The Business Blog: Empathy, or Ego?

    Running a successful business blog can be a tricky endeavor. On the one hand, you want to promote your business but don't want to be seen as overtly sales-driven and self-absorbed; on the other, you don't want to be a shrinking violet who never issues a call to action.

    Your clients' chances of developing a loyal social media and business following are much better when they develop an approachable rapport with the audience. They want to be that wise mentor who always has time to ask about his little brother's friend's university classes. Such a person is looked up to as a kindly authority, and that's the kind of reputation that will earn business for your clients year in and year out.

    How can your clients make sure that their blogs strike this finely tuned balance between empathy and ego? Give their blogs a check-up, and see how they're doing with the following goals:

    Provide Helpful Content

    Whether or not you're trying to sell something, people will return to your blog again and again if you provide something useful they can't find anywhere else. To figure out what that special something is, put yourself in the shoes of your readers. What do they need? What will send them to Google asking questions you can answer?

    Think about the questions you get most often from customers, friends, and acquaintances. If your business remodels basements, perhaps people want to know about costs, building codes, current remodeling trends, and home maintenance. Think less about how your blog can be useful to you and more about how it can be useful to others.

    Be Generous

    Business tends to bring out the competitive side in people, and this is only natural in a market economy, but it's becoming increasingly clear that the Internet, and specifically social media, rewards generosity. This is not so different from real life.

    I recently moved to a new state, and about a week after I moved in, a neighbor showed up on my front porch with a vase of flowers. She invited my family to a cookout and asked if I'd like to join her for coffee with a couple of other women she'd met who had recently moved to the neighborhood. In my time of need, this woman's generosity made me feel welcome in my new home, and I will forever feel indebted to her. Thus, when I bake cookies, I send her a few. When I have extra produce, I send it to her. What comes around goes around, and it's as true on blogs as it is with neighbors.

    Say something nice about your competitors, share links and social media information of others in your industry. You'll be surprised at how fast your network grows and at how comfortable your readers suddenly seem. They'll begin sharing, and they'll trust you.

    Talk About Them

    You know people who can't stop talking about themselves. You can be trapped in a no-end conversation for far too long, realizing that they've been talking about themselves the whole time and haven't paused long enough to ask you how you're doing. Don't be that blog. To make sure you're not that blog, count up the number of times you use the words "I," "us," "we," and "our," in a typical blog post. Then count up the times you use the words "you" and "your." If your first-person pronouns far outweigh your second-person pronouns, you've got an ego problem on your blog.

    Make Appropriate Calls to Action

    Most blog readers are looking for information. They're not ready to contact you or get a free estimate for replacement windows. They just want to know the best time of year for cleaning their window screens. If you consistently post inappropriate (overly aggressive) calls to action, readers will find blogs to read that seem more friendly to them. Instead of pushing readers to contact you or to buy, ask them to share your blog with friends, sign up for an email newsletter, or "Pay With a Tweet." These less-threatening calls to action are just aggressive enough to hold your readers' attention but not so aggressive that they find someone else's blog to read.

    By infusing a blog with a healthy balance of empathy and ego, your clients can attract loyal readers without turning them off. Faithful readers eventually turn into customers, so help cultivate their loyalty carefully. If your clients are their customers' best friends, they will enjoy the harvest by reaping what they have sown.

    Topics: content marketing - business blog - business blog content - blog writing

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