Posted tagged ‘Facebook’

5 Simple Tips to Make Small Business Blogging Easy

November 20, 2012

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Writing a small business blog can be a challenge. These 5 simple tips will change your blogging life. Whether you’re just getting started or you’re starting to lose interest in writing your blog, here’s how to generate fresh new posts whenever you want.

5 Simple Tips

  1. Choose a theme
  2. Pick 3-5 topics about that theme
  3. Write down 5 or more points that you want to get across to readers for each topic (do them one at a time over several days or even weeks)
  4. Write a paragraph about each point
  5. Choose a title for your post

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1. Start With a Theme

One of the simplest ways to get going (or get going again) with your small business blog is to think of something you believe your customers would really like to know about your business, services, or products. For a start-up company that might mean picking a theme about how your business is unique when compared to competitors. For an established business you could choose a theme that you see repeated over and over again in customers’ questions. Your theme could be about a specific product or product line or a supplier you value or how one of your services is of great value to your customers.

Write down as many themes as you can think of. Brainstorm with other people, such as employees, friends, even Facebook fans. Ask them what subject themes they would like to read about.  Then write about them. Chances are if they want to read about certain subjects other people do too.

Let’s say I own a small DIY brewing company start-up where customers brew and bottle/can their own beer. For my first theme, I’ll choose brewing techniques. This is an important theme for my company because, well, that’s what we do here. I also come up with future themes: types and classifications of beers and ales, information about the brewing industry (history, latest trends), and so on. I have enough themes to write about now for at least three months ahead.

2. Pick a Few Topics

Once you have your theme,  choose 3-5 topics about that theme. Several topics allow you to create an informational series of articles. This helps to keep readers coming back for more information. You should space your topics out over a few weeks. So, if you picked four topics, you could space the series of articles out over a month (one a week).

For my DIY Brewing Company, I’ll pick the following topics:

  • Mixing the right mash
  • The fermentation process
  • Measuring specific gravity
  • Filtration

3. Make Notes for Each Topic

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Now that you have decided on your topics you need to figure out what you want people to know about those topics. This could include “how-tos” for using a product, or interesting ways that people make use of a product, or why your company chose this product over hundreds of others available in the market, or how your industry is changing and you along with it. The point is to take a different approach from what others are writing about the product or are writing at similar companies about similar topics. You need to differentiate yourself from the herd, as with everything else you do when marketing your company.

For my “Mixing the Right Mash” topic, I’ll write about:

  • Types of mash
  • Pre-mixed mashes
  • Making your own mash
  • Choosing the right ingredients for your mash
  • Mashing tuns (about)

4. Write a Paragraph For Each Note

This might be the most difficult part of the entire blog post process. Blogging tips and techniques can only get you so far, after all. In the end, you’ll need to write a coherent paragraph about each note. You don’t need to limit yourself to one paragraph, though you probably should not write more than three, depending on the topic. Otherwise your post will become far too long.

I start my paragraph about “types of mash” like so: “As a beer brewing hobbyist, you have many different types of mash to choose from.” [Note that I didn’t self-promote by writing: “At DIY Brew we have many types of mash to choose from.” That sounds too much like a commercial and less like an informational article. Always try to write directly to the reader. Imagine that you’re speaking to one other person and instructing that person in a “how-to” manner.]

Then I would go on to list the different types of pre-mixed mashes, and introduce the topic of making your own mash for the next paragraph. Every paragraph should flow naturally into the next. The last sentence of your paragraph should be a natural cue for the first sentence of the next paragraph. For example, it would be more natural to go from “types of mash” to “pre-mixed” and “making your own” than it would be to start discussing mashing tuns (which is the equipment used for cooking the mash).

5. Choose a Title for Your Post

Choose a title that’s interesting and grabs a potential reader’s attention. “Mixing the Right Mash” might be a little dull for this title, but would do if you couldn’t think of something better. Something like “Choosing the Best Mash for the Best Results” might work better. People generally respond to “tips” titles, too (as in “5 Simple Tips to Make Small Business Blogging Easy”). Or you could be really inventive and work your topic points around  “M*A*S*H*” in the title; or maybe I’m just showing my age. You can also look  at my previous post, “12,000 Canadian Facebook Users Dead“, which is about how to spin a topic you’re writing about.

That’s it! It’s that simple. It’s a process and you just have to be methodical in your approach to this “chore”. You can probably see how you could use this process to easily plan an editorial calendar months in advance.

Please let me know if these tips have been helpful. Comment below or let us know on our Facebook page.

12,000 Canadian Facebook Users Dead

November 13, 2012

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You’ve just been drawn in by a misleading headline. But don’t leave! Small business owners, read on. There’s a reason for this headline (and I promise not to do it again).

The Spin

This article probably isn’t what you expected when you first read the headline. You might have been thinking, “OMG, what happened?”, or something like that. In fact, my headline is like many online news article and blog headlines: misleading. The sole purpose of a skewed headline like this is to get your attention and pique your interest so that you will read the article.

