I was working with a local businessman and we were discussing his online platform. He had a good set of tools developed for his business, including a nice website, a facebook page and he was starting to get into Twitter. As we looked at each of his efforts, we discovered a few things:
- He has a website with some decent content, but the site had not changed at all since he first had it built.
- His facebook fan page was growing steadily and he had a direction for what he was doing with it.
- Twitter was still largely a mystery, but he was working hard to figure it out.
- These were the only platforms he was currently using and he didn’t see a reason to expand from here.
- His entire online communication effort was one direction. He was talking to customers, not with them.
- No where in this mix was he telling his business’ story.
- He had no real strategy behind his online effort.
We then set out to address some of these issues and made some decent progress, but one major challenge remained – he had a website that contained static content and he didn’t understand how to update it. So we then began a discussion about blogs.
“A blog? Their kinda for geeky guys who sit at home and never get out into the world,” he said. “Just kiddin’. But don’t they take a ton of work? What in the world would I write about anyway?”
He had nailed the two biggest challenges that businesses face when considering whether or not to start a blog.
Fact: Running a Blog Takes a Lot of Work
As we discussed, his efforts, one thing became clear. He was time crunched and he had chosen social media tools that would allow him to spend as little time as possible online. But with some discussing, he started to open up and realize that he was missing a huge opportunity to engage his consumers with some deep, meaningful content.
There is no doubt that running a blog can be painful. Depending on how often you blog, you can easily end up spending several hours or more a week writing. That doesn’t include time for research, brainstorm (or mindmapping) future subjects to write about, managing blog comments, etc. Then there is the issue of setting up the blog, designing it, and all the fun of worrying about backups, updates, new widgets, and the like. Blogging is a lot of work.
So our next step was trying to figure out how to take away some of the “work” and free him up so he could manage a blog. We wanted him to be able to focus on making this a success and I would be helping him with the basic development and maintenance of his blog.
With limited time, he wasn’t sure how often he could blog, so we set a basic goal – one new post per week. This goal would allow him to still maintain his other online efforts without adding too much weight to his current load. We had also decided to integrate his blog with his other three tools so that when he updated his blog, his posts would feed out to his site, facebook page and be tweeted out to his followers.
Myth: No One Wants to Read About My Business
We then dived into his site content. After some more convincing and a look around a bunch of other blogs, things sunk in. Consumers care and they will engage with a business online in some pretty fantastic ways when a business opens up to them. Without much effort, we then nailed down a variety of topics he could write posts about:
- Company history
- Vision of the future
- Community outreach efforts
- Team member stories
- Upcoming promotions
- Secret promotions and deals
- Customer service stories
With this many topics in mind, he actually considered bumping up his number of posts per week, but we kept the goal at one per week for the first six months. We would reevaluate at that time.
Going through this process helped him realize that he had plenty of interesting topics to share with his customers. Most of the content would provide more interesting and deeper ways to engage with his customers than he currently is with his site, facebook fan page and Tweets.
His situation is probably not unlike yours. He is busy but he also wants to do the right thing for his business. Using a blog was something he needed to explore. If you are interested in using a blog here are several things you can do today to get started:
- Determine what you will use the blog for. Ask yourself, in a year from now, what do I hope to have accomplished with this tool?
- Find a friend or hire someone that can help you overcome the technical side of blogging. For the most part, if you can email a friend photos from your computer, you have the skills you need to run a blog.
- Identify a platform to run your blog on (your techie friend can help with this). If you want simple, consider going with Blogger or Posterous. If you want more control and flexibility, think WordPress.
- Write down all of the potential topics you could write about. Don’t worry about specific posts, just start with the broad categories. Ask yourself, what are all of the fascinating things we do as a business to deliver a great experience for our team, customers and the larger community? If you get stuck, talk to a few of your regular customers and find out what they would like to learn about.
- Think through your current schedule and find a regular time to write your posts. Having a routine time to write is absolutely critical. Set a time. Stick to it.
Running a blog can be challenging, but you will find that it will allow you to share your story in more depth than almost any other advertising medium available.
Now get out there and start building your business blog today!