Now, we all know that taking your business seriously and projecting professionalism is an important part of expansion and growth, and while I’ve previously talked about the fact that brands need to have a human face, especially on social media, this can be transferred to other aspects of online marketing and content. Pamela Vaughan of HubSpot points out that in the early days of business blogging it was easy to be discovered through search because there was so little business blog content out there. However, as business blogging becomes more and more popular, getting your content noticed is becoming increasingly difficult.
Google has started to account for this with its Google Authorship algorithm that allows bloggers to link their contributions to their Google+ pages, and ranks author content according to its quality (how long viewers stay on a page). While this isn’t a foolproof way to begin addressing the quality content issue, it is a definite start, and will no doubt begin to benefit prolific and competent writers in the long run. Meanwhile, focusing on good content should be your main goal, and a good way to distinguish yourself from the crowd is to appear human, using voice, creativity, and humor to engage your community on industry topics.
Develop a Strong, Personal Blogging Voice
Vaughan’s idea of the evolution of business blogging involves building in-house content teams that have a background in journalism, and presenting information in an engaging, conversational way. A copywriter friend of mine says that while her team is full of professional writers with degrees in English or Communications, they sometimes lack the ability to write business blog content that is interesting and engaging. If you are running a business blog, marrying information with creativity should be your ultimate goal when aiming for high quality content. No one wants to read a blog post that’s as dry as bundle of sticks!
I find that the easiest way to create a strong, engaging voice in a blog post is to first use personal pronouns. While I am, in reality, presenting myself via a computer screen, I am in fact a real person writing in a very real office environment with a team or other business blog content specialists. Using personal pronouns helps me to feel ownership over my blog posts, but also helps me to appear real to my readers (hopefully).
In addition, introducing your writers, giving them a bio section on blog posts, and including pictures helps readers to feel connected to individual personalities. When writing my author bio, I focused on what I saw as distinctive attributes about myself, to introduce myself to readers as a unique individual. Encouraging writers to develop a distinguishing voice helps readers to feel that they are engaging with a human being that has an individual personality, not a blogging automaton that just pumps out content.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Creative
Sharing anecdotes and stories, as well as including more descriptive language, can bring a blog post to life. Including a section about creativity, voice, and style in your blog post style guide might be an essential change that revives your comatose blog, especially if you are writing longer posts that people find more difficult to read in this click-and-scroll Internet surfing culture.
I remember reading a New York Times opinion editorial on the Facebook “like” button that was quite substantial in length, but I didn’t notice because Jonathan Franzen’s voice was engaging, his prose was descriptive, and his dry humor shined right through. Although long, his post was effective because it drew me in with his individual quirks and idiosyncratic language choices. This creativity is what we need in more business blog content without pushing the boat out into short-story-creative-writing-homework territory.
Try Your Hand at Incorporating Humor
Humor, voice, and creativity all go hand-in-hand, but making people laugh might be the hardest requirement in this set. People make us laugh because they have made a connection with us. We’ve all experienced that awkward moment when someone tells a joke that is followed by almost deafening silence. Jokes require a mutual understanding between speaker and audience, and when the speaker misaims or fails in their delivery, it is completely ineffective and awkward. The same goes for content.
Misunderstanding your audience is a cardinal sin of content and copywriting, so making sure you are catering to your specific demographic is critical. But, I do think that a little humor goes a long way in a variety of writing situations. It helps with memorability, it helps with authority, and it also does wonders for engagement. My best advice for incorporating humor into business blog content is to keep it low key, simple, and understated. A lot of humor comes naturally when you’re being creative and adequately employing personal voice, so don’t be afraid to let your funny bone show.
Users sift through vast amounts of content daily, and in order to get yours to stand out, you have to be different. Being wildly experimental with your blog posts might not be the exact solution, but implementing small changes and monitoring their effects can help you to better understand what your audience wants from content. Remember, personality and readability are crucial for successful business blog content, so don’t be afraid to add a splash of individuality to your posts.
Daum, Kevin. “The Case for Humor.” Inc. http://www.inc.com/kevin-daum/the-case-for-humor-in-marketing.html. (23 May, 2013).
Vaughan, Pamela. “What the Future Holds for Business Blogging.” HubSpot. http://blog.hubspot.com/future-of-business-blogging. (23 may, 2013).