Whether you're an avid blog reader or someone who's never heard the word 'blog' until now, I'm here to tell you (yes, YOU) that your company needs a blog. If you're employed by a company or you own one, starting a blog, sprucing up an existing blog, and regularly updating and maintaining it can help you tremendously in several ways, which we'll discuss below.
What's the Big Deal About Blogs, Anyway?
The coolest thing about a blog is the fact that is has become a respectable journalistic medium for writing and capturing the voices of individuals, entrepreneurs, and companies alike. Many individuals use their blog as a sort of online diary or journal where they write about things that happened to them, things that inspire them, things they like (verbal Pinterest), or philosophical musings. Sometimes individuals keep their blogs private and only write when they need a personal outlet, and other bloggers invite an audience of followers.
But when businesses blog (it's a noun and a verb, stay with me), it's a way to communicate to the world at large without actually selling. Professional blogs aren't supposed to be overly technically written and solicitous, or even specific to the company. Many are, and it's easier to get away with if it doesn't make up the majority of the posts. But the best professional blogs are educational in nature, offering good advice or tips that will engage readers and keep them interested in the brand, with a bit of fun and whimsy mixed in (a little satire doesn't hurt, either).
How Do Blogs Work?
It's worth noting that some businesses are, well, all business and maintain a much more serious online presence. In extremely technical or heavily regulated industries, you might not see too many novelty posts (prepare for much dryer reading). However, that's the beauty of blogging: the internet has always been touted as a place of free expression, and a blog is (generally) considered the intellectual property of the entity that created it. Bloggers and businesses alike can blog about whatever they want, and their audience can respond accordingly.
Blogs are designed to draw traffic to a website and enhance brand credibility. When people engage with a blog, they typically experience one of three reactions: interest (they enjoyed it), indifference (maybe it was boring), or disinterest (content or opinion expressed was perhaps unfavorable or disagreeable to the reader). Good, bad, or indifferent, the reader wouldn't have any opinion about the writer or the company if the blog hadn't been written in the first place, though. Hence, blog = good.
When a blog has a following, whether it's on a company's website or in a forum like Google's Blogger, the regular posting of new and appealing content will keep the audience coming back for more and attract more followers. Blogs can be interactive if the moderator enables sharing and commenting, which is an irresistible feature for many blog-followers. Unlike static content on a website that is directly related to a company and its offerings, a blog will often include tips, tutorials, checklists, and even personal insights about the people who work there, like favorite playlists and novels. Some companies blog daily, which means that their subscribers receive regular updates inviting them back to check out the latest news. It's a perfect way to nurture prospects and get the word out about a brand.
Do Blogs Really Attract Customers?
There's a democratic, unfettered, and almost voyeuristic quality to blogs that seems to be alluring to consumers and internet surfers of all levels. There are technical blogs which compare product specs and debate the finer points of performance and usability, there are individual blogs which give you a peek into the writer's subconscious mind and personality, there are beauty and fashion blogs (which really come in handy for shopping addicts), food blogs, you name it - there's probably a blog about it.
And blogs can go hand in hand with one's social media profiles. In marketing it's generally understood that the companies of today need to have a strong online presence. Most companies hire people to coordinate their virtual branding strategy, which requires a lot of careful thought and consideration of who's their audience, what's their voice, what constitutes their buyer persona, etc. When someone publishes a blog post, they can then share it to social media, which will drive traffic to the original blog or site and give an expanded audience of readers one more way to interact with the brand. If they're lucky, the company will get their page bookmarked, have their content 'favorited,' 'liked,' or shared, acquire new subscribers, receive inbound inquiries, and garner a reputation of expertise, knowledge, and helpfulness (all of which are great for business).
So, I implore you, if you don't have a blog - start one. If not for your company, for yourself. Think of it like a time capsule. It doesn't have to be public - you can just use it as the place you go to record your thoughts (much easier, faster, and more custom than writing it out by hand in a journal - though I do appreciate the lost art of penmanship). If you'd like to start a company blog, talk to your marketing department about the best way to do that, and start brainstorming the kind of content that would best represent your company (think of topics that your customers would like to read about). And if you have a company blog but no one takes it seriously or it's severely neglected, I strongly encourage you to revive it. Breathe life into it by posting at least once a week. Your posts don't have to be long, like this one, but just write something. You can even reference other relevant material you found interesting (giving credit to the original author and site of publication, of course).
Regular blogging, when done right, wins customer engagement. And that's a key factor in the success of many companies today.