I have to start a blog for my company. What components – design and content - should my blog include?
By Jennifer Manocchio
Developing a blog can be overwhelming, especially if you are a newbie to blogging. The best advice I have is to keep your blog simple to start and build on it as you go. It is easy to get caught up in the design, widgets and functionality, but at the end of the day, readers are going to come back because they like the content. Your number one goal should be generating good content to start a following.
However, prior to even starting your blog, I recommend reading one of our previous posts – What You Need to Know Before Starting a Corporate Blog – to help answer some questions about blog name, frequency, content and style.
The recommendations below dive a little deeper into more specific design and content components necessary for a blog.
1. Content is King: I cannot stress this enough. High quality content will keep people coming back to the blog day after day and week after week. If you take a look at the top 25 blogs of 2010 by Time Magazine, you’ll notice these were selected based on content, not design.
What you want to avoid is simply dumping marketing materials on your blog. Consider what your target audience is interested in and deliver the content in a personal and conversational way to engage readers.
Also, ensure the posts are not too lengthy. You want the copy to be easy to scan and digest. If you have a post that is long, consider breaking it into two or even three parts. Be sure you link to the previous post so your readers can easily follow along.
2. Web Site Links: If one of the blog goals is to drive website traffic to your corporate site or specific product/service pages, then be sure to include a link to your corporate site (assuming the blog is independently hosted).
Also, anytime it is appropriate, link the text in the blog to pages on the corporate website. For example, when mentioning a specific product or service in a post, link that back to the relevant product or service page on your web site.
Finally, if you are referencing a previous post, link to that post (like I did in the introduction of this blog posts).
3. Create categories and tags for each post: When creating a blog post, add categories and tags for each post. This is easy to do and will help your readers identify topics they are interested in.
Categories will be broader topics that you will use each time you write a blog. For example, if your blog is about pets, you might have categories that feature different types of pets – dogs, cats, birds, horse, etc. Tags can be more specific, including company and product names.
4. Showcase other social media sites: If you have other social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube Channel, LinkedIn, Flicker, etc. it is important to link to these on your blog. You can also feature content if you like. For example, you can include your latest Twitter or Facebook posts. There are widgets available that will make this easy for you to do.
5. Blogroll: A blogroll is where you recommend other noteworthy blogs your readers might like. While a blogroll is not necessary, it is a good strategy for creating links back to your blog. You can achieve this by adding a blog you like to your blogroll and inquiring with that blogger to see if he/she will repay the favor by adding your blog to his/her blogroll.
6. Call to Action: We highly recommend including a call to action as part of your blog. For example, allow people to subscribe to your RSS or allow people to sign up to receive blog posts by email. Be sure the current call to action is specific. For example, rather than “Subscribe to RSS”, customize it to read “Subscribe to the RSS to receive timely updates on [industry] advancements and [company] news”.
7. About page: Include an “about” page on the blog to explain why people should read your blog. What can readers expect as far as content? Who is writing this blog? Be as transparent as possible and include your headshot. It is okay to include company information, but we recommend leading with what the blog is about and why people will be interested in following it.
Certainly, this is just the beginning and you can get much more involved in the design, developing surveys, adding widgets, etc. But remember – yes I’m going to say it again – continue to keep your focus on the blog content and maybe you’ll make Time Magazine’s top 25 blog list in 2011!
Have you been tasked with starting a corporate blog and don’t know where to start? Contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688 for help!