Do I Have to Blog and be Active in Social Media?

Isn't Attractive Web Design Enough?

I'm often asked if regular blogging and social media are really necessary, if the web designer did a nice job. If you live in a small community like Squamish, where there may be no more than 1 or 2 competitors, you’re satisfied with the number of customers you have, and you're not trying to fish in larger, more competitive pond… the answer would be no. If your business is registered with Google+ Local (formerly Google Places), chances are you’ll receive a first page ranking on Google for your business topic in your immediate geographic area. You can just keep doing exactly what you’re doing. Yippee!

But if any of the following apply:

  • you are targeting several communities,
  • you are going after city businesses or customers,
  • you have more than 5 direct competitors,
  • you’ve already lost market share to the competition,
  • you need to grab market share to offset a decline in the economy,
  • you want to grow your business,
  • directories, news sites and blogs are hogging the front page of search results,

you definitely should be creating and publishing incredibly valuable blog posts very regularly; then distributing and promoting them in social media and other online channels.

What is Valuable Content?

Great content begins with knowing who your audience is. After defining your audience persona(s), an editorial strategy and schedule are prepared, keywords are researched and topics chosen.

Your audience does not want to read your company propaganda or news. Prospective customers don’t care if your company added a new sales person with extensive knowledge in selling widgets.

Nothing could be more boring than reading brochure-style blog posts and social media updates. To create a helpful post, you want to provide answers to questions, share how-to information and improve the lives of your audience, without turning it into a sales pitch.

Here's an example:

A garden supply company wouldn’t do very well using social media to blast marketing promotions for their wheel barrows. Facebook “likes”, retweets and Google +1’s would be highly unlikely. Nobody would be subscribing to the blog feed or newsletter to get more garden tool ads each week.

But if the company created and published a helpful series of blog posts on gardening, and distributed and promoted them in social media,  not only would they attract a readership, but the content would be highly shareable.

The wheel barrow could be included in the list of tools a gardener should have on hand for the project covered by the post. And the accompanying photo of a post on pruning could include the make and model filled with the branches clipped from the bushes.

What Blogging and Social Media Do For You

  1. These tactics build your audience and attract prospective customers.
  2. You can expect an increase in search engine rankings and resulting traffic.
  3. They establish you, the author, as the local expert, building awareness and credibility.
  4. People who love your content are likely to share it with other prospective buyers.
  5. When you provide truly useful information, people will want more. You’ll gain subscribers to your blog’s feed and email updates when posts are released.
  6. Your readers will grow to trust your content. So when you offer a very helpful ebook or whitepaper, some of your readers will willingly exchange their contact information in exchange for the downloadable document. You then have the ability to influence their buying decisions on a regular basis by providing more helpful information in your email newsletter.
  7. Over time subscribers become leads that can be nurtured until they mature into customers.

The Takeway

Blogging and social media build connections with prospective customers in a way that old school marketing never could. You're focusing on being helpful, and on the reader. Most business websites are all about the company, it's products and services. Traditional advertising is all about making a sale... in other words, all about you.

Cole Wiebe, WordPress web developer, SquamishCole has been designing and developing websites since 1997. He’s a content strategist and writer, conversion copywriter and online marketing coach.

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