Blog Like the Big Brands: Evernote

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Blog creation can look a zillion different ways. For design-heavy business, great photos are a must. For large companies, blogs that keep tabs on all facets of the business are important. And for tech companies, like those creating mobile apps, it is essential to create blog posts that tell readers how to use the product in a fun and simplified way. Evernote, the super-popular digital post-it, uses blogging to do precisely that while creating a blog that stands on its own.

What does an app like Evernote do? What kind of interesting uses are there for Evernote that normal folks might not know about? How do updates to the app effect Evernote and how we use it? These are the kind of questions that Evernote’s blog tries to answer, all while presenting a visually-pleasing and easy-to-understand blog. Similar in style to TechCrunch or Mashable, the blog’s layout and style are instantly familiar to casual tech blog readers and super techies alike. This was a wise design move as it says, “We’re more like a cool, online magazine and less like a company blog.” The posts themselves are equally impressive. A first-time visitor to the blog and non-Evernote user could easy understand the product and what it does just by reading the informative posts. How to use Evernote to redesign your website, new security features users need to know about and interviews with Evernote execs and creators are a few of the things you’ll find at Evernote’s blog. The posts are well-organized and concise, which is also probably intentional given that Evernote is an app which promises to help its users’ lives become more organized and less chaotic.

Evernote’s blog perfectly captures how blogging can carry a company’s message without resorting to corny sales messages or spammy posts. As a result, tech bloggers often quote and cite Evernote’s blog as a valuable and reliable news source. In other words, why wait for bloggers to break your stories when you can break them yourself? Turn your business blog into an online magazine like Evernote did and you’re bound to see results.

Transcending the normal business blog and becoming something industry leaders and normal blog readers can enjoy alike is a terrific goal, indeed.

Blog Like the Big Brands: BMW

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Stalled out with your company’s blog content management strategy? Has your blog marketing run out of gas? Well, perhaps we can help. Each week, we examine the blogging habits and styles of some the planet’s most powerful and influential brands. This week, we take a gander at how luxury carmaker BMW uses blogging to get car enthusiasts drooling over its latest models.

Blogging for a global brand like BMW could potentially be a scattered, ADD-inducing affair. After all, with thousands of products in different markets, what on Earth do you begin to blog about? Wisely, BMW sticks to delivering the goods: cars and plenty of them. Upon entering the BMWBLOG, visitors get a glimpse at dozens of cars through slide shows, videos and lots of images. For folks fluent in BMW, the company delivers in-depth pieces about test drives, safety features and industry reviews. For novices just learning the ropes in luxury car land, BMW goes back to what works: more pictures of those glamorous cars.

Editors of the BMWBLOG have clearly written the text of each post with the curious and well-researched car buyer in mind, however. The posts do not back away from giving specifics about each car and its features. Chassis, headlamps, kidney grills and lower front ends are the kinds of terms you’ll see dropped casually on the blog, and clearly it works. The BMWBLOG is routinely ranked one of the top automotive blogs on the web.

As a takeaway for businesses of all types and sizes, BMW certainly inspires us to take pride in our companies and to blog about them proudly. BMW assumes that visitors to its blog want to read “car lingo” and wordy technical reviews, and it delivers these things unapologetically. Branded blogs should feel free to brag about the products and services that put them on the map and that they want new customers to know about. Blogging, with its online magazine feel, is a fantastic way to do that on a regular basis.

Blog Like the Big Brands: Urban Outfitters

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I’ll say it: Managing blog content day after day can be a difficult task. Coming up with engaging and dynamic content on a regular basis takes a lot of creativity, persistence and stamina. The very thought of having to create new blog posts every day is enough to scare many companies away. But we’re here to tell you it can be done. More than that, company blogs can be terrific reads and incredibly fun to create. Just look at the blog of hipster clothing emporium Urban Outfitters. This entertaining and sassy blog is chock full of great ideas that just might inspire your own blog.

From pot culture and music festivals to the latest 20 something-marketed films and fashion trends, the Urban Outfitters blog looks like a Tumblr and reads like Nylon magazine. Urban Outfitters isn’t just selling skinny jeans and overpriced hand painted sneakers, it’s also selling a lifestyle, so the blog is designed as such. Too cool for school? Sure. Too snarky and self-aware? Perhaps. But it doesn’t matter what we think. The blog succeeds because of its great content, strong brand messaging and wise editing. This blog knows its demographics and writes only for them.

The photos, blog design and videos are pitch perfect for Urban Outfitters customers. The blog also features interviews with celebs and Urban Outfitter employees alike. Interviews make for great blog fodder and are something any brand (regardless of how cool you are) can add to your blog.

