Content marketing is all about sharing your expertise as a way to get your brand in front of clients and referrers. It is not about sales. It is about offering insights and education to your community as a way to build name recognition and brand loyalty.
You may be most familiar with community presentations as an in-person form of content marketing. Blogs and newsletters are the two most common methods in digital format.
Blogs have a trendier aura. They seem to be considered the “next generation newsletter.” And while they definitely have advantages, a newsletter has its merits as well. It offers more flexibility in formats. For instance, you can have a print newsletter and an e-newsletter. Plus you can create a newsletter page on your website that actually fills many of the same functions as a blog. The lines between the two are blurring.
Which one you choose depends a lot on your business goals, your preferred marketing strategies, and how established you are as a company.
How blogs have changed
Originally begun as a Web 2.0 open conversation with customers, blogs on a company website have changed a lot in 10 years. For example, they no longer send out emails with the latest post. (RSS feeds have declined sharply in popularity. Viewers already get too much in their inbox.)
And have you noticed that blogs in the eldercare space rarely have comments enabled? This lack of dialogue makes sense: a comment thread usually requires a very large readership (in the hundreds, if not thousands) so there are enough readers with the chutzpah to take a public position on a blog (think Huffington Post).
Blogs aimed at fielding a lot of comments work well for rants and impassioned controversy. As a rule, we in eldercare strive to practice a calm and supportive demeanor. Temperamentally, a comments section is not a good mix with the measured and reliable approach you want to project for your business.
Moreover, allowing for comments and having none is a bit deflating, so most eldercare sites have simply turned comments off. (They do stay on at sites such as LinkedIn, where you may be able to amass 200-500 or more connections. Even better, comments, likes, and shares for LinkedIn blog articles are typically upbeat and tremendously helpful for SEO—search engine optimization—and passing along the good energy.)
Even though the unique qualities of blogging have changed over time, posting a blog on your company website still has strategic advantages:
Builds credibility. As you weigh in on different elder care topics, with strategic planning, over time you will develop a deep reservoir of information that also shows the breadth of your expertise: medical advocacy, emotional/spiritual sensitivity, living well with illness, family dynamics…
Expresses personality. What you choose to write about, and your approach to your topics, will reveal more about your company spirit: your warmth, your ability to explain difficult concepts, your wisdom and insights, your commitment to education, perhaps pride in employees (and your volunteers if you are a hospice)…
May help with Google. While content on your site does give search engines more fodder to catalogue, this is not as useful as one might hope. If you have a lot of articles about Alzheimer’s, cancer or Parkinson’s, one would think that would help you come up in a search on any of those topics. Quite honestly, the national organizations (e.g. the Alzheimer’s Association) have you beat in terms of their ability to get listed at the top of a search results page. And there are lots of them. It doesn’t hurt you in the search engines to have this content. But unless the searcher keys in “Alzheimer’s resources in ***your city***” the larger national groups simply have more heft in the Google algorithms. What does help is having a page that updates frequently. Google likes to know you are paying attention to your site on a regular basis.
May help with social media. Fresh content each month or week is great material for a status update. A quick entry on Facebook or LinkedIn with a link to your post will serve to drive your followers directly to your website without being sales-ish. If they find your insights useful they may click on your Services page, or About Us, taking those first steps of the sales journey. Better to have educational updates pointing to your brand than sending people off to other sites (worthy, but still away from you).
- Actual traffic is usually low. As a rule, the people who see your blog are those who come to your website for some other reason. The quality of the viewers may be good, especially if they are there as service seekers. But if you are after quantity, unless you send out email notification, post on social media with lots of followers there, or have other people’s websites linking to your blog, the number of visitors tends to be small.
- Only available in digital format. Although blogs are inexpensive to produce, there are plenty of situations where you might wish you had a polished print article to hand out. Or could email a particularly helpful or insightful blog post as a .pdf that could get printed into a nice publicity piece on the other end. Blogging infrastructure doesn’t readily offer you alternate formats.
Publish your posts on LinkedIn. Facebook does not have an easy blog format. LinkedIn, however, absolutely encourages the writing of full articles. Those are posted large and stay permanently in your Articles and Activity section. You get cataloged in the LinkedIn search engine, so anyone searching on LinkedIn will find your articles. Sometimes your posts will even appear in your Connections’ newsfeeds. But most important, your LinkedIn professional profile is your online resumé. Having a robust set of articles and posting weekly demonstrates your expertise in numerous ways. And any links going back to your company website help that web presence place in search results. (Google and Yahoo/Bing pay attention to the number of incoming links your company website has as part of their ranking algorithms.)
Assemble your blog posts into a print-format newsletter. You’ve gone to a lot of trouble researching a topic and writing about it. Assemble several articles together and leverage them into a .pdf you can print and hand out or leave in referrers’ offices. Or, for those in private practice, include the .pdf as a “spoonful of sugar” when you send out your invoices (print or email). This is a great value-added service for client retention and helps existing clients make word-of-mouth recommendations when they pass along an article.
In our next post we will look at newsletters, discussing the pros and cons of this format.