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How to use a blog effectively to get your message out to clients

Dave Archer

During the past several months, we’ve been looking at some of the more popular forms of social media and how business professionals can use them to their advantage. Today I’d like to explore a related method for using technological and social mediums to get your message out to potential clients and customers: blogging.

I think the term “blog” is often misunderstood, simply because it has become so commonplace it seems that everyone and their brother has a blog about one topic or another. In truth, a blogging platform is simply an inexpensive, easy-to-use communication tool, and when used correctly, can benefit your business in a number of ways.

Blogging programs (Livewriter and WordPress are two popular, reliable platforms) provide the mechanism for quickly and easily uploading text, photos, videos and links to your Web site or blog site. People can subscribe to your blog, and in some instances, you can even sell advertising on your blog. In essence, a blog is really just a Web site where your homepage’s content is updated regularly, as opposed to a traditional Web site where the homepage content is pretty static. It can be changed several times per day, or once or twice a week, depending on the time and content that you have available.

Of course, the key to having a popular blog is having content people are interested in. Here at NCET, for example, we post blog content into several categories two or three times daily. Since we’re a non-profit organization that provides tools and resources for start-ups, entrepreneurs and small businesses, that’s the focus of our blog content. We provide links to relevant business news stories, profiles of successful entrepreneurs and links to information on small business lending, educational seminars, networking events, etc. We also use it to promote our own programs and events, but by and large, we use the blog’s content as a “one-stop shop” for providing the latest in Nevada’s technology and entrepreneurship news to draw people to our site on a daily basis. Here are some tips for creating your own successful business blog:

Industry news: Regardless of your line of business, you can gain a reputation for posting the latest news and information about your industry on your blog. For example, an accounting firm might blog about changes to tax law, or provide factoids on year-end tax preparation tips.

Trends: What’s new in your industry? Let’s say you’re a fashion retailer. You could blog about the latest trends in footwear, accessories, etc. People will come to your site for news and information, and when you work in details about your latest inventory and special promotions, you’ll have a captive audience.

Expertise: Take a poll of your staff and find out what kinds of specialized skills each person has, related to your industry or business in general. For example, perhaps your human resources director has exceptional interview skills, or one of your managers always seems to come up with great time management tips … These are all great blog fodder.

Walk on the lighter side: A blog can be a place to put a human face with your business and personalize your interaction with customers and clients. While you want to maintain a professional look and feel, there’s nothing wrong with taking a lighter, more informal approach to blog content. For example, many companies find replacing a serious corporate message from “CEO Patrick Smith” with a friendlier “Chat with Pat” blog goes a long way in humanizing the company’s image.

Other ways to fill your blog content:

* Updates on programs and events

* New product intros and demos

* Press materials and company news

* Employee profiles

* Client testimonials and success stories

Blog DOs

* Do check spelling, punctuation and grammar.

* Do be aware of copyright issues and make sure you have reprint/linking rights if you include outside information often, the most appropriate way to link is to provide a paragraph or two with a link to original content.

* Do look for opportunities to cross- promote your blog with your Web site, social media outlets and promotional collateral.

* Do monitor who has access/rights to post/edit blogs.

Blog DON’Ts

* Don’t use your blog to trash your competition.

* Don’t over self-promote it will drive away readers.

* Don’t let content get stale update or replace on a regular basis to ensure visitors will return.

Dave Archer is chief executive officer of NCET – Nevada’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology. Contact him through http://www.NCET.org.