You’ve now come to the blog implementation stage, this is where all you’ve done so far comes together and you make decisions on how to build the blog itself. One important element to consider when launching a business blog, is how to make the blog fit in with an overall online visual identity of the company. When a visitor lands on the blog, they should immediately recognise it as part of and belonging to the company.
This can be done through the inclusion of logos, colours, fonts, also be done through layout and customisation. Depending on how much your company is willing to invest in the blog is the sign, there are several levels of customisation that can be done.
Of course, the preferred approach is a fully customised blog that looks and feels exactly like the company website and is integrated seamlessly. When taking this approach, it’s important to keep in mind that the nature of a blog is quite different from a normal business website.
You have to design around elements on the blog but don’t currently exist on the website. In other words, some redesigning is required, even if you aim to match the blog to the company website. If your company has a style guide, then this document should be the basis of the blog design. A redesign of this magnitude is not always realistic, at least not in the beginning stages of the blog project. Even so, bringing in a designer specialising in business blog design and your chosen blogging platform, is a sound investment.
If you’re working on a shoestring budget, you can still ensure the visual identity is carried over by following some basic guidelines and thinking about your content in a smart way.
One of the most important elements that must be included in the blog design, is the company logo and name. This should be appended with the word blog or some other significant sign to make it clear the visitor is now on the blog and not the main website.
Next, you must provide a link or links to the main website preferably in the main menu. A common solution is to add an add button from the blog on the main menu of the main website and then copy elements of that menu over to the blog. That means the majority of menu buttons on the blog will be pointing to the main website to have to get creative with the placement of blog specific menu items.
This can be solved with careful planning. Another option; is to have two menus one for the main website and a second one that only shows up on blog pages. This ensures separation between two elements but it’s also more complicated to implement. If your company identity includes key colours or colour schemes then also incorporate them into the blog as well. That goes for background colours, separator colours, link colours and so on. A good place to use key colours in a blog, is in the background of layout elements like the header, sidebar, and footer.
The key here again is to be creating a visual identity, that can also be attributed through the use of fonts and font layouts; to make an effort to match the font family font size and line spacing between the company website and the blog. In addition to designing the blog, the share of visual identity with the main website and the company, you also have to consider how to incorporate blog specific elements in a graceful manner. Chief among these elements or social sharing buttons and comments.
There are many options available here before business blog; it’s important to use clean unobtrusive and professional looking elements and use them sparingly. Finally, all blogs and websites published on the web today, should be mobile friendly, that means ensuring that the blog is responsive or have a mobile option built-in.
Most blogging platforms have both responsive templates and mobile options available. They can usually be configured to fit with your visual identity. The easiest way to ensure your blog is mobile ready is to test it on mobile devices like tablets, smart phones and ensuring the blog is easy to use across these devices. If not you need to change your settings, spending more time with the design to make it work properly.
With goals and strategies in place, technologies picked out, content creators lined up and the design completed. You have everything you need to start the job of setting up and publishing the blog. To get you up and on your way, you may need some tips. First off, create a lot of content before you publish to blog, I recommend to the extent that 60 posts to be estranged into two groups of 30 one for backdated posts and the other for future scheduled posts.
Before you make the blog public, publish 30 backdated posts and spread them over a reasonable time. Anywhere from 3 to 6 months or more. If you have an existing blog or online magazine and you want to move the contents over to the new blog make sure to back date in the published material to the original publishing dates.
This way when visitors come to your site, there is a documentation of content they can find their way through. A blog with only a few entries, is unimpressive and gives a bad feeling. It may be argued that backdating blog posts is insincere but I’d counter that, by saying you’re merely backdating the posts to ensure that the easier to digest for the visitor. A large number of posts published on the same day is confusing for the visitor and makes for poor navigation. The 25 future schedule posts, should also be entered into the system and scheduled to be released on certain days and times. That way, even if you leave the blog to run on its own, new content will be published for a period of time after launch.
This step is important to ensure you don’t launch a blog only to have no content on it. By preparing and scheduling content you give yourself the content team, time to get used to the new situation of having to publish content on an ongoing basis.
I also recommend having 10 to 15 Posts in the system but are stored as drafts. These posts are to be used as fall backs for when no new content is available. This is a safety valve to ensure continuous publication even when things are getting in the way of blogging. Before setting a date for the launch of the blog, set aside time for extensive user testing.
Make the blog public to the staff in your company and have them test the site using all its functions. By having people outside the blogging staff testing the blog, you’ll be alerted to anything that is not as it should be, from confusing navigation to buttons and links that the work and these can be addressed before the launch. In preparation for the launch, contact key stakeholders and industry bloggers to let them know that the blog is going to go online shortly.
