For most of the small business that are looking at options for Social Media Marketing, blogging seems to be the first logical and cheapest option. A blog is the best way to take advantage of a set of powerful tools – most of them available free or at a nominal cost – while also gaining some immediate return on investments.
So What is a Blog?
In simple terms, a blog is a software that allows anyone who can post content to a website and displays the same much like a journal i.e. in chronological fashion. This content can be anything that the owner of the blog or author of the post chooses to write. Readers of the blog pages can make comments or subscribe to a blog so that they are automatically notified whenever a new post is made. If the blog is multi-authored, more than one author can post content to the blog. Whenever such content is posted, search engines automatically receive a notice or a PING (as it is called in technical terms) so that they can further index it. Search engines basically love blogs!
Where to Start?
As outlined earlier, blogs are run by a piece of software and so the first task is to determine what software to use. A quick search in Google would give you hundreds of options, but we are going to focus on few popular choices:
- Windows Live Space: a free tool from Microsoft that allows you to setup a blog with all the right tools. Moreover, you can also add it to you Office Live Small Business Web Site.
- WordPress: Comes in two flavors – plain vanilla hosted version running on www.wordpress.com and a sundae version from www.wordpress.org. The plain vanilla version provides a hosted platform with all wordpress installations and configurations taken care of while the sundae version allows you to download the entire platform and setup it up on your own web hosting space.
- Blogger: another free tool from Google for setting up a blog.
- TypePad: another hosted service with many features and a simple start-up process.
The following tips do help in getting the most of your new blogging practice:
- Read other blogs and see what and how others are writing. Subscribe to blogs that interest you so that you are notified whenever new posts are made. Moreover, reading what others are writing is a great source for inspiration and new ideas.
- Post as often as possible. Make it a habit or setup reminders so that you do not miss posting. Remember, this builds up reader loyalty and readers who know about your blog would be awaiting some fresh content from you.
- Network with other bloggers and make comments in their blog postings. This is important in building up your own readership. Do not spam or write irrelevent comments for the sake of it. Make relevant and useful comments and you shall begin to see some traffic and links coming back to your blog.
- Encourage your readers and visitors to make comments. Write in a way that asks for readers opinions, ask questions. Engage them.
- Spread your wings and link out to other relevant content and blog sites. Adding feeds to sites like Technorati, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Facebook, etc. really helps spread your post to thousands.
There are so many good reasons for a small businesses to use blogging as an essential web marketing and communications tool. For those who have still not seen the value or had thought about it but never found the time to start – think seriously.