If you own or manage a small business, you probably find yourself wondering how you can use the internet to your advantage. Facebook, Twitter, social media, and social networking - how do you know where to begin? Which one of these tools is going to allow you to promote your business in a way that you're not already able to? If you're a little confused by it all, one great place to start is with a good old-fashioned blog. Here are a few tips that will help you get started and help you make the most of your SMB blog.
1. Pick a platform. You'll want to sign up for a platform that is well-known and easy to use to your advantage. Many people say WordPress is the perfect platform because it allows you to use lots of plugins and is easier to customize; other people prefer Blogger because its simpler to use and understand. And of course, there are other options; Posterous and Tumblr to name a few.
2. Think about hosting your blog on your own domain. What does this mean? Well, when you generally sign up for a blog, you are assigned a URL. For example, if you are using WordPress name your blog "Matty's Musings," the link to your blog is going to be www.mattysmusings.wordpress.com. But if you purchase the website mattysmusings.com, you can go to Wordpress.org and they will allow you to use their blogging platform on your own domain. So, basically, you're still using the WordPress interface, but customers can find you a lot easier and your URL is more clean and professional.
3. SEO. You may have heard about search engine optimization, but do you know what it is and why it's important? Essentially, you're looking to increase your ranking in search engines, moving your website to the top so that people will find it easier. There is a lot out there on SEO and if you want to see to it that your blog or website comes in at the top spot when people search certain keywords, you'll definitely want to look into it.
4. Use Google Analytics. With Google analytics, you can see how many people visit your website, which posts they look at, how long they spend on your site, which keywords they use to get there and more. Basically, the tool allows you to see what is working. Is one post a lot more popular than the others? This tool will let you figure out why.
5. Use social networking. If you do have a Twitter, Facebook, Digg, or other social media account, use it! If you make a blog post about your company, share it on any and all websites you belong to. Set up accounts just for your SMB and promote, promote, promote!
6. Make your site appealing. Have you ever landed on a blog or website and left within seconds because the look wasn't right? Maybe it was so busy, you couldn't make out what you were supposed to be looking at. Maybe it was so bare that you figured it was really not up-to-date. Maybe it had so many different flashing colors or ads that it just gave you a headache. These are all things you'll want to avoid when setting up your blog. The nicer-looking it is, the more likely people are to stay around and browse.
7. Make your blog interesting and relevant. One common problem people have when they start a blog is not knowing what to blog about. Obviously, you want to promote your company but are people going to read the same thing over and over? Absolutely not. Stir things up a little bit by giving your opinions on what's going on in your industry, interview a staff member, post something that has absolutely nothing to do with your business, but that you think would appeal to your customers. Remind your customers that there is a human behind your blog and let them get to you know. Personalizing your blog posts will help you build a rapport and keep customers coming back to read more. Also, consider answering customer's frequently asked questions or allowing customers to leave comments that you can interact with.
8. Blog often. There's nothing worse than checking a blog every day, only to see that it hasn't been updated in weeks. If you don't have time to post daily or a few times a week, get your staff in on it, too. People will keep coming back anxiously awaiting your posts.