Blogging for your business needn’t be an overwhelming undertaking.
The first time I heard the term blog was in the mid- to late 1990s. It was defined by an online magazine as “basically a diary, but online.” The term is a portmanteau (smush name) of web and log. They started as online diaries and remained that way for years.
The especially clever and informational blogs developed followings, and many blogs from those early days still exist. However, it didn’t take long for organizations, from non-profits to Fortune 500 companies, to understand what an effective marketing tool a blog could be.
Corporate vs. personal
Blogs have evolved during the past two decades. You probably know several people who have one. Think of a topic, and chances are an entire daily blog is devoted to it, whether it’s needlepoint or horror movies. But beyond personal transmissions, the Internet is rife with corporate blogs.
Most companies use their blogs to communicate directly and informally with their customers and potential customers (take PMP magazine’s own newly launched PMPPestTalk.net, for example). It’s another branch of social media, but unlike Twitter or Facebook, there are virtually no constraints on what you communicate, or how many words or characters you can use to convey your message.
A blog post makes for great time-killing reading for clients who make their mobile devices one of their top sources of information and entertainment. Blog entries can be read while standing in line at the store, on the commuter train to work or during a mind-numbingly lengthy airport layover. Small businesses that develop blogs of their own might be lucky enough to have their core prospects bookmark the blog — or, better yet, subscribe to it. Readers who bookmark your blog will be more likely to return to it, thereby increasing your chance of being part of their daily Internet surfing routine.
To create a blog that attracts an audience, you have to consider your audience, or rather, the audience you want. What kind of information can you type up on the fly that would interest readers enough to want to come back for more at a later date?
It helps to ensure a blog stays on topic to some degree. That said, don’t impose unnecessary rules on yourself or whomever you designate the keeper of your business blog. The best pest management industry blogs provide information that’s both interesting and related to the industry and/or your business somehow. If you read something interesting online, catch a news segment on TV or come across a particularly interesting YouTube video, use your blog to share it with your customers. But more than sharing what you found, offer your own commentary and consider asking your readers to contribute their thoughts. This might sound like more work than it actually is so consider this: The best business blog entries are no more than five paragraphs long, and they can be even shorter. Unless your topic is exceptionally compelling, the longer your blog post, the less likely your audience will read the entire entry.
Next month, I’ll focus on how to set up your company blog and highlight important factors to consider before going live. In the meantime:
1. Familiarize yourself with industry blogs — such as those from manufacturers, distributors and other pest management companies (Northeastern Exterminating, for example, does exemplary work). See what you like and don’t like about these sites as you gather ideas for your own blog presence.
2. Work on an editorial calendar of topics you know you can riff on quite easily. Knowing that you’re going to talk rodent-proofing in November and holiday sales in December, for example, will take some pressure off you when your self-imposed deadline comes and you think, “What should I write about?”