Everything you need to set-up, develop & promote a successful Business Blog

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    No, I really do mean it, why do you link to your blog?

    I’m thinking here of the people on business or social networking sites who insist on blindly linking to their blog (as well as their website) from their profile because they have been given a space to do so. Great if you have a blog which you keep updated but why do it when it hasnt been touched for several months? For me thats like proudly linking to your website, encouraging me to visit and then all I find is a big Under Construction sign or the hosting companys holding page. It looks bad and its bad for business.

    The whole point of having a business blog that it tells the reader more about you, markets what you do and opens up a conversation or connection, all of which is likely to reflect positively on you and your business. But a blog where the most recent entry is from the previous year not only doesnt add anything positive to peoples perception of you and your business, it can be distinctly negative.

    So why do people still do it is it that they think it’s still worth maintaining a link just in case it helps with Google? Maybe they just added it and forgot about it as part of a frenzied attempt to sign up with as many social networking sites and forums as possible. Bad move. Every profile you create adds to the pool of information about you on the internet its best to treat them with respect and keep track. The internet has a long memory, for good or for bad.

    From a professional perspective, its particularly disappointing because many of the profiles I read are in fact small business owners who are highly specialised in what they do and clearly have much to offer. Ideal candidates for a successful and focused business blog. More than that, by actively participating in networking sites theyve already shown a real understanding that building trust and confidence online can add so much to their business, leading to referrals and generating real partnership opportunities. All things which running a business blog can also offer in bucket loads.

    But not if its left to die. So even if its just once a week, keep your blog live and then make sure that you do link to it! If not, then please delete that link until you do seriously, its a lot better for your business that way.

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    BT Web Seminar and London Social Networking EventAs you may be aware, I have started doing some blogging for British Telecom on their BT Business Blog which is aimed at providing small and medium sized companies with online information and news which will help their businesses.

    In addition, I’m taking part in two linked events which are happening this Thursday – one online and the other offline in London – both of which I hope will be of interest to you!

    Firstly, there is a Web Seminar on Online communities, Social Networking and Blogging which is just one of a series of web seminars that BT run as part of their Business Club activities. It’s free to particpate in and you can find a summary and how to register on their website.

    As part of the web seminar, you will also have the chance to learn more about the BT Tradespace service which is an online community that brings small businesses and individual sellers together with potential customers to do business. Basic membership of Tradespace is also free so it is certainly worthwhile finding out more about it and setting up an account.

    On the same day, BT are also holding a small social networking evening in London, partly to follow up on the topics raised in the Web Seminar as myself and other participants from the seminar will be attending. Apparently, there are still some places available, so if you are in London then you should consider coming along to chat with other like-minded business people, learn about blogs and online communities for business … oh, and there’s some light refreshments too!

    The event is taking place in the private Royale room of RubyBlue, Leicester Square, London from 6pm. If you would like to come along, just complete the short registration form on the BT Business Blog and hopefully I’ll see you there.

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    Calls to actionWell, this weekend, I’ve been doing a fair bit of decorating at home in readiness for our imminent arrival at home. This had a couple of consequences: firstly, it reminded me that I’m still no Michelangelo with a paintbrush and roller and, secondly, it gave me the opportunity to listen to the radio rather more than I have done for a while.

    One of the things that intrigued me, apart from the fact that I still recognised a lot of the music, was the way the adverts have developed since I used to listen to radio driving about in the car. The medium has clearly evolved quite substantially since then and become more sophisticated – certainly, advertisers have developed a number of different ways of attracting and holding our attention with their adverts.

    Putting my marketing hat on for a moment, I found it interesting to listen to the way in which the calls to action were done. Of course in days gone by, the only real call to action was to get people to phone for more information. Interactive and immediate. You call, you can ask questions, you can chat to someone.

    Obviously that’s still used but, naturally enough, advertisers have added websites into the mix over the last few years, so we now get:

    Go to www dot la-de-dah dot com for more information.

