The business of blogging can be a mindboggling minefield.
Misinterpretation, misreading, misleading or mystifying posts will cost you readers, money and result in significant damage to your reputation. A recent post on Facebook by Bold Street outlet Soho caused uproar and led to the kind of media coverage you dread. With thousands of comments and shares and a full page story the store were forced into an unpleasant situation.
The most crucial concept of blogging and getting it right is having a ‘voice’ and ensuring it is appropriate, considerate and warm. Understanding your readers lifestyles and online habits is crucial to finding the right tone and mirroring your readers so they can create an affinity with your brand by an all too defensive Facebook post. Be careful out there.
When I look the Wandersoles brand I feel that it has an individual personality, it is led by someone with a colourful character.
In writing my Wandersoles blog post I attempted to make it as personable as possible to show how that voice can generate engagement and interaction, for the me the first rule is always tell a story. The difficulty comes in attracting and holding readers attention and creating content that they want to engage in from the off.
In looking at Wandersoles brand I was struck by the products pain relief element. Footwear related pain is obviously a common problem and one that I believe most women (and some men) who wear heels suffer from. I for one am aware of one gentleman who performs at the Edinburgh Festival every year, this often involved high heels and the complaints are endless. I decided my Wandersole blog needed to have its own personality. Without any personal experience of wearing heels I felt the best approach was to try and find a humorous way to look at the pain of wearing heels and the potential pain relief element of the Wandersole product.
How you create and build any written piece, be it an online news story or a blog post is crucial and becoming ever more critical to maintain readership. A recent article by Slate Magazine should give any blogger serious cause for concern. Their research shows that of 161 people landing on a page 38% bounce without looking, they’ve seen the page and headed for the red X.
Another trend suggested by the research is that if you need to scroll excessively that costs you a further five readers from your original 161.
However, it is not all bad news. The research, by Chartbeat, shows that if people have an interest in your post they can often engage with it and share it across social media platforms before they are half way through.
But, once they’re past the halfway mark you are likely to lose another 50% of people who followed the link in the first place. The majority of the remaining number won’t finish reading the post. With that in mind it is crucial that a blog has enough pinch points throughout that add to the story, add entertainment and give the reader a break.
“Enticing someone to spend time on your content means competing with the entire sum of human knowledge”
The Entire Sum of Human Knowledge
Adding images, videos, audio and links to external stories are all useful tools, not only to drive visits to your site but engage readers for longer. Consider the comment about the sum of all human knowledge above from the Chartbeat site. It should strike terror into any blogger.
Another significant consideration is reader engagement. Lenhart, in her 2006 paper, Bloggers: A portrait of the Internet’s new storytellers, highlights that 90% of blogs contain threaded content where readers engage in conversation with the author and with each other. Any new business starting a blog or using social media needs to be aware of the time required to manage these conversations.
Having a policy in place to ensure that conversations are safe for work and safe for your business is crucial. The key to successful blogging is to make it work for you. Engaging your market, offering up entertainment, advice and information and offering solutions to problems (via sales) can make blogging a significant tool in a competitive market. You can truly find out who your market is, where they are and what they like. You can create brand loyalty, share knowledge and receive invaluable feedback. But there are pitfalls.
The control aspect is critical, people can be uncensored in their approach to online discourse and this can quickly escalate to become all consuming and potentially very damaging. If things do go wrong, take a breath, walk away for a moment and reflect on your response before going near the keyboard. If you’ve taken time to plan your blog then take a moment to plan your response.
One of the biggest challenges to a business blogger is finding the commitment to deliver content frequently. Blogging is about planning, knowing what you want to say, searching out new stories and social interactions with customers, using feedback and creating engaging content. There are a few tricks up the content creators sleeve that might come in useful. Be creative but never too repetitive.
Using blogging as a marketing tool can influence potential customers in a number of ways. Potential customers can read your blog on a specific item before purchasing, they can comment, ask questions and engage in a wider conversation with other customers. This helps make your brand personal and creates trust in you and the product.
It is crucial that you understand your tools, take this quote Guesalaga from his 2015 paper, The use of social media in sales: Individual and organizational antecedents, and the role of customer engagement in social media:
“We find that the most important predictor of social media usage in sales is organizational competence, that is, the supplier company’s knowledge, productivity and expertise with social media”
Open, honest dialogue with your customers makes them an active participant in your business and can help improve the perception of your brand. Knowing your tools, creating engaging content and being mindful of your voice can reap huge rewards. You only have to leave a bad review on Amazon to see the power of feedback.
Liverpool store refuses to serve homeless man. Liverpool Echo. Accessed 01/12/16
26 Essentials for Blogging Success. Social Media Examiner. Accessed 28/11/16
7 Ways to re-purpose blog content. Codelessinteractive.com. Accessed 29/11/16
How people read Online. (and why you won’t finish this article) Slate Magazine, research by Chartbeat. Accessed 25/11/16
Lenhart A, Fox S (2006) Bloggers A portrait of the internet’s new storytellers.
Guesalaga R, (2015) The use of social media in sales: Individual and organizational antecedents, and the role of customer engagement in social media.
(Submitted as part of the Digital Marketing in Context Assessment.)