Blogging Mistakes Most Corporate Bloggers Still Make
Sometimes it really breaks my heart to see blogging mistakes that are so fundamental that they render a corporate blog useless while at the same time being so easy to fix that it's gross negligence keep on failing like this.
It's nothing I make up, I'm not talking about blogs that are already established. I am speaking of mostly corporate blogs that either started recently or are more or less alive for a few years already.
By now most business owners have understood that you need a blog to be seen on the Web.
The content marketing hype and Google's latest updates made simple websites that only sell without providing some value for free second rate. In case you want to get people to buy these days you first need to get their attention either directly or succeeding on search and social media where again you need a blog to send people to.
Installing WordPress, telling someone with basic copywriting skills to blog from to time and expect huge results doesn't work though.
Here are the actual mistakes that are very common with business blogs run by companies:
Ugly, outdated or not customized WordPress theme
Many business blogs are neglected. Nobody is really responsible for the blog in the company. It has been set up by the sysadmin one day and has never been touched ever since in many cases. In Germany people do not even translate the WordPress Themes properly. People who really read blogs get put off by such blogs.
It's really impolite to force your French, Spanish or German readers "post a comment" just beacuse you were to lazy to translate it in your theme. Also using a K2 default theme from the early days of WordPress is like saying "look this blogs is unattended".
It's not a big issue to customize a WordPress theme depending on your business objectives.
Do you want much engagement and sharing? Do you want to collect leads or even sell on your blog? You need to embed this functionality in the blog like a second skin.
Rare, irregular postings
A blog is like a mix of a diary and a daily newspaper. Both of them require daily attention ideally. 3 posts a week are enough to thrive once the blog works but anything below two posts a week is not enough to capture an audience and make it stay.
In case you really only manage to blog weekly or monthly at least make sure that it's somehow regular.
Try to publish at the start of the month or at the end of the week so regular readers know what to expect and when.
Some people tend to believe that every blog posts has to be huge and perfect so they spend to much work on the one ideal post while their audience goes somewhere else. It's a bigger blogging mistake not to blog frequently than to blog often and make some mistakes while at it.
Impersonal, public relations writing style
Whenever I see a post by "admin" I assume the blog is either a splog or of poor quality. Even when your writers have names but aren't allowed to voice their own opinions and have to abide by strict corporate rules of dealing with the public the result is impersonal, public relations writing style. Talking at people instead of talking with them results in a monologue nobody listens to.
Don't broadcast, try to start a conversation with each post.
Blogging is not about advertising your company or your products. Blogging is about the reader. What does s/he like, need and want? Give it to the reader as often as possible. First of course find out who your readers are and what they like, need and want.
Use real language you would use with your friends at a party without corporate newspeak, lots of buzzwords and self important superlatives. In case you're awesome let your audience tell you so.
Long, fuzzy or cryptic headlines
While reading corporate blogs, even those from Google, it's often very difficult to understand what a post is about. Often it starts with the most important part of a blog post, the headline. It should be both enticing and still explaining what it's about.
A leading blogger can call his blog post "this is it" but you can't.
You can do it when you have a regular audience but before you have one that devours each of your postings make sure you can motivate the casual readers that happen to visit your blog to stay and read the posts actually.
No, tiny or downright wrong images on blog posts
Most people are so busy on the Web that they scan texts and lists of headlines or increasingly just the images that appear along the posts. No image, a tiny image or the wrong image may mean that they don't even look at your headline. An image catches the attention so add one, make it big enough to be able to discern what it shows and this should be really eye-catching.
Do not just illustrate your words with a matching but perfectly boring image nobody cares about.
The image should also work by itself. So always ask yourself whether you would like to show the image to someone else because it's so striking or whether it just works when you read the text.
No value proposition on the post level
What is the actual value you provide via your blog? Do your blog save time for your readers because you pre-select resources for them or summarize current developments? Does your blog enable and empower your readers to "do it yourself" whatever you are blogging about? Is your blog eye opening to the extent where your readers can changes their mindset?
What is the exact value on the post level you provide?
How do you word the value proposition? An
- "best of
is a great value proposition for time saving. A
- "how to"
value proposition is great for DIY posts.
Self centered choice of topics
Do you think you are the most important person in the world? Well, a lot of people think like that, that's why they are not interested in you. They want to know more about things they care about. Why should they care about you? Unless you are an hyper-established brand like Apple that can get way with anything literally you do not want to talk about yourself all the time on your blog.
Your blog is not about you, it's about your readers.
So even in cases where you write about yourself make sure to add a benefit to such posts for your readers. Make them them replicate your successes or learn from your failures.
Cultivating an audience on third party sites
Many businesses try to catch the latest hype. It may be Facebook, Tumblr or Pinterest there is a new must use site every year. Why are these sites so hyped? It's their business model. They need critical mass as fast as possible so they can sell their users back to advertisers. The more users the better, thus the Robert Scobles and the likes are hailing each new platform. I made the same mistakes with a few platforms like StumbleUpon for example. Luckily I always focused on my blogs so that the lost time and effort hasn't been as bad.
What will happen when Facebook shuts down your account
or is not the cool kid on the block anymore like happened my MySpace, Friendster and the likes before them? Will you still have an audience? Make sure to get people to subscribe to your blog via RSS or Mail. Concentrate your social media efforts on bringing your audience back to your own place, your blog.
You see these are pretty basic mistakes, nothing spectacular you can't overcome once you can identify them as mistakes. Invest some time and effort and you can not only fix those issues but also will be able to reach more people and convince them to stay with you. Your blog is your castle and your content is king. Like in chess you won't succeed with "great content" only but without it you won't for sure.
Most importantly: Always blog as a person and never as a company exec. Your kingdom are the people who read your blog but don't forget we live in a democracy not a monarchy so you can't force them to read your blog.
* Creative Commons image by William Cho