With 2013 around the corner, large and small businesses alike are looking at how to keep their online presence fresh and engaging. Two key ideas that go hand in hand are “blogging to build a platform” and brand focus.
“While people have been saying, ‘content is king’ for years, the new buzz is that ‘platform is queen,’” wrote Melinda F. Emerson in a recent New York Times blog post entitled “Blogging to Build Your Business.”
The past few years have been dominated by businesses emphasizing their social media presence. Emerson reminds business owners not to lose sight of the value of blogging, though:
Social media can be great tools to drive traffic, but it is the blog that will do the most to build a platform. While there is much debate about the return on investment for time spent in social media, the results of blogging are easier to evaluate: unique visitors, comments, interactions, time on site and other social media metrics can help businesses learn about customer interests and pain points.
A well-curated blog can do more to engage consumers than social media for a myriad of reasons, one being that blogs indicate a level of dedication to customers. There are far fewer regularly updated blogs on the Internet than there are regularly updated Facebook pages. An informative, up-to-date blog indicates that a business is very invested in its field, and consumers recognize this.
Even though blogging has been around for a while, blog content is constantly evolving, and 2013 appears to be the year that brand focus will be a dominating marketing trend. Susan Gunelius writes for Forbes:
In 2012, we saw a proliferation of branded content that had little focus and lacked clear strategy. Brand marketers who develop focused content plans with clear objectives in 2013 will reap the rewards that content marketing can deliver for many years to come.
It is tempting to write about everything under the sun that you think readers will find engaging, but keeping your blog focused will attract a larger audience. It is important to establish your blog’s primary content and the writing tone you will employ.
Eva Percic at Zemanta recently wrote an interesting article detailing seven types of bloggers (or blog tones), based on survey information collected by Zemanta. The seven types are:
1. Hedonist: I blog about life in general and its enjoyments.
2. Techie: I’m fascinated by new technologies and its applications to various personal and professional fields.
3. Professional: Blogging is part of my job.
4. Preacher: I comment on current topics in a certain field.
5. Life Improver: I give instructions to followers (readers) on how to make life better.
6. Beauty Hunter: I’m interested in everything beautiful and always on the hunt for aesthetic objects.
7. Life Stager: I’m blogging about my experience with life’s tasks.
Being able to identify with a type can help you finesse the tone and angle of your blog, with an understanding of what type of information readers are expecting to get from you. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t infuse your own personality into your blog, but like with the well-crafted movie scripts, people are drawn to content with a somewhat predictable path.
Setting aside time to develop a focused blog strategy and then sticking to it isn’t necessarily easy. How many times have you stumbled across a defunct blog? But investing the effort and staying focused will do wonders for growing your online audience.
“Blogging for business requires personal participation. You must be willing to… engage in a continuing conversation for it to pay off for your business,” reminds Emerson.