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    This post is the 4th part of the series which looks at the 5 key elements of creating a successful Business Blog. These elements are:

    ReadReplyReturn – Recommend – RSS

    Let’s turn our attention to the fourth ‘R, which is:

    This could also have been R for Refer, but I prefer the concept of recommending which has a more positive connotation and when someone recommends your Blog, that is a very positive thing!

    Online “Word of Mouth” recommendations
    Recommending can be done in many ways including simply telling people about the blog – and the simplest way is so often the best and most effective! Online, this type of ‘word of mouth’ is achieved through reference and linking the lifeblood of the blogosphere. The main difference, of course, is that rather than just telling one person, they are recommending your post to all the people who read their blog.

    References from posts
    Writing posts which reference another blog is the best way to recommend them in doing so, you are likely to refer directly to the original article and then develop the points it raises or give your own thoughts on them. A post can also be referred to in an article or indeed in a comment. In each case, the author is giving a clear indication that the content is valuable and acts as a personal recommendation that their readers should visit the blog to read the full post.

    Follow up with those who recommend you
    When you are referenced and thereby recommended from another blog, the likelihood is that the blogger will also use a trackback, and so you will be aware of the link that has been made. If possible, you should consider commenting on their new post and also thanking them for the reference. What does this achieve? It allows you to contribute additional information, to develop the conversation further and also to progress the relationship.

    Blogroll or Recommended List
    Perhaps the simplest way to be recommended in a Blog, and yet the one which will take the most time, is to be added to its Blogroll – the Blogroll is the term used to indicate Recommended Blogs and is a series of links which will be found on most serious blogs. On some these lists can seem never ending, however, this is only likely to happen once you have established a strong relationship with the owner of that blog.

    Contacting Bloggers
    You can always actively seek out other Bloggers to refer to one of your posts. This is not quite as unusual as it may seem, though it is important to go about it in the right way. You can contact bloggers who write in similar areas to yourself with details of one of your posts that they may find interesting if you have researched properly and your post is of good quality, there will be some who reference the post on their blog and hence link back to you. Not exactly active recommendation but certainly a way to spread the word and allow those who did not know you previously the opportunity to recommend you to their readers. It is only advisable to do this occasionally and on posts which really warrant it.

    Keep doing the right things well
    However, except for these unusual circumstances, in general how do we get someone to recommend us? Well, by continuing to do the other elements correctly in ensuring that we get people returning regularly to our Blog, making sure the content they read there is of consistently high quality and of relevance to them, which in turn will make sure that they feel confident in recommending it.

    These are PERSONAL recommendations
    At the end of the day, it is not something that you can force someone into. Nor should you want to. By linking to you, they are effectively giving you a personal recommendation to their own readers which reflects on themselves. In essence, when you recommend a blog to someone it is like inviting them to join a network or a community, just as if you are sharing something important with them.

    And remember that these types of recommendations come from the most important source: from your readers – from people and not from computer generated links.

    Key Elements: write posts which warrant recommendations, follow up trackbacks, continue quality content, develop relationships into communities, treat personal recommendations with gratitude

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    5. 5 ‘R’s of Business Blogging – a Summary

    This post is the 3rd part of the series which looks at the 5 key elements of creating a successful Business Blog. These elements are:

    ReadReply – Return – RecommendRSS>

    Let’s turn our attention to the third of the 5 Rs, which is:

    If people are interested in what you are writing about and find value in it then the likelihood is that they will return to read more. By maintaining the quality of your posts and demonstrating your expertise on a consistent basis, you will develop not only a loyal readership but you will also be developing a level of trust and a bond between yourself and those reading your Blog.

    Targeted, quality content
    In planning a Business Blog, one of the key elements to decide is who is the intended audience of the blog. If we have managed to maintain this focus with posts whose content is directly relevant to our target group and of high quality, then we are on the way to exceeding their expectations and encouraging regular readers. They will not come back just to read excerpts from your product portfolio which are nothing more than classified ads. They will, however, return to hear more of the same original, interesting and information based opinion that drew them in the first place.

