A blog is a great asset for your small business or organization — as long as you use it correctly. Of the millions of blogs online right now, most have fewer than 1,000 readers. To become one of the winners, here are seven problems you need to fix:
- The title doesn’t capture your audience. The title of each and every one of your posts must draw in your readers. It must be clear. It must be truthful. It must make sense. Title your posts like you would write about them on Twitter. It helps if it is less than 140 characters with a short link so it can easily be shared online via social media.
- Your post is too happy. It’s sad but true. Readers like the conflict of the negative post. Take this title for example. “The ways you are blogging wrong” is more popular and more likely to get attention than all the ways you are blogging right even though in the long run, the posts could say the exact same thing.
- You tease your readers. Do not start with an introduction and get them all tuned in only to flip the switch and not deliver. Readers will remember and not come back knowing you aren’t trustworthy with your headlines.
- The name of your blog needs an explanation. Blog titles are important. No one is going to go to a website called “The Blog” or something as equally as generic. Name your blog something that relates to your business.
- You use your blog as a sounding board. A few venting pieces here and there are okay but your blog is not the place to complain. Don’t be the restaurant that blogs about customers that don’t tip. Use your blog to write about necessary and informative topics.
- You use your blog as a diary. Likewise, your blog is not the place for all your family drama. Tell your story on your blog as it relates to your business but otherwise, birthdays or funerals or weddings or whatever else that goes on doesn’t need to go on your blog.
- There is no passion behind the work. Readers can tell a fake in the first few words. If you don’t like writing, don’t run a blog. Or hire someone to write for you, making sure you are close enough to convey your passion through them. Don’t fake it or expect your writer to be a mind reader..
Dream big with your blog but make sure you can back it up. Mediocre blogs won’t change the world, let alone attract business.
Image via Flickr on Creative Commons
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the
English learners often have a lot of trouble with the present perfect tense, as in I have been to the moon.
This tense doesn’t exist in many languages. What’s more, it’s more about what happened in the past and could happen in the future than it is about the present. And it’s sure not perfect.
In less than two minutes, you can learn how to use this tricky tense correctly. While dancing.
by Megan Totka
Facebook is an integral part social media marketing plan of most small businesses. Saying the right things and keeping followers engaged are important to your success.
- Provide helpful content. Share links, pages and infographics on your Facebook page that relate to nature of your business and profession. Give followers a reason for your business to be remembered.
- Cross promote others. Don’t be afraid to mention your competition and give them accolades where they are due. They’ll notice and do the same for you.
- Stay consistent. There are numerous tools available to plan and schedule your posts. Take an hour or two out of your day once a week and plan posts for the whole week. Use predictable days and times.
- Respond to comments. Don’t just address negative comments. Thank the positive commenters as well. Do no debate on your page. Acknowledge that your followers may have different views in some areas. Be humble and appreciative.
- Monitor usage. Be diligent about any users posting spam to your page and remove or block these posts as needed. Also watch for anyone posting hateful messages. It is up to you as the business owner to decide how this usage will be handled but be sure to be consistent.
- Ask open-ended questions. The best way to get followers engaged and keep the communication going is by asking thought-provoking questions. Ask for opinions and stories or even get input on upcoming changes that may be occurring with the business.
- Promote your work with helpful introductions. Make sure you aren’t just sharing helpful content from other sources; bring attention to your own website and blog too. Be mindful of your introductions so they set up the rest of your post clearly and get users to click the links for more.
- Offer incentives for remaining loyal. Everyone loves a good discount. Every month or so, offer fans a special coupon or sale to show appreciation for being dedicated followers.
Social media is a low-cost and easy-to-use marketing tool, so make the most of it. Your business will see the effect.
Photo via Flickr
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.
This weekend I bought a birthday card for a friend who is turning 60. I leafed through cards that talked about how “rock music” has turned into “rocking chairs,” the disfigurement of wrinkles and other sentiments more appropriate to much older people. Sadly, these are the funny cards.
While I was shopping for the card, the svelte birthday girl was out skiing. Hours later, she was probably still skiing. I expect she’ll stay active for many years to come.
Like her mom, who also plays golfs and tennis, dresses smartly and keeps up on world events. She is not ready for rocking chairs either.
