In the past, companies' social media outreach has focused mainly on Facebook and Twitter, but today, blogs are becoming an equally important channel. Blogs are a fantastic way to communicate a property's brand to readers. Unlike other social media channels, companies can completely integrate their corporate identity into their blog, by using the logo, images, colors, fonts, etc. that visually represent your property. Because blogs don't have any restrictions on word count, it enables a property to more effectively communicate its brand "personality" and key messages to readers.
Like with all other marketing activities, it is necessary to create a long-term strategy for your blog. Think about what you would like to accomplish with your blog in the next six months, a year and two years. Once you've decided, create your strategy document. Your initial strategy should include your objectives (both short and long-term), a timeline and schedule of topics at least 1-3 months in advance. Once you've created your strategy, every design, content or marketing decision should be based on accomplishing the goals set out in the document.
Here are some tips on how to create the most effective blog:
- There are many free blog platforms that you can use including Wordpress, Tumblr, Blogger, etc. Do some research before selecting which platform to use because each offers different functionality. For example, Tumblr is designed for micro blogging, which is a hybrid between Twitter posts and traditional blogging. The posts are typically shorter and are more focused on delivering media (video/images), rather than content. Common posts include links, photos, audio, videos, quotes, etc. instead of long articles or text. Obviously, the desired structure and goals of your blog will determine which blog platform will be most effective for you.
- While you can write about your property, your blog cannot be filled with sales messages or you risk turning people off. You need to offer information that will be exciting, useful or interesting for your readers. Consider sharing interesting attractions in your city/town or travel tips. Share articles and blog posts (from other related bloggers) if you feel that the info will be of interest to your readers. Overall, your content should make your readers want to come back over and over again, and hopefully, share the posts with their friends and social media followers.
- Set up your blog so that it automatically shares your new posts with the followers of your various social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Because your social media followers are already interested in your property, they are more likely to read and share your posts.
- If you are sharing articles/info from another source (like an online newspaper article or another blog), it is important to provide proper attribution. Always reference where the post was originally published in the byline (which goes immediately after the title) and quote any content that is taken directly from the original source. Hyperlink to the original source in the byline and again at the end of the post. Remember that you don't need to publish the entire article on your blog; instead, you can pick the best snippets from the article to pique your readers' interest and then offer them the link to read the whole article on the source site.
- Make your blog interactive. Readers should be able to comment about your posts and should be encouraged to provide feedback and create conversations.
- Monitor each post's success, by observing the number of people who read and/or comment, and then adjust your strategy accordingly. Some blogging platforms will offer built-in analytical tools but if not, Google Analytics is a great tool.
- Make sure that your readers can subscribe to your feed so that they won't have to go to your site every day to read your new content. Depending on readers' specific preferences, they can choose to receive your new posts by email, through a news reader or a web portal (like Google Reader). FeedBurner is a great service for bloggers to improve their feed.
- And last but definitely not least, create a blogging schedule and stick with it. Developing a loyal readership is important and this is only accomplished by providing interesting, engaging, useful content on a consistent basis.