Why small firms should blog…

Credit goes to Steve Clayton (Microsoft) for this post on his blog.

An article was published by Phil Muncaster in the UK’s IT Week magazine (October 9th 2006) – http://www.itweek.co.uk/itweek/news/2165262/businesses-failing-cash-blogs that was entitled “Businesses failing to cash in on blogs”. It got me thinking.

“According to research of 2000 UK SME’s by Fasthosts that Phil quoted, nearly half of SME firms understand the business benefits of corporate blogs (which I doubt highly) but only 3% have plans to start one”. Mad eh? Here is why Steve thinks they should:

It’s a differentiator: clearly this research shows your competitors are not blogging so maybe you should? Get in there early, lead the way and grab your audience. That’s what English Cut did with significant commercial success.
Your customers will soon expect it: well they will as soon as your competitors give them a way to talk to them and have an ongoing dialogue in a way this is becoming increasingly common. If Dell, GM, Carphone Warehouse and others are doing it (and benefiting) shouldn’t you be?
It’s not as hard as you think: creating a good blog is time consuming but it’s getting easier and easier with tools like Technorati helping you raise your profile, Windows Live Writer making it as easy to blog as write a Word document,
You control the message: Steve attended a great seminar with Matthew Stibbe about how to write well (I’ve got lots to learn) and one thing that Steve took away is that ad agencies, PR companies and those kind of tactics have their place but often dilute your core message with marketing doublespeak. When you control the message, it’s likely to be more respected, authentic and honest. Which means people are more likely to listen.
People will find you: Trust me, search engines make you very find-able. I often look at my referrer logs to my blog (use Statcounter for free) and you’d be amazed at how people find you with the most obscure searches on Google imaginable. Write your stuff, do it frequently and be honest and people will find you. Trust me.
The Google effect: I know several small businesses who pay money to appear on Google (and MSN) sponsored ad links. They get some business from it for sure and it’s clearly a good business for Google. Here is my secret though – I have *never* clicked on a sponsored link on Google for the simple reason that it is sponsored – to me it’s artificial and I bet I’m not the only one who loses the use of their right eye when using Google and doesn’t even see that list of sponsored links over there. What does this mean though? Well if you blog often enough and with intelligent use of titles and keywords you will organically rise up the Google rankings. I’ve been amazed at my own rise for pretty broadly used words like Vista so it proves it can be done. I’m pretty sure that if I wanted to appear top of Google’s search for “Chiswick High Street” I could do so within about 3 months with some focused blogging. It’s a reasonably popular search on Google and has low competition for keywords. I setup my CHS store directory, blog about the place, generate some decent traffic and then sell some links to Foxtons, Barnard Marcus, Lom Bok and off we go…hmmm
You will find your voice: the Fasthost research showed people were put off by what to say and how to say it. I was when I started blogging but your friends and customers will soon help you shape that as they did for me. There are tonnes of places to get advice on this anyway and I’ve listed some below. Frankly, that’s just a crap excuse.

Handy Resources

Suw Charman/MSN’s How to Blog for Business – A Guide to Corporate Blogging
ProBlogger’s 31 Days to Building a Better Blog
Beginner’s Guide to Business Blogging – Originally a limited release, now available for free
The Rise and Fall Of The Hit by Chris Anderson
The Corporate Weblog Manifesto by Robert Scoble
Naked Conversations
The HughTrain
The Stormhoek Guide To Wine Blogging

English Cut is a great case study on how a business can promote its services through blogging!
However, are there other small business blogger success stories? Contact me please, I’d love to interview you!

Author: Jas

Jas Dhaliwal is a highly experienced International Social Media Strategist. Currently working as AVG Technologies, Director of Communities and Online Engagement, he specialises in building and engaging with social communities across the web. Born and bred in London, he is passionate about technology and social anthropology. Prior to AVG, Jas launched the social media program for Microsoft’s MVP Award program. Jas holds a BSc (Hons) in Information Systems and has an MBA from Brunel University in London, England. You can follow Jas as @Jas on Twitter or on Google+