Friday, November 4, 2022

Blogging for Fun and Profit: How to Build your Business Blogging Skills

 


So, your business has decided to take the leap into the blogosphere. Great! There’s no shortage of reasons why blogging can benefit your business. However, the world of business blogging may still feel like uncharted territory. What should your blog discuss? How many posts should get published, and how often? Just who the heck is going to read this stuff, anyway? This blog about blogging (a meta-blog?) is intended to help you hit the ground running with tips on creating timely and fresh blogs that meet the needs and engage the minds of your readership.


Lay the foundation

A great blog starts with a great plan, and the planning stage is where you first answer the big questions that will determine what you write about, who you write for, and why you’re writing in the first place. Before you fire up your typewriter, be sure to nail down answers to the following questions:

  • Start with buyer personas—who is going to be interested in what your business has to say? What are their pain points, and how do your products or services address and resolve them? Targeting your content to a specific readership makes it more likely to be seen (and shared).
  • Develop a list of keywords relevant to your buyer personas. What kinds of search terms will they use when they’re looking for solutions? Knowing your keywords and putting them into use can optimize your blog to be found, guide your writing process and keep your copy consistent.
  • How often will you write? The fresher and more frequent your content, the more you’ll have to offer to your readership, and the more Google’s page rankings will look favorably on your website.
  • Set measurable goals in both the short and the long term. Are you looking to grow your email list and cultivate new leads, or are you focused on making your brand’s voice trusted and authoritative in your field? Whatever your goals, ensure that you have reliable metrics for measuring your progress.

Pick your topics

Are you drawing a blank every time you sit down to write? It may be easy to simply write a product feature or fluff up a sales pitch, but it’s important to remember that the point of your blogs is to provide value to your audience, not to sell to them. Take a look at your buyer personas and their pain points or problems, and assemble them into categories. These categories and their relevant personas will focus your writing and guide your use of keywords to optimize the SEO boost that the post provides. From here, you can begin to address some general topics.

Another great source of blogging inspiration is your existing customer base. Think about the kinds of questions from customers that you answer on a regular basis. Many of these represent common pain points, and can easily turn into full blog posts. For every one customer who comes in or sends and email with a common question, just imagine how many there are tapping their query into Google in search of an answer!

For example, a furniture store might write a blog on the difference in durability between leather, vinyl, and fabric upholsteries, or the different types of mattresses and their levels of support. An informative post that answers common questions and gives your readers information that they can act on is going to rank higher on search engines and position your business as a source of information that readers can trust.

Content (not copy) is king

Getting the copy down is one thing, but your blog will be as dry as a bone without engaging content to supplement that copy. The content that your copy supports, more than anything, is what sets your blog apart from your competitors and drives the solution to your readership’s problem.

It’s best to make your own, but there are plenty of resources out there for those who don’t collect data or employ a design team.

  • Statistic Visuals

Provide relevant and substantiated statistics in the form of graphs and infographics—these add credibility to your posts, and can provide shock value when used properly.

  • Header and Sub-header Images

Use visuals to break up the text. The text of headers and sub-headers can often be incorporated into a relevant image that draws the reader’s attention and invites them to read further. A well-chosen graphic or photograph can serve to break up the monotony of plain text as well as add a visual frame to the information the audience receives.

  • Screenshots/photos
    Finally, use screenshots or photos to demonstrate your solution in action. Remember that you’re here to provide value, not to sell.Getting to the end of a blog and feeling like you just read a really long ad means that you’re not going to come back for anything informative or authoritative. The more your readers can learn from your post, the more likely they are to return to your blog when they have another question that needs an answer.

What’s your Story?

Tell compelling stories (and write snappy titles). Narrative is a powerful tool, and we’ve known how to use it in sales and marketing for a long time. The same goes for your blogs. Framing the movement from conflict to resolution as a journey makes your audience more receptive to the information you have to share and puts it within a familiar and memorable framework.