Video chats with employees, email Q&As with product designers and interviews with favorite customers are just the tip of the iceberg. Why not interview conference attendees, local celebrities and artists who shop at your business and fellow leaders in your industry? The best blog interviews are short and easy to read, which means interview questions can be emailed days in advance and published to your blog whenever. Just make sure your questions are interesting and give your interview subject a lot to talk about. A few well-placed interview posts can help turn your blog into something all the cool kids want to read.

 

Great Posts vs. Lots of Posts: Which One Wins?

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“Content! It needs more content!” is something we blogging-for-business experts seem to bark endlessly. We preach this message primarily because we’ve seen first hand how brands can transform their web presence by creating lots of dynamic blog posts. The more content, the better, right? Sort of. Blogs with spammy, uninteresting posts and websites with tons of poorly-written content aren’t doing brands any favors. Then again, neither are the brilliantly-written but never updated blogs we see out there. So we wondered if, once and for all, we could answer the burning question: When it comes to blogging, what wins — quality or quantity?

In a perfect world, the search engine super solution consists of blogs that have lots of great-written posts. Super blogs like Huffington Posts and Mashable have seemingly unlocked this formula. Consistently ranking in the top five most-read blogs on the planet, these two powerhouses are highly read — but that doesn’t mean every story is a winner. Recent headlines tracking celebrity sideboob and online cat videos prove that even the big dudes have bouts of lameness. But what keeps these mega-blogs on top is the never-ending output of new posts. After all, the No. 1 killer of company blogs, hands down, is the inability to keep up with new content production. So it’s better to have lots of something than tons of nothing and therefore quantity wins, yes? By default, sure.

But don’t count quality out entirely. We are in no way giving you a hall pass to create tons of crappy blog posts. Quite the opposite. Brands that want their blogs to be taken seriously have to do both — produce lots of content which is also interesting to read. The quality of your content — whether it be on social media accounts, your product descriptions or your blog — should be a top priority. You are, after all, using digital marketing to introduce consumers to your company and therefore want the impression to be nothing short of awesome.

Blog Marketing Basics: Social Media Synergy

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There comes time in every blog content management strategy when it mixes with our social media management strategy. Not to worry; this a totally natural merging of two separate but similar worlds. Social media is a perfect channel to promote our blogging-for-business efforts. Posting links to our latest posts on Facebook and Twitter is something your brand should be doing already (if you’re not, please start — now!). But maybe social media marketing can help our blogs even more? Our final look at Blog Marketing Basics involves putting social media in the spotlight to find new ways to put these popular platforms to work for you.

Believe it or not, there is social media life beyond Twitter and Facebook. Posting your blogs on these sites is incredibly simple and takes just minutes. Thanks to dashboards like Hootsuite and TweetDeck, your blog posts can get scheduled out days in advance to reach your Facebook and Twitter followings with very little stress or effort. But why stop at Twitter and Facebook? Study after recent study shows that consumers are interacting with brands of all sizes on different social networks. Promoting your company blog on Tumblr, for example, takes just a few minutes. Being a unique mix of social media, image sharing and blogging platform gives Tumblr extra oomph for promoting blog posts. Embedding existing blog posts onto your Tumblr takes a little finagling, but is a breeze once you get the hang of it. This post by Social Media Examiner gives a great tutorial on how to do it.

If, perchance, your business’s blog is filled with awesome photos or nifty ideas, then Pinterest is a natural place to pimp out your posts. We talked about Pinterest last week, but it’s worth another look for your blog, especially if your company is all about visual marketing. Posts with eye-catching photos should be pinned right away. Pinterest users love passing it on and can really keep links alive a lot longer than most social media sites. Google+, LinkedIn and social blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger are more great channels for blog posting, depending on your consumers and followers.

In the end, when it comes to blog marketing on social media, it really is about throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks. Religiously and thoughtfully posting your recent blog brilliance on social media will, in time, bring readers to your blog. You just have to put it out there.

Readers, now it’s your turn: Tell us what blog marketing techniques work for you in the comments section below!

Is Tablet Blogging Right For You?

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We know now that tablets have changed the way we communicate, play games, handle our business and watch videos. But have these popular little buggers made any impact on the way we conduct our blog writing and blog marketing? We’re wondering a lot about the impact tablets have had on the world of blogging these days. Sure, dozens of online magazines have talked endlessly of late about picking the right tablet for blogging, test-driving tablets with daily blog creation and reviews for the latest in tablet-friendly blogging apps. And while we know that blogging on a tablet can done, we’re still left with two questions: What kind of blogs are best suited for tablets and, more importantly, is tablet blogging good for every-blogger?

