It seems that blogging is on every company’s mind these days. Some crazy folks are even talking about vlogging. While most companies know that they should have a blog to help promote their business online and share their knowledge, many are missing out on a great opportunity for their employees. I know of many companies who hire freelance writers to create content for their blogs. Sure, that’s one way to do it, but why not use the people who know your company really well? Your employees, of course!
If your company gives you the opportunity to write for its blog, I highly encourage you to jump aboard that ship. Likewise, companies, give your employees a chance to contribute to the company blog.
Why should you want to write for your company’s blog?
- It’s a great way to stand out in your company
- Contributing to your company blog allows people who are outside your department to see your work. It can lead to cross-department collaboration
- It’s good practice and keeps your brain active
- It’s never too late to start building your writing portfolio. If you’re in an industry you love, it’s time to create some relevant writing samples. You can also work to establish and polish your writing voice. Remember: Just because you’re writing for your company doesn’t mean you have to lose your unique voice.
- It builds your expertise. Sure, your supervisor knows you’re really good at your job. How about people at other companies? How about your Twitter followers? How about your friends and family? Use a blog post to really showcase your knowledge
- Provides great exposure to your industry, allowing you to spark conversations and challenge other ideas
- Don’t be afraid to speak out against the popular kid if you truly disagree with what he’s saying.
- It opens the door to other opportunities
- A series of blog posts can easily open the door to participating in panels, roundtables or even been asked to speak at a conference
- For you
- For your company
- For your talent
- For your company’s website
- If you’re in a client-serving industry…
- It’s a great way to show your clients you really know your stuff
- Maybe it can even help with a promotion
- Outwrite your manager and see what happens
Why should a company let its employees blog?
- They know your company
- Clients can get a feel for the people they are most likely going to work with
- People from every skill level and every department can contribute
- More contributors = more content
- Everyone knows how much search engines love that fresh content
- Gives employees opportunities outside their standard job descriptions
- Employees are more likely to share a blog post they wrote on their personal social media channels, giving your blog more exposure
Obviously, this list is not complete. If you’re not letting your employees contribute to the company blog, you’re really missing an opportunity. If you’re an employee who just isn’t contributing to the company blog, what are you waiting for? Find your voice and share it!
Ghost of Swedish Automaker Haunts GM in Form of Lawsuit
SAAB is back from bankruptcy liquidation in the form of a civil lawsuit against US automaker General Motors, courtesy of Netherlands-based parent company Spyker. The lawsuit alleges to the tune of $3 billion (US dollars) that GM intentionally destroyed SAAB’s last-hope efforts to secure funding from Chinese firms before hitting complete insolvency.
That’s not a typo. $3 billion. As in, $3,000,000,000. That’s a lot of zeros.
If you enjoy reading legal jargon (as I do), you can actually read the entire initial lawsuit online. The basic plotline is that Spyker, the most recent owner of the now-defunct SAAB, is alleging that the previous owner, General Motors, purposefully and illegally dismantled negotiations with Chinese firms for SAAB to remain afloat. The lawsuit is told from Spyker’s point of view.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR GM DEALERS?
Not too much, probably. Nothing about this lawsuit directly involves current sellers of GM cars in the United States.
THEN WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
Relevancy and timeliness matter in SEO. SAAB is making news right now; we can all take advantage of things like this on blogs and social media.
But optimizing for SAAB isn’t going to sell cars for GM dealers, nor any other dealers, right? Civil lawsuits are dramatic, sure, and this one is in the billions, but the only people paying attention are industry insiders and auto journalists. These people aren’t usually in the market to buy a car.
SO THEN…WHY BRING IT UP AT ALL?
1.) I should clarify: optimizing won’t directly help dealers sell cars. I already mentioned before, blog for people who aren’t in-market. This will indirectly improve your SEO efforts and therefor your sales. Dramatic things like this attract readers, not buyers…however, readers eventually become buyers, so stay on it.
2) Regardless of unfolding legal drama elsewhere in the globe, the fact remains that there are still would-be SAAB buyers here in the US. Franchise dealers can optimize their content for non-brand-specific terms that might attract SAAB fans. Words like “design,” “retro,” “aerodynamic” and “turbo.”
Think to yourself: what did SAAB represent? What exactly are SAAB enthusiasts enthusiastic about? How does your inventory meet their needs?