Start with choosing a narrative voice. Anecdotes and stories about your business can use a first-person voice to draw readers in and demonstrate your unique way of overcoming challenges in ways that others can learn from and put into practice. A second-person voice (like the one used in this blog) allows readers to visualize themselves acting out your solutions as your offer them, while a third-person voice is suited to communicating stories about how your business has been part of another customer’s success.

Leverage your buyer personas and their challenges to tell stories that will engage your audience and show how your business fits into their lives. Your posts don’t have to read like a novel, but putting your info in action will help transform your blog from a lecture into a success story.

Sharing is Caring

You’ve written something you’re proud of, so be sure to put it out there! Share your new blog on your business’ other marketing channels, and put the work in to gain readers other than Googlers and regular visitors to your site. Leveraging your business’ social media following to widen your blog’s audience has the added benefit that a new post that a follower finds useful or interesting is always easy to share with their own network. The more readers that come to see your business as a trusted source of information, the better!

Your blogs can (and should) also link to one another. Where there’s an overlap in information or your blog posts address similar issues, have them link to each other! An engaged reader will always be ready to find out more, and demonstrating that you have more information to offer is never a bad thing.

Finish Strong

Finally, and importantly, bring things home with a with a call to action. Have you ever gotten to the end of an interesting article, how-to or blog post and been filled with the inspiration to immediately test what you’ve learned? While the point of your blog isn’t to sell, it’s important to give your readers something to engage with that allows them to take action and apply their new knowledge. Whether it’s more content, a link to a product or promotion or a contact form, your readers will have a way to act on their inspiration, and you will have a way to track engagement and turn readers into leads.


Here’s hoping this blog has inspired you to start writing your own! By following these tips, you should be well on your way to inspiring your own readers with engaging stories, compelling content, and valuable information that will position your business as a reliable source of information. Write well, help others and have fun!

Monday, October 17, 2022

How to Engage Your Audience Through Social Media.

 

Is your social media falling flat? Don’t sweat it; many hours have gone into perfecting the use of this not-so-secret weapon. Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram strategies are outlined in detail below. Once you understand how they all work and which will suit your business best, learn how to handle them and other factors such as SEO, reviews, and more!


Facebook, Google+, & Twitter

What works: Images, videos, calls to action, industry-related content, general share-worthy content.
What doesn’t work: Lengthy content, bland content, poor business/related/share-worthy balance.

Videos and images are best used to catch the eye of social media readers, though video works a little better to hold the reader’s attention. Whether it’s redirecting consumers to your website or online store, or getting them to stop and look at an interesting piece of content titled by your business, images, and videos are your anchor.

The three best ways to get traction from your readers are to:

  • Get them to go straight to your website or store
  • Get them to like/follow
  • and/or get them to share your content

Let’s say three people see your business posts about that 2-for-1 sale. These posts are not likely to be shared, so those same three people will see all your posts, and that’s it. Once people start liking and sharing your posts, you’ll start to see new eyes on your page. This is where industry related/general share-worthy content comes in.

If you’re a physical therapist, for example, get your readers excited to see and share those workout tips and you’ll have a better chance that someone who needs physical therapy will come across them. Having a good mix of these types of posts is extremely important.

Once you’ve gained the attention of your readers with a photo or video, a call to action is a great way to guide them to their next step.

“Do you like these home renovation ideas? Let’s get started with yours!”

As seen in the above example, calls to action can be used for almost every type of post. Tell your reader to check out your website for a business-related post, or tell them to read the article or video you’re sharing. Though industry-related or share-worthy content may not lead your reader straight to your website, the posts are more likely to gain likes and shares.

Packaged in with the importance of shared content is the name of your business. Every time your post is shared, someone new has the chance to see you. That’s brand recognition, baby! When the time comes for that person to need a lawyer, they’ll remember the interesting law posts you shared and seek out the name they remember seeing or hearing about.

