Content Marketing, WordPress

Blogging for Business: New Tricks for Old Dogs

No one can argue the absolute dominance of blogs on popularity and, in turn, search engine ranking. The popularity of blogs comes from this new method of communication that has evolved on the web – more personable, less refined and genuine.

Technorati is tracking over 112.8 million blogs at the moment with thousands of blogs being created each hour. Open source applications like WordPress, Blogger, or Typepad and Vox make blogging easy. In every company, if not every IT department, you’ll find at least one person blogging. It’s simple:

Write+Publish=Blog?

Sounds easy, right? That’s the exact way that marketing consultants are treated when we enter an organization and discuss blogging as part of an overall marketing strategies. Companies discuss blogging like it’s an item on the 2008 check list. Ask a company if they blog and you get the obligatory “yup”. If they haven’t, ask them what platform they are looking at and they respond with any of the “free ones”.

It’s not that easy

If corporate blogging were so simple, why are the number of blogs plummeting? There are a few reasons:

  • Dull conversations aren’t attracting readers.
  • Business blogs turn into regurgitated press releases.
  • The topics don’t spark comments or trackbacks.
  • The posts lack personality and thought leadership.

In short, the reason why business blogs are failing are because corporations are substituting a blogging application for their content management system.

Businesses Need Help!

There are two keys to successful blogging that businesses totally overlook:

  1. A strategy.
  2. A platform that supports the strategy.

Any IT guy with an ounce of sense can throw WordPress on a server and provide the CEO with a login. This is a sure-fire way to ensure your business blog’s short lifespan. It’s a lot like going out and starting a lawncare business because you figured out how to start your own lawnmower.

  • Gaining authority and search engine results requires a very intensive analysis of your business, its competitors, its web presence currently and where you would like it to be.
  • Implementing a blogging platform that guides the blogger effortlessly through the posting process, helps the technically inept writer produce optimized content, and then automatically organizes that content for maximum search results (decided in the previously analysis and strategy) is key to a business blog’s success.
  • Blogging is a not an overnight success. Great blogging results require momentum and constant analysis and improvement. With business blogging, I’d also encourage a team approach where the team ensures folks are executing on a comprehensive strategy and schedule.
  • Content is not driven nor approved by Marketing. If there’s a dull conversation to be had, it’s often due to the cleansing of content by big brother.

Strategy+Write+Publish+Optimization=Business Blog!

I love WordPress and this blog will not change from that blogging platform. However, that doesn’t mean that WordPress is the ideal solution. On my ‘Create New Post’ screen, there’s no less than 100 options… tags, categories, status, excerpt, trackbacks, comments, pings, password protection, custom fields, post status, future posts…. sigh. Throw this screen in front of anyone and it’s a bit daunting!

Your business should not have to educate users on how to use a blogging platform. You should be able to truly login, post and publish. Let the application do the rest!

Keyword Scoring

Here’s one example of a fantastic feature that you’ll find in Compendium Blogware, a tool to assist the author to concentrate on the keywords and phrases within his post so that it has the potency to get picked up by search engines.

If you write too few or too many keywords and phrases, your score will drop! It’s a fascinating little tool written by friend, PJ Hinton. Authors are advised to write for the reader, but they can achieve that and great keyword density with an ingenious tool like this.

A tool such as Compendium comes with a team of professionals who help you build the strategy, and an application that helps you to execute effective on that strategy. And you don’t even need your IT person to get involved! If you don’t wish to see your business blog go down the tubes, find the right people and get the right tool to execute with.

I had the pleasure of a coffee visit with Chris Baggott this morning (he’s posted about theForrester research on blogging, too.

Compendium is working – concentrating content and driving tons of traffic for the businesses who’ve signed up. Readers are engaged and returning – and businesses are growing from the results. It’s an exciting time for the company and Compendium’s trends are a complete opposite to those trends that Forrester has observed.

Full Disclosure: I am a shareholder in Compendium and worked with Chris and Ali in the very early days. Compendium was a theory and whiteboard conversation back then, but Chris and the team have turned that conversation into quite a company! It’s no longer a theory, it’s an application that’s transforming business blogging.

7 Comments

  1. 1

    Excellent post, Doug.

    Business blogs may be dropping because the early adopters never learned how to convert blog readers into customers, a problem that’s common to most websites. Now, they are trying different tools.

    I don’t think business blogging has really been tested yet, at least not by many of the companies most likely to succeed with it. That’s because compliance is such an issue.

    Compliance issues keep many of the best companies from blogging. Public companies must be very careful not to make forward looking statements that can lure investors into buying their stock. Private companies led by visionaries (potentially the best bloggers) are not eager to share their thought processes with competitors.

    So, who’s left? Marketing folk and mid-tier companies that aren’t big enough to go public or visionary enough to change the world. Thisleads to boring blogs filled with company collateral and press releases.

    The answer? Well, I’m still working on that. Getting the right people to blog is not easy. But once they start, here are some tips to make it easier for business bloggers to keep that fire burning:

    1) get some help. The CEO may be the guy you want on the blog’s byline, but he’s not likely to make it a priority. Put someone else in charge of making sure the posts get written and uploaded.

    2) create an editorial calendar. Determine what you’re going to talk about in advance, run it past the legal team and then get your writers working on the posts.

    3) write what your customers need. Boring is in the mind of the reader (or eye of the beholder, or something). If the blog is aimed at adding real value to the company’s prospects, it will be easier to convert readers to customers.

    Thanks again for a great post.

    Rick

  2. 3

    Great post, as usual.

    But I do want to ask, how did you come about learning of Compendium’s feature you highlighted? Is a client of yours using it? Or was this post sponsored by Compendium? It really did come across like a commercial.

    Be aware I’m not accusing you, and even if it was a pay-for-post I’d still think highly of you, but I am just supremely curious…

    • 4

      Hi Mike,

      No worries there! I provided some disclosure at the end of the post – I helped develop the original premise of Compendium with Chris Baggott and I’m a shareholder in the business.

      PJ Hinton is a developer at Compendium and (it is a coincidence) also a fellow ‘fiend’ of The Bean Cup where I hang out. I was talking to PJ about some ideas for helping the blogger write as he writes – and PJ provided me with insight into this feature that was not yet released.

      Ali Sales came up with the idea and I think it’s brilliant.

      Doug

  3. 5
    • 6

      No problem, Mike! I’ll always be open with you – and appreciate being challenged. I think it’s ‘my duty’ as a blogger. If I’m going to write the words, I better be able to back them up!

  4. 7

    Blogging is a fantastic way for a company to reach more people. It allows the company to show a different side of their business. Additionally, it helps increase their ranking on a search engine. Because blogging is a good way to connect with your customers and to expand your social network, you need to be careful and consistent with your blogging.

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