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From the author of Running a Company or Product Blog

Running a Company or Product Blog

The other component of your blog marketing strategy is your own blog, one you create and host in-house. This type of house organ is a way to talk directly to your customer base on a regular basis. It's a mix of public relations and promotion, a source of constant information about your company and your products.

Benefits of a Company Blog

There are many distinct advantages to creating a quality blog for your company, brand, or product. In general, however, a blog provides an efficient way for you to communicate to customers and potential customers and to engage in an ongoing conversation with these people. It creates a closer relationship between you and your most loyal customers.

One big advantage of a company blog is that the blog lets you establish a public face for your company, brand, or product. Instead of remaining a faceless, soulless corporation or empty brand, your blog lets you connect to customers on a person-to-person basis. In essence, you put a human voice to your company or product.

A blog can also help you establish your company (or a person within your company) as an authority in your industry or just the place to come for the latest news. This requires you to post a lot of fresh content on a very regular basis, of course; what you end up with is a blog chock full of news headlines, articles, and links that provide unique value to a specific customer base. Interested customers will visit your blog on a daily basis for the latest news or subscribe to the blog's newsfeed to have the news delivered to them automatically. You get in front of your customers on a regular basis and establish your company as an authoritative source for news and other important information.

You can also establish your company as an authority by making news. Here I'm talking about the new and unique content you provide via your blog. This may be detailed information about new products or industry developments, it may be hands-on advice or instruction on how to use a give product or perform a specific task, or it may be pure opinion about issues of interest to your customer base. In any instance, your blog becomes an important source of information for customers who are interested in whatever it is you're blogging about.

Another advantage to creating a company blog and posting to it on a regular basis is that all your blog content provides fresh material for your main website, which might otherwise be somewhat static. Constant blog updates, cross-posted to your website, can keep your site’s home page fresh and interesting; there's always something new on your home page when you're making daily blog posts. The rest of the page's content–contact information, mission statement, pretty pictures of your corporate headquarters–can remain constant; new blog posts will still make your site appear fresh and relevant.

There's additional benefit to feeding fresh blog content to your website: All that fresh blog content gets eaten up by Google and the other search engines. They just love blog posts, and that will improve your standing in those search results. It’s simple; when you maintain a fresh and relevant blog, you increase your chances of popping up in those search results.

Finally, know that a blog, like other social media, doesn't have to be one-way communication. You can foster a closer relationship with your customers and create a burgeoning online community by encouraging reader comments to your blog posts.

Setting Up a Company Blog

When it comes time to set up your company blog, you first need to decide whether you want to include the blog as part of your existing website or set up a separate blog site. I'm generally in favor of the latter approach, a separate URL or subdomain, such as blog.yourwebsite.com. This way you get two shots at the search engines, which is always a good thing.

That said, there’s no reason not to feed your most recent blog posts back to your main website. Devote a section of your home page to current clog headlines, and you provide a constant stream of fresh content to your site.

Next, you need to decide what you want to blog about. Blog content can range from simple product announcements to in-depth articles about how your company works. Your blog posts define the character of your blog and should reflect the brand or product image you want to convey; this includes not only the content but also the writing style. Should your blog be light-hearted or deadly serious? Should the articles be short and sweet or long and detailed? These are key strategic decisions you need to make.

You also have to determine who should be doing the blogging. Should your posts come exclusively from a copywriter in the marketing department, or should you solicit input from throughout the organization? Do you want to go with consistent style and subject matter, which argues in favor of a single poster, or go for more variety in content, which you get if you use multiple posters? And what about soliciting posts from people outside the company, including customers? I like soliciting posts from individuals throughout the organization; this provides a variety of voices and content, and makes it easier to post on a more frequent basis.

When it comes to posting strategy, you can decide to post monthly, weekly, daily, or even more often if that makes sense. In general, you keep customers coming back with more frequent posts; certainly, anything less frequent than weekly isn't going to do the trick. If you have enough unique content to post several times a week, or daily, that's even better.

As to the look and feel of your blog, this should be pretty simple; your blog should emulate the look and feel of your main website. That said, it also needs to contain subsidiary elements of use to both you and your customers, in addition to the posts themselves. This includes links or buttons to share your blog's content with various social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter; links to email blog content to other users; links to subscribe to the blog's RSS or Atom feeds; and links back to your website, either to the home page or to individual product pages.

The goal, after all, is to convert blog readers into paying customers–if not immediately, then eventually. You can do this subtly by inviting the customer back to view more content or more overtly by promoting weekly specials or including other calls to action. Think of your blog as an extension of your existing Web presence, and you'll be headed in the right direction.

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