Susan Shelby, FSMPS, CPSM President & CEO Rhino PR
Any firm – yes, your firm – can generate the content necessary to start a blog. There are clear benefits to making a blog part of your digital marketing strategy, including online visibility through search engine optimization (SEO), thought leadership as a subject matter expert in your industry, and brand awareness and recognition that can help drive traffic to your web site.
Starting a company blog may seem like a daunting task. Luckily, there is a plethora of uncomplicated and inexpensive options available to design and host a blog. While the mechanics of getting started might be your first concern, your primary focus should be on creating compelling content and promoting it using the right channels. To create and maintain a successful company blog, here are a few pointers:
Getting set up. Launching a company blog is no different than any other marketing task; it starts with determining your goals, identifying your target audience, researching your options, and creating a schedule for execution. Your existing website can host a blog, or a third-party site like WordPress, Blogger, SquareSpace, or Weebly can host it for you. Each platform has its pros and cons, so researching and comparing their features to your marketing goals is a critical step.
Enlist a marketing champion to own the blogging process. This champion should be tasked with brainstorming new blog topics and/or coordinating the development of new ideas with others in the firm. The champion should ensure the right mix of topics to keep the target audience interested. Blog posts could be written by one expert, a collaborating team, or a rotating roster of staff writing what they know most about.
Write about what you know. The success of your blog will depend on the consistent creation of compelling content, written specifically for your target audience. To get people to listen, your blog should be authentic, useful, and interesting. Think about what content you would want to read. What challenges do your readers face? Write posts that offer suggestions and insight to address those challenges. As a guideline, your company blog could follow the 30-30-30-10 rule for content creation:
- 30% Personnel content (e.g., who’s doing what?)
- 30% Firm promotion content (e.g., new projects, project milestones, awards)
- 30% Promoting others (e.g., clients, partners, architectural community, etc.)
- 10% Fun and interesting topics (e.g., out of the office activities, charitable events, etc.)
A few examples: a blog could profile firm leadership, discussing an individual’s design philosophy and highlighting a few personal interests and activities that make a connection with readers. A project-focused blog could focus on construction sequence and leverage photos and video for illustration. A blog is also a good place to promote conference presentations: post the session description in advance of the conference and feature brief profiles of the presenters. Consider using each learning objective as a standalone blog post. Ditto for byline articles: post an executive summary of an article to your blog with a link to the full article on your web site. Finally, light and breezy topics like staff involvement in outside activities such as a softball league, Canstruction, or the IIDA Fashion Show express personality and provide variety to a company blog.
Think ahead. Have a healthy amount of content in place before rolling your blog out to the public. You wouldn’t want to send your target audience to a page with little to no content. If the blog has categories, offer a few posts per page. If the blog is one continuous scroll, have four to six posts ready to go at launch.
Consistency is key. You’ve set up your blog, created its content, and made it live. This is just the beginning. A content calendar of blog topics should be created so that posts are developed in a timely fashion to be issued daily, weekly, or bi-monthly. Whatever frequency you choose, the schedule should be realistic and consistent.
Promote via social media. The most compelling blog post isn’t useful if no one reads it. Help your target audience find your great content.
- Create a targeted email blast that links directly to your blog and/or web site.
- Choose various social media channels to promote a link to the blog. Tailor the “teaser” message specifically for Twitter and Facebook. Ask staff to post a link to their own LinkedIn profiles.
- Feature the post on your website’s home page or recent news section.
- Send the blog out to targeted media outlets, positioning your firm as a subject matter expert and potentially generating future articles on the topic.
- Create a personal email from an influential person inside your firm stating why this blog post is important for recipients to read.
- Provide a link to the blog from relevant language in a proposal or statement of qualifications.
- Submit the blog to industry associations or publications to increase exposure and potential SEO.
Blogging is like any other marketing task that requires you to set goals, research and implement a plan, and analyze results. And you won’t know which posts are bringing traffic to your website unless you track the data. A program like Google Analytics can tell you who’s visiting your website and for how long. If you aren’t getting the exposure you hoped for, refine your blog strategy until you meet your goals.