To Blog, Or Not To Blog

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William ShakespeareThe phrase “to be, or not to be” is one of the most famous quotations in literature, and comes from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (c. 1600), act three, scene one. In today’s market, the question I hear most when giving inbound marketing seminars is “should I blog?”. In my opinion, professional services firms that fail to capitalize on modern social marketing, like blogging, may appear behind the times when compared to their competitors who do. So my answer is always emphatically yes.

But, before writing one word, think about the focus of your blog. Ultimately, you’d like your blog to build word of mouth marketing and your social following, so carefully tune your content toward the people, and work, you’d like to do. For example, I set up this blog to provide marketing information and advice to professional service providers (attorneys, lawyers, doctors, and the like).

So Who’s Reading This Stuff?
Although I’m targeting professionals, it’s likely their support staff, spouse or business advisors are the ones reading this blog. So my content is mostly professional, with a lighter tone. The material comes from my real life experiences and appointments, so often, I’m answering a question or addressing something that came up in a real client setting. The blog is my ongoing seminar to clients, prospective clients and potential referral partners.

Benefits of Blogging
Your blog is a very effective way to raise visibility, both online and offline. It also strengthens your online reputation, and positions you as an accessible, helpful resource on your specific topic or niche. If you write valuable posts, and share within your social network, you’ll likely attract new fans, new comments and new leads.

From a technical perspective, blogs beat websites because they have a built in feed. Every time you post a piece of content, your blog sends notice to search engines alerting them to the new material (unlike your traditional website, which often has to wait for the search engines to come back, and hopefully find your new page). The more you post, the more active and attractive your blog becomes to search engines. I should mention that quality matters more than quantity — a blog full of relevant information is much better than hundreds of random posts.

The best part about blogging is potential for engagement with your audience. Real success comes from creating conversations with your readers. Not only do I read every comment (and also thank publicly and privately for their contributions), I often send requests to connect on LinkedIn and when appropriate, meet in real life.

Social marketing, and blogging in general, isn’t about the technology you use (I prefer and use WordPress, but just about any solution will do). It’s about engaging people, clients and prospects – and building relationships with them.

Photo credit from the Chandos portrait, as found on Wikipedia.