What we have difficulty with is reading without our glasses. I was not wearing mine when I stopped to check out birthday cards in the middle of grocery shopping. Yes, I could have worn my bifocals, but then I might have glimpsed an older woman who sort of looked like me in the harshly lit store mirrors.
This is why I had trouble reading the serious cards, which appeared to have profound, inspirational messages in small type or curly-cue fonts.
Last year, while working on a healthcare project directed at seniors, I researched communicating with people older than 50. You’d think the greeting card people would too, especially for those milestone-age cards we spend so much money on. Apparently not.
In addition to type I can easily read without my glasses, they need birthday cards that reflect who most of us really are, people who are physically, mentally and socially active. Better still, they should think about who we aspire to be, which is more like this photo of Jane Seymour than the grumbling old ladies in baggie dresses who have never heard of hair dye.
Happiness research confirms that this is a good time in our lives. So leave the kvetching to the people are worried about affording a house in Toronto, finding their soul mate and feeding fussy toddlers. We are beyond that.
You wouldn’t use the “n” word
We don’t want to be reminded about sagging body parts or the occasional memory blip. We can laugh among ourselves about aging. But doing it for us is like a white person thinking he can tell a joke with the “n” word to entertain people of color.
Us baby boomers like funny cards, especially for men who are uncomfortable with the sentimental messages. But think about how to be humorous without being offensive or making us feel bad.
Think too about how we see ourselves in the mirror. Notice that many television commercials for assisted living places or no-medical life insurance feature actors who look younger than the target age group. These advertisers have done their due diligence.
When I see an untouched photo of somebody my age, I often feel good because I don’t look as old as them. Sometimes this is true, but other times it’s because my rose-tinted glasses, which many of us secretly wear, make me think I look younger. This probably explains why many men are convinced their comb-overs work.
Because I prefer to see myself younger, I don’t wear my reading glasses unless I’m reading. If I’m not plotting eyeliner, I prefer a blurred mirror. Declining eye sight, which starts around 40 and usually plateaus a decade or so later, has its benefits.
These insights about birthday cards can be applied to any content you want to appeal to people middle aged and older. Next time you want to laugh at us, think how amused people of color are when you use references that could be considered racist. Or the joke will be on you.
Although many organizations are trying to become storytellers, they often shy away from villains. But what would Harry Potter be like without Voldemort or Winston Churchill without Hitler?
They also unite employees, prospects, voters and members of other important groups behind a common enemy.
Companies that are building a brand as a nice guy may be reluctant to feature down-and-dirty villains. Here in Canada, we pride ourselves on being pleasant and polite. Most of us loathe the vilification of negative political advertising we see with our American friends. Even though we know it works.
Fortunately, there’s more than one way to paint a villain.
Ways to paint your villain
The villain can be a character you invent to represent the forces of evil, for example the tax man, the liberal elites or the people who the feed gravy train, a ploy that still works well for Toronto’s cracker jack mayor Rob Ford.
The villain can be big tobacco, big pharma, big government or big foes that little folk love to hate.
The villain can be disease, pestilence, the devil, natural disasters, economic crashes and other evil forces beyond the hero’s control.
The villain can be personal, such as how age is turning my hair gray and making my knees creak.
The less you personify your villains the less impact they will have. Consider the difference between Bob the Bully, the mean lug with the hammer fists, versus the forces of bullying. Bob is more dramatic and effective, but bullying can do the job for nice Canadians—or anyone who does not wish to star the forces of evil.
The point is to create a villain who will drive the conflict, contrast with your hero’s sterling character and encourage individuals to feel like they belong to a group.
In my earlier post on creating your hero, I advised content marketers who ultimately want to sell anything to avoid playing the hero.
Instead, be the mentor who enables the hero, someone with the same dreams or problems as your ideal client, to overcome challenges and resolve the conflict. That means providing the hero with the tools to vanquish the villain.
If you have an authentic villain–say a competitor or a person making trouble for your hero – that’s best.
If not, create one.
Remember: no conflict, no villain, no story.
Here it is, again.
Manual writers, phone script scribes, video teachers and anyone else who has practical information to share, please take this to heart.
Then I discover the big shots agree that these kinds of common mistakes matter. They make you look stupid. I’m in good company. Thank you, Harvard.