On January 6, 2018, I woke up in a National Park in Southeast Louisiana. The temperature had dropped to just below freezing overnight. Brr! I stepped out of my tent to walk to the (heated) comfort station and took this photo before continuing on my way.
Chalmette Battlefield, Jean Lafitte National Park and Preserve, Chalmette, Louisiana, hosts a living history event annually on or near the anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans (January 8, 1815). Camping at this park is restricted to employees, volunteers and participants, and only during specific scheduled events.
Last fall, I started working as a social media manager for small businesses. My ideal clients don’t need a full-time social media manager, but they want to delegate social media tasks. Neither of my two clients publishes blog posts, and I’ve been advising them to start. Today, I’m doing as I say, and writing a blog post – with advice for my clients – about why it’s a good idea to blog advice for one’s clients. (Yes, we’re all very meta today.)
Two kinds of relationship
When you are running a small business, you may have two different kinds of relationship: business-to-customer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B). Each has a different set of needs. You can send market reports to peers in your industry and expect that they will read (or at least skim) and understand. If you send a raw market report to your B2C contacts, you can expect their eyes to glaze over. They won’t read a wall of text with no interpretation.
If you write blog posts intended for those within your industry, share them on LinkedIn – instead of Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.
You’re the expert
Your clients pay you partly for your expertise. They don’t want to (or can’t) interpret the market data. They don’t know the trade secrets. They may have misconceptions about How Things Work in your area of expertise. They benefit from your advice. They can read a market report, but they may not be able to glean what the report means or why it matters. That’s where you come in.
Look at me!
A big part of the professional (B2C) social media game is getting potential clients to see you. You do that by engaging with them. You post on a regular schedule, respond to comments, and take part in the conversation.
Take a moment to go look at your colleagues’ and competitors’ professional social media accounts. Look at the amount of engagement each post receives and compare against posts of different types. Off-topic viral posts can earn you a lot of reshares and likes, but not a lot of new followers. Advertisements can receive a lot of negative responses or no response at all. Negative responses might include comments from dissatisfied customers complaining about the product.
Engagement is a measure of likes, reshares, and comments on a post. It is used as a metric in comparing audience reaction on a post-by-post basis.
Posts containing advice – explaining or simplifying things for your clients and potential clients – lie somewhere between those two extremes. Free advice has value, and providing it via social media can be a great way to grow your audience.
Not enough content to go around
Go back to those social media accounts. How many times do you see many accounts sharing the same article/blog post? Does it seem like there’s not enough content to go around? That’s a good sign that you should contribute more original content to the pool! Your clients and potential clients appreciate original content.
Your colleagues (and even your competitors, depending on the topic) will share your content on their platforms. Those shares will bring more visitors to your website. Some of those visitors will subscribe or join your regular social media audience. Some of them may even remember that you gave them good advice and may hire you in the future, or refer a client to you. All because you gave away free advice.
Some industries have services which offer pre-written, “branded” blog posts you can share with your clients. These blog posts have your photo and contact information prominently placed on the page, and are hosted by the service. Those are an effective way to get recognition, but that content is also being shared by your competitors, with their photo and contact information on the page. Branded blog posts won’t make you stand out from the crowd like your own original content will.
Tip: Use bullet lists and pull quotes to organize information.
About viral posts
Off-topic viral posts have the potential to increase the number of impressions your other posts receive. An impression happens whenever a user sees your post, even if they aren’t following you. On Facebook, when you “Like” a post, the algorithm will show you more content from the author later.
Do consider occasionally publishing blog posts with viral content, but keep it positive or at least informative. Don’t name names and do crop people (especially minors) out of photos whenever possible. If you must include photos of people, get their permission to post. Don’t mock people or reveal their personal information.
So, now that we’ve established that you should write blog posts for your clients, what should you include, and how?
Whenever possible, include at least one relevant photo. This will appear in the preview when someone shares the post on social media. Try to make it compelling, but don’t give away the whole story.
Intersperse your writing with extra supporting photos.
Visually break up your sections with sub-headers
Use bullet lists and pull quotes to organize information.
Break the information into bite-sized pieces.
Define industry terms your clients may not know.
Cite your sources. Provide direct links to appropriate resources. Drill down to the original source so your reader doesn’t have to later on.
Check your spelling and grammar before publishing
Invite your colleagues to write guest articles, even if they have their own blog. Consider accepting invitations to guest post on other reputable blogs.
Use others’ images responsibly, respect license terms, and include credit for anything that isn’t yours. If you’ve purchased stock photos with a license which does not require attribution, you won’t need to do this.
Limit the number of posts you make about luxury products and services. There is a larger pool of potential followers/clients who can’t afford or access those luxury services than those who can. Those who can afford or access luxury services will still appreciate your advice.
Make room in your schedule. Set aside an hour or two per week to write about a topic and stick to your schedule whenever possible.
Check with your social media manager – they may be willing to take your content, format it into a nice blog post, and publish it for you. In that case, the only thing you need to do is write!
Grammarly has an excellent browser plugin to help you with the basics. The Hemingway editor will give you more advanced advice.
This post was composed using the new WordPress editor, Gutenberg. It makes post layout a snap.
Presto was one of my clients when I was working as a volunteer photographer at the Louisiana SPCA in New Orleans. He was shy and apprehensive, but I managed to get a happy smile out of him for his adoption listing on PetFinder.
Presto was made available for adoption sometime around October 10, 2014. I do not have any details about when he was adopted, where from, or who by.