10 Questions to Ask About Your Blogging Strategy

Flash back to 1996. The Worldwide Web was a cauldron of activity. Businesses were rushing to get online. Most business managers weren’t asking why they needed a website; they just wanted one as quickly as possible. Millions of dollars were squandered on sites that were impossible to find or hard to use.

Fast forward to 2006. Social media is the rage. Business magazines say blog or be roadkill. Businesses want a stake in the blogosphere, even if they don’t know why.

Blogging can be a valuable channel to your customers and prospects, a key part of your public relations strategy, a market research tool and a launching pad for new products. But there are many ways to blog. Know what you want to achieve and how to get there.

Here are 10 questions you should ask before you even post your first blog entry.

  1. What’s the business objective? You’ll invest time and money to build a blog presence. What are your business goals? Awareness? Revenue? Leads? Leadership? Know where you’re going before you start the trip.
  2. Who’s the audience? There are plenty of potential readers out there and chances are you don’t care about reaching 99% of them. Social media is about focused communities and groups don’t need to be large to be important. Before you begin, know who your target audience is and how to reach it. Create a strategy for building affinity and let that define your online presence.
  3. What are you going to tell them? Spewing marketing messages won’t work. The only way to make your blog distinctive is to give readers useful information that they can’t find anywhere else.
  4. Who’s going to do the talking? Blogging is about personalities. So who will you put online? The CEO? VP of Engineering? Product Managers? Your company’s message will be defined by the people who speak on your behalf. Choose them wisely.
  5. What is your voice? It’s not just what you say, it’s also how you say it. Are you going to be friendly and engaging or formal and authoritative? How will your blog voice mesh with your corporate voice? What does your blog say about what kind of person or organization you are?
  6. How will you deliver your message? Short and punchy or thoughtful and reflective? Are you going to tell people what’s right or invite them to comment? How will you use humor, drama, irony, story-telling, metaphor, example, exaggeration, foreboding and other tools? Any approach can work if you know how to apply it.
  7. How will you get readers? Posting a blog is no more effective than building a website if you don’t know what to do with it. With 30 million blogs out there, why should anyone come to yours? There are simple, inexpensive steps you can take to dramatically improve your visibility. But most people don’t know what they are.
  8. What will you do with responses?Do you want all your readers to tell you what they think or would you rather filter comments? How do you effectively invite people to talk back to you? What do you do when the feedback loop gets out of hand and creates a blog swarm? Gaining an audience in the blogosphere may be your greatest objective but it could be your worst nightmare if you don’t know how to manage it.
  9. How will you measure success? If all you want to do is build awareness for your company, you may be happy just to count traffic and links. If you’re trying to generate revenue, then your choice of ad programs is important. Or maybe you want to use your blog as a base for your PR efforts or to research your audience. There are many potential benefits to blogging but they require different approaches to the task.
  10. What’s the next step? Once you’ve got regular visitors and steady traffic, you’ll want to consider expanding your franchise. Should you launch another blog? Start a website? Write a magazine column? Launch a podcast? Write a book? There are lots of ways to build a successful blog into a franchise, but you need to know the tradeoffs of each.

You can figure out the answers to these questions yourself through trial and error. Or you can save time and money by getting expert advice. Experts can help shortcut these questions by showing you what’s working in the field today. Blogging can be a great addition to your marketing and PR strategy or a time sink. How you prepare will make a big difference.

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