Also: if you’ve got some used SAABs on your lot right now, advertise those beauties! Use “SAAB” and the model as targeted keywords. Include the year. Just because the company isn’t producing new cars anymore doesn’t mean people won’t still buy the ones that are already out there, and being back in the news just might increase searches…
Many people (including me) will tell a car dealer that blogging is important for many reasons, one of them being fresh SEO, and that video blogging is also fresh and, statistically the most effective tool in your toolbox. But writing a blog post about vlogging smacks of “easier said than done,” so I thought I would walk the walk and actually make a video about it…
THE NITTY-GRITTY OF VIDEO BLOGGING (HOW TO ACTUALLY DO IT)
Hello universe, I’m Bil Gaines. I know there’s a lot of blog posts out there telling us all how awesome and cool video blogging – or, vlogging – is, especially regarding consumers and they way they do their shopping, and ESPECIALLY their car shopping, but no one ever really shows us HOW to do it, so I want to give a quick demonstration on how easy it actually is.
LET’S TALK ABOUT CAMERAS
I recommend a hand-held camera. If you don’t have a hand-held video camera, don’t worry – they are everywhere these days and relatively cheap, so I strongly recommend the investment. If you have a smartphone, chances are you’ve already got what you need. You can shoot quick videos with these bad boys and upload them straight to YouTube. Some smartphones even have the capacity for editing apps, so you can get a little fancy.
(Showing a Flip Camera) This is a Flip Camera. They don’t make these anymore, but you can still find them for sale on Amazon or Ebay or wherever. This little guy is great because you can just plug it straight into your computer and, again, upload right to YouTube with minimal fuss.
LET’S TALK ABOUT SHARING
Once your videos are on YouTube, the sky’s the limit. You can very easily share the link. You can also copy and paste the embedding code right onto your blog. You can even send it in your email newsletter. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to get your video seen by the people you want to see them.
LET’S TALK ABOUT CONTENT
Content is king, so don’t just babble. Plan ahead. Write a screenplay if you have to. I did.
The one word you need to remember is personality – personality, personality, personality. If you are a boring person, film people that entertain you. If you are an entertaining person, talk to your audience about what entertains you. If you sell cars, show some cars.
This is my 2008 Scion xD. It’s awesome. It accelerates really fast and holds a lot of stuff on the inside. This dent in the front fender proves this is an action car. No joke.
Show what you like and show what you ARE like. The results will be better than you expect.
And don’t forget your call to action. Check out Intrapromote’s blog at the link below for more on this subject.
…Also, keep it short. Most people lose interest after one minute.
Welcome to my multi-part series on WordPress plugins! In part 2, we’ll discuss plugins that will allow you to properly track visitors to your website.
In my last post about WordPress SEO plugins, we talked about “All in One SEO Pack”, “Akismet”, and “Google XML Sitemap”. Adding these 3 plugins to your WordPress website is the easiest way to prepare it for SEO. So what happens now? Once you’ve got it ready for SEO, it’s important to keep track of your visitors. After all, what’s the point of SEO if you can’t see the results? Here are 3 more plugins you can use to integrate your existing tracking accounts.
Super Simple Google Analytics
Google Analytics users should be glad to know that there are many plugins available for inserting your tracking code. However, finding one that does the job right can be tricky. Super Simple Google Analytics is as simple as they come. While other Google Analytics plugins load their arsenal with features, and features for their features, this plugin stays simple and easy. Enter your Google Analytics tracking ID, and you are done. You also have the option of choosing to place your tracking code before the closing “head” tag or before the closing “body” tag. You can even disable tracking visits from administrators of your website. [Link]
Piwik is a fairly popular, open source, self-hosted tracking system. An alternative to Google Analytics, Piwik users maintain their own data and track much of the same information that Google Analytics does. If you’re a Piwik user, there’s a great plugin for automatically inserting the Piwik tracking code. WP-Piwik is easy to set up once you’ve installed the plugin. Simply enter the URL to your Piwik installation as well as the API Auth token generated through the Piwik interface. There are also several other options for altering the tracking parameters once you’ve set it up. Another great feature is the ability to view statistics within your WordPress dashboard. [Link]
WassUp Real Time Analytics
What if you don’t use Google Analytics or Piwik? No worries. WassUp Real Time Analytics solves that problem. This analytics platform hosts itself on your WordPress website and keeps track of visitors in real time. “WassUp provides flexible, easy-to-read views into your visitors data that is customizable by time periods, visitor types, search keywords, and much more.” The only drawback to using this system applies to websites with small database space. While it’s not a common problem for most web hosting packages, it’s always good to check before installing a plugin as server intensive as WassUp. [Link]
Tracking your visitor data is important. If you are using any form of marketing whether online or offline, your results will be reflected through visitors to your website. By analyzing the data, you can determine if your marketing efforts are successful or failing.
This concludes part 2 of my series on WordPress plugins and stay tuned for part 3. Thanks for reading!
Welcome to my multi-part series on WordPress plugins! In part 1, we’ll discuss plugins that will make your WordPress website more SEO friendly.
