blog comments

Why Businesses Need Corporate Blogs

corporate blogsThis is a guest post from Farhan Niazi, an IT professional with expertise in the fields of Web and Database Development. Niazi is the founder of SMB Tech Guide and is currently serving Sarhad University of Science and Information Technology, Pakistan as the Deputy Director of Information Technology.

There are many ways to reach your customers, but only a few that actually work. One of the ways that works the best is a business or corporate blog. If utilized properly you have a great reach for new business.

You could advertise on billboards, in magazines and newspapers, on radio and television. These are the traditional ways to attract business, and in the not-too-distant past, that was how you got your company name out there. But then, the Internet happened, which was the death knell for the yellow pages. Yes, there still are phone books, but how much business do you actuall get from the phone book?

The Internet allows an individual to research a problem and to browse different companies before a buying decision is made. Sometimes, that decision will hinge on what information the potential buyer finds, and where it is found. Many decisions can come down to pure feeling—a gut reaction to how much the person likes your web design, or how memorable your website and your information is. All things such as pricing being equal, if the buyer thinks a particular seller is honest and trustworthy—or feels a bond or connection to that seller—then a buying decision is made, and business is done.

A great way to establish that bond or connection is through a corporate blog. They can make a difference in your company’s success, and can market and reach out to customers while you are closed. Here are three reasons why your business should have one:

1) It’s an easily maintained, informal way to connect with your customers. It offers a less formal information-providing approach. It’s so much better than a weekly newspaper ad as it's not as salesy, and costs less than the ad does. You can have a “Forum” section at the end of each entry where customers can seek help, ask questions or express their opinions. Often, when people find that there’s a way for them to leave comments, it helps to bring down the walls that can exist. The blog also offers a way for visitors to learn more about your company and its products, achievements and innovations.

2) It gives your business a “voice”. To continue with the above thought—if you have a landscaping company, you could write a blog entry once a week on the subject of, for example, lawn care. When is it best to water your lawn? When should you apply pesticides, and what kind? When should you “feed” it? This kind of free advice doesn’t take away from your business—on the contrary, it adds to it. Based on your advice, which of these two do you suppose is more likely to receive a phone call from a customer whose yard had gotten out of control while he and his family were on vacation—the landscaping company that advertises on billboards?  Or, the one whose owner takes the time each week to advise the homeowner how best to care their outdoor surroundings? You know, actually answering the common customer questions in the blog instead of wasting time dealing with those phone calls from people who might not even buy from you.

3) It provides a basis for an effective “inbound marketing” campaign. By making available a forum discussion area at the end of your blog entry, you give your customers a voice to comment, as mentioned before. However, to have that voice they must have first signed up on your site for a user name and password, and provided at least some personal information, which is now available as a valuable sales lead.

There are few ways to increase your readership that are easier and less expensive than starting a blog. The sooner you get going with it, the sooner you can begin to see some positive results.

Need to get your business blog started? Then download our guide to learning how to blog below. It will cover everything from writing your first post and choosing your topics to selecting photos and writing meta descriptions!


To Reply or Not to Reply to Blog Comments – That is the Question

blog commentsThis is a guest post from Alexandrea Roman, who is an EFL instruction materials writer for business English language learners across Europe. She is also a freelance writer for various websites. She co-writes for the blog The Background Story.

Bloggers love to joke about hunching over their computers and refreshing the page every five
minutes to see if any comment comes in for a recently published post. Well, many of them aren't exactly kidding. It's a well-known fact that most bloggers live for comments!

Comments let business bloggers know that not only do people read their content, but that people also care enough about it to leave a reaction. Whether it's positive or negative is another story – suffice to say, either one beats being ignored.

Given how precious comments are, it's not surprising to see business bloggers -- especially the newer ones -- respond to every comment they get. But as a blog grows, replying to every comment can be impractical and time-consuming. It can also be quite frustrating for those readers who are subscribed to comments. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine getting an email notification for every “Thank you!” you leave behind. A couple wouldn't be so bad, but what about hundreds of responses? That can be quite annoying.

However, leaving all comments unanswered is not a good thing, either. An interactive blog attracts more visitors, which is something all bloggers aspire to have. This leaves you to go for the middle ground. It's not always easy to determine which comments you should reply to, but here are five guidelines to follow that can make the decision easier:

1) Comments with questions – This one is pretty obvious. When your readers ask you something, they expect to hear from you. Basic Internet etiquette calls for you to answer their questions. So yes, reply to this kind of comments and get those exchanges of ideas going.

2) Comments with stories/anecdotes/discussions – Some readers enjoy expanding on your content with their own input. Whether you agree with them or not, if people found the time to type something lengthy and insightful to your post, it's a great idea for you to carry on with the dialogue.

3) Comments with disagreeing ideas – Not everyone will see things the way you see them. Some people will leave comments to let you know that they disagree with you. It's easy to gloss over them, but why do that when you can start meaningful discussions instead? Just make sure to be polite when replying, and do keep an open mind. It's counterproductive to get
into an online fight, so don't confuse a disagreeing idea with an offensive or hurtful comment. The latter should be deleted immediately.

4) Comments from first-time visitors – Acknowledge new readers (especially subscribers) by replying to their comments. It's a good way to make them feel welcome, and it can also
encourage them to return to your blog again and again. However, take note that some
people leave comments just once and never go back again. They do this not because they
feel strongly about your content, but because they just want a link back to their site. You
can easily tell them apart from truly interested readers because they don't have anything
more substantial to say other than “Great post” or a variant of it. You can also prevent against that by making every link in the comments section a "no follow", so it doesn't count toward SEO credit.

5) Comments from frequent visitors – Even a modestly successful blog has avid followers.
Engage in conversation with your blog's loyal fans every now and then. This is the best way
for you to get to know them. After all, the more you know your readers, the more you know
what kind of content appeals to them. If you engage with these people, it's likely you can convert them into a lead and/or customer.

Still feeling guilty about not replying to all comments? Here's a final tip: Comment on your readers' blogs instead. That's the best way you can show your gratitude. Hits and comments thrill them as much as they thrill you, so you better return the favor.