On the other hand, lengthy content, bland posts, and a poor balance of business/industry/shareable don’t work well on these media channels. Lengthy content is an especially bad choice for Twitter’s 140-character count limit. As for Facebook and Google+, people just don’t have the attention spans to read posts that are more than a couple of lines long. Keep them short and concise! Don’t post bland, filler content like, “Happy Friday!” unless people have a reason to share it. “Happy Friday, here’s a hilarious cat meme” can improve brand recognition, but only if shared- use humor to your advantage.

Find your balance between business and shareable content. Too many boring business-related posts and calls to action can lead to a stagnant viewer count, while too many share-worthy posts may lead to your readers not knowing what your business does.


Pinterest

What works Images, videos, industry-related content, general share-worthy content.
What doesn’t work: Lengthy content, bland content, and it may not suit your vertical.

Pinterest, like Instagram below, is all about the pictures. If you’ve ever been on Pinterest, you know that it’s a very visual sight to behold. The hook of Pinterest is that people are looking for ideas. This will work best for you if your business provides ideas or the means with which to make ideas happen. A hardware store can benefit from Pinterest because you may share tree-house building ideas with your store’s name attached- don’t forget about brand recognition. Once people get ideas from you, they’ll come into your store to buy the tools they need for the job! The best use of Pinterest includes non-business-related content. Show people ideas that may lead them to your business, but don’t try to sell them right then and there.

However, Pinterest may not suit your vertical, and it definitely won’t prosper with too much emphasis on text. Many verticals such as plumbing just don’t have many corresponding ideas given the nature of the job. In this case, Pinterest can only be used for shareable content and brand recognition. The text attached to Pinterest posts is often ignored, so any applicable text should go into an infographic displayed as an image. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t use any text. A small headline or message will suffice here.


Instagram

What works Images, projects.
What doesn’t work: Mostly everything else.

Instagram is a strange beast. The entire point of this medium is to compel readers to follow you and talk about what you offer. This works best for verticals like restaurants because your customers can post images of your food for their friends to see. This also works great for verticals like home improvement. In this vertical, your business can post project and progress images of what you’ve been working on. Seeing these images and sharing them can work well to compel the reader to seek you out.

Instagram posts can’t include links, so just like Pinterest, the aim here is brand recognition. Can you consistently post interesting enough images for your readers to stay interested? Not every business can.


Reviews

Now that we’ve covered the main social media channels, let’s discuss other ways they can be used. Facebook, Google+, and other media channels support reviews. Aside from the engagement from posts, reviews can make or break a business. You may be thinking “I can’t control how people rate my business”, and you’d be right. However, you can control how you respond to people. You can turn around even the angriest rater by replying to their review in a quick and professional manner. See our other articles to learn about the importance of reviews!


Social Listening

Forbes discusses social listening as finding where your audience is discussing topics related to your brand. People are talking about cars somewhere, and these are great topics for your dealership. The short and sweet of this is that you need to be researching your competitors and your peers. What are people talking about, liking, and sharing, and how can you get in on it? You’ll want to shape your social media strategies around what’s getting the best traction everywhere else. Get researching!


SEO

This likely isn’t the first time you’ve read about the importance of SEO, and it definitely won’t be your last. When you search your business’s name or keywords related to your work, how high on the results page does it appear? The more you and your readers are mentioning your name and other keywords in relation to your business, the better your SEO results will be.


Measure Success

Finally, take a step back and look at what you’re doing. Naturally, you’ll want to look for what’s working and what isn’t. Whether you’re counting likes and shares by hand or using Google Analytics to track the information for you, understanding your trends may just be the most important part of the process, so what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

5 Reasons You Need Instagram For Your Business




Instagram has entered the territory of “must” rather than “nice-to-have” when it comes to social marketing for businesses. There are a few key reasons why every business should have an Instagram account, and why you’re going to be pretty left out if you don’t get on this social platform.


1. Skyrocket Your Engagement

The data shows that Instagram is the #1 platform for getting post engagement.

That means that if you want to establish a relationship with your client base (which you do), then you’re going to need that post engagement that only Instagram can provide.

