By Stanford Smith, Contributing {grow} Columnist

At {grow} we spend a lot of time talking (sometimes arguing) about the intersection of social marketing and smart business. In almost every situation, publishing a blog is an excellent strategy. A blog creates a new marketing asset that generates leads, qualifies prospects, builds loyalty and retains customers.

Unfortunately, publishing a blog is much easier than maintaining its growth. A quick tour around the blogosphere offers ample evidence of how challenging business blogging can be. Empty comment sections, single-digit retweet tickers, lackluster headlines, and anemic topics are just par for the course.

It’s easy for the social media cool kids to chalk these missteps up to corporate laziness. However, there is a different answer. I think it’s just plain ignorance of what’s required to keep a blog moving in the right direction. Marketing managers are just blind to the danger signals that indicate that a blog is heading for obscurity.

So, we’ll take a quick look at 29 reasons why business blog has stalled.

Starting Without A Vision

1) Focusing On The Wrong Audience: Sometimes your audience isn’t the buyer of your products. I’ve seen companies jumpstart their blog growth by focusing on the user of the products rather than the “decision-maker.”

2) “I” Focused: Remember, social business is not about YOU. Blogs that focus on customers, problems, answers, and dreams build value much faster than online sales pitches.

3) Doesn’t Inspire: Your blog must stand for something beyond making a transaction. Readers must catch a glimpse of your hairy audacious vision of the future.

4) Focused on “Things” and not People: Don’t make the mistake of thinking that products enhance more than people. I love Apple products not because they are well designed but because Apples explains how they are designed for me.

5) Infested with Jargon: It’s impossible to craft a successful blog around jargon and abstract principles. The more specific you are about your vision – the better.

6) Doesn’t Lead (pandering to polls, surveys, and testing): Mark and I have been talking about this for a few months now. Your readers don’t want to lead you. They want to be led. Your editorial calendar is proof of your brilliance; it can’t be outsourced.

7) Isn’t Innovative: Blogs die when they depend on me-too topics. If you are unlucky enough to manufacture a commodity product then you’ll need to blog filled with innovative topics.

8. Hypocritical: Your stated vision isn’t reinforced by your social communications. You can’t say the customer service is a priority and not respond to customer service inquiries via Twitter.

9) Shallow – You aren’t creating the stories and content that adds vibrancy and relevance to your vision

Confusing Monologue with Dialogue

10) Barring Comments: Not accepting comments is stupid. If you need to bar comments then you don’t need social media. Period.

11) No Response: People are funny about communication; if they talk to you they want to hear back! Not responding to comments demonstrates that you don’t respect or care about your audience.

12) Robotic, Party-line Responses: When you do comment make sure you sound like a human being. Leave your buzzword bingo skills back in the cubicle.

13) Spotty Posting and Updating: Erratic and unpredictable posting schedules says “you can’t rely on me for information/”

14) “All About Me”: If your blog comments start with “I”, “We”, “Our”, or “My” then you can bet that they will get ignored. Your readers will listen to you after you’ve talked about them.

15) Lack of Gratitude: Saying Thank You is a dying art. Show genuine appreciation for your readers spending time with your blog. Give them free stuff, thank them in your comments, follow them on Twitter, retweet their stuff, link to them in blog posts. It’s the best investment you’ll ever make.

16) Not Encouraging Feedback – Close-Ended Posts: Business bloggers have a devilishly hard time getting readers to comment. After reviewing hundreds of blogs I’ve discovered that most of these blogs don’t encourage feedback. Their posts are neatly summarized statements that scream “don’t comment”. Consider writing your post as if you need reader input to complete the post. Remember The question mark is your friend in social media.

17) Talking At versus To Your Readers: Here on {grow} almost every commenter is addressed by the first name. Do the same. When a readers sees their name they instantly feel that the blog is talking to them and not at them.

18) No Follow-up in Other Channels: Comments, tweets, and updates isn’t the whole ballgame. Email is still an essential communication channel for businesses. Often your most influential readers will ask questions via email. Answer these as if your business depended it on it.

19) Machiavellian Comment Policy: Deleting everything but the rosiest or blandest comments will destroy your blog. Grow a thick skin or go back to putting brochures in the mail.

Failing to Build Rapport

20) Confusing Logos With People: Using a logo as the face of your social media effort is a risky proposition. I understand that branding is important but people identify with visionary people and passionate communities not logos.

21) Not Talking About Your People: Social business works because it tears away the curtain and shows that your company is human, authentic, and engaged. Talk about your people and their contributions.

22) Not Cheerleading for Your Customers: Your blog is a powerful platform for including your customers in your marketing. Celebrate their successes and crow about their people. They will quickly become the #1 source of traffic for your blog.

23) Treating Your Blog Like a Brochure: Blogs build audiences and establish credibility. They suck at directly selling product. Do so and you will drive away visitors in droves.

24) Using Twitter and Facebook for Advertising: Be careful with using Facebook or Twitter as tool for broadcasting links to your blog. These tools require an upfront investment in rapport building before you can use them for driving traffic

25) RT Laziness: Simply hitting the RT button without reading and adding value puts you in the “spam” category and devalues your contribution.

26) Not Following or liking your customers: Find your customers twitter handles and Facebook pages and follow them. This shows that you are interested in them and want a relationship beyond the transaction.

27) Letting your lawyers control your voice: Social Media requires a degree of empowerment and trust. Craft a clear social media policy and educate your team. They are your voice – not the legal team.

28) Confusing Brand with Voice: One more point, your brand is usually built and set in stone by agencies, graphic designers, media planners and copywriters. Your “voice” evolves through communication, engagement, and collaboration with your customers, readers, and enthusiasts. Don’t confuse the two. You might even find that your social Voice is your true brand.

29) Thinking Social Media is the Marketing Team’s Job: Surprisingly, your marketing team a relatively “small” part to play in your day-to-day social media plan. Successful social media programs inspire collaboration between PR, Customer Service, Production, and the executive team.

Are you responsible for steering a corporate blog to success? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?

Stanford Smith is a hopelessly addicted angler, father of 3 hellions, and the wild-eyed muse behind PushingSocial.com. Follow him on Twitter to get his latest unorthodox tips for getting your blog noticed and promoted.


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