August 21, 2014

How to Blog Effectively to Market Your Small Business

Twitter tweetchatOn Thursday 24th June 2010 Beth Schillaci, President and Founder of VillageWorks Communications, an entrepreneur was the guest for a small business Tweetchat. A tweetchat is a conversation on Twitter where participants connect the conversation by searching for keywords known as hashtags and respond to them. This Tweetchat had the #smallvolution hashtag for following Tweetchats.

There was such great info in the chat and here is a summary of the questions and answers from the participants.

What should small businesses consider when looking to start blogging?

  • When thinking about blogging, companies should think about goals first. What info you want to share and who will blog
  • Content creation  -getting in habit of looking at daily business from blogging perspective (@eyeinfo)
  • Reasons to blog: Thought leadership, education, seo, branding, customer service and event promo
  • The blog is the hub or center of your business community, usually. Another key reason to maintain a blog w/social links (@CreativeSage)
  • Your biz blog is also a content mgmt system- tag, archive, categorize, track posts/comments, RSS, objects…(@loudoun)

How important is adding some branding/personality to your small biz blog?

  • I think customers love to see/hear the personality of a company (@bethschillaci)

Are there pros/cons to a single person blogging versus a group of people participating in the blog, esp. for small biz?

  • A group spreads the responsibility but best for 1 person to be the main point of contact
  • small business with a single blogger time constraints can be tasking
  • A group I work with has spread it across 12 people to lessen time commitment. #smallvolution One person is main editor
  • You can also invite Guest blog posts from customers and associates to help make it a multi team of bloggers (@shashib)
  • Having your own blog is a great way to promote your message and position as a thought leader/expert
  • A group spreads the responsibility but best for 1 person to be the main point of contact (@bethschillaci)
  • Blogging helped me find my inner author, never published before, finding it challenging, fun, rewarding @eyeinfo

How do you generate blog post ideas?

  • @bethschillaci questions left in comments on other blogs (or yahoo answers etc) make great blog post topics.
  • Honestly try to tie pop culture to Smallbiz – Ex: http://bit.ly/dd8gK5 (@kikscore)
  • This is huge: 6 Tips to Instantly Improve Your Blog by @lisabarone via @Smallbiztrends http://bit.ly/9GSCQ7 (@TJMcCue:)

If multiple team members share a blog, how do you maintain a voice/tone?

  • Voice can vary by author but overall goals should be shared by the group

Should SEO be a top consideration when starting a Blog?

  • SEO is a great goal but for a business blog, I feel that producing content that is useful to the reader is most important (@bethschillaci)
  • SEO should be a constant consideration for your blog, but content is always King. SEO is a tool.
  • Creating content that is useful to the reader only helps SEO. The two cooperate, not compete. (@bencookNS)
  • Mix up your blog posts with video, pictures, and audio some times. (@bethschillaci)

How do you find the right blog for your interests?  I have tried goggling but not sure I really am finding what is out there

  • blogsearch.google.com/ good place 2 start
  • maybe the first step is to search for blogs  in your field and comment there

What is the most effective frequency for blogging – daily? Weekly?

  • Blogging weekly is hard but keeping an editorial calendar might help.
  • Reports say the more the better. I’m a fan of quality over quantity. No less than once a week.
  • If it’ s just U blogging, try 2 post once a week consider posting a photo w/a short tag line as a  post when stretched 4 time

Any recommendations for ways to promote a new blog, gain an audience

  • Promote new blog by commenting on other blogs, linking  other social accts add to email signature
  • Remember when adding RSS to your blog, also offer subscription by email. Feedburner is great for this (@bethschillaci)
  • Negative comments can definitely be good for generating conversation (@bethschillaci)
  • I want my blog to be secondary to my content.  So, I actually want a link to my blog on my main website. (@YaoTyus)

How important are niches, to blogging?

  • A niche allows you to focus your blog more easily. For business blog, stick with your business niche.
  • People with tighter niches tend to do better with attracting audience and advertisers (@bethschillaci)

Do you recommend WordPress over Blogger?

