Part 2 of a series on common business blogging mistakes. Part 1 is here.
Blogs are a new form of communications medium but many marketers still are stuck in the old one-way mode. To really appreciate the value of blogging, you have to approach it as a conversation. That means listening as well as talking. Here are some common mistakes:
Failure to link – Links are online currency. Not only do they enable more efficient communication than that available with the printed word (see my earlier post” “What You Probably Don’t Know About Links”), but they’re an acknowledgment that someone else has published something of value. Bloggers covet links. Links improve their search performance and drive traffic that leads to business opportunities. Mentioning someone else’s work without linking to it is considered rude.
Too often, novice bloggers fail to observe this simple protocol. They cite but don’t link. It takes only a few seconds to add links to your copy and it has all kinds of benefits. Linking engenders goodwill with the source of the information. That may lead to a reciprocal link, which improves your own traffic. It can also start a dialog with a person whose work you respect. You don’t have to agree with people to link to them, but you should always acknowledge that their work had value to you.
Here’s another reason to sweat this detail: failure to link can actually make you enemies. Thanks go Google Alerts, people now know instantly when their name pops up somewhere else online. If that mention doesn’t include a link, they’re going to be annoyed. So linking isn’t an option; it’s a necessity to maintaining good relations with people you respect.
Treating the blog as a wire service – Don’t use your blog to distribute press releases. That’s missing the point of this two-way medium. Blogs are a way for people to connect with each other. They’re a conversation, not a channel. If you treat your blog as another way to deliver a templated mass mail, then readers will abandon you faster than they’d flee a flaming building.
There’s nothing wrong with posting the occasional news release on your blog, but always add a personal message to frame its importance. Even better: link to the release and comment about why it’s significant. Humanize the interaction.
Being irrelevant – Shortly after the stock market crashed last fall, I visited 15 prominent corporate blogs. To my astonishment, only one even mentioned the most perilous financial crisis in two generations. Most were filled with marketing happy talk. These bloggers failed to address a critical customer need for information. Worse, they looked clueless. touch. Imagine if Wells Fargo had used the opportunity to educate its customers about why the markets were in turmoil. Instead, it posted a travel video. What a missed opportunity.
One of the great advantages of blogs is that they’re fast and easy to update. Use them to comment on current events that affect your customers. You don’t have to run afoul of regulatory guidelines to explain something. Educate and inform. Become a trusted source.
Turning off comments – According to some estimates, about 20% of business blogs don’t accept comments. Those companies are missing the point. A blog is a basis of discussion, not a TV program. Turning off comments is the same as saying you’re not interested in what your constituents think. What an insult.
The reason people most often cite for banishing comments is that they fear negativity. Those companies shouldn’t be blogging in the first place. Occasional negativity is part of the fabric of good discussion and it should be embraced as part of the feedback process. If you’re worried about inappropriateness, then enable comment moderation and filter responses. However, you should never delete a comment simply because it’s negative. The writer will simply take his gripe somewhere else.