What’s the real objective of business blogging? If your answer is better Google rankings or link building, you’re missing the bigger picture. Ultimately the goal of your blog should be to build a community of readers who want to do business with you. Here are 5 ways to bring your readers closer that I’ve learnt from my experience as a real estate blogger covering the overseas property market in Central America. The goal of my blogging is to cultivate a strong relationship with my readers so that when they’re looking to buy or sell an overseas property they won’t even think about contacting one of my competitors.
1) Don’t ‘Catablog’
You may be tempted to run post after post featuring your product or service. Don’t be. If you do write about your product on your blog, make sure the post is adding value. For example write about the lifestyle your product provides, build a useful ‘how to’ guide, or feature a case study with reflections from a past customer. The point is to think of your blog as a resource and intersperse this with the product, not the other way around. Take real estate as an example. The best blogs describe the lifestyle a property purchase can bring or the kind of life people can lead if they buy property in a particular locale. They just happen to also have listings. By all means have a big ‘Buy’ button on every page of your blog but use your posts to forge a deeper connection with your readers.
2) Stand For Something
Look hard at your industry and write about how it could be made better for your customers. Find something to stand for that helps fill a gap in service or quality. Too many blogs are content copy-cat machines. They just rehash what has been said before and don’t add to the conversation. Use your blog to say something new. Take a different angle, disagree with what others are saying, point out what is being missed or consider what may happen in the future. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. I’ve seen bloggers campaign for more transparency, for social responsibility or improved ethical practices and then deliver this in their businesses. You’ll find that while you’re campaigning you’ll also be building a ‘community of interest’ on your blog and gaining your market’s trust.
3) Become The Community Destination
This one works best for real estate and travel bloggers but there are lessons for other business blogs. Some of the best real estate blogs document the businesses in their neighborhood, cover the hiking trails, have photos of the sunsets from different locations or document every viewpoint in the area. These blogs succeed by being at the center of their own community, a place where every real estate agent wants to be. For other businesses, try and write about the broader ecosystem of products and services that you’re part of. Consider writing a series on your market covering the issues that are most important to your audience. Do this consistently and you’ll stamp your knowledge on your niche. Perhaps you can even provide a tool, review some software, or write a guide on how to use a popular service in your industry.
4) Write Like A Friend Or Neighbor
Don’t use your blog to broadcast or lecture your readers. Get your tone right. You want to connect emotionally, not just intellectually. For example if you’re writing about the market, by all means include charts, spreadsheets and data. But tease out the story behind the numbers and the meaning behind the trends. Whatever business you’re in, make sure you’re answering the “So what?” question for your readers.
5) Make It A Two-Way Conversation
Communities thrive on conversations. Get these going on your blog. Encourage readers to interact with your blog by asking questions, hosting a forum, running a blogging contest or holding reader surveys. You can take the interaction a step further by turning your best blog commentators into guest bloggers or even inviting your best guest bloggers as editors or forum administrators. Do this and you’ll be building an actual community on your blog rather than just writing for one. Do these 5 things consistently and you’ll build intimacy and a strong emotional connection with your market base. We all know that people do business with people they like and trust. Use your blog to put you in that category.
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Photo by Nial Kennedy