The best business blogs are those that actually engage and build up a community. Loyal readers will continue to visit the blog, link to it, and recommend it to their contacts because the content addresses their needs and provides them with information that they can use. Unfortunately, too many business blogs are focused solely on hawking their own products and services or posting their own press releases, and they miss out on the opportunities to connect with their audience. In his article on the TopRank online marketing blog, Lee Odden offers some advice for business bloggers who are looking to “create meaningful connections with people empowered to publish, share, refer and buy.”
Finding Your Niche
The first thing Odden recommends is finding a niche related to the problems your product or service solves for customers, and then coming up with a plan to dominate that niche. In particular, he advises bloggers to “[d]evelop a matrix of topics and media types that map to the intersection of target audience needs and the key messages your brand is trying to promote.” In other words, try to find a need that your product or service addresses well, and then strive to become the “go to” resource for people who have that need. Come up with a matrix of media types (blog posts, images, videos, slideshows, infographics, polls, interviews, reviews, etc.) to promote your brand’s message. And once you’re in command of the conversation, “document what has made your niche efforts successful and duplicate that process to other topics relevant to your business.”
Growing Your Community
The mechanics for growing a loyal fan base can vary, depending on your industry, resources, target audience, and goals. However, there are a few simple tips that will help you in gaining an “online footprint and brand credibility.”
- Tell Stories: Think of the idea you’re trying to convey as a journalistic “story,” and look for a unique hook, angle, or perspective to make it interesting to your audience.
- Empathize: Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Don’t just talk about how awesome your product or service is. Explain to your potential customers how it will specifically address their needs and/or help them achieve their goals.
- Engage and Recognize: Invite your readers, fans, followers, and subscribers to interact and participate on your blog, as well as through any other social media channels you may be using. As Odden writes, “[t]he simple satisfaction of contributing and being recognized is one of the most powerful when developing a strong blog community.”
- Strive for a Quantity of Quality: The idea of “quality over quantity” has been touted so often in the online marketing industry that it’s practically become an axiom. However, a blog that produces relevant and sharable content on a regular basis is going to outperform one that publishes sporadically. “Provide something your readers can find elsewhere online,” Odden suggests, “and do that consistently.”
- Make Your Content Easy to Search and Share: Your community will grow quickly if your content is easy to find in the search engines and easy to share via social media. Ranking well for popular keywords will not only bring in more traffic, but it will garner you credibility that will eventually lead to increased readership and growth of your community.