Blogs! They’re not just for foodies and fashionistas anymore…
Blogs can have a bit of a bad rep in church circles. When many people hear the word “blog,” they think of hastily-written rants with poor spelling or irrelevant bits of obsessed-over marginalia filling up whole websites with nonsense that nobody wants to read. And there is some of that out there for sure. But blogs are experiencing a significant increase in brand relevance and have become major powerhouses (and major fund-raising tools) in the internet marketing machine. More and more people are turning to blogs for news and information instead of more traditional outlets. And more churches, businesses, non-profits, community organizations, and individual ministries are using blogs to engage with their audiences and, in doing so, are completely transforming their brands.
So what can a blog do for YOUR brand?
Fresh content proves that you’re alive.
It’s a familiar scene in crime dramas on the big and small screens: our protagonist comes upon a body lying on the floor and the first thing that they do is bend down to check for a pulse or see if the person is breathing. When site users (the protagonists in YOUR brand’s story) come to your site, they essentially do the same thing. Whether consciously or not, they are going to check for signs of life. Is your design modern? How old is the content? Does the footer say “copyright last decade”? What was the last news item posted? Are the images dated? Is this organization alive? Are they thriving? If your site is static and unchanging, you’re essentially presenting your website visitors with a cold, empty husk of a site… even if your organization is actually alive and vibrant!
A blog makes it easy to prove that you’re breathing. It shows fresh, recent content even if your site is due for an overhaul. With an active blog, your five-year-old website can still feel vital and fresh.
Awkward silence won’t grow an audience.
There are a few, nearly universal, reasons why people visit organizational websites. They come to see who and where you are. They come to see what you’ve done and what you’re doing. They come to see how to get in touch with you. Once they’ve gathered that information, they will leave and may never visit your site again – they don’t have any reason to come back.
This is especially problematic for churches, ministries, and charities. You have news and events that you want to share. You’re doing new, exciting things and need to raise funds to make an impact. Your blog gives you an opportunity to constantly and consistently engage with your audience. It gives your website visitors a reason to come back over and over. When people get caught up in your brand’s story, they WANT to know what is new and coming up. They want to hear more.
They want to engage with – and become a part of – your story.
Your story is a multi-season TV show… and it’s on Netflix.
If your website is like a blockbuster feature film (stick with me here), your blog is like a television series. A blockbuster has high production values and tells an epic story through engaging characters. And it does it all in a single sitting. Your website does the same thing. It tells your story with great graphic design, strong branding, and engaging copy. And it does it all in a single website.
A television series, on the other hand, uses smaller chunks of storytelling, but it can tell a much larger and more complicated story than a film ever can. Think about some of the longest-running TV shows: Gunsmoke, Law & Order, CSI… not to mention a whole slew of soap operas. There are so many characters and plotlines that go into these stories and it’s these threads of storytelling that weave throughout the series that make them so compelling and which give these shows such longevity. Shows like Friends, The Simpsons, and M.A.S.H.have such a strong fanbase because those fans have invested in these stories and have grown with the characters.
Your blog allows you to tell a story with that same depth and complexity. It’s a place to engage with your audience, show them your passions and your organization’s personality. A blog is their chance to invest in your story and grow with your brand. The character arc of your brand is woven throughout each blog post that you publish. And, to complete the metaphor, all of your previous posts are available in the archives for people who are new to your brand to read and get caught up on the story – just like “binge-watching” shows on Netflix!
This just in: breaking news is good for your brand.
Blogs give you an easy way to address current events, trends, or news that’s relevant to your target audience and site visitors. This allows you to show that a) you care about the same things as your target audience, b) you’re paying attention to the world around you and aren’t insulated in the “Christian Bubble”, and c) you are agile enough to react to what’s going on.
This goes beyond showing signs of life. This is proving to your users that your organization is relevant to them. It increases audience buy-in to your brand. It proves that you “get it.” This moves your brand from talking to your audience to talking with your audience. It transforms your brand message into a brand conversation.
Hang out with the popular kids – on Google.
One of the most important by-products of everything that we’ve discussed so far is increased SEO ranking. Search engines like Google are concerned about one thing above all else – do people care about you and your brand? They measure how much people care about you by how many people engage with your content and how often they do so. A blog provides your audience a way to repeatedly interact with your website through new posts, commenting, linking, and social media sharing. The more engagement your site has, the more likely Google is to pull your site to the top of the listings… because it shows that people care about you. You’re popular in Google’s eyes, so it’s going to put you with the other popular kids at the top of the search ranking.
So what are you waiting for? Get started blogging! Your brand deserves to have its story told and your audience is waiting to hear it.