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Using Blogging and Social Media to Promote Your Business
2009, Q4 (March 28, 2010)
By Andrea Wenger, Membership Manager, Carolina Chapter


In this tight economy, consultants and job seekers must differentiate themselves and their skills if they hope to compete for the limited positions available. One way to do that is to establish an online presence. Despite the uncertainty in the job market, you can be sure of one thing: hiring managers will Google you. If there are photos of you on Facebook downing tequila shots at your cousin’s wedding, potential employers will find them. If you’ve got 600 followers on Twitter and you’ve guest-blogged for Guy Kawasaki, potential employers will find that as well. In today’s marketplace, you become recognized as an expert by acting like an expert and sharing your knowledge with the world.

Social Networking

Social networking isn’t just about catching up with high school friends you haven’t thought about in 15 years (as much fun as that can be). It’s also a way to connect with peers in your profession. These people have contacts and information that can further your career. If you friend them on Facebook, you become a more visible part of their life. You learn more about the activities they’re involved in—activities that maybe you should get involved in, too.
Ask how you can help your contacts achieve their goals, and they in turn will help you achieve yours.

In Linking In to Pay It Forward, author Chuck Hester stresses the importance of “giving to get” in social media. Don’t present yourself as a business logo—people want to deal with a person. “Be part of the community,” says Hester. Ask how you can help your contacts achieve their goals, and they in turn will help you achieve yours. Be yourself. Use your own name. Build a rapport with people in different industries.

Forty-five-year-olds are on social media more than some of the younger ones, Hester says. This is especially true on Twitter. Teenagers text. Adults tweet.

Twitter is about sharing information that might interest your contacts. For technical communicators, that might include the following:

Twitter is a way to meet interesting people with common interests, says Jason Peck of eWay Direct. It’s a source of links to articles and pieces of information that you weren’t looking for but need to know. It helps you keep up with what’s going on in your field and with your competitors. If you’re considering using Twitter for marketing purposes, you can try attracting customers with Twitter-only offers. Another approach is to sponsor prizes—everyone who mentions your company in a tweet gets entered into a weekly drawing.

However, don’t stop using the marketing strategies that are working for you just to use Twitter. Social media is not about selling to people. It’s about creating relationships. “People do business with their friends,” says Peck. Initiate two-way conversations with your contacts. Ask for feedback.

For the best results on Twitter, fill out your profile, including your company name and web address. Then, start following people. Many of them will follow you back. When tweeting, keep in mind the importance of the signal-to-noise ratio. Did your mother ever tell you, “Don’t talk unless you have something to say?” This is especially true on Twitter. The value you provide your followers must exceed the value of the time they spend reading your tweets.


A blog is a web log that allows you to publish short articles about your area of expertise. What’s the advantage of blogging? “Search engine visibility,” said Tom Johnson in his presentation on blogging at the 2009 STC Summit. “Being number one on the first page of Google, you will sell a product.”

In their training course “Blogging for Business,” Eileen Batson and Alice Osborn stress that a blog helps you showcase your knowledge and get your name in front of a large audience. Daily traffic of five to ten hits a day can lead to a thousand people who know your name and your product.

“The blog is a great mechanism because it allows you to generate tons of content,” says Johnson. “You have an unlimited opportunity to write post after post about what your users are searching for—the problems, the issues they’re coming up with—and it allows you to put it right in front of them as they’re Googling it.”

Low- or no-cost blogs—like those offered by Wordpress.com or Blogger.com—are an inexpensive alternative to a website. They also provide a mechanism for comments and feedback from customers. “Build a rapport,” says Batson. “It’s all about community.”

Adding a blog to an existing website allows you to add fresh content on a regular basis. It can also draw traffic to your site that would otherwise be missed, say Batson and Osborn.

However, “You can’t just write in a normal way,” says Johnson. Your posts must be search-engine optimized. Figure out what keywords people are searching for. Put those terms into the title and the opening paragraph. The more content in the post, the more opportunities you have to inject keywords. But after about 500 words, it probably becomes irrelevant, Johnson suggests.

“It’s the story that makes blog content appealing—that makes anything appealing.”

Key words are not the only way to drive traffic, says Johnson. “Google…trusts other people’s opinions about your site more than your site itself.” If other sites backlink to yours, your site will rise in the rankings.

To get backlinks, you must have good content. What defines good content? “Story, transparency, honesty, voice,” says Johnson. “It’s the story that makes blog content appealing—that makes anything appealing.” It’s the introduction of conflict that moves the story along. “Even if it’s not a controversial issue, it can still ignite your audience.”

Another tip for getting backlinks is to add comments to other blogs. If you read a post and can add your expertise, leave a comment and include a link to your blog. If you like the post, include a link to it on your blog. Make yourself visible to people who share your interests, and in time, they’ll gravitate toward your site.

To draw the reader in, include photos or other images in your posts. Sources of free photos include stock.xchng, everystockphoto, and morguefile.

Composing a good title is also important, because many people use feedreaders. If fans subscribe to your blog, their feedreader may show only the title. You want to entice them to click through to your blog post.

Most people don’t read long posts. If you keep it short (300 to 600 words), it’s more likely to be read and you’ll spend less time writing it. (For longer articles, break it into separate posts.) You don’t have to post every day, but you should post regularly—at least once per week.

The more you blog, the more ideas will come to you, says Johnson. And the more you write, the easier writing will be. Write every day to establish a rhythm, even if you’re not posting every day.

To stay motivated, Johnson says, write about something you’re passionate about. But you also need to take a businesslike approach to your blog, say Batson and Osborn. Define your goals, know your audience, and be consistent.

Blogging generates brand awareness and brand loyalty. You are branded by the topics you write about. “You can construct your identity,” says Johnson, “by deciding to have a focus on your blog.” People will begin to perceive you as an expert on that topic.

Ordinary people don’t have to crash a state dinner at the White House to become famous these days. A carefully crafted presence on the world wide web can make you a technical communication rock star.

For more information on blogging, you can view Tom Johnson’s STC presentation for free at SUMMIT@Click

Andrea is a senior technical writer at Schneider Electric. She can be reached at andreajwenger at gmail dot com. End of article.

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