To blog or not to blog?
Many accountants may feel that writing a web-based log, or “blog,” is unnatural or awkward. After all, they’re numbers people who are more inclined toward balancing complicated budgets versus writing witty prose.
But the fact is, by not having a blog, you’re missing out on a tremendous marketing opportunity. According to a recent Marketing Sherpas study, 84% of marketers ranked blogs as either very effective or somewhat effective, higher than any other form of social media.
The numbers say it all
Still on the fence about blogging? For proof that blogs are a worthwhile endeavor, check out these statistics: It has been reported that B2B companies that regularly blog receive 67% more leads every month than companies that do not. Furthermore, 57% of marketers believe they have gained customers simply through blogging.
In addition to providing valuable accounting advice, having a blog allows you to:
- Support your brand.
- Establish you and your firm as accounting profession experts.
- Strengthen existing client relationships and form new ones.
- Boost your search engine ranking to drive Internet traffic to your website.
- Add another customer service tool to your arsenal.
So let’s get started!
Step 1: Define your objectives.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What is the purpose of your blog? Will it be to inform customers and prospects about an area of focus for your practice–or to create a place for dialogue or questions–in a “doctor is in” format?
- What do you want your audience to do? Developing your blog will be a lot easier if you know the answer. Do you want them to visit your website, try a new product, or call you about a certain service?
Step 2: Determine your audience.
Who are you writing for? Are your clients large or small businesses, or are they individuals? Establishing early on whom you’re writing for can help you determine the level of advice or commentary you will give. For example, when writing for individuals, you may assume they have limited or no accounting knowledge. On the other hand, if you’re targeting accounting departments at large corporations, you’ll want to talk shop or share industry buzz.
Step 3: Decide what your key messages will be.
What top three things do you want your audience to know? Make a list of broad messages you want people to know about your work. Then whittle it down to three basic messages. Ensure that in some way or the other those messages (in essence, not verbatim) are included in every post you make.
Step 4: Develop your content.
A recent Custom Content Council survey shows 61% of consumers say they feel better about a business that offers custom content and, in turn, are more likely to buy from that company.
Your best bet is to blog about the benefits your products and services provide as opposed to the features of the product itself. Doing so helps you relate better with your audience, and it also prevents your blog from reading like a sales pitch. Focus on answering questions or solving problems your clients and prospects have.
For content ideas, review industry news websites, social media sites, your white papers, client correspondence and questions you commonly get asked, and customer surveys. The list goes on and on, but you get the point.
Step 5: Set up your blog.
If you don’t already have a hosted site to which you can post your blog, there are many free options, such as WordPress, Blogspot, Tumblr, Vox, and Typepad. They offer various templates and tools that make it easy to get set up in a matter of minutes. Keep in mind, however, that unless you pay for hosting services, you’ll be assigned a web address that includes their company name, such as: http://www.yourblogname.wordpress.com or http://www.yourblogname.blogspot.com
Step 6: Start posting!
Now that you’re all set up and know what your content will be, make sure that you know and use the tools available to you. Break up text-heavy passages by attaching photos and videos. Survey your readers. These elements can not only help engage your readers, they can help bump your blog up in search engines.
The time you post your blog is also important, as there are certain times of days and weeks that people are most likely to check out social media. Consider posting at 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., or 6 p.m. on the three middle days of the week.
Step 7: Spread the word.
People have to be able to find your blog, and the more ways you tell people about it, the better off you’ll be. Post a link to it from all of your company social media sites, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter pages. Feature an introductory paragraph to your blog on your company’s home page and link to it from there. List the link on your business card. You may even consider posting it to your personal pages, too. Conversely, make sure your blog links back to your company website and social media.
Step 8: Make maintaining your blog a priority.
Keeping your blog current is perhaps the greatest challenge in blogging. Consistency is key; you can’t simply post whenever you want to. Your clients likely expect content on a regular basis.
Set a content schedule and stick with it. Decide how often you’ll post–once a day, week, and so on. Develop a content calendar that details post times and topics so you’ll know what you’ll post about and when.
To make it easy to schedule and publish your posts, use status update schedulers, such as Hootsuite or Cotweet. They’re free, and they enable you to post updates to various social networking sites all at once, at the times you designate.
Blogging is a great way to establish and strengthen customer relationships. In the process, you become a trusted source of information and provide a handy customer service tool. But ultimately, it enables you to strengthen your brand while increasing your bottom line.