Although everyone is talking about Twitter, Facebook and the likes, social media marketing also includes blogs. In fact, many companies don’t have a corporate blog yet.
So before starting to use the new trends, you might consider to start a blog first. Blogs are often also the hub of social media marketing activities, and they give your company or brand a more open, participative and human image. Blogs, while older and substantially more mainstream than most social media platforms, are a form of social media in their own right. They are more in depth than Twitter and more powerful for spreading ideas than Facebook updates.
Blogs are social media platforms reduced down to core components: a dedicated audience, your thoughts and ideas, and a small but significantly more powerful audience than your Twitter followers or Facebook friends. While many people pass them over entirely, blogs are the most powerful form of social media around.
Blogs are about conversations, personality, branding, community, sharing and, just like other social media also about following and being followed by offering value to the target group you want to reach with your blog.
Besides setting up an own blog it’s important to follow other bloggers too, even if you don’t have one yourself.
1) Use blogs to gather market intelligence
Most likely, bloggers are also talking about you. They’re talking about your business, your products, your customer service, and your competitors. You might want to start listening to what they have to say, and learn from it to see how others regard your business and your products. The feedback can also teach you a lot about your positioning towards your competitors.
2) Join the conversation
Observing and tracking blogs to assemble feedback is one thing, but there is much more you could do. You can interact with bloggers and their readers by actively joining the conversation: not only by reading blogs, but also by commenting, providing more details or corrections where needed, or starting your own blog(s). It gives you a chance to show that there’s real people behind the corporate wall, that actually listens and cares about what other people have to say.
3) Blogs and PR
If you want to build up a relation with a public, don’t limit yourself to sending press releases to and connections with mainstream media. The tools to establish a direct connection to your audience are already in place, so use them. While it’s wrong to consider blogs to be nothing more than just another vehicle to support your corporate communication, it can be a viable tool in establishing a direct conversation about e.g. the launch of your latest product, a look inside your company’s culture, an announcement of a great new hire, etc. A blog is also a great way to function as a central hub for crisis communication.
Reaching out to bloggers in a transparent, open way can be a very cost-effective way of communication that fits right into your marketing strategy. The possibilities are endless: you can advertise on blogs to reach exactly the mass and/or niche audience you want, you can invite bloggers to your corporate events, you can have them help spread your message, you can ask them to test out your new product and write an honest review to gain feedback, and so on. Online communities have proven to be highly influential in the past, and social media are becoming more and more embedded into people’s lives every day.
5) Build a community first
Planning to start your own blog? Don’t fill it with advertisements, promotions, etc. right away. Follow the lead of the smartest online companies like Twitter and Facebook, and build an audience before you focus on generating. Don’t just write blog posts for links and coverage. People quickly tire of the same old style, and writing for constant attention is a sure-fire way to get on peoples’ bad sides. Offer relevant content, communicate, try to make your blog personal and build a community before all the rest.
6) How to track blog value
Blogs are not easy to measure, especially when trying to determine revenue and influence. After all, there are hundreds of ways to monetize a blog or create influence with it, and it is a lot more difficult to track its value than a Twitter profile. Focus on directing traffic to your blog, measure how effectively that traffic converts into sales success, and micro-test extensively to get that ratio to just how you would like it. Your blog should be the foundation of your social media presence, and without the secure foundation, your entire empire is at stake. Start with an input-output comparison. How much does your blog cost to run, both in terms of input and opportunity cost? Remember that time spent blogging is time that could be spent on other profitable pursuits so you need to factor that time into your analysis. Then, run that besides the results: business-oriented metrics like sales generated, traffic metrics, conversion metrics or influence metrics. Of course you should first define the kind of results you want (for instance: generating leads by offering white papers) and attribute a financial parameter to the sought results (in our example: the value of a lead).