One of the unwritten rules of the social Web is that content should not be overly self-promotional. In fact, publishing content on the social Web that is entirely self-promotional is one of the quickest ways to ruin your blog and your online reputation. If you want to have a chance at building a successful business blog and grow your audience in order to build your brand and business, then you need to dial back the sales pitch on the social Web.
The reason for this is simple. No one cares about you. Instead, they care about how you can help them or add value to their lives. The key to social media marketing success is engagement and interaction. No one will want to interact with you if all you ever do on the social Web (including on your business blog) is talk about yourself.
Think of it this way — if you were at a party talking to another person and that person spent the entire time talking about himself, it’s unlikely you’d want to continue talking to him. In fact, you’d probably want to escape and stay away from that person for the rest of the night and in the future. You don’t want the online audience to feel that way about you! Therefore, your business blog content should be primarily non-promotional.
Don’t worry. You can still publish promotional content if that content is truly useful and interesting to your audience, but don’t go overboard. You need to provide substance first and promotion second (a distant second). The power of social media marketing (including business blogging) comes from the customer relationships that develop from it. It’s an incredibly effective form of indirect marketing that should be a vital component of any business’ long-term marketing strategy.
So then what’s a business owner to do?
I recommend that businesses spend 80% of their time on the social Web engaging in non-promotional conversations and publishing and 20% or less of their time on self-promotional activities. Additionally, try to ensure that 80% of the content and conversations that are published on your business blog are not self-promotional. The 20% (or less) of self-promotional content on your business blog, however, should still add value to the user experience on your blog. Simply regurgitating press releases or marketing brochures doesn’t add value. Take the time to make sure all self-promotional messages are actually useful to your audience. Don’t let that day arrive!
Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf? He continually called for help to be saved from peril simply to get attention until no one bothered responding to him anymore. Eventually, he truly did need help and everyone assumed he was just “crying wolf” again. They ignored him again to his detriment. That story also applies to business blogging and social media marketing. If you garner a reputation for only publishing self-promotional content, people will start to expect only that kind of content from you. If that content doesn’t add value to their lives, they’ll start to ignore you. The day will come when you really do have something valuable to say or share, but no one will pay attention because they only expect self-promotion from you.