The web is littered with stale blogs, launched with enthusiasm only to fall quiet after a few posts. I’m guilty of this myself. Without dedicated staff, blogging can easily fall by the wayside.
But when it’s still attached to your company website, an outdated blog can do more harm than good. Visitors may wonder if you’re still in business, or think you’re not paying attention.
Some firms really need a blog to show our stuff. And for most larger companies, it’s a core ingredient of the digital marketing mix. But for most small sites, including startups who are still starting out, it’s not always a necessity.
Reasons To Blog
First let’s look at the upsides.
Blog posts can be outstanding traffic drivers, reaching new users through social media or search and sending them to your site where they might become customers. Social media and email also let you update your existing user base about the new content, putting your brand back on their mind and motivating them to revisit your site.
Additionally, Blogs are an opportunity to show the informal, human side of your brand. On your main website the tone is more formal, often in third-person voice. But see how I’m writing casually in the first person right now? This is Lisa talking to you, personally sharing my own ideas and advice. That same tone can work great for your blog, helping your readers connect to you on a personal level.
It’s also a way to keep visitors and customers updated. Blogs are an ideal way to share news and announcements, or tell customer stories. Even when you also are putting out a press release or publishing a case study, a companion blog post can announce the content to make sure it’s not missed.
And you can use blogging to show what you know and who you are. Share insights from your area of expertise. Let visitors peek behind the scenes at your company. Talk about a new way your product can be used that might get the attention of an on-the-fence prospective customer, or just build some community and goodwill.
If You’re Going to Blog, Blog Right
But if you are going to get all that business goodness, you need to blog right. Otherwise it may be better not to have a blog at all. Some common blog shortcomings to watch out for are:
1. Posting very infrequently
Figure out what timeframe you can reasonably commit to, and post with some regularity at reasonable intervals. This means making sure someone—an employee or an outsourced writer—is committed to keeping the content flowing.
2. Not Utilizing the Blog’s Features
Configured correctly, the blog functionality on your site should automatically take care of many of the details that makes a blog post a blog post, not any web page. These include date stamps, author names, categories, tags, comments and social sharing. To get the most out of your blog, especially over the long term, you want those features set up correctly, and to publish your posts correctly to use them.
3. Not Promoting Blog Content
No matter how well-trafficked your site is, don’t publish a blog post and then just wait for people to find it. Your blog is one ingredient in your digital marketing cookbook. It works best as part of a recipe, with social media, email, RSS and other promotions to let people know new content is ready.
4. Using Your Blog as Your Website
It doesn’t matter how new you are or how small. If you have enough to say about your company to have a blog, you have other information your users want. A regular website in addition to your blog should offer at least the most essential information, such as contact information and something about what you do or sell.
To Blog or Not to Blog
Before you include one on your website, or leave up the one you have, consider if you can blog effectively enough to reap the benefits.
If you do decide to shutter a dusty blog, archive your old posts to potentially re-publish later if you want to try again. Also, make sure that the rest of your website includes any key information your users will need.