How to effectively use blogging to build your company's reputation as a trustworthy industry leader.
Whether you are a small subcontractor or a large heavy/highway contractor, blogging is a great way to start and continue a conversation with the universe of current and potential customers. Beyond this, it is a way to educate your market on important issues while educating yourself in the process. It is also an effective way to build a brand.
But blogging is not for everyone. Ask yourself these key questions to decide if blogging is right for you and to get the most benefit from it.
Should a Blog Replace Your Website?
A blog should not replace your website. A website is like a 24-hour salesperson. It is there whenever a customer or potential customer needs to get answers to their basic questions.
A blog is a personal journal that is meant to be public. It should include one's personal thoughts on a subject, and it should offer value to the potential viewing audience. And, when appropriate, it should include web links to further the conversation. A blog can discuss most anything, but it should be focused on a specific issue that is relevant to your business, not just the business itself. A website, on the other hand, should be a reliable representation of a company that gives visitors all of the most pertinent company information.
Can You Write?
Do you have the writing talent and passion to blog? Be honest with yourself. There is no shame if you are a person who has difficulty writing or just plain hates it. Writing is like any talent. For instance, almost everyone appreciates music, but only a handful can sing well enough to do it in public.
A blog is a public medium that will be on display for anyone to read and judge it. If something reads poorly or is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, it can convey a negative message.
Do You Have Something to Say?
It is paramount to have something worthwhile to say.
Frequency is important, but do not force it. Each entry should be made with the audience in mind.
Many think a blog is worthless unless it is written on a regular basis. Some even suggest not blogging unless it can be done daily. But keeping a consistent schedule is much more valuable than maximized frequency.
Again, this is all about the audience and what they will find valuable. If you blog once every two weeks with well thought-out content—and keep up this schedule—it will be seen as much more valuable than the person or entity that blogs every day but only occasionally has something worthwhile to say.
Every post does not have to be an informative gem before it is blog-worthy. A blog entry can be educational, humorous, opinionated or all of the above. Just make sure it delivers a succinct message that expresses the company brand appropriately.
Be careful about controversial topics. This does not mean avoiding these topics, but caution is necessary. Whatever is written can seen by potentially anyone. You never want to alienate customers.
Do You Have the Time?
Regular blogging is necessary to keep a blog relevant. No rule is in place that establishes how often a person should blog. But it should be consistent and roughly scheduled so those who follow the blog know when to expect something new. If followers come back several times without seeing anything new, they will likely stop coming back.
Blogging requires time and discipline beyond posting new articles. Many who read blogs will post comments or questions in response to entries. You should respond to each comment or question in a very timely manner. These people are reaching out to open up a more direct conversation. Do not leave them hanging.
Those who follow a blog can also see the responses, so if you regularly respond to comments, this reflects positively on your company's brand.
Blogging is a great way to build a company's reputation as a trustworthy industry leader. And trust is the most important component when selling a product or service.
If you answered yes to all of these questions, you are definitely ready to post the first of many blogs. The only other consideration is the length. Think of a blog as a conversation. No two conversations are the same length. Therefore, a blog does not need to be restricted to a particular length. They can range from 100 to 1,000 words. Just keep it succinct.
Construction Business Owner, September 2011