Best Blogging Practices for Small Businesses

For the final topic of this series we will discuss the advantages of blogging for your small business.  Blogging does a couple of things for your business and social media.  It enables participation and relationships around your business, industry and customers.

HP Case Study
Let’s use a case study for HP.  HP sells a number of complex products, many of which need product details along with some type of customer support to help navigate through those details.  This is a case where blogging helps fill a need by breaking down complex information or topics into simple streams of content customers can easily find, understand and relate to.  HP took the approach of executing several blogs that were product and or category specific vs just one blog.  They now have over 80 executive blogs with topics ranging from storage and mobility to small businesses.  Blogging has become a successful medium for HP given it creates dynamic interaction between its executive’s stories, customer comments and executive follow up on customer comments (Li & Bernoff, 2011).

For example when Microsoft introduced Windows 10 a number of customers were having problems with their printers.  Reports began to circulate on the web that Vista printer drivers were not working.  Vince Ferraro (HP Vice President) took note and decided to post a solution for the printer problem on his blog.  The post resulted in 26 blog readers posting comments and further questions about the problem.  Mr. Ferraro of course answered every posted comment from readers along with providing a second blog post with more detailed solutions offered.   This created an environment where other bloggers were posting direct links to Mr. Ferraro’s blog posts which quickly resulted in the highest result search for google under “HP Vista printer problems”.   So think about it, customers could now go and do a google search and find an answer to their problem in all of 5 minutes vs having to call in for support.  Think about it, the simple act of blogging allowed Mr. Ferraro to reach out to thousands of customers through talking and responding to just a few customers.  Blogging if used correctly can be a powerful addition to your company’s social media marketing mix (Li & Bernoff, 2011).

Li & Bernoff’s Top Tips for Blogging

  1. Start with listening. What does that mean and how do I do that for my business?  What listening means is to start monitoring other blogs within your industry, that includes competitors and other influencers within your market.  What are they saying?  What topics are hot?  Are any blogs mentioning your company in a good or negative way?  Identifying and answering these questions will narrow down what your blog might have to say or address (Li & Bernoff, 2011).
  2. Establish a goal for your blog. Is your blog to be used for customer support? Announcing new products and or services? Or PR and responding to news stories?  Will you need just one blog to serve your goals or will you need several as in the case for HP mentioned above (Li & Bernoff, 2011).
  3. Practice, practice, practice. Initially spend some time writing five to ten posts before letting them go live.  You will quickly gauge how much time will be needed for supporting creating blog content while also having the chance to review if you’re going in the right direction with your topics.  If you find you can’t pull together at least 5 posts to start with then blogging may not be for you (Li & Bernoff, 2011).
  4. Be transparent. Remember from our last discussion we talked about the importance of honesty and transparency online.  It will take your company far in building authentic relationships with your audience (Li & Bernoff, 2011).
  5. Create a Marketing Plan. This can include press releases in local trade magazines, email campaigns sent out to current customers introducing your blog and or campaigning through mediums such as google adwords.  Other tactics can include going back to some of the blogs you used for monitoring and adding comments to relative stories with a link back to your own blog (Li & Bernoff, 2011).

I want to tell you that there’s so much more to learn about best practices and tips for blogging which can help take your business to the next level, so check out Li & Bernoff’s Business Week Bestseller “groundswell”.  It’s filled with tons of valuable lessons, case studies and practical execution of social media tools and strategies small businesses new to social media can use.

I want thank everyone for all of the comments and support for this blog series!  Best of luck and keep me posted on how you’re doing!

 

References
Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Press.

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