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Get Social: Blog Your Way to New Customers (Part 2 of 2)

May 31, 2016  - Tips for Small Business
why-blog-pt2
Last week we discussed the benefits of starting a blog for your business. If you've selected a platform, and developed your blogging strategy—or perhaps already had a blog that just needs a resurrection—it's time to start writing. Below we will offer content ideas and blogging best practices to get you started on a good path for communicating to customers and prospects.

Content is really what your blog is about and why your readers will want to read, make the decision to follow your blog or, if you are really lucky, share your content with their own network.

Generate Interesting Content Ideas

Now that you have an idea of what you want to accomplish, and have selected the platform, you'll need content. The type of content you create will be heavily influenced by your target audience and your business industry. Here are a few best practices for generating content that your readers will find interesting and valuable:
  • Check out trending news: Changes in the industry, new products, upcoming legislation or other topics concerning your industry can be educational for your readers and build your thought leadership status. If you are a landscape architect, besides blogs on design, plantings, or new mulch choices, you can talk about pesticides, bees and colony collapse disorder, wetlands and more.
  • Tap into your employees: Find matters of interest and tap into enthusiasts. If you own an Auto Body shop and one of your mechanics works on old cars, write about classic cars. Do a series on the different types or build a "feel" to your blog by harkening back to the automobiles of yesteryear by selecting old-time photos and typefaces.
  • Look at what other blogs are doing: Popular right now are step-by-step tutorials or DIY projects. Just consider all the recipe videos you see on Facebook. If you are a builder, offer your expertise and visuals of an easy DIY project and then show what could be accomplished by a professional (such as yourself). Or you could do a step-by-step showing how easy your product or service is to use.
  • Think about your audience: Your target audience members have a lot of interests, and it's ok to write about things that aren't specific to your company's products. For example, we are doing this social series for SMBs because we provide business financing to SMBs. This provides additional value.

Write Memorable Posts

Whether you'll be writing the posts yourself or paying someone else (another employee of freelance writer), you want to make sure they are remarkable and interesting enough to be remembered. Sometimes it's best to start with a general topic and a blog title to get your ideas going. Some tips on writing a great blog title:
  • Your blog title is something to be optimized. You will want to keep it short and pithy, while conveying the content and grabbing attention. It's best to keep to 70 characters or less for Google displays.
  • Be engaging but not misleading. Catch readers interest but don't mislead on the content or they will be frustrated.
  • Include keywords. You don't want to "stuff" your title, but one keyword or one long-tail phrase will help your post be found. 
  • Numbers work well and catch interest. Whether it's a top 10 list, a statistic pulled our of your post or pitching the 3 simple steps to use your product, readers will quickly engage.
Here's a sampling of blog titles to get your creativity flowing.

Follow Best Practices

Lastly, when producing a blog keep in mind to include support information and follow some general best practices to ensure your blog is professional, findable, and engaging. Here are some general best practices outside of writing content:
  • Support your content with links. If you are referencing other blogs or stats from online material, hyperlink to that information. Common practice is to select the pertinent phrase and hyperlink to the URL instead of interrupting the text flow with "read more here". 
  • Use visuals to capture your readers' interest. A good photo with the blog title will draw people. Be sure to use a photo included in your blog library, or if you need to source a photo or graphic outside of that library you must make sure you have the right to use it or you could violate copyright laws. Creative Commons is a good source of free-to-use photography but many photo libraries such as Getty or iStock charge a small fee for the photograph to compensate the artist.
  • Make your content easy to share. Leverage social buttons to make it easy for readers to share your blog to one of their social platforms. This is excellent advertisement and a passive endorsement of your company. In addition, be sure to include links to your own social networks so readers can follow you there, too.
  • Encourage interaction with questions. If your blog is a little controversial, it's sure to elicit comments, but most company blogs try not to be provocative. Instead, ask questions to prompt comments and interactions, and be sure to keep the conversation going by answering those comments or elaborating with your thoughts. An active blog tends to keep readers' interest as they will read through the comments and stay on your site longer.
  • Call to Action, not a sales pitch. You don't want your blog to be a sales pitch, but you also want to make sure readers know where to find out more about you and your company, start a conversation, or deeper reading material on the blog's subject matter. At the end of the blog, you can simply insert a Call to Action (CTA) which can include "Visit our website...", "Learn more about X here", "Sign up to follow our blog" or even ask a specific question to invite comments.
Now it's time for your customers to really get to know you and your business as you build thought leadership and let your personal brand shine through. Tweak your blog along the way, make sure the cadence is optimal not only for you to deliver, but to keep your followers' interest. And be sure to make the best use of your social networks to cross promote and spread your messages.

Our Get Social series continues, and in our next post we'll be covering Social tools you can use to track your progress and engagement. 

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Ascentium Capital offers a wide variety of business financing programs including equipment leasing and short-term business loans for anything from computers or software to equipment that can help you with your move to social.

Contact us today to learn more about how we help businesses like yours.
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