A little after I started tweeting, when I still had about 75 followers and was convinced that Twitter was a complete puzzle of fluff that I’d never understand, I happened upon Mack Collier’s #blogchat. If you are not aware of #blogchat, it is one of the biggest chats in the world of Twitter. Twitter chats are great because with the simple use of a hashtag, you can talk to people in a group about one single topic. Blogchat, of course, focuses on all things blogging.
When I first started participating in the chat, I was entranced by how helpful and welcoming everyone was. I was shocked that so many ideas could float back and forth from peoples’ fingertips. If you are new to either Twitter or blogging, I still highly recommend that you give Blogchat a try.
All of that being said, I’ve become a bit disenchanted with #blogchat of late because of a back-and-forth that has become all too familiar. It goes something like this.
Person A: I love getting comments on my blog. It helps me build community, it helps me engage, and it helps me hone my content to what my growing community wants to read.
Person B: Comments are stupid. You can’t build a business based on comments. Get out of your fluffy unicorn-filled world.
Factually, as is the case in so many social media conversations, both people have a point. The difference is in objectives.
When you’re not blogging for business
A lot of people who are blogging are not blogging in order to make money, technically. For example, while I work for Clayman Advertising, I make no pretense that my blogging will put more money in the company’s pockets. I blog because I really enjoy conversing with people online, and if my blog is a way to make people aware of our company, that’s great. I hope that is happening, but this is not something that will lead directly to a sale, in most cases.
If you are blogging to raise awareness of yourself and your thoughts, or if you’re blogging for fun, or if you’re blogging because you want to have a place to vent your most heartfelt frustrations, creating awesome content that inspires people to comment is a great goal to have. There are numerous blog posts that can teach you how to get your audience revved up, how to create actionable content, how to help new bloggers, and more. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with this approach. It’s admirable, in fact, to want to create consistently great content that your growing community responds to (whether positively or negatively).
Blogging for your business
Here’s where the problems lie. If you are blogging because you want to increase sales, those anti-comment people are on to something.
We’ll come back to this again and again throughout this series, but here is a core nugget of truth. In the world of social media, numbers, those things that everyone lusts after and expresses envy over, really don’t mean much. Why? Well, let’s say I make a tiny tool that is used for precision machining. If most of my readers are either in the same exact business as me, or if a lot of my readers are people I met in a chat about my favorite soap opera, the chance of any of my comments leading to a sale is pretty slim, right? The same goes for the number of subscribers, the number of retweets I get, the number of Google +1s I get, etc. The amount of exposure becomes irrelevant for a business blog if the audience you’re getting exposed to is not going to ever buy from you.
As Marcus Sheridan wrote on his excellent site, “Community is NOT the holy grail of blogging and online success.” Why did Marcus say that? Because if you focus solely on engaging and comments and social media stuff, your blog simply will not pull in any additional sales. In fact, one might argue that if you are spending a lot of time trying to get more comments, your company might actually lose any sales it was gaining before you started your blogging efforts.
Awesome is also not the holy grail
Piggy-backing on what Marcus wrote, “being awesome” is also not a business plan. First of all, “awesome” is relative. For some people, “awesome” may mean content that is beautiful and poetic. For others, “awesome” may be something that kicks them in the butt and gets them moving. For others, “awesome” may be content that solves a problem. For a business blog, this latter category is most often going to equate to success. How can you solve your readers’ problems?
If you have the right audience, your content probably does not need to be the most eloquent ever. It does not need to use swear words, nor does it need to use 10-cent words. It just needs to make the case for your product or service. It needs to inform your target audience. For the world of social media as a whole, your content might appear to be about as boring and pointless as anything anyone has ever seen. You might not get a ton of comments or dozens of retweets. But if your content convinces a reader that they need to buy from you, you’ll get what a lot of other bloggers don’t get – money in your company’s bank account.
If you don’t mind me saying, to me, that sounds pretty awesome. What do you think?
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/headlouse/1484615917/ via Creative Commons