Are you getting the most out of your blog? With the explosion of social media sites and a whole range of blogging and content sharing platforms at your fingertips, you should take another look at your blog. Is it still serving its purpose, reaching your customers and making the most of available resources? Here's a checklist of questions you should be asking and things you should be considering when evaluating your blog and planning for 2012.
1. Is blogging the best platform for your business? By now you probably already know about the success of new, highly visual online outlets such as Pinterest and Instagram. If your business depends on people seeing big, beautiful photos of your product or location, maybe these are a better fit. You could also look at blogging through Tumblr, which supports multimedia sharing well. And if you have the resources and manpower, you can always do both, using a photo-sharing site to showcase your visual appeal, then integrate these into longer traditional blog posts.
2. Is your content shareable across the latest networks? Even if you are not on every social network, bear in mind that your followers might be. Update your sharing buttons periodically to include new social media sites so your audience can share your content with their followers.
3. Are you including multimedia elements? You can mix traditional blog posts with videos, slideshows and images to bring more interest to your blog and boost traffic. As well as embedding multimedia from your accounts on Flickr, You Tube and so on, you can create informational graphics (tables, graphs, charts, etc.) with tools like Visual.ly and use them to illustrate your posts. Just make sure to include your blog name in the image file so if it is shared people will know the source.
4. What is your overall blog strategy? What sort of audience you are looking to attract? Is your blog a showcase for your expertise? Is it a way of driving traffic towards your sales page? Keep that in mind when you post. Your posts should reflect the interests of your intended audience.
5. Focus on quality, not gimmicks. Some people put a lot of effort into creating images or crafting tweets that are intended to go viral. But your customers and audience will see through the gimmicks. You want traffic that converts into business, and that means quality over quantity. While it is great to get a boost when a post gets shared widely, keep in mind your business goals and core audience when you are posting. Quality traffic with a high conversion rate is better than a high quantity of traffic that doesn’t convert to sales.
6. Successful blogging takes dedication. Blogging is less about quick-wins and viral content (although this can help attract new readers) than building up a dedicated audience over time. Blogging takes dedication: A recent Hubspot report showed a strong correlation between blogging frequency and traffic generation. Just throwing out a couple of posts a month won’t grow your audience.
7. Blog first, sell second. If your blog is overly "salesy," your audience will see straight through you. Focus on providing good content for your audience first, and keep away from the hard sell. You can drive traffic to your business or products by ensuring your website is easy to navigate and links to your sales page are prominent. That way your readers can learn more if they want to. The occasional special offer or product launch is okay, but keep it to a minimum.
8. Ask for comments and feedback. You can create a dialogue by asking questions of your audience. When you write a new post, ask for your readers’ opinions and experiences. Simply by asking what they think at the end of the post can generate far more comments than just talking about your opinion.
9. Look for new voices. You don’t have to create all your content yourself. Reaching out to other industry professionals and asking them to contribute to your blog can really help grow your community and position your business as a thought leader. If you don’t want to involve businesses you see as your direct competitors, try asking authors in your field, suppliers, customers or other professionals you interact with on a regular basis. If you are a small business, you can expand your influence by asking industry experts to write guest posts, and offer to do the same for them.
10. Resist the ad revenue temptation. It’s tempting to go for quick monetization by filling your blog with advertisements, but there are at least three reasons why this is not the best idea: 1. It cheapens your blog and makes it look less professional; 2. If readers click on an ad, they are surfing away from your blog and 3. Readers who click on ads are more likely to go there and buy something. You'll get a few pennies for the click, but possibly at the expense of a big sale.
Social media may be changing rapidly, but the rules of community engagement stay the same: listen as well as talk, ask for feedback, act on the comments you receive and give as well as take. As much as people enjoy easily sharable sound bytes and attention-grabbing graphics, they still want good content and thoughtful discussion. This is why long-form blogs continue to have value for businesses that are dedicated to using them as part of their overall strategy.
What new elements do you want or plan to implement in your blog in 2012?
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