What's in a blog?
Get your entire staff involved in creating blog entries
By Nick Weaver
Are you an insurance superhero? Have you helped a client get the exact coverage they needed, or had a customer contact you after a claim to compliment the hassle-free process? Do other professionals recommend you because of your professionalism?
Sharing information like this with clients and prospects is an important part of an agency's social media efforts, and blogging may just be what you're looking for.
A blog, short for web log, is like an online journal or diary. It's a great way to tell a short story and share it with friends, family, clients and prospects. Recently, as inexpensive social network marketing has gained popularity, businesses have turned to blogs to provide customers with information, updates and more. Blogs allow you to post more information than you can on sites such as Facebook or Twitter, and are easier to update than a standard Web site. Plus, there are many free blog services, such as Blogger and Tumblr, which allow you to get started immediately at no cost! There are a lot of online resources available with tips on starting a blog that can easily be found through a quick Internet search.
A blog is more than business
Your agency Web site should consist of essential business information: the who, what, why and how of your agency—you need that, and all other supporting sites, including your blog, should point back to your Web site so people can easily find you and do business with you. However, your blog should offer a behind the scenes look at what goes on at your agency. Readers of your blog will get a better sense of who your agency is and what you stand for. Use it as an opportunity to tell the story of you, your staff and what all of you do.
Every single blog post doesn't have to provide details about the business. Make your blog an open conversation with your readers. There will be plenty of times when you want to tell a story of an insurance claim or coverage, but what will really connect you with your readers is a personal look at the workings and people that make up your agency. Anecdotes from the company picnic, office softball team tournament or news about staff marriages or babies also make for great content. Just make sure that your staff is comfortable with being a part of it and never include material that is offensive or could embarrass someone. Also, remember to never reveal personal customer information on your blog.
A blog is more than one person
Have everyone in your agency get in on the fun by encouraging them to write stories and contribute content to your agency's blog. This is a great way to make your staff feel more engaged and to give them an opportunity to break out of their daily routines. Having more than one person creating content also spreads the responsibility around so that one person doesn't feel overwhelmed by having to produce new posts. Have a brainstorming session with your staff to come up with blog topic ideas, then divide up the topics and assign due dates. This helps create interesting content and a regular posting schedule.
Blogs can consist of text-driven posts, pictures, video or a combination of all three. Bring your camera to a community event and post a write-up with pictures afterwards. Or, rather than typing out a story, set up your camera and film yourself telling it. Your regular followers will appreciate the change and it will keep the process fun and fresh for you and your staff.
A blog is a part of its own community
To get the most out of blogging, you need to interact with other bloggers. Find blogs that you enjoy, that are related to the industry or that cover topics similar to those you write about, follow them and leave comments. If someone posts a blog you like, write about it on your blog and link back to the post. This creates interconnectivity, increases the chances that they will link back to you and helps expand your readership. You can check to see if anyone is linking to your blog by doing a keyword search for your URL on sites such as Technorati.
Another way to increase your readership is by pinging. Pinging lets sites that monitor sites (such as Technorati) know that you have updated your blog with new content. This is especially helpful if you're linking to other people's blogs. Ping-O-Matic is a free service that pings all the major sites for you.
A great way to get the word out about your blog is by promoting it on other social media sites that you may already be active on, such as Facebook and Twitter. Most blog services have apps available that will automatically update your Facebook page when you post a new blog. Search on Facebook for the blog service you use and see if there is an app available. If there is, it will automatically update your network of followers when you post a new blog entry. This is a great way to engage more people and grow your readership!
A blog is authentic and fun!
Try not to think of blogging as one more thing you have to do; make it something you want to do. Ask for feedback and respond to it; this will help create a community and it will make you feel more satisfied in your efforts. If you don't feel like what you're doing is working or if you're not enjoying yourself, try something different. Don't be afraid to mix it up by adding photos and videos to your posts. Once you get into the mindset of blogging, you'll easily find stories to share everywhere. The more you make your blog an extension of you and your agency, the more success and fun you'll have.