The Business : Blogs and Microblogs

Blog for your business and find out how to use other people’s blogs to your advantage. Inthis post, we talks about why as photographers we should get into blogging, cross blogging and micro blogging

Why do you read blogs? Perhaps you don’t, but even so I invite you to consider the question: why would somebody read your blogs? Chances are the topic isinterestingand the author of any blog you read is not only passionate about their subject, but also consistently : an expert who is insightful, controversial, amusing or funny, educational and first with the news.

A blog (short for weblog) is an online diary of sorts but, crucially, it’s a personal diary you actually want people to read! Business blogs give a visitor the chance to get under the skin of a business and to connect in a very real way with the author. They are a chance to start a conversation, as well as an opportunity to air your own views in your industry, or on your own topic.

Why do the authors of blogs do what they do? From a marketing perspective, blogs provide a real opportunity to increase exposure to search engines and build links to your web pages (to take readers to your website, should they need further information). As a business professional you will typically write on a subject that is close to their heart and the content written will be full of keywords that appeal to the search engines ( if in doubt, research the phrases your customers type into Google using the Google Keyword Tool and write blogs on those subjects ). Once your blog is established, it is possible that your posts will show up in the search engines within minutes.

‘The Business Case for Blogging’, a survey conducted by Write2Market – a leading US provider of custom business writing services, reveals surprising initial results:

  • Over half of business logging respondents reported closing sales through leads they obtained solely through their blog.
  • Over 70 per cent reported receiving qualified leads regularly through their blog.
  • Over 20 per cent reported receiving more than 20 per cent of their business leads overall through their blog.

Blogs also provide a great way to stay in touch with existing customers. They are an ideal platform to demonstrate your expertise, knowledge and passion.Your web-savvy readers will subscribe to your blog using an RSS reader such as iGoogle and using their favourite social network like Facebook. These tools make sure they are alerted to new posts you make, so they don’t miss any of your pearls of wisdom. Blogs are inherently social as well.

Every blog should be accompanied by quick and easy sharing buttons so your readers can pass on valuable content simply in their favourite social spaces online. A blog post can be easily passed around using Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ or any other common social tools. It is this viral sharing that can bring a blog post, its parent blog and its author fame overnight should it “catch fire” and be shared repeatedly, by the right people.

The switched-on blogger does not just focus on his or her own blog. You can research the top blogs in any industry using sites like www.technorati.com. The authors of blogs are the new journalists. They have audiences, their opinions matter and they know it. They don’t suffer fools gladly because by necessity they have become highly selective with their attention. Build relationships with these people – find them in other social networks and follow them wherever possible. Just like a journalist, a blogger can review your work, recommend you and influence an audience he or she can share with you. Many of the most successful bloggers will welcome pitches from those seeking reviews for publicity purposes, some will not.

Be reasonable though; don’t spam these people because they have seen it all before. Many authors of well-read sites have become professional bloggers and chances are you cannot think of any spam technique they haven’t seen before. Research them, engage them in thoughtful conversation by contributing valuable content and respectfully commenting on their posts (behave in the way you would want them to act on your blog) and you may be able to cultivate a new relationship with a valuable ally.

As you build relationship with these influencers you may suggest that they contribute to your blog and vice versa. Post supporting links to content on your site of the same theme and encourage the same, you will effectively be sharing each other’s audiences, which is a great way to gain additional exposure to target audiences. The most common platforms for blogging are WordPress and Blogger. WordPress has become something of a low cost websites solution as well as a blogging platform.

Blogger is owned by Google and is very easy to set up and use. WordPress sites can be hosted anywhere while Blogger is a solution that Google hosts for you. Business bloggers should link their blog to their social sites wherever possible and auto post summaries to other web properties, such as Facebook business pages.

The great news about photography logging is that a picture may tell a thousand words, but each viewer hears a different thousand words. The original story behind beautiful pictures can be every bit as interesting as the picture itself. By sharing the pictures and telling those stories you think are very special, you have a great platform to share your thoughts and ideas. No good with words? Team up with a wordsmith and get exposure for your combined skills; pictures by Fred, words by Ginger. Fantastic pictures make very shareable content. Great pictures with great words even more so.

Micro-blogging is blogging on a more instant, short message format usually used on a mobile platform – similar to status updates in Facebook or Linkedin but usually broadcast for the world to see. Twitter is of course the most famous (but not the only) micro-blogging tool. These tools are brilliant for sharing links to interesting content and have evolved to enable us to easily share pictures as well as text. Twitter is a great too for staying plugged in to what the influencers in any industry are thinking as well as a great tool to tap into conversations about what real people are looking for. It is also the perfect complement to your blog.

A tweet containing a link to your latest blog post can be passed on or “retweeted” any number of times, multiplying the exposure to your latest blog post exponentially. A single, highly connected Twitter user re-tweeting a link could drive thousands of people to your blog to read your message and join in the conversation.

What about negative comments? My advice is to welcome them. There is also the chance that you might even be wrong on occasion. Blogs are a great way to hear all sides of a conversation, and if there are sound arguments against your views you should hear them and be prepared to consider them and, where necessary, counter them respectfully and thoughtfully. After all this is the essence of persuasion and great practice for life in general – as well as selling and marketing business.