You can also give the restricted access to the blog ahead of time to peak their interest. Set the blog up in its final location, well ahead of the launch to ensure all assets work properly to avoid anyone accidentally visiting the blog ahead of time. You can employ to maintenance mode plug-in or module but hides it from the outside world and finally launch the blog in the middle of the night several hours before the official launch.
This gives you time to fix any last-minute issues and deal with them without having eager visitors trying to use the blog if something goes wrong. When launching a blog for business, you have to assume some things will go wrong. Being prepared with existing contents, extensive beta testing, and a preemptive launch; you can minimise the effect of any issues when the blog goes live to the web. The implementation card has a checklist, with all these steps you can use as you prepare for the blog launch, only when all items are checked are you ready to take you’re blogging life to the web.
One of the reasons why blogs are so effective as a marketing tool and why search engines like them so much, is because they constantly have new content; but also means if your blog isn’t publishing content on an ongoing basis, its level of interest will drop and drop quickly. One of the key elements of professional blogging is to publish content on a schedule and that’s what a business blog is all about.
If content is published on a schedule, visitors and search engines alike; will come to expect new content, interest will rise accordingly. Just think of it in newspaper terms, if the newspaper came out only sporadically and at random times, would you go through the trouble of picking up a copy? The answer is probably no, so before the blog is launched sit down with the content team and contributors and work out a schedule. Schedules should have two levels: thematic days and contributors. To make the process of planning content for the blog easier, thematic days should be defined and set; as an example you can say that everyone stay, the blog will publish a Q&A article and every Friday the blog will publish a tutorial.
That way the content team will be able to climb content for future weeks and the visitors will note to come back on certain days for new content. At launch, the blog should not have more than two such predefined days. Setting up thematic days doesn’t mean you can only publish content on both days or that the content must fall under those themes. Quite the contrary, these days are buffers; to ensure content is being produced. They should be interspersed with other content whenever it is available.
That said, I recommend restricting publishing on the blog to most onetime per day for the first several months. Blogging fatigue will kick in at some point and if the publishing schedule is too aggressive off the top, that fatigue will kick in long before the blog has to foothold it needs; both internally and in the public eye. With thematic days to find, you should also make a schedule for the contributors; for each of the thematic days in the next several months a contributor should be assigned; a topic or title should be defined.
That way everyone involved knows what the responsibilities and deadlines are; and what is coming down the pipeline. Any posts that fall outside of the thematic days, should also be schedule and assign properly to ensure publishing distribution and other content team has bandwidth to handle the incoming content. To provide an apparent impression, of what is experiencing with the blog it’s a good idea to create a shared calendar that all involved parties have access too; that way everyone can see what is plan what is currently in the works and when new content will be published.
Getting People to interact with your blog
Getting your blog posts shared on social media is a great way of carrying in new readers and starting a discussion about your company and your brand. To make this happen, you have to ensure your content is shareable and also worth sharing. The trick is to customise the message to the medium; let’s take a look at some best practices on how to get your content out to social media once it’s published and also how to keep the conversation going and encourage further sharing.
Assuming your company has social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and a Google plus page set up, the first thing you should do when publishing a new poll is to post out through these channels. The temptation here is to set up an automated system but blasts posts out all the channels at once using a boxed message, but this is not an effective strategy. Twitter, Facebook, google plus and other social media channels are all very different and all have their own languages.
Customising the message for each channel, will make a big difference in how people interact with it. For Twitter the key is to say something that will catch people’s interest and also encourage them to share or re-tweet the message. Because Twitter only gives you 140 characters and your URL will take up a good portion of these, it’s important to be concise, descriptive and appealing; that usually means re-framing the polls title into a question or conversational statement. While something like did you know solar energy can make your company cool; read more at link; can sound a bit hokey; it’s far more effective than simply saying new post and in the title of the post.
For Facebook and Google plus a longer conversational posts is to be preferred. When posting the link ad some extra information or perspective and provide a brief summary of the posts without giving away all the details. The idea here, is to catch the reader’s interest in an environment where people expect you to be conversational and then drive them to the blog for more detailed analysis.
What’s interesting about Facebook and Google plus, is that many people don’t actually read articles, they like,plus one or share; they just read the post itself along with a description. If the first person who sees your article does not read it they might share it with some friends who will. On Facebook and Google plus you can also use images to further booster the attention your post will get.
This requires a bit of planning and a great picture; usually with some text on it; can be extremely effective. In this scenario you make the image the focal point for the descriptive text pointing to the article in the image description. If the image is appealing, it is likely to be shared even if people don’t know there is a link appended to it and the more shares you get, the higher the likelihood of someone clicking on the link and going to your blog.
The best combination here is the mix of regular link posts, an image link posts in equal measure. For Twitter, it can also be a good idea to post the link several times throughout the day or the week to reach more people. This is also true for Facebook and Google plus but on a longer timescale. One supposes to share. It’s important to interact with anyone with a common thing or sharing on the polls to show you’re making them part of the conversation.