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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Put the key in the ignition

So you have read many articles on social networking, set up your Facebook account and have some network connections on Linkedin. Today the boss stopped by and needs you to build a company blog. Oyyyeee!
Let’s try to help you avoid some common mistakes by reviewing a few best practices.
Blogs need traffic in order to exist and that’s the main goal of building a company blog. Make sure that you tell your boss that it’s going to take some time and departmental cooperation to build a strong and healthy blog. This is not like a static web site in a box that you can design and spit out on the internet. A blog is a two way street of powerful relevant communication (Web 2.0) and it can be a country back road smitten with potholes or an eight lane interstate. Just imagine a chance for your best customers to give you product feedback or help you navigate strategic decisions. With the right traffic, you will achieve an online Nirvana for your business and even a focus group in your cube. But content is the only route to your main goal and very good content makes your blog relevant and an asset to your target audience. Perhaps you have no more than twelve visitors per day and you pick up a few followers via RSS feed (you installed that RSS feed widget on your blog, right?) After few months Google, Yahoo, Technorati search engines kick in and your traffic rises. The relevancy of your site is enhanced by DIGG and Delicious (you installed those buttons as well, right?) Let’s review the basics of Growing Your Blog.

1. Content is King

Keep your blog on subject and deliver the best researched content that you possibly can provide. Add in additional writers with authoritative voices. Content is the glue for your followers and is the most important part of your blog. Do not take a short cut and copy-paste content from other blogs into your own. Write your own content using the style and frequency you mapped out. Over here, that’s once a week.

2. Promotion

The best content in the world is worthless when no one reads it. How do you promote your blog without reaching into your pocket? A good blogger is going to install RSS feed buttons, buttons to mark posts for services such as DIGG, Delicious, Technorati and now Twitter widgets … yes Twitter. The function of these sites is to aggregate the six to seven million blogs in existence into one big subject driven directory by using popularity. A user types in a subject and by virtue of tags, the more popular blogs come up first. Tagging is when a reader or follower is impressed by your blog’s content and pushes a DIGG or Delicious button and you receive a “vote.” If you are not utilizing these mainstream traffic boosters, add them now. A good blogger will also install links to feeds from other blogs that enhance your blog’s content offerings. Here’s an example. Look over to the right and you’ll see that I have Mashable streaming in. Quite a few of those articles are going to help marketing managers understand and embrace social networking so that they can leverage it for promotion. If you want to add a little firepower to your promotional efforts, turn to industry stalwarts Google and Yahoo and add some money behind SEO or search engine optimization - . You choose key words (not too specific and not too general), register these for a fee per click and users can find you through those monster search sites. One other item that is often overlooked is adding you or your company’s blog address to all brochures, web sites, email signatures and marketing collateral.

3. Creative Design

In media, a face paired with a media vehicle is always more successful than an agnostic fortune teller. Get your mug shot up on the blog or photos of key company personnel and relate to your audience. One important fact about blog design that is constantly overlooked is “load times.” Have your blog looking “starched and sharp” in appearance but do not embed widgets and images that take forever to load on a typical browser. This long loading will stop a new visitor in their tracks and you’ll lose opportunity after opportunity to add to your audience.

4. Got Links?

Web 2.0 is a very reciprocal world. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch your back. Reach out to relevant large audience blogs and post positive comments. Make sure that you have your blog’s link in your comment signature. This process of cross linking will assist in building your reputation and impact your blog's traffic flow in a very positive manner. How do you find these blogs? By using the exact same search mechanisms that are listed in part two.

Good luck
JD Holzgrefe

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