    An inviting “Look & Feel”
    You should also make your Blog look inviting you need to make a good first impression to turn visitors into regular readers so let your graphics and the format of your Blog help you. Two things that you definitely want to avoid:

    • using a default template which then puts you in the same category as thousands of others. You need to differentiate yourself and so let the look and feel of your Blog help to display the quality of its content;

    • and, secondly, just having long pages of text. Break up the text perhaps using images or graphs, include bulleted lists where appropriate and use other formatting to keep the look interesting.

    Make it easy to return
    As you have persuaded them to return, make it easy for them to do so. RSS [the 5th R] is the ideal way to achieve this for blogs which we will examine later, either directly or even via email. But dont forget about the inclusion of a newsletter on your Blog if that is appropriate which can also direct readers back to you RSS and newsletters can work well hand in hand. If nothing else, at least suggest that they put your Blog in their Favourites on their browser, and then show them how to do that.

    Entice them with a series
    You can also encourage them back by the way you structure what you are writing. For example, if you write a series of posts on a single subject which attracts attention, then you are encouraging your readers back again to read the rest of the articles in the series. In the same way, you can pre-announce certain topics ahead of posting them so that people are eager to return to check for them.

    Be THE place for information
    Develop your Blog as THE place to go to for information on your niche area. In addition to demonstrating your own ideas and thoughts, make sure you reference and provide links to other relevant articles and also invite in other people to write a post or a short series. These guest bloggers will give an additional dimension to your Blog, assuming the subject matter remains focused, and will add kudos to what you are doing. Readers will return because you will be providing all the information they require on your chosen subject area – it may be available elsewhere on the web, but they KNOW they can find it on your Blog so that’s where they go.

    Easy Navigation especially to Key posts
    Once they have returned to your Blog, make sure that it is easy to navigate and make sure that all of the information can easily be found and the posts are categorised sensibly. It is also a good idea to highlight your key articles so that they can easily be found just create a page with links to all your main articles and then create a special link to it in your sidebar.

    Finally, remember that getting your current readers to return is easier than attracting new readers, just as it has been proven time and time again in business that it costs more to find a new customer than to keep the ones that you have. So make as much effort to get current readers to return as you do attracting new ones.

    Key elements: maintain focus on your readers, make posts easy to find, make your Blog look appealing, develop trust and a bond, become THE information source in your niche, make it easy to return

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    5. 5 ‘R’s of Business Blogging – a Summary

    This post is the 2nd part of the series which looks at the 5 key elements of creating a successful Business Blog. These elements are:

    Read – Reply – ReturnRecommendRSS

    Let’s turn our attention to the second of the 5 Rs, which is:

    In general, most of us like to be given the chance to express our views and opinions on subjects we are interested in we also like to have them listened to. This is excellent news because it is exactly what we want to happen on our Business Blog we need people to voice their opinions, thoughts, ideas and concerns because of the interaction they bring.

    Listen and Reply
    When these opinions are directed at your business, then you need to be able to both listen to them and respond to them. A key function of a Blog is that it gives us exactly this ability, with readers able to express their opinions on the posts through the Comments feature. Your Business Blog therefore serves the dual purpose of allowing readers to voice their opinions and at the same time providing you with the facility to reply to them, perhaps respond to their concerns and, in the process, start a dialogue.

    Get to love comments
    Therefore, unless there are very specific reasons why not, you should always allow people to comment on your blog and also make sure that you have the ability to deal with them. Whether the comments you receive contain information, praise or criticism, you need to deal with them openly and correctly. You can achieve a huge amount by doing this, gaining respect in the process, especially when responding to negative comments. You will also encourage additional comments by the way that you have dealt with previous ones.

    Create the desire to reply
    To get people to reply and voice their opinion, we need to have interested the reader enough for them to want to post a comment and ideally have either challenged or inspired them as well. While a controversial post can attract a higher number of responses, it may not be wise to take this route unless it fits with your overall plan for your blog. What is more appropriate is creating subject matter which elicits interest and positive reaction rather than controversy.

