Building an engaged community through a business blog can be extremely difficult — sometimes impossible. Look at companies like General Electric who do an amazing job with their blog and yet have almost no “community” or comments at all. There must be some good business reason they do it, right?
There better be. Every corporate marketing activity must somehow be tied to creating shareholder value and blogging is no different. Let’s look at ten legitimate business reasons why your company should be blogging — even if you can’t seem to build a community of active readers.
1) Search engine benefits — This may be the most obvious business benefit of blogging. Search engines give preference to websites that have fresh, relevant content. Hubspot research shows that sites with blogs get 55% more traffic than sites without blogs — even if there are no readers!
2) Marketing differentiation — Finding a way to stand-out may be the most difficult chore a business faces. Do your competitors have a blog? If not, this might be an opportunity to establish the voice of authority in your industry and enhance your brand image with customers.
3) Infinite search life — A few weeks ago I received a call from a potential new customer in the Middle East looking to me as a possible marketing consultant.I had to wonder how in the world they found me! Turns out they were looking for somebody who could help explain where the future of social media was going and when they entered this into Google, a blog post I wrote a year ago popped up! Your content keeps working for you month after month!
4) A cost-effective sales call — You might not be able to visit your customer every week or every month but a blog is an excellent way to provide a constant drip-drip-drip of communication to remind them of your products, services, and why you’re special. If they don’t read your blog, re-purpose the content in customer newsletters and sales materials.
5) Your content engine — Your investment in a consistent stream of quality content can be leveraged in many ways to support a content marketing strategy. I use links from blog posts to answer customer questions, as the basis for speeches, newsletter content, and as reading assignments for workshops.
6) Direct sales — Sure, you can sell through your blog! SAP does a great job advertising training services in a sidebar on its blog. This is valuable real estate! Why not use it? Wegman’s grocery store employees blog about seasonal recipes and show how to use their food products in new ways.
7) Indirect sales — Featuring blog-only promotions and offers or opt-in content can expose new sales leads.
8) PR — Blog posts have the opportunity for massive reach. When one of my posts gets picked up by an aggregation service like ragan.com, my message has a chance to be heard by hundreds of thousands of people. That opportunity would not occur with a press release or status update.
9) New product development — Many companies use blogs as a way to engage customers to solve problems and create new ideas. Caterpllar has blogs dedicated to each major product line. Starbucks blogs about customer ideas as a way to crowd-source new product innovation.
10) Crisis management — A blog is an essential channel to explain the facts amid chaos. In less than an hour after the earthquake hit Haiti, The Red Cross blog had news of their activities and information on how to donate. Company responses through blogs are often quoted by mainstream news sources.
So when your company has seemingly unrealistic expectations about building an online blog community, pull this blog post out as a reminder that there are many solid business reasons to have a blog, even if the crickets are chirping in the comment section! Is a commenting community important to you and your company or do some of these benefits make sense?