If done correctly, a blog can attract a dedicated audience to build upon and share expertise, information, ideas and content, while boosting awareness of your company and brand. If done incorrectly, however, you can leave customers feeling dissatisfied and ready to turn to your competitor. Here are four ways you can leverage a blog:
- Create friend-sumers.
Promote a company, product or service by creating a blog that features how-to advice, news and other information of interest to customers. Through the blog, visitors can post testimonials, feedback, questions and comments, plus participate in surveys. By taking an informal, non-sales approach, a company can interact with customers, gain useful feedback and build an online audience that can ultimately be directed to the company's main website or retail store.
- Provide exceptional customer support.
Supplement a company's existing technical support and customer service with an online forum for customers to openly post questions. While employees can update and maintain this type of blog, users feed it with comments and also tap the knowledge of other users by reading past questions and interacting on the forum. If done correctly, this type of blogging can dramatically cut the cost of personalized technical support and customer service. Check the comments section for frequent users who can be recruited as bloggers to further increase your blog's content. They can also be asked to "host" certain threads or wikis to encourage dialogue on topics that need a little TLC.
- Increase your credibility.
A blog is an ideal tool to position yourself as an expert in your field by sharing your thoughts, knowledge, experience and insight. Obtaining expert status can increase your earning potential, make it easier to land a new job or promotion, and help attract new customers.
- Gain more exposure.
Ask independent bloggers to write reviews and articles about your company. Having your information published on different blogs builds your legitimacy and exposure. Also, it's often faster and easier for a business to get blog content (as opposed to traditional website content) listed with the major internet search engines.
Two More Keys to Blogging Success
Before investing the time and money, clearly define your potential blog's goals and objectives, and then determine your exact target audience. Figure out what you'll offer that's unique or that will set your blog apart, and make sure you have enough potential content to keep your blog continuously updated and fresh.
Next, figure out how you'll drive a steady flow of traffic to your blog and build its audience. Properly and creatively promoting a blog on an ongoing basis is essential for building an audience. For many bloggers, this often proves to be their biggest challenge. Having unrealistic expectations about how quickly and easily you'll be able to drive traffic to a new blog is one of the biggest reasons why bloggers fail.
Jason R. Rich is the bestselling author of more than 39 books, including Blogging for Fame and Fortune , available from Entrepreneur Press , Click Starts: Design and Launch Your eCommerce Business in a Week and The Unofficial Guide to Starting a Business Online. His travel blog, which is loaded with money-saving travel tips and trip planning advice, can be accessed at JasonRichTravel.com .