Is your small business really ready to blog?

By on January 31, 2012 / Social Media, Understanding Your Audience / Leave a comment

Some of the most popular websites these days are corporate blogs (Open Forum, anyone?) — not traditional news publishers, and it’s easy to understand why many small-business owners are wondering if they too should jump into the game. And perhaps they should — after all, blogging is a great way to raise a company’s profile, connect with new clients and strengthen SEO.

But that doesn’t mean blogging is right for every company. Here are five signs your small business isn’t ready to blog:

  • You think you need a “review process” for each post that involves multiple people and more than a few minutes. You get a double-NO if any of those mandatory reviewers are lawyers. For content marketing and social media to really benefit your small business, you have to trust your people and give up at least a little control here. If you don’t trust your workers to represent the company appropriately, you have much bigger problems than whether you need a blog. Go address those first.
  • You’re not patient. It takes a while to build trust in your content, especially if you’re a vendor in an industry. You will see quick payoff in your SEO results if you’re using your long-tail keywords intelligently, but actual sales that come specifically from leads generated by your blog are going to be much slower in coming. In fact, even if the blog is a success, you may never be able to link a single sale directly to it. Your primary goal here should be to position yourself as a trustworthy source of information about your industry.
  • You’re terrified of the notion of linking directly to competitors’ content. A robust industry blog will require you to have civilized, public conversations with your competitors. A generous spirit in this regard  is what will make you a thought leader in your industry; it also has some powerful SEO advantages.
  • You don’t see the point of any content that isn’t a sales pitch. A blog that primarily features company press releases and repackaged sales materials is a blog that no one is going to read. (This is a common flaw in white papers and webinars, too.) A successful business blog focuses on what the desired audience wants to read, not what the company wishes the audience wants to read.
  • You’re mostly excited about the fact that it’s “free.” Indeed, the relative ease of setting up a WordPress account, grabbing a free template and slapping in your logo is appealing, especially if you’ve been investing heavily in traditional marketing and advertising with little payoff. But that approach isn’t likely to lead to success. To make a true comparison between the cost of content marketing vs. traditional advertising, you’ll need to look closely at the real costs. For a blog, that includes setting aside some money for a good web designer upfront, as well as the time it will take to produce the content and promote it effectively.

What are some other signs that a small business isn’t ready to blog?

Image credit: RapidEye

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13 Comments

  1. Jon-Mikel Bailey
    4:49 pm on February 1, 2012

    Exactly! Nothing comes easy and with the internet and social media, nothing exists in a vacuum. Someday businesses will come out of their caves, squint into the sunlight that is the information age and wonder what happened and why they missed it.

    Reply

  2. Amber Wallace
    7:26 pm on February 1, 2012

    Great points! I think the trustworthy factor is a big one — often-times businesses find it hard to let go. I think another underlying current here is time. Not only the patience aspect, but the time that goes into creating good content, managing comments, and such. It’s the cost factor mentioned here, and the trust factor. I think in some cases individuals (and businesses) don’t recognize the work involved, and don’t have the time or resources… and rather than not blogging, too often a blog is setup (as you said, it’s free!), kept up for a short while, and then abandoned. Seeing this always makes me sad.

    Reply

    • Mary Ellen Slayter
      8:04 pm on February 1, 2012

      An obviously neglected business blog is worse than no blog at all, IMO.

      Reply

      • Arsie
        8:03 pm on March 2, 2012

        I used to write for newspapers and had a column for years. I’m finding that a blog is very similar to a newspaper column and takes a while to build up readership. I stick to current news items but the format is usually in a humorous or caustic vein. I never pick on the little people just the big people with the big mouths (politicians etc.). My blog has been around for close to two years now and has grown in readership by a lot thanks to the latest Google change-ups. If you Google What does going rogue mean? chances are I will be in the top three choices. My point being that you don’t have to be a Huffington Post blogger to garner readership you just have to keep at it and write what you know and like. If you are passionate about writing it will show.

        Reply

  3. Jo
    6:45 pm on February 2, 2012

    Great post. I particularly liked the first point. That sort of worry is often what stops companies getting involved with social media at all, not just blogging. And it’s usually linked to the false view that not being involved will prevent anything ‘bad’ being said online about the company.

    Reply

    • Mary Ellen Slayter
      6:55 pm on February 2, 2012

      Jo, I believe that’s called the “If I didn’t see it, it didn’t happen approach.”

      It’s what makes peek-a-boo with babies so fun, but it’s a lousy strategy for a business.

      Reply

  4. Mayra Ruiz-McPherson
    9:12 pm on February 2, 2012

    I love this post :) … and yeah, here’s another sign your small business isn’t ready to blog: You’re thinking you can hire teenagers or outsource to content farmhouses for generating tons of posts for $10 per day.

    Oh, and another … if you think blogs are “digital vomit” (yeah, I had a client say that before!! “All blogs are nothing but just digital vomit!” LOL ya …right!) and your mentality about blogs is just leaning towards negative (“they are a waste of time” or “no one reads blogs anyways” etc.) then you are NOT ready. It’s hard enough to commit to blogging and generating original, good content when the culture in an organization embraces it. But if the support and enthusiasm from the top is missing or downright spewing its own ‘digital vomit’ :) about the effort to blog, the blog is doomed before it ever begins.

    Reply

  5. How to know if your company is ready to launch a blog
    2:49 pm on February 3, 2012

    [...] best wishes –  and a caveat.  We counsel a variation on the advice proferred recently by Reputation Capitalization’s Mary Slayter.  We have our own checklist we offer our [...]

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  6. Is your small business really ready to blog? | Social media news | Scoop.it
    3:43 pm on February 3, 2012

    [...] repcapitalmedia.com – Today, 9:43 AM [...]

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  8. 3 Easily Fixable Business Blogging MistakesReputation Capital: Content Marketing Strategy, Copywriting, Social Media Consulting
    4:16 pm on May 2, 2012

    [...] some cases, the culture of the company is the problem. (See my previous post on “Is your small business really ready to blog?” for a list of signs that your company isn’t blog-compatible.) Those kinds of issues [...]

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  9. Pam M Daylen
    9:15 pm on May 17, 2012

    Mayra,
    I love the comment about outsourcing. When I was researching SM businesses, one provider emphasized his organized outsourcing strategies. Granted, I didn’t do any business with them.
    Mary, thank you for letting me know that I am ready to blog for my business and which direction I’d better take. If I care about it, hopefully I can put in a way that others care about it, too. In some ways, blogging for business is a mere extension of the business that has always existed but never been documented. We were already thinking about our blog topics long before blogging ever came along. People what to know that we’re thinking about what they care about. In the case of a genuine business, that’s really all we think about.

    Reply

  10. DailyMoneyNetwork – 10 Reasons Your Small Business Shouldn’t Start a Blog
    8:39 am on July 19, 2012

    [...] that doesn’t mean blogging is right for your small business, as the blog Reputation Capital pointed out earlier this week. Here are a few reasons you might [...]

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