Blogging for business part 5: starting conversations

In our last post in our blogging for business series, we looked at the elements of content creation that will elevate your blog above the rest. To catch up, click here – or, to go back to the very first post in the series, click here.

Unlike a white paper or an EDM, blogging is a content format that gives you the opportunity to have a conversation with your audience – in that sense, it’s the original social media platform. In this blog, we’ll be answering the question of how you can foster these conversations.

Why should readers comment?
Since your blog is going to be talking about issues that your audience cares about, it’s only natural that they may have questions or a differing opinion, which they will voice in the comments section. When you respond to them it’s a win-win scenario: they get answers and interaction; you increase interest in your brand and potentially move prospects a step or two further along their buying journey. It might take some time before your commenters turn into prospects, but a comment on your blog is a good sign that someone is interested in what you’re saying.

How can you encourage commenters?
Besides preparing the ground well by covering the topics that your audience is interested in, you can encourage engagement by:

1. Taking a side. There’s nothing wrong with a fully balanced argument, but a strong opinion that provokes a reaction is more likely to get a conversation started. We’re not advocating writing scandalous, hyperbolic clickbait that makes your legal team’s hair fall out, but have an opinion that people can either agree or disagree with. Some will comment to side with you, others may argue against your point – both are welcome, as long as you take care not to treat dissenting opinions disrespectfully.

2. Asking a question. Invite your audience to share their own experiences, to add points to a list, to answer a question or complete a poll.

3. Responding promptly. If a visitor to your blog sees that three others commented last month, and you haven’t replied to them, why would they bother leaving a comment? If someone asks a question, answer it; if they’re agreeing with you, you’ve got mutual ground to start a conversation. Commenters who are disagreeing with you can be trickier to manage, but as long as you keep the debate professional and reasoned, you’ll be ok.

Get social
Blogs may be the original social media platform but they’re not the only one, and you’ll want to use platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn to help spread the word. Provide regular updates about your latest posts, and consider paid promotion; we’ve seen clients succeed in massively increasing engagement with their posts for a relatively small investment in this way. Of course, your social media channels may well foster the same conversations that your comments section will – so keep an eye on them and be sure to respond.

Any questions?
In our next and final post in our blogging for business series, we’ll be looking at using guest bloggers. In the meantime, if anything we’ve talked about here (or in any of our other blogs) has raised a question for you, why not leave a comment of your own? You can also tweet us or get in touch via LinkedIn, using the links below.