But it's not just a fun way for self-appointed authors to recap the last American Idol over their lunch break. Blogging has opened the door for businesses and organizations to disseminate useful, relevant information to their customers (existing and prospective) in ways that no other media traditionally offered.
The older cousin of emerging social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, blogs allow authors to publish thoughts and news in enough detail that visitors can benefit from it, but without being so lengthy that it bores casual readers (a delicate and important balance we'll discuss in the future).
Three Reasons Your Company or Non-Profit Should Blog
Every business has something unique and valuable to communicate to its audience. In fact, there are as many reasons for a company to use a blog as there are companies in this world. Here are three of them:
- You have important things to tell your customers. Whether it's an unusual way for your customers to save money, or a new concept that most casual visitors never would have thought of, you have something to say that your competitors don't. If you can determine what that something is, and how to share just enough of it so your readers will contact you for more, you've got a tremendous start.
- Your customers have important things to tell you. Your blog doesn't have to be a one-way road. When you allow readers to comment on your blog posts, you create a valuable listening channel that you didn't have before. Few things, after all, are as valuable to attentive business owners as honest, objective customer feedback.
- Your website will benefit from it. Beyond its communication merits, having (and regularly updating) a blog is good for the health of your website as a whole. Search engines give special consideration to sites with blogs that are well-maintained; the consistent activity Google sees in your blog is an indication that your site is actually growing and staying current. Google likes that in a website, and is more likely to recommend yours over the next one that isn't being kept up.
When Not To Blog
It would stand to reason, then, that everyone should have a blog, right? Not necessarily.
Dovetailing on the last reason you should blog, this is also a good reason some companies and organizations should not blog. For it to be successful and helpful to both the readers and the site itself, a blog must be maintained diligently. When a business starts an initiative and only tends to it initially, or infrequently over the course of time, it sends a clear message to its few readers. A poorly-maintained blog silently confesses that your company lacks follow-through, or worse, isn't even interested in itself.
If you don't have the time or endurance to regularly add to your blog, partner with someone who does, like the Minneapolis SEO experts at AAI. As a last resort, consider other alternatives for communicating online with your customers. Even no blog at all is better than a lackluster blog.