From building relationships with your customers to developing authority in your industry, there are a variety of reasons to get into blogging.
A bigger business may be able to put more time, energy, and resources towards blogging than individual bloggers or small businesses. However, if you can't see things from the customer's standpoint, a disconnect can happen. Many business blogging efforts have fallen flat for this very reason.
The question is, how do you devise a strategy that advances your business goals while still providing value to your readers?
Here are five steps you can follow to create a blogging strategy for your large business.
Step 1: Create A Plan And Set Goals
An effective blogging strategy always begins with planning. As a large business, you may be coordinating more content creators, editors, and other team members (more on this later) than smaller businesses might be inclined to. You may be working with virtual team members or other firms to develop content as well.
Without a plan and clearly defined goals, your blogging efforts could quickly become disorganised and disjointed. You have to think about what you want to say and when, and how often you want to post. You will need to set up an editorial calendar, and keep a list of ideas, keywords, and topics you want to discuss on your blog.
If your goal is to serve your audience, you also need to think about what their goals might be. What are they likely to be interested in? What problems are they experiencing? What solutions can you provide them with?
Here are several other common goals for business blogging:
• Generating leads for sales
• Building thought leadership in your industry
• Increasing search engine visibility
Your approach to blogging will be considerably different depending on the results you hope to achieve.
It's important to strike up a healthy balance between business interests and reader interest on your blog.
Step 2: Research
Once you have your strategy in place, there are three key things you should research. They are:
1. Your audience: you probably have a better handle on who your average customer is as a big business, but if you haven't taken the time to get to know who your buyers are just yet, you may want to survey them or ask more questions.
2. Keywords: use a tool like Google AdWords Keyword Planner and determine how much competition there is for the keywords you wish to rank for. Jot down any long-tail keyword ideas that you can develop content around.
3. The competition: who else is publishing content on a similar topic? Find out what they're up to, and figure out how you can offer something that they're not. Look for ways to stand out from the crowd.
Step 3: Create, Format And Schedule Your Content
Now that you've taken the time to set goals and do research for your blog, you're ready to move onto developing the content.
For working with bigger teams, you may want to put together checklists and templates. You will want to share the editorial calendar with the team as well, so they're clear on their specific roles and duties.
Your checklist might include format conventions, spelling and grammatical requirements, or other items you want the writers to follow. You can use templates to help your writers understand what is expected of them, how to develop an engaging headline, and how to create a specific type of post (i.e. how-to or list posts).
If you have multiple editors, you will want to assign each of them to a specific set of writers. You may also want people on your team that specifically handle the formatting and scheduling of posts in WordPress or whatever platform you happen to be using for your blog. Divvying up tasks enables each member to focus on their strengths and keeps your content engine running smoothly.
Step 4: Promote And Distribute Your Content
One of the most crucial components to the success of a blog is marketing. If you don't promote the content you create, no one will find it. You may want to create a separate role, or even put together a team that specifically manages the marketing and distribution of content.
Some of the most obvious places to promote your content on are social networks and email. However, it's important to think about what else you could be doing. For example, could you be sharing your content in industry forums? Could you be reaching out the media for further coverage?
You can use tools like Hootsuite or Buffer to queue up tweets or multiple social media messages to be sent out at strategic times. After all, you want your content to be seen by all your readers in different time zones, right?
You can also email customers and colleagues individually if you know that they would be interested in your new post. Additionally, building relationships with other bloggers and influencers and asking them to share your content can also be a powerful way to market it.
Step 5: Measure And Tweak
There's no way to know how well your blogging strategy is working unless you track. Additionally, there's no point in reviewing your stats unless you defined goals earlier. The metrics you monitor will vary somewhat based on your goals.
Make it a point to review your analytics on a monthly basis (at the very least). If you were trying to generate more leads for your business, were you successful? If you were looking to grow your presence on search engines, were you able to accomplish this?
It's important to remember that blogging for search engine optimisation purposes can take a lot of time. While it is wise to review your stats on a regular basis, don't forget that SEO is a long-term strategy.
Finally, consider what changes you could make to your strategy to improve upon it. The plan that you started with probably isn't perfect, and while you may never develop a flawless system, you can continually look for ways to be more effective with your blogging efforts.
As a large business, connecting with your audience should be high on your priority list. If your blog doesn't address customer issues, doesn't involve the reader, or is overly self-indulgent, your plan definitely needs tweaking. You have an opportunity to build more trust and credibility with your customer if you generate the right kind of content.
Your blogging efforts will do very little or nothing for you if you aren't aware of your readership. As a large business, you can create a well-oiled content engine. Figure out how you can deliver value to your customer base, and that will keep them coming back for more.
Image: Kristina B