I like self-hosted over free blogs. Better control, better customization no changing terms of service. (@bethschillaci)

  • I prefer #WordPress & recommend using it on your own domain. Keep the link juice you attract! ( @skitzzo)
  • Recommend WordPress more customizable, better built-in SEO, thousands of great plug-ins, helpful community (@creativesage)
  • yes use WordPress, also have to ensure blog hosted on your web domain for max exposure (@andrewsmith1443)
  • Hosting your blog on your site (yoursite.com/blog) means links to the blog will help your entire site’s rankings. (@bencookNS)
  • When setting up your self-hosted blog, add comment spam filter and analytics (@bethschillaci)
  • Most of the blog templates that I see seem to have a set format that is blog centralized. (@YaoTyus)
  • You don’t have to have the blog on home page. My site www.villageworks.net is built on WordPress (@bethschillaci)
  • Have you looked at Joomla? It is a comprehensive CMS and very powerful.  (@lavanyad)

What is SEO ?

  • SEO is the art of getting your site to rank higher in searches. It stands for Search Engine Optimization. (@benCookNS)

Any good examples of small biz blogs?

I have been blogging for a while now but am still not very clued up on how to monetize effectively

  • Monetization can be done several ways. @problogger is a great resource for monetization (@bethschillaci)

Is there recommended developer or type of person or resource for finding a website develop

  • Ask for referrals from people that have sites you like. (@bethschillaci)
  • You need to find someone you are comfortable with.  IMO the more nerdy the better- look for less sales, more nerd. (@ckieff)

Any tips on what to avoid when blogging?

  • People sometimes fear negative comments. I say B prepared, have comments policy & open them up 4 comments. (@bethschillaci)
  • Try to avoid constant selling. Provide information that educates and resonates with your audience. (@bethschillaci)
  • Social media and blogging do not live on their own. Integration is key (@creativesage)
  • SM strategy works best if it’s integrated with your entire bus. dev, mktg, PR & CRM/SCRM, rather than just in sep. parts. (@creativesage)
  • Tie it all into one message and take it to where the audience is. (@creativeSage)
  • We sometimes get hung up on each detail, not seeing the whole context enough. Multiple channels.. (@Creativesage)

How important is it to use photos and/or videos when blogging? Where can I get free or low cost images?

  • I like to use a bunch of photos if possible (under a cut).  I take most of my own. (@bethschillaci)
  • I blog you blog everyone blogs. What gets readers back? Multi-media content does  (@lotajune)
  • Add media to your blogs- if you write a recap of this tweetchat here is a picture for you http://flic.kr/p/8cZZ2M (@shashib)
  • Research all the different Creative Commons licenses before using Flickr pics. Some are not for biz use. (@ckieff)
  • I come back to a blog if it’s interesting, intelligent, and has personality. Multimedia doesn’t really matter. (@jesshibb)
  • Take your own photos if at all possible. If you look for photos on Flickr, make sure you respect copyright/CC. (@jesshibb)

I blog at http://lavanyad.com – used to do so frequently but have lately lost my mojo.

Here is a question that needs another chat or for you readers to comment and point us to more resources .Any suggestions for technical step-by-step set-up  process for new bloggers?

The article was possible only because of the excellent discussion and conversation by the participants of the #smallvolution tweetchat . Thank you.

More in: 22 Comments ▼

Shashi Bellamkonda


Shashi Bellamkonda Shashi Bellamkonda is VP of Digital Marketing, AKA "Social Media Swami" at Bozzuto.com. Visit Shashi Bellamkonda's blog. He is also an adjunct faculty at Georgetown University. Shashi is a regular contributor to the Washington Business Journal, DC Examiner and other tech blogs like Smallbiztechnology and Techcocktail. Shashi has been in the list of Top 100 Small Business Influencer Champions list for 2011 and 2012.

22 Reactions

  1. Strong post lots of valuable information. I think the most important part of starting a blog is making sure that there is a plan in place to drive traffic to the blog. If they write a blog in no one read it will it help their business marketing? Many people think that if they start writing people will simply show up. Utilizing Social Media sites to drive traffic is an excellent way to go.

    Also… SEO should not be the primary focus but it should certainly be kept in mind. I like to write my articles with the reader in mind and then go back and revise to see if their are opportunities to add in some keywords.

    Great post keep it up!!

    Andres Garcia

  2. Consistency is key as mentioned to build and keep traffic.

    SEO will handle it self if you are bringing content of substance. (I hate the word value at this point, so over used and abused.)

    Every small business should have a blog. If plumbers are blogging, DUH?

    Groups are great to create content in abundance but a 1 united front personality may be lost and this may not be a good strategy for someone just starting a man or woman of 1 blog. (Personal / Business Blog like mines)

    Great Article Shashi! I will stay tuned.

