05 Sep 2019 | Marketing
Believe it or not, the first blog ever published on the internet was in 1994, but it wasn’t until the mid-2000s when blogging really hit the mainstream. Nowadays, blogs are a digital marketing standard and a must-have for most organisations.
While most arts and cultural organisations have blogs, there are some small (and big) things you can do to make them really work hard for your marketing and audience development goals.
Content Is Still The Queen
It is no surprise that we are going to start with content - it is by far the most important part of your blogging job.
Review your Content (and Data) First
While it might be tempting to write blogs entirely around shows all the time, we recommend to take a step back and do a review.
Best Performing Blogs - what does the data tell you about your best-performing blogs - the ones that draw the most readers?
Most Interaction - which posts got interaction - good and bad?
Who Are Your Key Writers? Are there other people that can help?
Are there other themes that you can see are important to your audiences that you could write about (social media is a great place to look out for different ideas).
Are you looking to develop new audiences? What type of content would draw them in?
Starting with a review can help you to determine where you are and where you want to go with your blog.
SEO: Get Ranked and Get Traffic
Following on from your content is SEO - this is how you rank on Google and how your audiences will find you. Remember not to stuff your content with keywords, but be considered with the keywords you include. What terms are your audience members using to search Google? Be sure to include long-tail searches as well - search phrases - as these will also help boost your SEO and traffic to your site.
Again, data is going to be your friend here! Google Analytics and Google Adwords can help you to refine and better understand how your audiences are finding you.
Optimise Your Content
After your review, you should have a good idea of what is working and what isn’t. Now you can begin to optimise your content to get the most from each blog post.
Write about what is interesting to your audiences. Don’t pack in search terms or make it a sales pitch - give the audience something.
Use videos and images where you can. It breaks up text and keeps readers on the page.
1600 words or seven minutes of reading is the ideal length for a blog post. Shorter is fine, but if you have a longer piece you are better to break it up into two parts.
Keep visitors on your site for as long as possible. Using internal links in your post, that is, links to other pages on your site, keep visitors reading and engaged.
Make sure your content is mobile-friendly - check your URLs!
Use Your Blog for Engagement and Action
Another great aspect of blogs is audience engagement. For most blogs, have the option for comments. Ask a question or pose a problem to encourage your patrons to comment and engage in your comment section. You will need to monitor the comments of course but giving your audiences another way to engage with you helps to develop patron relationships.
Another aspect to consider is the call to action on your blog. It makes absolute sense that if your post is about an upcoming show - giving your audience a chance to “book tickets now” is a no brainer. But even if your post is not about a particular show, think about a call to action that lets them learn more, “explore our comedy shows,” “get 10% off now,” “donate now,” “become a member now,” etc. If nothing else, offer them the opportunity to share their email to get news and updates (pop-ups work great here)!
Authors: Guest Bloggers and More
Think for a moment who is writing the majority of your blogs? When they are published does the author name appear as just the venue or festival name? A great idea is to have multiple authors - or departments - as blog authors. That doesn’t necessarily mean they need to write the blogs, but the pieces could be ghostwritten with different departments or people as the published authors. This allows for a few things to happen. One, your audiences can hear from other people within your organisation. Two, this is a great way to give your audiences a peek into a variety of areas of the organisation. The artistic director might be the obvious choice, but why not the lighting team or the chefs in the restaurant? Authors can come from anywhere with your organisation. Three, this gives you a chance to tap into guest bloggers and influencers.
Guest bloggers are a great way to broaden the reach of your blog. Influencers and other guests can add a new dimension to your blog and persuade new audiences to make a visit. Again you can think outside of the box here with vlogs and other types of media.
Social Media and Your Blog
Even with the best SEO in the world, you will still likely need to push your blog via social media. Wonderfully, you can set up automated releases of your blogs to social media via tools like Buffer and Hootsuite. Be sure to include Twitter in your social media push - tweets help Google index content faster. And don’t forget to add sharing options to your posts! Audiences reading your blog are your best ambassadors of content.
Another great tip is to set up Blog Reminders. Content published today could still be popular next year - you can always push old blogs on social media again. It is a great way to reuse content and expand your reach.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Often when organisations start blogging it tends to be a bit ad hoc and on the fly. But getting an editorial calendar together is the best way to ensure all of your marketing activities are integrated and that you not wasting effort and time. Most importantly, it will let you see where there are gaps and helps you to have adequate time to develop campaigns where needed. For example, if you are looking at building a fundraising campaign, for a building refurb, you can use your blog strategically to support your fundraising campaign. Pavilion Theatre used their blog in a similar way when they launched their green theatre campaign - the blog was an integral part of the marketing efforts.
Blogging isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It is a great way to tell your story in a more detailed way and drive traffic. Used effectively, your blog can capture new audiences, create brand awareness, and deepen existing customer relationships.