You may already have guessed the spin behind this headline. In Canada Facebook has penetrated approximately 55% of the population (statistic from http://www.socialbakers.com). Assuming that, among the 22,500 Canadian deceased people ages 15-64 reported by Statistics Canada in their most recent report on deaths in Canada, we have the 55% Facebook penetration rate of the general population, then 12,340 people who died in 2009 may have had Facebook pages. So, 12,000 Canadian Facebook users are dead (although I’m playing a bit fast and loose with the statistics, I admit). I’m going to teach you in this blog post how not to create deceptive spin. And I’m going to show you how to make your blog post titles more engaging.

The Rationale

If you’re a small business owner with a blog, you do need to get the attention of potential customers. That starts with providing valuable and interesting information on your website and in your blog; but a big part of making that content appealing is picking the right headlines for your blog posts. And by the way, my Facebook-related headline here really is not appropriate for this article. This blog article is about creating engaging blog post titles, not about deceased Facebook users.

I could have called this blog post “How to Choose the Right Titles for Your Blog Posts”. Instead, I chose a dramatic, deliberately misleading title that at once shows how to and how not to choose a blog post title. It actually illustrates both main points of this article.

So how do you pick a good headline for your small business blog?

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The Process

You might be tempted to start with a title and work backward from that to write the article. Generally, this is not a good idea because if you do that you’ll be limiting your creativity. You’ll find yourself stuck wondering how to write something that fits the title. Write your post first, look at it again, give it some dynamic spin if you can, then choose an engaging title that reflects the intent of your content.

But don’t take that last concept too far. One real danger is that you might choose a title that creates an expectation of the blog post content that disappoints your reader, just as I did with the title of this post. There likely will be many readers who come across this post title, click to read it, and then roll their eyes when they realize they’ve been misled. They hit the “Back” button and they’re gone, unlikely to return. That’s what could happen if you mislead readers by an overzealous spin on your title. There is good spin and there is bad spin. Spin is not about lying to your readers.

Initially, you will derive your headline from your editorial schedule and calendar. When you set up your content marketing editorial schedule (and you should already have done this), including planning related social media content posting, you first choose a theme for a series of posts. Then from that theme you drill down to specific subjects to write about and post online. However, it isn’t always enough simply to choose a subject summary as the title.

For example, let’s imagine that you’re a retailer selling widgets and you have just added the latest and greatest widget to your product line. You write an article about the benefits and advantages of these particular widgets over other, similar widgets. You could entitle the article “XYZ Company Adds New Widget to Product Line”, but that’s really not very exciting. “Big deal”, thinks the headline reader, who then yawns and clicks away from your website. So before that happens you need to start thinking about putting spin on the article before you post in order to make it more interesting to your readers.

Going back to our imaginary example, you suddenly remember a customer who had purchased one of your new widgets and took it with her on a recent vacation to Nepal. A good idea at this point would be to go back and do a bit of re-writing to focus more on the customer’s experience of the product. This is your spin.

Getting back to picking a good title, how about this: “Local Woman Takes XYZ Company Widget on Mount Everest Climb”. Although you probably won’t have too many customers who climb Mount Everest, the point is to think of more exciting ways to spin your articles. When your blog article includes information about your own customers using a product in interesting ways, potential customers visiting your website and blog for the first time are intrigued and want to learn more.

Mount Everest

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The example title above helps to raise questions in readers’ minds, such as:

  • “Who is this local woman climbing Mount Everest?”
  •  “Why did she take this company’s product with her?”
  • “Would I benefit from this product?”

Those questions might lead to thoughts like: “Maybe I should check out this company and this product.” That urge potentially leads to increased sales. And increased sales is the whole point of small business blogging. It’s a kind of intense advertising.

However, my perception is that many small business owners who already blog give very little thought to how their blog can generate additional sales, let alone to how the titles of their blog posts contribute to this. At best, they pick a humdrum, functional title that simply describes the subject they’re writing about. Often, this is simply because they don’t plan the article ahead of time. They write a blog post at the last minute and then neglect its title in their haste to get the article posted. But if you don’t engage your readers from the get-go your blog posts will go unread.

The Rules

The reason I chose this as my first subject for this blog is to start you thinking about the underlying concepts or “rules” of good small business blog writing. If you’ve already started writing your business blog and it isn’t producing any new sales leads, I encourage you to go back and take a second look at your existing posts. If you don’t have a business blog yet, then you’re already a step ahead by knowing how to encourage readers to look at your future posts.

Consider the following five general rules as you plan your blog posts and titles:

  1. Don’t mislead.
  2. Do find a fun, interesting, unique (honest) spin.
  3. Don’t “settle” for a mediocre title. Always remember, you’re trying to get new sales.
  4. Do make sure your content fulfills the reader’s expectations of the title.
  5. Do plan ahead so you have time to think about an interesting idea for every post.

Good blogging always includes well-considered post titles.  This comes from advance planning. Do start an editorial calendar and plan your themes and subjects ahead of time. We’ll explore how to do this in future posts, so please follow our blog to learn more.

The Small Business Bloggers’ Blog, is written with the small business owner in mind. Remember: Small business blogs should be about the business and its customers, not about the owner.

Visit Pearce Enterprise Research today to discover how we can help your small business blog generate new sales!