A friend of mine called last week with a question. Having recently started a new job for a small publishing company, he was tasked with resurrecting the company’s long dead blog.
His boss rightly noted that it was a good way to engage with readers and prospective authors, but there were three problems.
- The blog was abandoned
- When active, it didn’t perform well
- My friend had limited time to manage the blog
This is a common problem. According to a 2012 survey by Blogging.org, 60% of all businesses have a business or company blog, and yet 65% of those blogs haven’t been updated in a year or more. That means only 20% of businesses actively blog once or more per month.
And yet the benefits of business blogging are so tangible that it has become increasing hard to avoid it.
Companies that blog on average receive 97% more inbound links, build 434% more indexed pages, and enjoy exceptionally high engagement rates. More than 70% of consumers today learn about companies through articles rather than ads.
Not that my friend needed me to tell him any of this.
His job wasn’t to sell the importance of a blog, but to bring it back from the brink. Even a fraction of the benefits listed above would have been a success, so I shared with him some of the things I’ll do when tackling a blog that has been neglected for months or even years.
While there are a number of things you can do if your blog has fallen off the deep end due to neglect, there are five things in particular that will have an immediate, positive impact.
1. Evaluate Past Performance of Existing Posts
If you blogged in the past there’s a good chance that at least some of those posts resonated with your audience. Review and pinpoint any posts that got additional comments, were shared more often on Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn, or that received more traffic than others. These are the types of posts you’ll want to emulate when you reboot your blog.
2. Create an Editorial Calendar for Future Posts
Over the years I’ve seen one of two things happen shortly before a blog sputters out. The team managing it either overcommits and can’t keep up with an ambitious schedule or they don’t set a schedule at all, and blogging persistently falls to the bottom of the to do list.
A blog is only useful if it’s updated consistently and frequently, but you have to be realistic. Don’t ask how often you CAN post. Ask how often you WILL post. Set a schedule based on the latter and outline posts for 2-3 months in advance so you can keep that schedule. You can always post more often if things go well.
3. Establish a Presence on the Big 5 Social Platforms
If you haven’t yet, create profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube. There are others, but these are the big 5 and should be used liberally to promote every post you publish. There’s a lot more to running a successful social media campaign than sharing your newest blog posts every week, but it’s a good start.
4. Create a List of Industry Authorities with Whom to Interact
No successful blogger lives in a vacuum. Unless you have a highly visible, well known personality to headline your blog (such as a vocal CEO), you’ll need to build relationships with other bloggers to generate traffic. There are a few ways to do this, but the easiest are fairly straightforward:
- Comment on at least 3 other blog posts for every new post you write.
- Submit guest content to independent (non-corporate) blogs in your field once a month.
- Interview at least one other blogger for each post you write for their opinion (more is always better).
Every post should capitalize on some involvement from other bloggers. If you get a blogger’s feedback and publish it in a post, they’ll share it with their readers. If you comment on their posts, they’ll do the same for you. If you have content published on their blog, it acts as an implicit endorsement of your work from an established expert in your field.
5. Recruit a Team of Active Participants from Employees and Readers
If poor scheduling and planning is the number cause of blog abandonment, second is a too-small-team. One person trying to maintain a busy blogging schedule creates a bottleneck that can sink even the best blog.
Vacations. Sick time. An abundance of other work. Change of job.
If the person running your company’s blog becomes unavailable, who will step in? How long will it take them to step in? Avoid having to answer these questions by having a small team of 2-3 people who are equally responsible for keeping your blogging running week in and week out.
It’s easy to become cynical about the benefits of a company blog, but when implemented properly, maintained regularly, and updated frequently, a blog can be a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. It’s more than just another time sink – it’s a calling card that your most prized prospects will revisit repeatedly to learn about you, your company, and your industry.
By following the five tips above, you’ll be well on your way to seeing those benefits and creating the kind of relationship that transcends just another marketing campaign.