    Thats okay, but while it’s immediate, its not interactive in the case of most websites. Unlike using the phone, you can’t easily ask specific questions so you have to make do with the information available. Surely what we need to get back to is the interactive element that a telephone call could offer so that we can advance the selling process more quickly? If so, then presumably that’s something that blogs can help us with by providing an online route for the conversation to start to take place.

    The other thing is how to encourage people to visit your site. Rather than a simple go to, how about join us at or visit us or even talk to us at. Somehow that seems more inviting and so more likely to be acted upon. Do you agree? If you do, then what call to action would you suggest?

    Or maybe the paint fumes have gone to my head and I’m just imagining the whole thing.

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    BBC and YouTubeIn any interesting move today, and I believe the first of its kind, the BBC has announced that it has made a deal with YouTube to distribute its content on three YouTube channels. You can find the full announcement on the BBC website.

    Unfortunately, this doesnt mean that they’ll be scrapping the TV license anytime soon, as it happens its only snippets rather than full programmes in fact, if anything, it really isnt aimed at a UK audience, as evidenced by the fact that one of the 3 channels will not even be available to UK residents!

    The original article terms the as “groundbreaking and controversial” – while I don’t know that it really goes that far, one thing is clear. When an organisation like the BBC decides to employ online and social networking methods to promote their broadcast content, then it is certainly significant and the likelihood is that others will follow. Its also shows a level of appreciation of the benefits of these different distribution media and, perhaps, a step towards greater mutual cooperation where appropriate in the future.

    This also comes hot on the heels of statements released earlier this year that YouTube was intending to share revenues with content providers. It seems that they haven’t wasted much time in putting that into practice in a large way – so let’s see if some of the other major players and smaller contributors follow suit.

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    At the end of 2006 and perhaps prompted by Time’s lead article declaring “Person of the Year: You“, there was a lot of talk about user generated content, thats to say information on sites being supplied by those using the site rather than those who set it up and run it.

    There are many good examples of websites which work primarily on content which has been generated by the users themselves. Sites such as YouTube and MySpace are ones which have attracted a great deal of press coverage at the social end of the spectrum.

    Business and Networking Examples

    In business, there are equally impressive examples. Amazon contains a huge amount of product information but arguably more valuable are the reviews written by people who have read the books. Similarly, sites such as TripAdvisor contain lots of information but the dynamic part comes from guests who leave their own opinions on the hotels and holidays mentioned.

    In social and business networking, many sites are primarily online structures or shells which allow their members to post articles, share information and advice or generally interact in forums. Their challenge lies in creating something which is appealing and then attracting users with similar interests who will use them and participate. Many do this very well and it shows in their success and their growth.

    Collaboration on Business Blogs

    But it is not only sites of this size which can benefit from this trend towards online collaboration and sharing of information. Your company blog offers the ideal place for exactly this type of cooperation and community building after all, it is targeted at a specific group

    So, for your own business, look at the benefit that you can accrue by getting some of the stakeholders in your company working with you:

    • Sales & Partner Networks: companies with non competing sales or distribution networks can use their blogs as a central source of information that their partners can use to increase their sales and coverage, as well as share their own experiences

    • Internal Communications: from a company perspective, tap into the collective ideas that bounce around inside of a company with nowhere to go. Give them an outlet and a chance to be expressed. Using an internal blog, you allow them not only to be put forward but also developed as others add to the initial idea

    • Market Research: tap into the combined ideas of your most valuable assets your customers. Give them a place (open or private) where they can suggest new ideas or show how they are using your products and services already. It may be quite eye opening

    • Product Development: in certain industries, particularly in hi-tech, allowing developers and customers to put forward new ideas extends the type of research and product marketing that you can achieve 100 fold. You also increase the chances of developing a group of product evangelists into the bargain

    As you can see, you don’t need a site the size of Amazon to enjoy the benefits that collaboration can bring – your business blog has all the elements that you need provided that you focus it correctly.

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