Friday, March 18, 2011

Blogging 101

Blog...B-L-O-G; this four letter word can instill so much dread in business owners navigating the ever-changing interactive world. But a blog need not be intimidating. So, inspired by several small luxury firms who recently told us they still don’t quite understand… here’s our back-to-basics how-to for those still wary of blogging.

First, decide how to host the blog. Using a web-based tool like Blogger or Wordpress is free and simple (and will at least get you started), while hosting the blog on your own website has significant Search Engine Optimization benefits (There’s a joke in the digital world that BLOG stands for... Better Listing On Google). Simple explanation: because you regularly update a blog, and since new content registers with search engines, a regularly hosted blog on your site will help with your SEO.

Second, choose your blogging platform. Wordpress is the darling for its flexibility (best to use if you’re hosting the blog on your site). But there are Blogger, Live Journal, Type Pad and a host of others. This part is really a matter of trying each and seeing which platform you prefer. We personally love using Blogger. While we’re losing out on the SEO benefits, it is very convenient for Miamore Communications because, first: Blogger is Google’s blogging platform and we utilize Google quite a bit. Also, posting is a breeze. After you select a blogging template and personalize it, it is very intuitive, with easy-to-find iconsicons, which allow you to enter links, videos, and pictures.

Third, understand why you are blogging and how a business can best utilize a blog. A perfect illustration: Luxury super store Neiman Marcus recently created its NMDaily Blog, which serves as an informational source to its dedicated customers. With interviews from top designers, pictures from various fashion events, make-up tutorials and Q&As, NMDaily creates a sense of community for Neiman's shoppers. Another benefit to this blog is that it grows the Neiman Marcus brand in the interactive community--readers of the site can "like," "tweet," email and share posts with their friends and family... making them not just shoppers, but individual brand ambassadors. You couldn't pay for this type of advertising! How does a smaller firm similarly utilize blogging? By simply putting an idea out on your blog, or maybe an image with a short and concise caption, you are inviting your consumers into the world of your brand, a world they can identify and feel at "home" with… one to which they develop loyalty. A blog allows not only great exposure for a brand; it also allows you immediate feedback.

Sound great? It is. But, the top thing to consider when starting a blog is the commitment it requires. Blogs are about writing—in order to be effective; research, editing, and writing must go in to each post to make it a quality read. With that said, it's difficult for many businesses to maintain regular postings. Keeping up an actual blog is a serious commitment: either the dedicated time from you or an employee, or financial resources to outsource the work.

If you are still a little uncertain, our best suggestion is to register on Blogger and/or Wordpress, set up a free account and poke around. Also, check out other successful blogs in your business category. Meanwhile, feel free to ask us any questions. We are here to help!

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