Maybe it’s because I write for a living, but I don’t know how businesses without blogs find things to say on social media. They can’t talk about themselves all day, so they’re camping out, sharing other people’s stuff, and roasting someone else’s marshmallows over a fire of opportunity.
Burn, baby, burn!
Now don’t mistake me for that girl who hates holding hands and singing “Kumbaya,” because I absolutely believe that any business on Twitter is better loved if they share things other than their own. I’ve even been scolded for telling people to promote their competitors, when it makes sense.
Do you know that our entire business is based on leads that either came from social media followers, or were referred by clients that we originally obtained through social media? In more than three years, we’ve never made a single cold call, sent a promotional email newsletter, or bought a PPC ad. Not a single one.
I’m not saying every business can survive on word of mouth. I’m still knocking on wood about that one (seriously, I just did it).
But what I am saying is that when you can be the originator of content, be the originator of the content. You’re an expert, even if you don’t know it yet.
For example, in December I visited my uncle up in Maine. He owns a construction company and told me about how he just built a heated greenhouse for one of his clients, who has a license to grow medical marijuana. He told me about how ridiculously complicated it is to build a year-round growing operation for as few as 12 plants. Every month, a new batch is planted, and every two months they’re harvested. There’s a heater to keep the temperature stable, and a dehumidifier so nothing grows mold. There’s the main room, then there’s the flowering room where the plants go right before they’re harvested.
I was fascinated by the complexity of the whole rig. I told him he should write a book about it … a blog about it … shoot a YouTube video … anything. There are so many states out there legalizing marijuana that there’s surely a surplus of stoners (I mean business professionals?) looking to get into biz, and they can’t grow 12 plants in the back of their closets. An expert, I thought, in building pot greenhouses. How intriguing!
Later that night, we did a family pub crawl around Portland, and someone asked what I did for a living. I told him that I blog for businesses. For the first time ever, someone asked me, “So … what’s a blog?” Not kidding, straight-faced, like the word was coming out of his mouth for the first time ever. And I think it was.
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I stumbled, because I’d never tried to explain it before. It’s like … an online newspaper. It’s published, like, every day. Uh, or not every day. Whenever you decide to publish it. He asked why businesses would want me to blog for them instead of doing it for themselves.
I tried to compare it to a magazine, and how they outsource the material they don’t have expertise in. I tried to avoid the main conversation about SEO, because it seemed like a deeper trap. He had an iPhone, so I pointed him to The Huffington Post and told him that was a blog. He was confused. Then I showed him a client blog. He was more confused, not knowing how someone might be able to write about someone else’s business.
I told him to think of it like he hires a designer to make the website for his business. The designer doesn’t know your business, but they can use their skill set to tell the story you ask them to tell in their design.
And so, there I was, an expert … at least to this guy.
In my world, blogging is so common and understood (although not always appreciated, as if it’s the lite version of “real” writing, like a person who watches the movie instead of reading the book first) that I felt like an Ivy League professor. Also a little embarrassed that I had no idea how to explain blogging to someone who had never heard the word before.
If you run a business, you are an expert in something. You’re allowed to have a soapbox. We’ve been telling our accountant for years that he needs to write a blog with tips about saving money on your taxes. He thinks people will think tips for saving money on taxes are boring, but we think it’s fascinating.
The most successful social media users are producing their own content. If you look at the folks at Wistia, one of our favorite local companies, they run a video-hosting platform, but their blog is chock-full of tips and advice for people who are potential users. Users know the owners by face and personality because they video blog; they even know that Wistia’s community manager grew up on a farm.
Experts – and companies that prove themselves to be experts on their blogs and in social media – are the ones that grow. Any business can stand out, but having a blog just makes it that much easier.