  3. Shashi!

    Great job! What a fantastic way to share knowledge.

    Thank you!

    I liked this one;

    “A niche allows you to focus your blog more easily. For business blog, stick with your business niche.”

    YES!

    (See you in Vegas this year for #BWE10 ?)

    The Franchise King

  4. Hi Shawn,

    Glad you liked the article and you make a good point about “SEO will handle it self if you are bringing content of substance” – I have ahd the best advice from blogs from gutter gleaning companies during the famous Snowmageddon earlier this year when water was leaking from the windows.

    Thanks to all the contributors who made this articla possible.

    Shashi

  5. Hi Joel,

    Yes , wisdom of the crowd helps even so when you ask the right questions. I have started searching for Google searches more and more to get the best advice. Sometimes this advice from a small business who are educating more than selling and I become their customer just because they helped me first.

    Looking forward to seeing you at BWE10

    Shashi

  6. Andres,

    Great point about having a plan to use social media channels to extend your audience. if you write they will come will not work. if you wirte well and let people know they will keep coming back

    Shashi

  7. # “How important is adding some branding/personality to your small biz blog? I think customers love to see/hear the personality of a company.”

    I think this can be extended a little further. Blogs are also about identity. In fact they’re the perfect spot to implement and advertise, along with your product, your image and what makes you different. Identity is about difference and blogging can state that loud and clear.

    Lloyd Burrell
    Publisher
    officedeskreviews.com

  8. Lloyd,

    Great point on identity “Identity is about difference and blogging can state that loud and clear.”. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    Shashi

  9. Great information – very relevant. I’ll add the obvious for the section on “Reasons to blog: Thought leadership, education, seo, branding, customer service and event promo” – you have something relevant to say! I agree small businesses should blog, I find a number are doing it (because they ‘should’), yet they are saying very little in their blog postings. It’s hard to always have something important to say, but at least make it relevant and interesting to your readers.

  10. Thanks again Shashi for including me in the TweetChat. It was a great group of people with a lot of great insights and ideas. Always fun to share ideas with people and learn something in return. This week I kicked off a month of blog posts on building a better business blog. Come over to http://www.marketingroadhouse.com and share some of your experiences.

  11. Shashi,

    Thank you very much for the summary of the tweet chat. I am in talks with an owner of a specialized dating site on how you could add value to it by starting using different social media tools.

  12. Thanks for the information. Nice post.

  13. Well, I agree with what you say about WordPress, there is nothing wrong with WordPress at all, and it gives you all of the great utilities like synching up with your Facebook account, your Twitter account, your LinkedIn account, etc., AND, a very large community of users who are already set up to use your WordPress blog with a minimum of fuss. And I find WordPress quite easy and intuitive to set up and use.

    I have developed a lot of business blogs, mostly in WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, as well as some other blog platforms. They all have their strengths. But for a small business owner, I generally reccommend WordPress, just because of the existing community of users that I mentioned.

    There are two main issues with business blogging for most small and medium-size businesses:

    1. Technical development and ongoing CMS (Content Management Systems)
    2. Content – Quality and frequency

    From my point of view, I would suggest that most business owners find the issues surrounding content to be the most vexing and persistent when it’s all said and done. The technical issues eventually get sorted out; the issues of where to get good/great quality content on a consistent, ongoing basis is a much bigger issue for most smaller businesses. It’s very difficult to keep a blog going in terms of content that is both good and entertaining.

    As a result, many blogs just end up as more or less “ghost ships” a year after launch, with little or no new posts for months at a time.

  14. I like it, Nice post and good tips. I was planning to put up a site for my small business at home, although what I aim for is only for locals and the city near us. I still need to learn more to make it happen, It really helps. Thank You.

  15. Interesting article, though there are a lot of alternative methods to getting noticed as a small business but blogging is one of the best though.

  16. Excellent post! Extremely thorough and answers a lot of questions that have been bothering me for sometime now.

    I have my share of blogs online all for business but the ones I focus on the least happen to be my wife’s sites. She runs her own offline business so naturally I built some sites for her business that cover a few counties in our area but I have never done anything more than just build out a well designed Home Page and then the legal pages (privacy policy, T&C, Disclosure, About and Contact).

    I can definitely put to use some of the advice you have given on here to improve her sites and some of my own as well.

    Great Info!
    Thanks!
    Todd

  17. All these tips and tidbits have been very helpful. I plan on using what I’ve learned from this post on my blog. Thanks!

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