In May I’ll be running a Blogging Workshop at The Building Centre. This blog post looks at what blogging is, and what benefits blogging can have for construction professionals, and for companies too.
What is a Blog?
A blog is an online journal. It is a series of regular articles (posts), posted online, usually by one author but sometimes by a group of authors. Whilst blogs developed as a personal tool for journalling, these days more and more people are blogging for business reasons. A business blog is focused on one theme, and targeted on a specific audience of readers, so that the audience may choose to ‘subscribe’ or sign up to receive new posts when they are published.
Now if you’re going to have a blog it is going to take some work, so let’s have a look at some of the reasons why people blog and the benefits it brings.
Why to blog 1: Demonstrate your Expertise
Everyone in the construction industry is an expert in something, whether it is bricklaying, carbon footprinting or local planning policy. There are things you know that others don’t. If you want to get ahead, do more of what you are good at, or just talk about your passions, a blog is a great way to do it. Make sure you’re going to be writing about something in which you do have an interest and knowledge, even if you don’t think you know all that much yet. Many people I know start blogging because they are learning about a topic and a blog is a way to record their progress. Others find by blogging they suddenly realise just how much they already know.
Many of the best individual blogs I read, like the late Mel Starr’s ‘Elemental’ blog, Casey Rutland’s ‘The Case for BIM’ or Brian Green’s ‘Brickonomics’ share information and ideas with a wider audience because the authors care about something. As a side effect they end up demonstrating what they are good at, what they know, and post-by-post, they build up a footprint of their expertise. Look at these blogs and tell me you don’t know more about the person. A blog is your voice online.
Why to blog 2: Start a Conversation
Social media is about conversations, and a blog is a conversational platform. People can share a post easily with others, whether they use social networks, send on the email or just print it out and put it on someone’s desk. Naturally this will prompt questions, requests for more information, differences of opinion. For this reason blogs have a comment section at the bottom of every post where people can record their responses, ask questions and add their own contribution to a discussion. Some bloggers may even write their own response to yours on their own blog, linking back to yours. In no time at all we are building up a community of interested people.
Comments are a good thing, but you don’t have to publish them all. Good blogging platforms have moderation systems which enable you to manage which comments you publish, set up rules for publishing and handle spam comments efficiently.
Some of the best contacts I have made have initially been made through the comments sections on blogs. If you want to encourage conversations, think about whom you are writing for and make sure to write for them – remember that they can opt out of reading at any time. Ask them questions and rather than covering everything, leave gaps for people to fill with their comments. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
Why to blog 3: Increase website traffic
One effect of blogging that you might not have considered is that if you blog, you get more visitors to your website.
This is because
Why do you want more visitors to your website? Well, as an individual, it might just be flattering and, of course, it would be great if people were interested in what you’ve got to say. But also if more people see your stuff, more of them are likely to be the type of people you would benefit from knowing, so more traffic means more of the other effects we have described above.
So can a Company blog too?
Absolutely, companies can blog and if they do it well they can use a blog to drive traffic to their website and differentiate their products and services from the competition.
As a company, website traffic is the first step to leads. What is more, the type of traffic you will be getting will be higher quality, because you’re writing for an audience who is finding you by longer, less generic search terms. Internet marketing company Hubspot carried out some research in 2009 which showed that companies who blog get more traffic to their websites, more inbound links and have more indexed pages.
However, many of the so-called blogs you see nowadays on construction company websites aren’t actually blogs, they are news feeds. A news feed is about our company, what we’re doing and how great we are. A business blog is about our readers, what they are interested in and how we can help them. Remember that social media is opt-in; it cannot be forced on people. Ask yourself honestly, how many people will be interested to hear about your latest contract win, compared with how many of your prospects will be interested to read a guide about how to do something? This is why good blogging is great for companies. It helps them create good quality, useful content.
How do I learn to blog?
Many people just sign up to a blogging platform, search the internet for blogging advice and get out there and do it, but this can be a hit and miss affair. So two years ago I put together a blogging workshop as part of my social media strategy programme, designed to get you started in the right way, so that you can set out a road map for your blog, plan what you are going to write about, and start writing blog posts the easy way.
Some people come to the workshop because they have a blog but can’t seem to get it working for some reason, but most are new to blogging and recognise that it will be a key plank of their strategy. Companies send their marketing staff sometimes, or professionals who will be writing the blogs themselves. The session is interactive, conversational (of course) and people leave full of ideas and ready to get cracking.
Got any questions about blogging? Why not ask them in the comments below, get in touch or sign up on the course to get started.
Su Butcher works with construction companies to enable them to integrate social tools and other Internet activity for business benefits. Trained in Architecture at the University of Liverpool, she has extensive experience working with architects in business. Su is currently working with The Building Centre to deliver a series of Training Workshops..