But let’s back it up for a second…

It’s an interesting time to be involved in social media marketing… Facebook is facing major allegations, and as a result—people are doing crazy things like starting movements to delete their Facebook accounts… (For my sake, and the sake of your distant relatives, please do not delete your facebook). As much as internet trolls might have you think that it’s the social media Armageddon, I assure you that life will go on.

It might be looking a little overcast in the internet landscape, but before we pack our bags —there’s still some hope. Facebook’s more charismatic and adopted little brother (Instagram) still has users entranced with its purity and boasts a pristine opportunity for brands who are ready to stir up the marketing pot.

Now, Instagram is the #1 platform for post engagement because its focus on visual content creates a very unique space for brands to interact with others—and if you’re a skeptic, the numbers don’t lie. According to a study conducted by Forrester, Facebook and Twitter organic post engagement levels are currently less than 0.1%. In comparison, the millennial-centric Instagram boasts regular engagement at 4% for brands. (That’s 40x better btw).

instagram stats

2. Grow Your Following with Ease

80 percent of Instagram accounts already follow a business on Instagram, and 65% of top-performing posts feature products. The translation here is obvious, Instagrammers want to see branded content, and they want to connect with brands.

Add the engagement levels for brands (4%) that we just saw and we have the optimal landscape for growing your branded following on this platform.

3. Generate Leads

Instagram is a tool for lead generation.

We know that social media strongly influences purchase decisions, even if that is at the subconscious level of the consumer decision-making process.

It’s 2018, and our favorite lead generation tool (Facebook) is making algorithm changes that are making it harder for brands to get heard. With engagement rates already resting around the 0.1% mark, it just might be the ideal time to expand your reach to include some Instagram marketing.

With Instagram, 60% of users have first heard of a product or service through the platform, and over 120 million Instagram users visited a website, got directions, or called/emailed/direct messaged a business as a result of their engagement with the platform (sproutsocial). That means that 120 million Instagrammers have been lead to a business through the platform.

You can easily use Instagram to generate new business and sales with strategic content and links in your bio, as well as reach new targeted and engaged audiences through paid ad campaigns through the Facebook ad platform.

4. Stay On Top of “Instagram Reviews”

A little-known fact is that when an Instagram user posts something on Instagram and uses a location tag, this tag isn’t owned or regulated by the business that owns the physical location. All location tags on Instagram, or “Instagram Geotags”,” are tied to a separate public account that Instagram will store posts under.

Instagram Reviews

For businesses, this is a blessing and a curse.

Best Case Scenario:

Say you own a local restaurant and you have numerous dedicated and consistent customers who love to post at your restaurant and have nothing but glowing words to accompany beautiful pictures of your space. When others look at your location on Instagram, this is what they see, and they are that much more likely to convert and become loyal customers as well.

Worst Case Scenario:

You own the same local restaurant, but one dissatisfied customer took it upon themselves to post a picture of your front door exclaiming their disgust with the service that they received. This post has lingered on the web and likely dissuaded other customers from posting to the location, and has resulted in the loss of unknown amounts of revenue through prospects who steered away from your business as a result.

Although you have no control over the things that users might be saying about your brand (much like standard reviews), you can still help mitigate some possible damages by having a branded Instagram account and monitoring the posts on your location. Much like negative reviews left on other review platforms, by responding to negative Instagram posts, you are much more likely to prevent harm to your reputation.

5. Don’t Get Left Behind

As of 2017, nearly 71% of businesses in the United States were already using Instagram. The release of Instagram business profiles and the ability to to run ads/analytics with ease have been large factors in driving the Instagram growth movement.

business instagram use
Source: eMarketer

You may notice that this looks like an exponential growth graph, and that’s probably because it is. Fortunately for you, just because 71% of these businesses are using Instagram doesn’t mean that these businesses are using it to its full potential.

We can make a pretty good estimate as to where this usage rate is going to reside by the end of 2018, so don’t get left behind.


Don’t wait, get started on your Instagram strategy today to generate new leads, amplify your brand, and build new business!