By Kylie Jane Wakefield
Social media marketing is becoming one of many small business tools and a core practice of marketing firms. It has increased two-way conversations between business and customers, and it’s given customers a more personal look at their favorite brands.
The term “social media” can mean different things to different people. Basically, it is a “social instrument of communication,” writes blogger Daniel Nations. That could mean creating a brand page on Facebook, interacting with fans on Twitter, or what this post covers: blogging.
In our series on doing your own social media marketing, we’ll first look at the importance of having a blog, then focus on the advantages and fundamentals of WordPress, the most popular blogging platform around. (Next up: Tumblr.)
According to an infographic by MDG Advertising, a whopping 75% of businesses have plans to increase their social media marketing using blogs. Well-written and thought-out blog posts can attract new customers, improve SEO, aid in increasing sales, generate leads and strengthen customer loyalty, among a host of other benefits. Blogs can be hosted either on the company website (using a platform such as WordPress) or on Tumblr.
A blog can also add credibility to your business. Coleen Torres writes on Creativecaravan, “[S]tarting a blog could be just the refresher your marketing tactics need. You’ll not only find more traffic coming into your website, but you’ll also probably find that you have a better relationship with your customers, which are two distinct advantages that [can't] be ignored.”
In 2012, it was found that WordPress is the most widely used blogging platform. According to the infographic by Pingdom, 48% of the top 100 blogs on the Internet are hosted on WordPress. In addition, “almost 55% of the one million most visited websites that are run on a content management system (CMS) are run on WordPress,” says Smashing Magazine’s Jason Mark, quoting a statistic from W3Techs.
If small business owners want to take the easiest route, the WordPress platform may be the best way to go. Mark writes that it was designed with bloggers in mind, and that it’s one of the simplest CMS systems for someone unfamiliar with web design to set up. He says, “It’s easy enough that a 60-year-old IT employee can set up a company CMS without losing face for not being up to date on the newest technology … It’s easy enough that an old-school marketing firm can set up a website in house and, just as importantly, understand how to use it without reading pages of manuals.”
Brian Proffitt of ComputerWorld writes that WordPress is very simple to install, and takes about five minutes. “There’s not a lot of configuration, though, which means that you have to start with a plain vanilla WordPress site every time you install,” he says. “In many cases, particularly for newer users, this will be a blessing.” Small business owners with advanced website coders may want to try a platform more complicated than WordPress.
Proffitt points out that in WordPress, it’s easy to add social networking tools (all that it requires is to activate the module) and to install the plug-in for a shopping system called eShop. The disadvantages for WordPress are that it has had its share of security issues and that many of the themes look alike.
Once a small business decides to start a blog on WordPress, the next step is to start building. Here are some resources to help you get on your way:
• WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org (explains benefits/drawbacks for those who want to use WordPress.org, which allows your business to host the blog on your own server)
• WordPress Lessons for Beginners (WordPress.org)
• Beginner’s Guide for WordPress (WPBeginner)
• Get Started With WordPress (Webmonkey)
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our social media marketing/small business tools series, in which we’ll examine why Tumblr might be a better blogging platform for some small businesses.
In the meantime, check out Infusionsoft’s answer to your holiday marketing campaign questions.