This article originally appeared at American Express OpenForum
The Internet represents an unlimited opportunity for your brand, and blogs are just one of many platforms that can benefit you. Blogs can not only get your brand name some exposure, but they can provide value to your consumers.
So what exactly are you supposed to do with your blog? Most importantly, you have to keep it updated. An eerily quiet blog won’t do anything for your company or its followers.
But beyond that, there’s still a lot you need to know about how to run your blog and optimise it for everyone’s benefit.
Here are eight ways that you can use your blog to improve your business:
Every small business could use some exposure, and blogs are a great way to do it. But it's not as easy as it sounds.
The key to getting people to come to your blog is to provide timely, quality content. Keep it relevant, well-written and insightful. Provide your readers with content that they desire, and they will show up.
Blogs present a quick, easy way to learn about your customers and find out who they are. Put up some polls to see what people think about certain products, or figure out their demographics.
But don't ignore the opportunity to get open-ended feedback too, so ask questions about your customers on the blog and invite comments. You will have to weed out troublemakers from the rest, but there can be valuable input found there.
Your customers aren't going to sift through boring press releases or painstakingly search through tons of media outlets to find out what's going on with your company.
Your blog can be a quick stop for anyone to check up on the latest happenings, but make sure you're posting items that are newsworthy. If it's worth a press release, it's worth a blog post, but make sure you add some value--in the form of additional analysis or new information--for your readers.
Your company is probably using a lot of different services on the Web, and a blog can be used to help connect them. Link out to your Twitter (and put up a widget of your feed), Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, and be sure to prominently feature a way to get to your main business website.
Don't make your consumers go all across the Web to find out what people think about your product. Not only can you share positive product reviews to help your reputation, but a blog gives you that rare chance to defend yourself against negative reviews.
So don't be afraid to call out bad reviews that you find--either acknowledge them as useful criticism, or fight back.
Blogs are another platform that can be used to directly communicate with your customers. While there's not the real-time Q&A benefit of Facebook updates or a Twitter feed, a blog can be used to answer common questions and concerns. If there's a particular issue that seems to be standing out for your customers, write about it.
Develop brand loyalty by showing that your company has a human side. Speak with customers personally, invite a few guest posts from your more eloquent readers and give them a wall or message board to voice their opinions, talk to each other and interact with you. Build a community, and be a prominent part of it.
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