Whether you’re a corporate CEO or a small business owner, you’ve probably heard how beneficial blogging is for your enterprise. It’s not only a great content marketing strategy, it’s a neat way to let your target audience know what’s going on in your company. From updates to product launches, a blog can serve several purposes as long as it is carefully implemented and monitored.
However, one big setback blogging for your small local business is that it’s time-consuming. You need to spend hours crafting the perfect content, and then promote it on several online channels (i.e. social media, email, aggregator sites).
After that, there’s still no guarantee of how much online traffic your website will get, or how many of those readers will become paying customers. Another disadvantage is resources. Unless you’re a writer yourself, you need to hire someone to make the content for you.
That’s why for many businesses, blogging is simply NOT suitable. But if you still want to jump into the content marketing bandwagon, there are alternatives you could get your hands on. These are far simpler, and require little to no resources to get started.
1. Image Content
Who doesn’t love a good photo? From social media to blogs, content with visuals get more eyes and shares compared to its text-only counterparts. Marketing software company Hubspot rounded up some interesting stats about visuals and here’s what they found out:
- Pictures are 40x more likely to be shared around social media
- Studies show that users pay more closer attention to images than text
- Content with images receive 94 percent more views
- Articles with photos every 75 to 100 words get shared twice as much than articles with fewer visuals
Nowadays, it’s easier to get visual content for your online marketing needs. Here are a few ideas you can try today:
- Create image quote cards to be shared on various social media platforms. Download royalty-free photos from sites like Pixabay or Pexels, then add inspirational messages. These can be your own words or taken from entrepreneurs you admire.
- Make infographics that are informative yet beautiful. Free online tools like Piktochart can help you craft one in minutes (get their premium version to unlock more features).
- Take advantage of visual-heavy sites like Pinterest to push your products and/or services to a wider market. Create original boards and slowly build your following over time. The more you Pin, the more rePins you get!
- Don’t underestimate simple screenshots. Use this to show off customer testimonials, show how-to tutorials, and highlight product details.
- Don’t forget branded visuals that are perfect for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Make sure you have high-quality photos of your merchandise, place them in lovely settings that showcase their distinct selling points, and include your brand’s name as a signature.
If you’re still not confident in creating your own visuals, try Hubspot’s templates along with user-friendly photo-editing tool, Canva for professional designs that take just seconds to prepare. Thanks to online tools, both pros and beginners can make stunning image content in less time than it takes to write a blog post.
2. Interviews/User-Generated Content
Blogging is awesome – until you realize how much time and energy it needs. For most business owners, particularly small local startups, running a blog is just not a priority. But what do you do when you need content? Take your cue from your customers through user-generated content.
In general, user-generated content are experiences about your brand and/or products that are shared by customers. Great examples of effective user-generated campaigns include Coca-Cola’s “Share-a-Coke” project and Greek yogurt brand Chobani’s “Share Your Chobani Love Story.”
What made these campaigns a huge hit? Simple: People have an innate desire to be heard.
When you utilize user-generated content, you’re giving your consumers a platform to be heard. According to one survey, 64 percent of millennials want more options to share their thoughts about brands. And given their buying power along with endless gadgets on hand, this is one generation of consumers that you don’t want to disappoint. But how do you even begin?
- Hold seasonal contests that loyal customers would anticipate. Ask them to post pictures of their loved ones enjoying your products for a chance to win exclusive prizes or gift cards.
- Is your local business service-oriented? Be like Chobani and ask for your target market about their best experiences with your company. The best responses get a discount on their next transaction.
The best part about user-generated content is that they can also serve as testimonials. And with 84 percent of millennials trusting their peers more than brands, you may even say goodbye to blogging for good.
3. Video Content
Combine the beauty of visual content with the informative nature of a blogging and what do you get? Video.
Said to be the future of content marketing, video content is already dominating the Web. In the UK for instance, one in three Britons watch at least one video a day. There are plenty of brands that have its power and are either producing their own content, OR pairing up with companies that are already successful in this strategy.
One such company is Buzzfeed. From 30 to 500 employees, Buzzfeed is expanding to countries like Brazil, Australia, France, and Japan – and it’s all thanks to their strategically short yet captivating videos. One of their best campaigns was when they partnered with Purina to produce the viral hit “A Cat's Guide to Taking Care of Your Human”.
Now with more than 10 million views, it’s proof of how influential videos are compared to blogging.
When thinking about your video marketing strategy, one takeaway from Buzzfeed’s success is to ensure that your video works on mobile. Platforms like YouTube are a good start, especially for small local businesses that want to capture the elusive millennial market.
4. Social Media Q&A/Interviews
Entrepreneurs LOVE finding solutions to problems. However, that leaves them little time to manage their online marketing campaigns. As much as they want to write, most would need to resort to ghostwriters or outsource agencies just to maintain a blogging strategy.
Social media Q&A is a less stressful tactic that helps business owners promote their company as well as their expertise – and all it asks is a few minutes of your time. Small business expert Melinda Emerson for example, holds #Smallbizchat on Twitter every Wednesday to focus on startup challenges and digital marketing basics.
Join #SmallBizChat LIVE in NY 5/4, 8pm National Small Business Week https://t.co/vI0dBP9iqQ @samsclub @insightlyapp pic.twitter.com/WsFpvUASZ8
— Melinda Emerson (@SmallBizLady) May 3, 2016
As participants are mostly business owners, they can learn from each other about what works and what doesn’t, while at the same time promoting their business to dozens of potential customers.
Another blogging alternative is to be featured on major publications in your industry. Wool company, Duckworth for instance, has articles on publications like Backpacker, Men’s Journal, and Outside magazine.
This has helped them effectively promote their products to their target market.
Blogging for Your Business?
Just because you’re a small local business doesn’t mean you need to feel forced into blogging. It’s okay not to blog — especially if it doesn’t align with your goals or vision for the future of your company. Plus, you could always try blogging at a later time.
What matters is that you’re crystal clear on your goals, and that you have gained sufficient knowledge about what your target customers expect from you. Think of it this way: If you do decide to try these blogging alternatives, you’ll have more to talk about by the time you DO write your first post!