Blogging for business – 5 tips for better blogs.

In the topsy-turvy world of Web 2.0, blogging has given everyman a voice. Dialog is erupting across cyberspace and many companies want in on the conversation. And for good reason — social media is the new marketplace. But what’s unique about this storefront, is the transparency of honest talk. It’s all about the customer out here and you’ve got to be keenly aware of how the game is played.

As a heads up, these 5 tips would serve you well before diving in the water:

1 . Make sure you have a clear purpose. Who is your audience? What do you want to accomplish with your blog? These are questions you need to answer before you start. Are you trying to connect with your customers/clients? Are you looking for a way to carry on a conversation with them? Are you creating a blog as a way to advertise? Are you looking for customer/client feedback? Or are you just attempting to drive traffic to your Web site? There are many reasons for blogging, now you just have to determine what your reason is. Blogs that are pursued without strategy are unsuccessful and lack focus.

2.  Make a plan. Start by creating a blog calendar. It can be as simple as making a list of key topics you want to cover each month. Pick a core topic, create an outline and do the necessary research to support it. If you are featuring a guest blogger give him/her clear direction well in advance. Most importantly be sure the person or people who post on your blog are experts in their area and are well versed in the topics they are writing about.

3.  Listen Up! Make sure you are listening twice as much as you are writing. Before you begin writing your own blog research and monitor blogs in your industry. Find out what is already being said in the blogosphere or more importantly what is not. What types of questions are bloggers asking and not getting the answers to? Be the voice they want to listen to. It’s important to give a new perspective and not simply repeat what others have said. Once you’ve posted keep up with reader’s comments and respond to them. This will help keep people engaged, and lead to valuable relationships and ultimately a stronger image of your business/brand.

4.  Add Value. Don’t be afraid, be active in the blogging community and add insights to topics you are knowledgeable about. Developing relationships with well known bloggers will help you gain credibility and an audience. Bad blogs are used to only promote a product or service. If you take the time to listen to others and add to the conversation you will reach your goals.

5.  Don’t start to run if you can’t finish the race. If you’ve had commitment issues in the past maybe blogging isn’t for you. After all, there are a lot of different ways to embrace social media. Start tweeting on Twitter or build a fan page on Facebook. Bottom-line, if you don’t post regularly your blog will fail. Customers/clients will not be impressed if the posts suddenly fizzle out after a couple of months and they are left to wonder why. Unreliable, unpredictable and sporadic is not the image you want your business to have. Starting a blog is a significant time commitment but if done right, it is well worth the investment.

In short, blogging is not unlike being at a dinner party. The conversation is great and the interaction satisfying until your brother-in-law tries to sell someone insurance. Don’t be left alone in the corner by misreading, or misusing, your time with potential customers. Have fun, be comfortable and get to know new and valuable friends.

Feel free to check out some blogs that we at B+L enjoy:
GM Fast Lane blog:
Kodak’s 1000 Words blog:
Wal-Mart’s Checkout blog: