The following is a guest post from our friend Benjamin McDonald of Massamio.com
What’s a blog, and why does it matter?
“Blog” is short for “weblog,” a term nobody actually uses anymore. It functions much like a journal; updates (called posts) are viewed in reverse chronological order. So today’s post is at the top, last week’s is below that, etc. Blogs can either be stand-alone entities, or part of a larger website.
A blog can be found by anyone, whether they’re searching Google, or following a link from a social network. No matter what social media platform you’re using, having a blog will help drive traffic to your website.
Some people will read your blog chronologically, while others will search specifically for posts that relate to them. Either way, a regularly updated blog will keep people coming back to your site, which is exactly what you want.
Some impressive stats and facts on the benefits of blogging:
B2C companies that blog generate 88% more leads per month than those that do not.
Keywords in blogs drive traffic from search engines.
Connecting your blog to multiple social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter, can greatly increase the traffic to your site.
57% of companies with a blog have acquired a customer from their blog.
77% of Internet users read blogs.
Putting the “Social” Into Your Blog
Just like constantly broadcasting to your audience isn’t the most effective tactic on social media, it also fails to impress on your blog.
There are a number of ways to make your blog more responsive, interactive, and sharable.
1. Allow Comments
It’s natural to be a little bit nervous about allowing other people to respond to posts directly on your blog. After all, you’ve gone through a lot of trouble to perfect your message; why would you give up that control and allow people to say whatever they want?
Some people address this by “moderating” comments (not allowing anybody’s comments to show up until the owner has approved them) or by turning off comments altogether. While these options might seem appealing from a control perspective, they also discourage people from interacting with your material. Some of the best blogs have had entire communities grow up between regular commenters. Moderation and elimination of comments guarantee this will never happen.
In general, the majority of people who want to comment on your blog will add value to your post, not subtract from it.
2. Provide the Mechanisms For Sharing
If somebody loves your blog post and wants to share it with the world, how much work will that take? If you’ve done nothing in particular to encourage sharing behavior, the process might look something like this:
- *Open a new tab in the web browser.
- *Type in the URL (web address) for their preferred social network.
- *Login, if this doesn’t happen automatically
- *Copy the URL of your blog post.
- *Paste the URL as a social media update.
- *Add a title or description, if they feel like it.
- *Click “share.”
Sure, that’s not an outrageous amount of work if it’s something you’re REALLY committed to sharing (yet another reason why awesome content is important), but what about clients who are on the fence?
The the more barriers you can remove, the more likely people are to share.
The quickest solution is to provide buttons for sharing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, narrowing the steps above to two clicks (plus maybe adding an optional description). Even simpler are buttons that give people the chance to “like” or “+1” a post with just a single click.
Here’s an example from the Massamio blog:
3. Include a Call To Action
You might be familiar with the idea of a call to action in the context of reminding people to schedule an appointment with you. But if you want your readers to share your content with others, this is also a situation where a call to action would be appropriate. As with any call to action, it’s important to be specific:
Help me raise awareness about fibromyalgia. Click below to share this with your friends.
Do your coworkers need to hear about how workplace stress can affect performance? Share this post and speak out.
That’s what I remember about the first massage I ever received, but what about yours? Add a comment and share your story!
One warning: be sure to limit yourself to one call to action per blog post. If you ask people to “Like” the post on Facebook AND subscribe to your RSS feed AND schedule a massage appointment, you’ll end up with a lot of people who do none of the above.
So…This means I have to write stuff, right?
Yup! But it’s really not that difficult. Your blogging needs to stay professional, but it can be more casual than the front page of your website. And it definitely doesn’t need to be as strict as those five-paragraph essays your teacher always made you write in high school, with perfect thesis statements and no sentences starting with the words “and” or “but.” If you’re like most massage therapists, you’ve got a wealth of knowledge and opinions already. Blogging is your chance to give them a voice!
Creative Ways to Generate New Blog Ideas
What do your clients ask you about?
Why their hand hurts when you work on their shoulder? Whether you ever have “gross” clients? Where you went to massage school? If somebody’s asking a question, it means you already have an eager audience for the answer.
What are you constantly wishing your clients already knew?
How to use proper posture when lifting small children? Why breast cancer survivors who’ve had lymph nodes removed shouldn’t have a full deep tissue massage? Be proactive and share the information that your clients don’t even know they don’t know.
What would help clients connect to your business emotionally?
Personal stories can do things for your business that no amount of dry factuality can accomplish. Why do you love massage? Who has been your biggest inspiration? How did the recent natural disaster affect you on a personal level? People who just want to buy something on the cheap go to Wal-Mart. People who want to connect with a human being come to you.
How Often Should I Post?
Twice a week is amazing. Weekly is great. Twice a month is not bad. It really just depends on what works for you and your business.
The important thing is to choose a schedule and stick with it (Download this handy social media worksheet to plan out your weekly blogging and social media schedule).
Write an appointment into your schedule: BLOG POST. Make that appointment as sacrosanct as any scheduled massage. If you post on Tuesdays, make sure you post on Tuesdays. If you find an extra post in your brain on a Saturday as well, then that’s just an added bonus.
Keep in mind, not all posts have to be long. Sometimes just a photo or graphic with a quick paragraph is enough. Some of your busy clients will appreciate your brevity.
Good luck and happy blogging!
Benjamin McDonald, MBA is CEO of Massamio.com, an elegant, easy to use online directory, website, and booking service for independent massage therapists.