Should I start a blog for my business?

Like every good blog, your business blog needs a plan and purpose as it forms an essential part of your overall content marketing strategy.  In fact, a business blog has actually become the industry standard. And, while it is true not all business blogs are created equal, they all do need purpose and a plan in place in order to be effective.

What does it mean to ‘blog’, where did the word originate from?

The term weblog, blog, blogging became official in the 1990’s and became more mainstream by the mid-2000s. Prior to that the concept of a blog came in various forms such as forums, web discussion boards etc., where we could connect with like-minded individuals and gain insight into topics that were of particular interest. I remember some of the early forums that I followed in the mid 90’s and although they weren’t necessarily pretty by today’s standards they were effective in their purpose.

Even from its early days, blogging was personal. People spoke their minds and did what they love. Its focus and goal, to connect and help like-minded individuals. Many personal blogs continue to do just that as they serve a purpose.

A business blog really is no different. It needs a strategy and it needs personality to make the reader’s experience more personal. A blog is also an effective way to build brand loyalty and support. It is also good for SEO as search engines love fresh new content.  Your business blog and your social media strategy work together to support the overall marketing strategies of your business. A blog can be a perfect way to truly to connect with your target audience.

Why do some of the most successful brands blog?

Because they understand the true value of building brand loyalty. Your business website is the foundation of who you are and what your business is all about. It’s where people go when they need your product/services.

InnovaMap - social mediaA business blog is a valuable tool to for a brand to engage with its audience.  It steps just slightly away from website content into the realm of social media. 140 characters is not enough to tell a story on Twitter but it is a perfect place to start a story and give a reason for someone to come back to a blog to learn more. Providing a perfect opportunity for a business to show some personality, be innovative and make connections.

A blog is not self-serving in this way as they offer value in whatever way the business has identified “value” is to that audience. They understand them.  A blog can be an excellent tool for customer service, a place to share company philosophy and culture.  An opportunity to be innovative in how they share and talk about their products and services, a place to share industry trends, tools and more.  There are no limitations for what a blog can do for a business just as long as the intent offers value and serves a purpose.

For instance, let’s look at the Scholastic blog, On Our Minds.  I love this particular blog as it covers the latest news and updates on books as well as thoughts related to education and literacy.  They have several contributors ranging from Scholastic employees to guest posts from authors and other education and literacy experts.  I have fond memories as a child of being part of the Scholastic community through reading clubs and attending book fairs.  Now as a mother of two young children I continue to be part of the community by following their blog.

Not only do businesses benefit from a content marketing strategy by way of a blog so do hospitals and other health care professionals and institutions.

Take for instance, the Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization with campuses across the United States whose mission is “to inspire hope and contribute to health and well-being by providing the best care to every patient through integrated clinical practice, education and research.”

Their blog, the Sharing Mayo Clinic is intended to provide its community of 500,000+ annual patients and 50,000 employees a virtual place to connect and share stories from patients, family friends and Mayo Clinic staff. This central hub is an integral part of connecting and supporting their community. Further to that, the Mayo Clinic has successfully utilized their content marketing strategy through social media to make their integrated approach to healthcare even more accessible to all. With over 1 million followers on Twitter they are definitely showing innovation in their content strategy by making real connections with their community.

A blog in the health care industry can be many things such as what the Mayo Clinic is doing for their community.  It can also be a place to share events, news, the latest research and frequently asked questions.

Why you can blog too

There are many reasons why a business would want to blog. Perhaps you’ve been a social media skeptic up until recently but now you understand and can see the value in a content marketing plan, such as a blog.  Perhaps you haven’t had a chance to start one yet.

If your marketing strategy to date has been purely outbound this would be a good time to revisit your marketing plan.

If you are just starting out and want to start a business blog here are a few simple questions and tips to ask yourself to help get you started:

  • Do you have a written content marketing plan?
  • What is the purpose of your blog? Identify the purpose of your blog and how it supports your main business objectives
  • Who is it intended for? What does your audience look like? (persona)
  • Do you have the technology and resources to support your blog (i.e. basic WordPress set-up, Google Analytics)?
  • Do you have a principal writer and contributing authors? Identify the roles and how much of the content will be created by you, your team or by others (i.e. will you outsource the work or have guest writers?)
  • What frequency do you plan to post?  You will want to create a schedule and once you commit, you should stick with it

In most cases, starting a business blog makes good business sense but you definitely want to have a written content plan and strategy in place that supports your overall business objectives. Going about it ad-hoc because everyone else is doing it is not a plan. If you were able to answer the questions above easily then you are likely ready to start a blog for your business.

In our next post will talk about measuring the success of your blog. Analytics can be overwhelming but with the right tools, metrics and plan in place you can easily and effectively measure the success of your blog.

Edited photo - Diana Diana Davies-Harju, Director of Marketing

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