Starting your company blog: How to promote your posts

Previously in our series about starting your company blog, we discussed how to plot your editorial strategy and the elements of a great blog post. Today we’ll talk about how to promote your blog posts. The tips offered here are based on what we learned from launching ChicagoNow, a network of 350+ blogs.

Make sure you’re ready first

Before announcing your blog to the world, double check everything. Check for spelling and grammar errors, test all of your links and look at your website in different browsers and on different computers. It’s a good idea to share your blog with a couple of close friends who can also eyeball it and offer feedback.

Be sure to publish a few back posts. Readers don’t want to read just a “Welcome to my blog post” entry when they land on your blog for the first time. They want to read several posts so they can decide if your blog is one worth returning to.

Don’t forget the basics, too. Your blog should have an about page and a contact page. The about page explains who you are and what your blog is about.  Your contact page can be a contact form or it can list your actual contact information. It’s your call how much you share on both the about and contact pages. Since this is a company blog, we recommend erring on the side of professionalism.

To get the word out, send personalized emails to your contacts

Use the announcement of your new blog as a chance to personally reconnect with old friends, peers and clients. Think of it like sending holiday cards. Yes, it will take quite a bit more time to send personalized notes–but the actual results will make it worth the effort. One, you’ll strengthen your relationship with old contacts. Two, your personal touch will encourage them to actually click on the link to your blog.

In the very beginning, your blog will depend on your real-life contacts. You need them to return to your blog regularly, to share it with their friends and to link to your blog from their own blogs. This is how you start to build an audience of people who have never met you IRL (in real life).

Add your blog address to your email signature and your business cards

It’s basic advice, but this is something many companies neglect to do. To keep your blog address short and memorable, we recommend the url www.yourcompanyname.com/blog.

If you don’t feel comfortable giving your blog address out to everyone, you can make special cards to promote your blog. This card could also include your Twitter username, which we’ll talk about in a bit.

Link to your latest post on Facebook

Once your blog is up and running, Facebook is a great way to share your latest blog posts.  All you need to do is attach the link from your blog post (make sure it’s the permalink url and not the blog’s general url) onto the wall of your Facebook profile page. The link will appear as an update on your friends’ Facebook news feeds; they can click on the link and be taken directly to your blog post.

Of course, you may be uncomfortable sharing your company blog posts with your personal friends. This is understandable. Fortunately, there are a couple of great workarounds.

On your personal Facebook account, you can create Facebook Lists. Facebook Lists are lists of people you’ve hand-selected from your followers. You might create one list for all of your family members, another for your closet friends and a third for your colleagues.  Once you’ve created your lists, you can customize the privacy settings for each list and control who sees what.

To learn how to create a Facebook list, you can watch our recent interview with ABC’s Judy Hsu.

If you have already have a Facebook fan page set up for your business, that’s an excellent way to promote your company blog. Just like on your personal Facebook page, you can attach links to your latest blog posts. Any Facebook users who have “liked” your Facebook fan page will receive your fan page’s updates in their personal news feeds.

In the weeks ahead, we’ll talk more about creating an effective Facebook fan page for your business.

Start tweeting

Contrary to popular belief, Twitter is not just a place to talk about what you ate for breakfast in 140 characters or less. It is a micro-blogging platform and one of the most efficient ways to promote your blog posts.

For example, last night 37signals’ Jason Fried tweeted a link to the interview we did with him last week about planning your editorial strategy. Jason has more than 46,000 followers on Twitter and thus, in less than 24 hours, our interview has been retweeted 40 times. The link has been seen by tens of thousands of people today. Talk about real-time results.

In the weeks ahead, we will also talk more about tweeting effectively. For now, the basics:

  • Keep your profile professional. A photo of yourself or your company logo works great. Be sure to include a link to your blog in your profile.
  • Follow wisely. You want to follow people who you can learn from and who will follow you back. Chances are these are two different kinds of people. Thought-leaders and celebs will rarely follow you back, though they often share informative and entertaining thoughts. Peers in your industry likely will likely follow you back and even retweets some of your links.
  • Don’t overdo the follows. You want to keep your number of followers very close to the number of people you are following. There’s two reasons for this. One, you will look like a spammer if you follow way more people. Two, Twitter will block you from following more people if the numbers greatly differ.
  • Give 80%, take 20%. The worst thing you can do on Twitter is talk about yourself and your company over and over.  To be a part of the community, you need to truly  listen and respond to the people you are following. That way, when it’s time to promote your blog posts or pose a question for feedback, your followers will be more inclined to respond to you.

Send out an e-newsletter

Chances are you already send e-newsletters to your current and prospective customers. If not, we highly recommend you start sending an e-newsletter out at least quarterly. A great service to use is Constant Contact.

Don’t think you have enough to fill a newsletter? Think again. Your blog posts easily lend themselves to  e-newsletters. What’s more, you can send people from your e-newsletter to your blog and from your blog to your e-newsletter. All you need to do is add a “Subscribe To My E-Newsletter” button on your blog and a “Visit My Blog” call-out on your e-newsletter.

Of course, you’ll want to have fresh content in your e-newsletter. It’s a good idea to write content exclusively for your e-newsletter so readers will have an incentive to keep receiving it. Another idea is to republish blog posts by peers in your industry. You’ll need to get their permission, of course. Chances are they’ll gladly give it, as well as a link to your blog from their own blogs.

-Tracy Samantha Schmidt

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Don’t miss our complete series, Starting Your Company Blog.

Part One: Planning your editorial strategy

Part Two: Elements of a great blog post

Part Three: How to promote your posts