    Aim for group interaction
    As we get multiple replies, the communication moves past a simple single interaction and starts to develop more of a community or network feel, with your blog at the very heart of it. The interaction may start as a one-to-one between you and one other but, as the community expands, it will develop into one to many and then many to many conversations. All of this will start to create relationships at a number of levels.

    Actively encourage comments
    As you can see, getting responses is vital to taking a Blog to the next stage so dont sit back and wait for comments help to initiate them, either on your own blog or those of others. Dont be afraid to openly and candidly ask for comments you should feel comfortable to encourage or challenge people to reply, or ask them for information. Start that conversation!

    Do as you would be done
    You will also tend to encourage comments on your own posts by commenting on other peoples. As you leave constructive comments on other blogs which add to their posts, you will encourage a dialogue which will no doubt also follow you back to your own blog. Once you show that you are prepared to take the time and effort on others blogs, they will reciprocate on yours.

    Finally, remember that although the comments feature will be the main way for people to reply to you, there is also your profile which should contain your contact details. People may be more comfortable using this method, so make sure that it is easily accessible and contains all of the relevant information.

    Key elements: make your posts worthy of replies, allow readers to comment, encourage and ask for replies, respond to the comments, post relevant comments on other blogs, help to develop a network

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    5. 5 ‘R’s of Business Blogging – a Summary

    Just as many of us were brought up on the 4 Ps of traditional marketing, in Business Blogging, I believe that there are 5 Rs on which we need to focus our attention if we are going to create a successful and sustainable Business Blog.

    These 5 key elements of creating a successful Business Blog are:

    Simply put, we need to create and maintain a Blog which in the first instance will attract visitors and then encourage them to particpate by replying to our posts. Following on from that, we need to ensure it provides sufficient value or creates enough interest to make these visitors return and become regular readers as well as recommend our Blog to others. The 5th ‘R’ of RSS underpins all of the others.

    Our goal should be to put all the necessary elements in place on our Blog to allow these 5 Rs to happen as smoothly and as automatically as possible. In doing so, we will have created a Blog which fulfils both our readers requirements and our own business needs.

    Let’s look at the first of the 5 Rs, which is:

    Our first challenge is to get someone to read our blog. Here, the quality of what we write in the posts will obviously be important but, before that, we have to attract the readers to our Blog so that they can find out what we are writing about and how good it is!

    In many cases, the only elements that they have to make the decision on will be the name of the Blog and the title of the post. These are effectively the headlines which should capture the attention of the readers and, as any good copywriter knows, the headline is crucial in getting people to read the rest of the article. In blogs, doubly so, because these elements may be the only thing that they see when they find you in Search Engines, for example. So spend time on these first when you set up your blog and then each time that you write it.

    You also need to make sure that you promote your Blog well you need to let potential readers know what you are writing about and where they can find you. In fact, you need to let them know that your blog exists at all! So use all of the tools that are at your disposal: clear links on your website, make as much use of Search Engines as you can with search engine friendly structure and posts; make sure that you submit your Blog to Blog directories, RSS directories and general online directories; get your RSS feeds found by them as well. Ping after every post ideally automatically! Promote your blog on your business cards, stationery, email signature and wherever someone comes in contact with you or your business. You want to ensure that you spread the word as widely as possible, so make the best of all the opportunities.

    Search Engines are also an excellent source of new readers so give your Blog every chance to be found. While a well written, focussed Blog is excellent Search Engine material in itself, it you are able to increase its attractiveness further through additional Search Engine Optimisation, then you should do so. You need to build these elements on top of a solid base of quality content though remember who you are aiming this at.

    There are some blogs which can get readership levels up very quickly by being contentious, by provoking or attacking in the posts. This is particularly effective if the target is a well known figure or idea. However, for most business blogs, we are looking to attract readers with positive ideas rather than negative ones, so this approach should only be considered in certain special circumstances.

    Key elements: consistent quality content, attractive title, optimised posts, good blog promotion

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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