Business blogs depend on an army of people who are tapping away into their keyboards each day in the hope that someone will read their ramblings; much of what is typed is ignored and never gets read beyond a mere handful of loyal fans. Yet these hapless bloggers carry on typing away because they have been sold on the benefits of blogging and the need to add content to their website for “search engine optimisation”, or because their bosses demand “five a day” in terms of posting. Meanwhile, even if we do stumble upon their websites, we just click away, move on, disregard their musings.
Not so for the world’s leading mobile phone companies. Today at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona they have announced a bold move in order to fight against the growing influence of the Apple iPhone. Twenty-four of the biggest mobile phone companies have joined together in a cooperative venture to develop “Apps” for every make and style of phone that’s not an iPhone. Analysts, of course, will debate whether or not the cooperation will work and Apple fans will obviously say that nothing can beat the iPhone, no matter what this new venture achieves. But whichever way you look at it, the mobile phone companies have made an impact.
Indeed, the news world has gone rather crazy – within an hour of the announcement, Google was showing that over 1,200 news outlets had covered the story in one way or another. In other words, the announcement clearly had impact. In fact, the mobile world is rather good at that – the iPhone itself, the launch of Google Android phones, the first mobile phones with Skype – and so on. Frequently, the mobile industry presents us with stuff that has an impact.
Now compare that with the typical business blog. How much impact do they make? In fact, you could say that almost all business blogs are “low impact”. For instance, how often are you interested in the changes to their office layout, or the fact that they have just had some new equipment installed? Or what about staff changes – do they have an impact on you? Probably, you couldn’t care less about these things.
Many business blogs – perhaps most of the them – are “low impact”; they present us with trivia, simply because they are searching for something to write. Like the mobile phone industry, the best business blogs are those which have an impact. If your blog is full of low level stuff, trivia or minor internal happenings, your impact is going to be rather low.
So, rather than feel pressured to write something every day, or to fulfil some kind of target for blogging, only write things when they will have an impact. The problem is that like the mobile phone industry, you might only have something to say once a year and you need a huge forum, like the Mobile World Congress to be heard. Occasional impact has to be significant; the chances are that in your business, the level of significance of the impact you could make is less than Google introducing a new laptop, for instance.
What can you do about this dilemma? You clearly need to make an impact if you aren’t to be viewed as trivial, or ignored altogether; yet what you can blog about is not that impactful. Here are some suggestions for things that you can write about that will inevitably have an impact on your audience:
- Write about them Write about your audience, talk about them – not you – and you will connect with them and have an effect. The Sartorialist is a popular blog on fashion design that does just that by being full of photos of real people wearing “real clothes”, rather than skinny models wearing goodness knows what…!
- Include practical ideas Blog about things your audience can do, actions they can take that will directly affect them and help them in their life or business. Chris Garrett’s blog on the business of blogging does exactly that by providing ideas and material you can use and put into practice.
- Give the inside track Provide information that is of real interest to your audience, but which they can’t easily get hold of. The Formula One blog, F1 Fanatic is a good example of this kind of material, giving motor racing fans the information they want, but can’t easily or quickly get for themselves.
- Talk about people If your blog provides all the gossip in your industry, you will get readers because gossip has impact, like it or not. We are fascinated by the “goings on” of other people which is why blogs like Heckler Spray do so well.
- Provide resources When your blog has useful lists, white papers, downloads or links to relevant software and services, your blog will make an impact. The highly successful Mashable does this with hundreds of blog posts full of useful links and resources for the world of social media.
- Be controversial Don’t say the same as everyone else on a topic. Be different. Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science blog is a great example of someone who is prepared to stand up to an established community and say something different.
- Entertain Say something funny; amuse people or make them cry, even titillate them. In other words, induce an emotional response. The wacky Blame it on the Voices blog will usually raise a smile in its faithful audience.
These are just a few of the ways you can make an impact. If you have nothing to say, keep quiet; don’t blog because you feel you ought to or because you “have to”. However, your blog will only be read if it has an impact and if you can’t make the same level impact as the mobile phone industry has done today, then you could use the ideas above to trigger some blog posts that will get you noticed.