Professionals should earn CPD points for blogging, argues George Beaton.
It’s becoming clearer by the day. Too many professional services firms are not productively engaged with social media. And of those that are, most are not taking the scientific approach that’s needed to generate a positive return on their efforts.
Too many firms are literally ‘jumping in’ into social media. They put up a website and treating it like an electronic brochure. Or start a blog, then stop. Or get into Twitter, then stutter because so few follow. Even LinkedIn – the best known of the major media – is way under-exploited.
Most of these firms are now have varying degrees of dissonance. They feel they have too little to show for the money and time invested.
Social media are ideal for creating trust, demonstrating authenticity and showcasing professional expertise. Trust, authenticity and expertise are the hallmarks of a true professional. So why aren’t practitioners doing better?
Here’s one answer. They have started in the wrong place and in the wrong way.
The right way to start
A blog is the right way to start in social media. A blog provides a near perfect platform to start – and succeed. Either as a shared blog in small firms or as a specialist blog of your own or your team in larger firms.
A blog is the ideal way to create a niche that appeals to a well-defined target audience. It is a way to demonstrate a clear point of differentiation and demonstrate your authenticity, expertise and commerciality in applying your knowledge and experience.
Many practitioners recognise they need this kind of focus to differentiate themselves and prosper. But I observe most are reluctant to commit themselves to focus their practice. Yet as Michael Gass, author of Fuel Lines, argues a blog allows any practice or small firm to be tightly niched without risking loss of appeal to its current client base.
Blog posts can be written in an evergreen manner so that they retain their usefulness for many years. And as a blogger you need to give to receive. In other words give your thinking away. Pure self-promotion will reduce your appeal and negatively affect traffic to your site. Readers don’t particularly care about your most recent lateral hire or seminar.
Make it helpful
You don’t have to be a gifted writer to blog. Helpful content that appeals to your target audience can be brief, in plain English and straightforward. Crucially though, your posts must be optimised for search engines like Google to find them. Writing for SEO is easily learned. And blog software makes it easy.
Once your blog is established, it can feed into other social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google +. But your blog must be at the centre.
Finally your blog has the potential to be your most powerful tool for professional development. as Michael Gass puts it: “Every morning I enter my classroom, I know my reading and writing assignments in advance. I’m even tested and graded by my audience through my analytics. My audience becomes my teacher. They help me to know things such as their greatest concerns, what content is appealing and what is not. They actually help me to be their thought leader.”
It’s high time blogging is recognised for professional CPD purposes.
George Beaton is a director of Beaton Capital and Beaton Research + Consulting, firms dedicated to professional services.