Blogging and Social Media have come a long way.
Blogs evolved from the concept of an online journal. When first conceived, they were used mainly by people to keep personal notes, post pictures and ideas. Blogs were seen as something housewives and artists used to create online presence. This is no longer the case. Now, many businesses have blogs.
Social Media was much the same way. Viewed at first as a tool for students to connect, Facebook is now successfully used for online business marketing. Other social media sites are catching up fast. Sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Flickr are becoming business essentials.
So what can a blog and social media do for your local business website?
People like to feel they know the people they are doing business with. They like to feel they can trust the business. They like to know the business is community oriented and involved. This is all part of the more general 'social marketing' concept. The process of communicating with people and building relationships can take place online, the same as offline.
For traditional businesses this concept is sometimes hard to convey. The internet seems foreign and even overwhelming. However, it is where people want to access information. A blog on a business website, and integrating social media, can be used to inform customers of current news or offers, educate, and entertain. With many customers, and potential new business already online, it makes sense to utilize this new source of connecting with people.
Community events, charities and even small events hosted by the business such as celebrations, birthday parties, and classes, can be advertised online. Pictures can be quickly and easily posted online, including those of customers enjoying the events. Blogs and social media are effective ways to integrate social marketing in your online efforts, and a way for your customer to get to know the business and what you do in the community.
Blogs will bring traffic to your website. While your business may be a traditional local business without online sales, it is still important to bring traffic to your site because your customers are online even if they aren’t buying a product or service from you online. Traffic means people who are interested in stopping by the physical store are stopping by your website to see what you are all about. Blogs that are updated frequently will help improve search engine ranking and will increase your traffic and potential client base.
Blogs and social media give you a real time connection to your customers, more so than your website does. They should be kept current, updated on a frequent basis. Where your website may be static and offer great information, the blog and social media is where they get current communication from your business.
Four years ago, in a BusinessWeek article for May 2, 2005, http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_18/b3931001_mz001.htm, it states there are 9 million blogs with 40,000 new blogs each day. These numbers have grown significantly since then.
More and more businesses are reaching their customers through blogs as part of their social marketing endeavors. Facebook, a social website that loves pictures, has more than 120 million users log on every day. Twitter, the micro blog that likes video links, is fast approaching with over 3 million “tweets” being sent a day. Can your local business really afford to miss using these valuable tools?