Many bloggers choose WordPress over any other platform. It’s easy to install, user friendly, and extremely customizable. With these three key features, WordPress has become one of the most popular blogging and content management platforms available today. WordPress also features a wide variety of plugins that range from social network sharing to photo albums. With over 20,000 available plugins, choosing the right ones for SEO can be a challenge. Look no further. Here are 3 great plugins that will supercharge your WordPress website, and prepare it for SEO.
All in One SEO Pack
Any experienced WordPress user will agree that the “All in One SEO Pack” plugin does a fantastic job at keeping your website SEO friendly, while minimizing the need for advanced user intervention. It works right out of the box by generating title and meta tags automatically, and requires no prior knowledge of SEO. However, those who are experienced in SEO also have full capability to change title tags, meta tags, and canonical URLs. The “All in One SEO Pack” plugin also features many other helpful options, but we’ll leave that more in-depth discussion for another time. [Link]
A great aspect of blogging platforms is the ability to house discussion and facilitate comments. Unfortunately, sometimes we come across “visitors” who abuse the commenting system for solicitation — also known as “comment spam”. Thankfully, there’s a plugin for that. Akismet will monitor and automatically mark comments that fall into the category of spam. Once marked, you’ll have the ability to remove them before they appear on the page. By default, Akismet is included with every new installation of WordPress. However, the only drawback is that it requires you to sign up for an API key on their website. It’s a quick and easy process, so don’t worry. Once you have your API key, put that into your Akismet plugin settings, and you are good to go. [Link]
Google XML Sitemap
What is this Google Ex-Em-El Sitemap? One of the easiest ways to have Google keep tabs on your website is through the use of XML sitemaps. I won’t get into the technical details of what that is exactly, but all you need to know is that it’s a file that allows Google to keep track of the pages on your website and how frequently they’re updated. Rather than wait for Google to arbitrarily find your pages and updates, keeping your XML sitemap up to date will immediately notify Google that your website has changed. The “Google XML Sitemap” plugin will automatically create, maintain, and update your XML sitemap whenever you make changes to your WordPress website. Really it’s that easy, and just like the “All in One SEO Pack”, this plugin also works right out of the box. No additional configuration is required. [Link]
Adding these 3 simple plugins to your WordPress website will not only prepare you for future SEO changes, but can make a great impact on how Google views your website.
This concludes part 1 of my series on WordPress plugins and stay tuned for part 2. Thanks for reading!
Last week I gave two takeaways for automotive dealers from a conversation with a real online car shopper. Takeaway number one was that accuracy and honesty are the same thing to someone who’s actively shopping for a car. If a sales rep genuinely believes a car is on the lot, that’s one thing – but the only truth that matters to the customer is whether that car is physically on the lot at the same time they are.
Takeaway number two was that customer reviews are more effective and more useful to other customers when they mention specific individuals. So, sales reps, ask for a personal shout-out.
I reserved takeaway number three for a separate post altogether, because I have to shift gears here. Takeaway number three dishes out some hard, hard, truth.
Ready for it?
Active car shoppers aren’t reading your blog.
It’s true. Consumers who are actively seeking a new or preowned vehicle typically do not read the blogs. There are too many dealers to consider, and reading multiple dealers’ blogs is usually a pretty low priority. Those consumers are more interested in your inventory, your hours of operation, your special deals, and your other customers’ reviews.
“But why blog at all, then?” Come now, come now, you’re not thinking fourth-dimensionally. Automotive online marketing extends beyond immediate, near-ready buyers. Don’t blog for people actively in the market – instead, blog for everyday people in your area. Blog for people who casually read blogs. These are the people who’ll remember you when it comes time for that next car purchase.
I’ve mentioned before the benefits of blogging: increased SEO presence (and thus greater business exposure), reputed thought leadership, management of consumers’ expectations. In other words, all the things that you hope your TV ad does, but with effective and trackable results.
So now my advice on blog content is this: write for people who have any sort of business relationship with your store. Write for people who live near the store. Write for the little league. Write for people who already own a car that might need some service one day. Write for your customers who have already purchased a car from you. Write for everybody except people who are currently looking to buy a car soon.
What could you possibly write? Colorful anecdotes from the technicians. Something to clarify the confusing finance laws. Directions to the best pizza parlor in the area. Why you purchased the kind of coffee you serve in the waiting area. Post pictures of all the inflatable animals at the auto mall. Something funny, charming, touching – i.e., something memorable in a positive way. (For even more great blogging tips, check out Dan Zarrella’s “blogging” articles.)
The bottom line is that if you’re using your blog to try and sell cars, you’re wasting your time. But blogging itself is not a waste of time. People will read your blog, and search engines will read your blog, but you can’t sell a car to a blog reader who’s not in the market and you can’t sell a car to a search engine. Blog for relevancy, not sales, and the sales come after.