I love writing articles for my blog, whether that’s on catwalk trends or how to make fulfilling your goals for this year more enjoyable.
But like other small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, I’ve got my fingers in lots of digital marketing pies; I also enjoy writing articles on LinkedIn, and sharing photos on Instagram, and starting interesting conversations on Twitter.
These channels are continuously developing their functionality, whether that’s increasing character count or linking up with other platforms, and using them for marketing is more exciting than ever.
So the question is – is a blog better for my business than social media?
SLICK WEBSITES + SUPER SOCIAL MARKETING
Services like SquareSpace now offer beautifully-designed, seriously pared-back websites for entrepreneurs and businesses. If you have a bricks-and-mortar retail store, the idea of having a website that’s anything more than a clear and communicative home page seems a bit unnecessary.
And if you can now gain customers from your carefully-curated Instagram feed or Twitter recommendations, you might not need to convince people with length blog articles.
Long-form writing isn’t right for every business. It takes time, planning, and resource dedicated to dreaming up and getting down on paper lots of relevant ideas which you and your customers will benefit from.
But there are still plenty of reasons to have a blog for your small business, and keep it regularly updated.
IT’S ALL YOUR CONTENT UNDER ONE ROOF
The most important thing for me about my blog is that it’s got all my ideas and support for clients under one roof. Rather than direct clients to an insightful Instagram photo from six weeks ago (which will take me ages to find anyway), I can direct them to a blog post which is simpler to find thanks to good categorisation and tagging.
A blog means you can link articles to other articles easily, showing clear connections between your ideas and sending potential customers on a journey (which encourages them to stay longer on your site).
It’s a portfolio of your expertise that’s easy to gather together and direct people to; spreading yourself across multiple social media channels means getting people to stick around and ‘join the dots’ is a lot harder.
IT’S YOUR PROFESSIONAL BRAND AND VOICE
While increasingly we’re seeing visual content take the place of the written word, and entrepreneurs are encouraged to explore infographics, photo tutorials or video, clients still want to absorb you through what you say in person and in writing.
That’s why Instagram photographs have captions and even the shortest emails can take hours to craft.
Keeping a business blog means you can articulate your brand through a clear tone of voice – a personality that helps people feel as if you’re really there with them.
Video is another key way to create this, but not everyone is confident on camera (and it takes real skill not to fidget, mutter or waffle).
In a blog post, you can be yourself – a crisp, edited version of yourself that speaks directly to your client’s needs.
IT DEMONSTRATES YOUR USP
I’m going to go out on a limb here: while all other digital marketing channels for entrepreneurs, especially social media, can be populated with curated content without any negative repercussions, only your blog has to be original.
On Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest you can re-post, re-tweet and re-pin other people’s content; in fact, that’s actively encouraged. On LinkedIn, sharing and reacting to other people’s updates is seen as a good networking strategy, and the articles are often repeated content from personal blogs or brand websites.
But on your blog, the idea of using someone else’s content or not writing something original is frowned upon – both by customers and by Google. Even Buzzfeed, the king of curated content, writes every blog article from a unique point of view, linking together images and ideas in an original way.
Your blog is the way for you to show your originality and demonstrate your business’ USP. You should be doing that on social media, but you’ll also be curating and sharing other people’s ideas; other people’s USPs.
Your blog is for you, your USP and your customers – not anyone else’s.
IT BUILDS TRUST IN YOUR BRAND
Showing your USP and your tone of voice very clearly on a regularly updated blog can also build real trust in your brand. This can be the difference between a client considering you as an option, and actively wanting to work with you – whether they take that next step on the customer journey towards conversion.
Having a regularly updated blog will not gain you more customers as a small business if the rest of your website doesn’t have key information a customer needs. This includes opening hours, clear descriptions of services and contact details.
Some customers aren’t bothered about a blog. In BrightLocal’s 2016 survey of 800 American consumers, only 2% said a blog was important on a local business website and just 3% said not having a blog would stop them from shopping with a local business.
But in a saturated market, having an informative, helpful and well-written blog can be the difference between a potential customer and an actual customer. From BrightLocal:
We should clarify that these [like the blog] are good features to have; they will help to inspire trust, establish expertise, answer more tricky questions & even encourage return visits from knowledge hungry customers.
And looking at the stats from their survey, helpful content features like FAQs, customer testimonials, accreditations and a blog are all more important to customers than they were in 2014 – so investing in a blog now could prove very fruitful in the future.
IT GIVES YOU CONTENT FOR SOCIAL MEDIA
One of the biggest struggles about using social media to promote your small business is thinking of what the hell to talk about. Because of the suggested frequency of some of the channels – for example, five times a day for Twitter or twice a day for Instagram – it can be a real struggle to find interesting, relevant content to share with your customers.
As a recent client of mine said, “This social media stuff’s a full time job!”.
Writing for your blog gives you something to share on social media – it’s that simple. You can share your blog posts multiple times in multiple ways on social media, giving you something fresh to talk about on a regular basis (as well as showing off all the good stuff I’ve already mentioned, like your tone of voice and USP).
Rather than simply ‘moving’ content around in the big community of social media through re-tweets and re-posts, you’re adding to the community.
IT KEEPS GOOGLE HAPPY
There are many more exciting things in this life than SEO, but it’s a bit like death and taxes; you can’t avoid it. Considering SEO means you’re considering Google, and considering Google means you’re considering the shopping and search habits of the millions of people who use it every day.
An informed, original, consistent blog for your business means your website is regularly given an injection of content – what Google refers to as ‘freshness’. And the freshness of a website directly affects whether it appears in search ranking or not.
So does the number of people linking to and sharing your website, which is much more likely if you write about things your customers are interested in and find helpful.
Having a blog means your fresh, original content is under your roof (not Twitter’s or Instagram’s) so Google is more likely to display your site in search results and your potential customers are more likely to discover it.
If you’re a small business or an entrepreneur, having a blog on your business website isn’t always going to be the right option; you might find more success in social media, email newsletters or traditional marketing.
But a lot of the time a blog is ignored because businesses don’t have the time, energy or skills to keep it going, even if it might be one of the most successful and cost-effective marketing channels to reach their customer.
Taking the time to work out your customer profile, where they hang out and what sort of content they’ll respond to is key to understanding whether a blog is a waste of time – or an incredibly good investment.
Thanks for reading.
If you know your blog is a great way to reach your customer but want some much-needed support, get in touch to find out how my cost-effective copywriting packages can help you make the most of your blog and social media marketing: firstname.lastname@example.org