As you know, if you’re a subscriber or frequent visitor, I’m passionate about blogging. I believe a blog can be the centerpiece of a company’s social media strategy.
But writing a blog post is different from writing, say, an ad or product flyer. A blog is an informal conversation with your readers. You’ve got to put your personality into a blog. Visitors want to know what you stand for and your honest opinions about things – both good and bad.
Stick Your Neck Out
You’ve got to stick your neck out a little and risk offending. You don’t want to be hurtful, but as an example, in my post about Home Depot, I wanted the company to know that the needs of Manhattan residents without cars are different from folks who live in the ‘burbs with big minivans to haul things away from the store. I guess they’ll never hire me to write a blog for them, but that’s the chance I took.
In social media, you hear the term “authenticity” all the time. You’ve got to be authentic in everything you write and every connection you make. There’s just too much information out there about you to get away with half-truths or exaggerations.
Informal Rules of the Road
So what would a blog post be without a list? Here’s mine about writing a blog:
- Be authentic. Say what you mean and mean what you say. You’re building relationships and you want them to last.
- Write in the first person. Remember when you were a kid, your parents taught you that humility is a virtue and don’t use the “I” word too often. In journalism school, you were taught to write objectivity. Leave yourself out of it. Blogging turns that rule on its head. Whether editorializing is correct in a news organization’s reporting is a story for another post.
- Respect your readers. Don’t talk down to them. Try to understand and respond to their information needs. Ask for their feedback. You’ll learn a lot that way.
- Respond to comments. If someone is nice enough to comment, send a thank-you note either via a reply in the post, or with a quick email.
- Don’t stuff your post with key words. You want readers to find your posts – if no one reads a story, does it exist? So naturally you use key words to attract visitors. But if you’re writing about social media, don’t use the term in every sentence. That’s called keyword stuffing and readers are smart enough to know it and tune you out – maybe forever.
- Make it readable. Break up copy into short takes with headlines. Make it easy for your readers to get through your copy. I read a ton of blogs and when I get to a site and all I see are long paragraphs of dense, small type with no sub-heads, bold face or graphics, I don’t stay long.
- Write with emotion. This may sound strange. But really enjoy what you’re writing about. Put yourself into it with gusto. Laugh a little if you’re writing a post primarily to entertain. Feel the pain if you’re writing about a serious subject like the misery of the people displaced by the tsunami in Japan. It’s called empathy and your readers will embrace you for it.