Business Blogging with a Difference

by Adam O’Grady

From online diaries to company product galleries, celebrity goss and server administration. The humble blog makes up a big part of the Internet as we know it.

Blogs are an excellent way for businesses to provide their customers with a look behind the scenes, often allowing them to create a more “human” company image – when done right. Although, much like a company website – how you design, use and maintain a blog can affect how people view your company.

When the iiNet Blog was born (November 2010 if you can remember that far back), we worked toward making it a little different from the usual corporate blog. Instead of leaving it to the people who are paid to write stuff, we opened a window to the business by introducing our staff and allowing them to take the reins when writing about iiNet news.

If you think this way of blogging will work for your own business, here’s a few tips on how to get started.

What to post?
In short, anything. You can write articles about products, events, new initiatives and even some fun things like reviews and opinion pieces – presuming they’re relevant to the business. You should treat it a bit like writing an email to a customer in respect to tone. Look at your target audience before you post an article to see whether or not an article is worth posting – every article should add value to the business. That said, you don’t have to treat a blog like a press release or news feed as stories about company events (annual balls, team-building exercises, etc) help show the world that you are a group of real people with real lives.

Who posts?
Ask your employees. While it can be good to have a dedicated blog editor who always writes a number of the articles, you should check around the office for people who might want to contribute occasionally. You might have people from different departments with some unique stories or developments, industry thought leaders in your workplace with some great ideas or even just people who have something they want to write, whether it be reviews, hobbies or just some cool (often industry related) news.

When to post?
Regularity is key. If you post rarely or neglect your blog for long periods of time, it looks like you’re not putting in the effort and drive of a determined company. Depending on what you post and the size of your company, you should try posting something new on a daily to weekly schedule to keep reader attention.

How to post?
When it comes to choosing a platform for your blog, the most common ‘easy’ options at the moment are WordPress or Tumblr, with some of the advantages, disadvantages and recommended uses listed below.

Powerful and flexible, WordPress is a traditional blogging platform with a lot of support for plugins and extensibility. It can often be seen working as a replacement website for smaller business (such as independent photographers) or as a dedicated company blog (like this one).
It provides an administration control panel that allows you to add new features (Twitter feeds, SEO optimisation, analytics packages, etc) and monitor posts, content and comments.

Tumblr is an externally hosted microblogging platform that is seeing a continual rise in popularity in more recent times. It’s more closely related to social mediums such as Twitter and Facebook than the more traditional blog format of WordPress. The core functionality is driven by a few basic post types (text, link, image, video or audio) and the ability to ‘Like’ or ‘Reblog’ a post (copy to your blog with credit to the original). This facilitates quick content sharing similar to Facebook and Twitter, with the more expansive posting ability of a traditional blog.

This short and quick posting ability and content sharing makes Tumblr perfect for a more informal blog or a temporary blog for sponsorships or campaigns where you want a message spread. The growing popularity of it is also making it more viable as a core social media tool as well (depending on your audience).

If you have the ability to regularly post interesting content and a desire to open the doors and bring some of the inner workings of your business to the world, take the leap and start a blog. I would recommend linking to your blog or posts with a widget or button on your company website as well as cross-posting some of the interesting articles on mediums such as Twitter and Facebook. Also include some links on the blog to your other sites and/or social media profiles to continually improve the visibility of your online presence.

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