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A winning formula for company blogs

Ben Dickens, October 23, 2014

They have the potential to be powerful marketing weapons – retaining customers, acquiring new ones, increasing brand recognition and providing strong material for PR campaigns. So why do so many company blogs struggle to deliver?

While there’s no definitive answer, we at DVO have a pretty good idea of what’s going wrong. At the heart of the problem is a fundamental misconception of what a blog is for. As a journalist, I know the importance of writing for an audience. If you don’t produce stories they want to read, they’ll go elsewhere. And if their interest and tastes change, you have to adapt to cater for them.

The same principle holds for brands. But there’s a tendency amongst marketers to use the company blog to communicate what they would like their customers to read. No matter how great your products or services, drafting posts about the latter has limited readership appeal. Just as in publishing, a company blog should look to chime with a need of existing or prospective customers. The skill is to identify a subject that reflects or builds on your company’s core values and business proposition.

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Instagram’s blog celebrates its users

There are numerous examples of companies who’ve adopted such an approach. The Instagram blog provides a platform for instagrammers to share their experiences of the world through photos and video features, user spotlights and tips. Starbucks takes a rather different tack. Its site is a public brainstorming platform, with customers invited to post suggestions for anything from new drinks to store design.

The Manpower US blog has opted an educative strategy, creating content around the information needs of customers, with a focus on employment law. While General Electric blends, striking photography and video in an online magazine that addresses innovation, science and technology topics as well as issues that concern GE.

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GE taps into innovation, science and technology with its eye-catching blog

All of these blogs have identified subjects and formats that resonate with their customers and, in so doing, promote engagement – a key requirement of any company blog. The underlying justification is that readers are likely to appreciate that you have made an effort to provide them with content that they want to read and enjoy – and, as a consequence, will be more inclined to purchase your products or services, if they’re not already doing so.

The formula works in other ways too. Strong, attractive content that appeals to your audience will strengthen brand recognition. And will also provide a source of PR opportunities – if what you publish is original, innovative and thought-provoking, the media will be interested.

At DVO, we practice what we preach. A current project that encapsulates our thinking is a travel blog we’ve developed for Expedia UK, City Diaries.

The travel sector is saturated with blogs – virtually every mainstream and specialist interest group is pretty well catered for – so you have to come up with something particularly eye-catching to carve out an audience. We noticed that most travel bloggers write about countries they’ve visited in the past, so our big idea was to work with those who actually live in the places we wanted to feature. We would get them to file stories that are timely and of the moment; snapshots into what’s happening right now in their city.

Expedia City Diaries screenshot 2-001

The City Diaries’ homepage

Launched in the summer, City Diaries features weekly columns from writers based in six of Expedia’s top destinations: Berlin, Paris, London, Brighton, New York and Las Vegas. Drawing on their inside knowledge, the contributors recommend the best things to do and when to do them, as well as serve up a combination of local colour and flavour to bring their cities to life.

We’ve put a lot of effort into promoting the blog through social media and have generated a significant volume of traffic to the site through shares. Furthermore, we’re also planning awareness-raising digital PR campaigns based on story themes to expand their reach.

While it’s still early days, an audience for the blog is clearly emerging, bolstering interest in key Expedia sales territories.

So if you if feel it’s time to review your blog strategy or would like to set one up from scratch, get in touch with DVO, a London-based digital marketing agency. Call us on 020 3771 2461, send us an email to iminterested@dvoagency.co.uk or tweet us @DVOAgency.

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