The best company blogs share numerous similarities.
These days, all companies can be publishers. And why shouldn’t they be?
Starting a company blog is simple and low-cost. It’s a way to establish subject matter authority, generate sales leads, and network with prospects and other industry professionals. But if you want to rise to the top of the RSS reader, there are a few things to think about. Eucalypt Media has done content strategy and blog content development for dozens of clients, ranging from one-man businesses to global enterprises, and discovered a few common threads in what makes for compelling web content.
They speak to a focused niche. I like ice cream. Do you like ice cream? Great! But I’m not basing my business around selling ice cream, so this may well be the only time I ever mention it here. (FYI: the strawberry balsamic from Gelato Fiasco is divine.) The best corporate and small business blogs I’ve seen take a broad issue and discuss the ins-and-outs of it, rather than treating their blogs as personal journals. Take Intuit’s Small Business Blog for example: The company’s accounting software products are aimed at small business owners, and the blog provides tons of useful tips and insights on all aspects of entrepreneurship. (Disclosure: I write for it, but I’d read it even if I didn’t.)
They provide useful advice. Providing value to others is a key component of all types of content marketing. That doesn’t always mean attracting customers; many great blogs offer advice and insight for others in the same profession, such as my colleague Susan Johnston’s wonderful Urban Muse blog for freelance writers. It’s about putting the sales pitch on hold and focusing on helping others for free. When you do that, people will take notice and look to you as an industry expert. That can lead to referrals from colleagues, and work inquiries from prospects.
They stay on top of the news. If you’re focused on a narrow industry, it’s worth your while to stay on top of what’s happening on a day-to-day basis. Write about hot topics like Facebook’s IPO or the Komen Foundation’s funding misstep, thinking about what the news means for your industry or how the story can serve as a case study of a larger issue. In addition to coming across as relevant and insightful, you’ll probably pick up some extra keyword traffic.
They offer timeless content. In addition to analyzing recent news, most compelling blogs also focus on providing evergreen advice and tutorials on topics that people will never stop searching for. The topic of overcoming writer’s block, for instance, is a timeless subject; Men with Pens, a copywriting advice site, provides great tips on dealing with this problem that will be relevant whether you read them tomorrow or five years from now.
They’re focused on conversation. The best business blogs aren’t about lecturing readers; they’re about communicating with them. They link, reference, and respond to other blogs on similar themes. In addition to providing advice, they accept it willingly. They’re willing to learn from commenters and take criticism in stride. Michelle Rafter’s WordCount blog for writers, for instance, offers a fantastic Q&A section for responding to reader questions and concerns.
Eucalypt Media’s blog is just-hatched, but we’re hoping we can create content that meets all of those criteria. Tell us, what do you admire in a business blog? I’d love to see more examples of businesses who are doing things right.
Kathryn Hawkins is principal and chief content strategist of Eucalypt Media. She has worked as a freelance journalist for media publications and managed inbound marketing and content strategy for corporate and nonprofit clients for more than a decade.