Susannah Gardner’s book Buzz Marketing with Blogs For Dummies (on which I served as technical editor and contributing writer) contains an entire section on this subject. She includes such line items as:
- I will be accurate. When I make a mistake, I will correct it as quickly as possible.
- I will post only on the following topics: [List your topics here] and
- I will respond to comments and emails quickly.
It’s mostly common sense stuff, but can help to avoid problems later on.
Monitor what’s being said about your company and your industry.
There are a number of reasons to do this, the most obvious to find out where you stand in the blogosphere and the internet in general. You may find out no one is talking about you at all, or that what is being said has negative connotations (or positive for that matter). If you’re not being talked about, even to a small degree, then something is amiss. You can use your blog to change that. If you company is being viewed negatively, you can use a blog to challenge misperceptions.
In addition, monitoring your industry helps you to know what’s being said about your competitors. Observing industry trends might help you find a niche worth exploiting or a marketing avenue others are overlooking.
Decide on a blog platform.
This is not a difficult issue as many good platforms are available. I tend to suggest that if your blog is going to be self-standing, not as part of your company website, Typepad is a good solution. If you want to include it inside your overall website structure, then Movable Type or WordPress are good options. (I do not recommend using Blogger for business purposes, though many small businesses use it.)
Deciding whether the blog will be self-standing or a part of your company site largely depends on your purpose, which I discussed in the initial post on this subject.
Typepad is easily amenable to non-technical users, but Movable Type and WordPress are both going to require someone with technical knowledge to install and configure. If you have an IT department, make sure they have some knowledge of blogs before you assign them the responsibility of setting up the platform. Just because they’re techies doesn’t necessarily mean they understand how these things work. It’s best to hire a consultant to advise.
Determine how you will market your blog.
If the blog has marketing ramifications, then getting the attention of search engines is vital. There are a variety of ways to do that, including submitting the blog to a number of search engines and blog directories. Robin Good’s Top 55 is a good place to start. (Actually, there are over 100 on the list now, despite the reference to 55.)
Develop a plan to track statistics.
This is an area where bloggers have not traditionally paid a lot of attention. However, if you’re going to use blogs for marketing purposes, it’s vital to know the effect the blog is having on your ROI.
There is a free, yet robust, stats tool you can add to any blog that I really like called Stat Counter. It provides a variety of reports including unique visits, page views, referrers, keywords and the like. Plus, you can have a summary report emailed to you each week.
I hope you’ve found these ten items helpful. While blogs are all the rage these days, using them for business demands forethought and a strategic approach. Oh, and one more thing…have fun!