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Blogging for business

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The below post was written for business people not yet engaged with blogging. It was originally posed at blog.kmp.co.uk

Blogging
Last Thursday saw me up at the crack of dawn in order to lead a breakfast discussion group for pro-manchester. The topic was “Blogging for Business” and the presentation I delivered was a scaled down and slightly updated version of the one written by my colleague Paul for our July seminars on the same topic. The accompanying slides can be downloaded from our seminar pages.

I’m not going to recap the presentation here but there were some interesting points brought up in the ensuing discussion that gave me food for thought.

Fuelled partly by my presentation and partly by the coffee and sausage sandwiches provided by our host, Cobbetts, the discussion was lively and engaging. I was pleased that the topic seemed to strike a chord with the attendees so I’ll do my best to report on some of those issues discussed.

“Where do I start?”

Good question. I suspect the enquirer wanted to know how to set up a
blog. That’s easy. If I were to answer that question I’d simply say
head over to Typepad, WordPress or Blogger
and set up a blog; or if more protection of your brand and/or some
communication strategy is required, engage an agency (KMP for example ;-)) in a design and consultation exercise.

But I think you should start by understanding a bit about the medium
you wish to enter. The key to Marketing 2.0, PR 2.0 and [insert service
here]2.0 is listening.

If you want to know how best to use blogs, see how other people do it. Head over to Technorati or Google Blog search and search for blogs in your field of interest. Subscribe to them, comment on them, get inspired by them.

Being actively involved with the blogosphere is very important when
promoting your own blog and it’s always a good place to go for
inspiration if the creative well is running a little dry.

The best way to consume content from blogs is with a feed reader. There are many free RSS readers available but I recommend Google Reader.
Once you are signed up, any RSS feed link you click on will be able to
be added to your Reader or your iGoogle personalised homepage.

“How do I protect my business from legal action?”

This point was raised by Steve from RALLI solicitors and in his
words it’s a “typical lawyer’s response” when the issue of
employees being given free access to a blog that represents the
company is raised. In fact it’s not only lawyers who worry about this. The risk
of exposing your business to legal action or negative PR is an issue on
most people’s minds. My answer to this is simple: strategy.

It’s very
important to have a clear remit for company bloggers and ensure that
they have guidelines to follow regarding content, copyright and tone of
voice. There is a correlation between size and importance here.
The bigger the company, the more important it is to provide clear, well
thought-out blogging guidelines.

I firmly believe that the fear of negative PR and legal exposure
should never be an insurmountable barrier to the benefits that a
successful blog can provide. It just takes a bit of planning to get
around the obstacle.

“What do we do if people say bad things about us?”

Whether you are talking about comments on your blog or content elsewhere in the blogosphere, my response is the same.

Listen, evaluate and respond.

Does this person have a point? Is their information incorrect? Have
you made changes to your services/business since this person’s bad
experience? Are they just a nutter?

Tell them, engage them, communicate with them. (Unless they are just
a nutter. As long as no one is paying attention to them, it’s probably
best to leave the nutters alone.)

Of course on your own blog, there is always the option of moderating
comments before allowing them to see the light of day. But don’t assume
that because you are blocking negative comments they won’t appear
anywhere else. They will and probably already are.

So engage the disgruntled party. Most of the time, it’s all they really want.

“You mean a blog can be used for SEO purposes?”

Emphatically, YES.ย 

If you are paying Google or another company thousands of pounds for
PPC keywords but not including those keywords in your content to be
naturally indexed you are wasting money. Blogs are extremely well
indexed by the search engines and all content stays there, archived and
available for users and search engine spiders alike.

In fact, as I write this post, the number one Google return for the term pro manchester business is Jon’s blog post written during the event from his iPhone. It returns above www.pro-manchester.co.uk.

I’m not suggesting you should try and game the system by loading blog
posts with a nonsensical stream of expensive keywords. Just write about
the things you want to be recognised for. It should come naturally. Of
course if some frequently searched-for terms make their way naturally
into the post title or body, all the better.

Here is a post on why blogs are useful for SEO including a list of further resources and here is a post with some tips on how to increase traffic to your blog.

This has turned into a bit of a mammoth post so I’ll sign off now. All comments gratefully received.

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