As both an iPad Mini owner and a daily blogger for several brands, I can tell you that tablets can come in very handy. Tablets are great for research and make reading other blogs more portable than lugging around the laptop. Google Reader, Kindle, Apple Books and WordPress all have terrific apps which turn blog writing research into an easier and more fun affair. When it comes to blog creation, though, it all depends on the actual blog. I create Tumblr-based blogs for different clients and those are a blast on the iPad. Since Tumblr is perfect for image-heavy blogging, tablets work incredibly well. Fashion blogs, design blogs, photo-rich real estate blogs, food-related blogging — these are fun and easy to create on a tablet. But for this writer, who admittedly was born with breakfast sausage-type fingers, writing on a touchscreen sort of sucks. It’s awkward and a little frustrating — but maybe I just lack the prowess and smaller fingers to make it more enjoyable. I’ve done it and for short posts it’s fine but I’d recommend getting a keyboard to do heavier lifting when it comes to actual writing. And if the tiny screens annoy you, blogging on a tablet isn’t going to be your thing. I personally don’t mind it and find the compact and lightweight nature of tablets to be a definite bonus.

When it comes down to it, choosing a tablet to blog with or deciding whether to blog on a tablet at all is a matter of preference. Matters of hardware and our subsequent attraction to them are subjective indeed. Just pick the tool you are most comfortable working with and that will help you create a blog your readers and consumer will enjoy visiting — regardless of how big your fingers are.

Blog Like The Big Brands: Star Wars

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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, branded blog writing was a boring affair. Companies were afraid to wink at their own image or be humorous for fear of turning consumers off. Yet being only sales-driven in blogging for business didn’t work, either. Clearly a new way of blogging had to be discovered. Where blogging is concerned we have to listen to the wise words of Yoda who said, “You must unlearn what you have learned.” In other words, today’s branded blogging can be both loyal to a company’s image while being fun and self-effacing. Look no further than the official Star Wars blog for further proof.

Last fall, Lucasfilm made headlines when it was purchased by Disney for $4 billion, meaning that Mickey and the gang would soon be joined by Luke, Princess Lei and C-3PO. Judging by Lucasfilm’s digital presence, it was money well spent. Lucas and his team have kept up with every online branding and marketing trend, including blog creation. The Official Star Wars blog catches a reader’s eye initially with its great design. Modern, image-heavy, well-organized and covered in the franchise’s iconic logos and characters, there is no question as a blog reader that you have entered the Star Wars Universe. The blog keeps things informal and friendly, however, when it comes to the actual copy. From posts by fans and kitschy Star Wars-themed craft projects to wedding photos (yes, really!) and collectible news, the blog covers the vast Star Wars territory but does so with a sense of humor and whimsy. There’s no Dark Side here, just strong branding and a whole lot of fun.

Fun! Now there’s a unique idea — and a great takeaway to use in our own blogging practices. Not every one of your business blog posts has to be all serious all the time. Having a little fun, whether it be with videos, funny photos or lighter topics, not only makes your readers feel comfortable but also breaks up the monotony of industry-only related posts.

So, readers, how can your blog have a little more fun? Tell us in the comments section below. And may the blogging force be with you!

Say It With a Blog

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Blogging for business might even make it easier to talk about your brand. Let me explain. At a recent schmoozy business mixer thing, I wound up talking to an interesting individual with a fascinating-sounding consulting practice. Only problem was, I couldn’t understand what exactly this business entailed, how to find said business and why I should care about it as we chatted — despite being drawn to the energy of its owner.

“Do you have a blog?” I blurted out. To which they replied, “Um, no. Why?” And there’s the $64,000 question: Why blog? Why should we bother? Why blog when we’re already on Facebook? It’s an excellent question and one that, if answered correctly, can help freelance consultant types finally be able to explain what the heck it is they do all day long.

That slick real estate agent who used to just put his face on bus stop benches and hope interested customers would come his way has figured out why he blogs. In addition to Facebook pages, Twitter posts and those bench ads, he blogs because it’s an easier way to explain what he’s currently selling, what just sold and how to get a hold of him. In fact, Mr. Bigshot Agent here isn’t alone. The real estate industry has truly taken a shine to blogging and have even developed an avid readership. Tiny law firms, engineering think tanks, two-man-band ad agencies, mail order bakeries and the acupuncture office down the street all blog for the same reason.

Unlike our friend at the cocktail party, these folks have figured out that blogging is an excellent way to create a narrative about what your business does, what values your company holds dear and how your business works. Blogs are also fantastic places to keep customer testimonials, product reviews and new company policies. A company’s social media accounts should be clean and easy to follow, but with a blog, there are no rules or maximum characters to use. Simply put, blogging lets you say everything a 50-word biography can’t. Blogging gives you more room to explain what you do than a cramped business card ever could.

Best of all, if you have a blog, you don’t ever have to explain what exactly you do all day at cocktail parties ever again.