What’s the only reason you should blog?
Every successful blog works because it builds a relationship with its readers. They are engaged enough to keep coming back, and will be interested in what your business has to offer. In my previous post, I debunked the high-pressure tactics which push blogs on businesses that don’t need them. But blogging can be very effective if its grounded in an ongoing relationship. The secret is in how you build that relationship.
For this post, I’m excited to feature our first guest interview: Samsung Global Blogger finalist Leanne Shea-Langdown: author, blogger, success-coach and business owner. We’ll share some tips for putting relationships at the centre of your blog.
1) Are you giving your readers something they value?
A sure-fire way to build relationships is by creating reciprocity: you give a person something they value; they will be inclined to do something for you in return. They might sign-up for your newsletter – or choose your product over a competitors’.
A blog can have that kind of currency. But most business blogs don’t, because the content doesn’t offer value for the reader. Typical business blogs are too internally focussed: posting about topics like ‘here’s a widget we’ve just released’ that have currency in the business’s world, but not in their customers’.
‘Latest news’ blogs are a serial offender in the low-value content stakes. Research by usability expert Chris Scott found that less than 1% of visitors viewed a university’s news releases.
Solving problems, giving new insights, inspiration, humour… readers will value blogs that contribute something valuable.
Leanne started her Deep Fried Fruit blog, planning to write about her experiences turning 40 every day for a year, then to stop. Then, when the deadline drew closer, she was deluged with emails telling her to keep going. Because they’d connected with her blog, and it had value to them.
To test whether your content has currency, imagine that you’ve just printed off your blog post and handed it to your ideal customer. Would it make enough of a difference in their day for them to thank you for it?
2) Are you making your business easier to relate to?
We tend to build relationships with people who are ‘like us’
People will look on your ‘about us’ page for the ‘official version’ of your business’s story. Your blog can be a place to get more personal, maybe even playful. I loved how Leanne put it:
“The website is your bricks and mortar – customers are driving past and seeing the signs and what that business does. Whereas the blog is letting people out the back. They can wander through and meet the staff. You’re seeing the personality of the business.”
Leanne found this herself. Her Deep Fried Fruit blog is separate from her success consultancy website. But when her coaching clients found it, she noticed they engaged with her more, because they related to the stories she shared.
Your blog’s tone still has to fit with your overall brand’s voice. A financial planner can’t be too ‘hip and groovy’ on their blog if the rest of the site’s tone is very crisp and professional. But it will often help to loosen the tie a little.
3) Are you listening?
Empathy builds relationships. There’s two parts to this: listening to your customers, and listening to other bloggers.
Listening to other bloggers
As I mentioned in my first post, the chances of people stumbling on your blog as they surf the web are pretty small. Some people will come across it on your site, but as they usually come to your site with some other purpose in mind, you will get less traffic this way. I find this on my blog: it gets some traffic from people browsing to it from elsewhere in my site. But much more traffic comes when I promote it on social media.
As Leanne puts it, ‘if you want readers, you have to read.’ Find other bloggers in your area, or LinkedIn forums and take part in the conversation there. If it’s relevant, post a link back to your blog. And slowly, you’ll build a following.
Listening to your customers
Sometimes you can do the listening right there on the post itself, by asking questions that readers can comment on, as Leanne does. You can also play a longer game: find one of your customers hot-button issues, write a blog post about it, then send it to them. This wins on so many levels: you have an opportunity to get in touch with your customers, and you’re giving something they value.
What results have you seen from your blog? I’m interest to hear your experiences. Or if you’re wondering if a blog is right for your business, get in touch and we can talk it through.