If you've tried business blogging and found that it just doesn't seem to generate much interest or garner many page views, perhaps you're looking at your business blog the wrong way. Business blogging can be an integral part of your content marketing strategy, but if you treat it like an item on your to-do list that requires a certain number of keywords in the first sentence and nothing more, you're not likely to gain many faithful readers.
Sure, you might get some good one-time hits, but if Internet surfers don't find something engaging once they get to your business blog, you're never going to see them again. Let's look at it another way.
You're a literary agent on your way to work one day, and you haven't yet had time for breakfast. You stop in at a coffee shop to grab a bite to eat. You leave fifteen minutes later with a full stomach. The coffee shop provided you with unmemorable calories, enough to keep you satisfied until lunch, and then you continued on with your day, never again thinking about the coffee shop.
The following week you find yourself in the same position, hungry on the way to work. You see last week's coffee shop, but your experience was so forgettable there, you look around and notice there's another coffee shop across the street. The difference is apparent as soon as you walk through the door. The hostess greets you warmly, and you immediately recognize a few people you know from publishing conferences. Before she seats you, she finds out what you do for a living. When you tell her you're a literary agent, she introduces you to an editor over at a side table and a couple of writers in a booth. You do indeed get your stomach filled while you're at this second coffee shop, but even better, you make business connections, engage in stimulating conversations about your industry, and stay up-to-date with the latest news and trends.
Now you find yourself stopping in at the second coffee shop when you're not even hungry, just to see what's going on. You're a regular there, and you know most people by name. You even feel comfortable enough to pull a chair up to a table to get in on a good conversation.
What does all of this have to do with content marketing? Business blogs are like coffee shops. They can fill a need, like explaining how to make gluten-free granola or how to tell if your car's struts need to be replaced. Good SEO can reel readers in so they can find that information. But if your business blog is like the first coffee shop, your readers will leave your blog with the information they were looking for and never return again.
What if, however, once you reeled them in with useful information they need, they feel welcomed, stimulated, and interested in what's going on? What if they see interesting discussions happening in the comments section following your latest blog post and feel invited to pull up a chair and stay a while?
It sounds great, but how do you make this happen? What content marketing strategies can you use to turn your business blog into a cozy corner coffee shop? Believe it or not, it's pretty simple. Just start doing two things, and in time, people will pull up a chair and stay a while.
- Post comment-worthy content. Leave authoritarian, lofty language for those who like to sit alone, and use your most conversational, interesting writing in your blog. Leave your conversation open-ended, possibly even with a question at the end of your post. This invites comments and gets the conversation going. Also, keep your content fresh. Find out what's new in your industry, and report on it in an interesting, inquisitive way.
- Prove to your commenters that you care. Respond to your commenters in meaningful ways. Don't just say, "Thank you," for their comments, expand on points they made to give commenters further insights. Empathize with your commenters and give them encouragement if they share frustrations. If possible, refer your commenters to other business blogs or resources that have more information about the topic at hand, and ask even more questions to keep the conversation going on your business blog posts.
Once you get good at these two skills, you'll find it natural to use social media to keep conversations going and expand your content marketing. Turn your business blog into a place where people in your industry will stop and stay a while. Starting a business blog isn't easy. If you want to learn more about how to create a business blog, check out our white paper, "What is Content Marketing? And Why Is It So Important?"