a blog or use email marketing, use them to let your customers know which social networking platforms you’re on.
- Integrate social media with your website
It’s highly likely your customers and potential customers spend more time on social networking websites than your business website. Integrate social media with your website so customers can add/follow/like you. In future, they’ll be able to find out about your sales, promotions and company news from the comfort of their social media profiles. The addition of a Facebook fan box, Twitter feed and icons linking to your social media profiles are all highly recommended and easy to do.
- Manage your campaign
Schedule in time to work on your social media profiles but also be flexible so you can reply to messages and join conversations quickly. Remember that anything said is a direct reflection of the company so avoid sensitive subjects such as politics and religion. Don’t use profanity or be critical of your competitors. Do thank people for their feedback, promote your best content (offers, sales, new projects etc) and share your knowledge.
- Dealing with negative feedback
One of the common criticisms of using social media for businesses is the potential for negative feedback and public criticism. If you suffer from poor feedback from a customer, you won’t be judged on what they’ve said but how you dealt with. Mediate and resolve the issue, publicly or privately, depending on the customer’s preference.
- Monitor your social media activity and report success
Monitor the influence of your social media activity on generating traffic to your business website, direct leads, likes and comments etc. At the end of each month review your campaigns progress and highlight areas of success. As the campaign progresses you’ll get a better handle on which social networking websites are working best for you and the types of content your customers engage with.
- Use your monitoring and reporting to improve your campaign
Your social media campaign should be constantly tweaked and improved as it progresses. Use the knowledge gained from monitoring and reporting to streamline your campaign. Invest more time in the most successful areas and re-think your strategy where it has been ineffective. If you’re particularly pleased with results from social media and its generating business look into social networking platforms you may not yet have used. For example, set up a YouTube account if you have video content, look into Four Square if you customers come to you.
Final thought: If you haven’t registered your business on Google places, do it now. It’s a must have for all small to medium businesses. Good luck!