Blogging for a business did not originally occur to most people – blogs were for uninteresting people to post mundane facts about their life in a public diary. As the format evolved, some people used them as an evolution of the time-honored gossip rags, while others promoted a political agenda or put some time in spinning top news stories. Today, blogs are recognized as possibly the most flexible platform for offering information and interacting with others in a host-controlled environment. Businesses are transforming the traditional definition of a blog while giving their customers more insight into the focus of their business.
Offer information through a blog
First and foremost, a blog offers information. In the business context, this can be an opportunity to describe your products or services, as well as recommend possible uses for those products or services. It is important to note that this should not be a purely self-promotional platform – blogs are an additional way to help your customers get more value out of what you offer. For instance, if you offer a cookbook for people who are always on the go, you might offer blog posts on cooking basics, definitions, tips, or introductions to the equipment they will use. The more your customers actually use what they buy, the more they’re likely to come back to you for other needs.
Use a blog to gather feedback directly from customers
Blogs are a great way to ask for and receive feedback about your product or service. This can give you insight into what features are most appreciated, which areas are lacking, and the overall experiences of your customer. There is no better way to determine how you can offer a better, more useful product. In addition, seeking feedback in this platform gives you the opportunity to respond, so that even negative feedback is a way to demonstrate to both the commenter and anyone else watching just how your business handles customer concerns.
Provide social proof to potential customers
People like to follow the pack, especially when it comes to dealing with a business where they will be spending money. Blogs with a comment feature are an excellent way to do this, as well as blogs with automatic sharing buttons such as the Facebook Like button or the Google +1. You’re offering people a platform where they can easily discuss your business and their experiences with you. If you think this could be a negative thing for your business, then that is perhaps an indicator that certain facets of your business should be revised.
Blog to establish and maintain an internet presence
Today, people go to the Internet for all kinds of information, and to order a huge variety of goods and services. A blog can not only show a potential customer all the ways in which you can solve their problem, it also makes it easier for your site to rank in popular search engines. Blogs introduce more content to your site, and therefore more keywords that will lead to your site. In addition, search engines give authority to well-established sites that are updated regularly to ensure that searchers get the most up-to-date information – blogs are an excellent way to make sure you’re constantly putting fresh content on your site.
Build relationships with your audience through blogging
Finally, blogs allow your customers and potential customers to put a face and a personality to your business. People want to do business with real people whom they like and feel like they can trust, and a blog is one of the easiest, most effective ways to communicate that to people. This is also a great platform for two-way communication that constantly reminds people that they’re dealing with you, not with your brand name or your logo. The vast majority of businesses do not think of customers as friends, and that could be a serious mistake, especially for small businesses. Building that relationship gives you one more differentiating factor in your business – you may not be able to compete with huge corporations on price, but you can offer the person-to-person connection that they never really can.
Overall, businesses haven’t merely revolutionized the use and definition of a blog, they’ve made them an indispensable part of the marketing mix. Customers expect the direct contact with representatives of the business, and every post helps draw new people into the potential customer pool.