A Scorecard on the 7 Blogging Essentials

This corporate blogging question was submitted to me by our good {grow} friend Brent Pohlman:

On a scale of 1-to-5, with 5 being a requirement, which items are most critical to a great blog post?

  • Great Title
  • Image
  • Introductory Paragraph
  • Content with facts, figures and links,
  • Call to Action,
  • RSS Feed,
  • Social sharing options

Boy that is a tough one … and my answer might surprise you.

First, any company blog should be aligned with your marketing objectives and those will vary company to company. But to keep things simple, let’s say the over-arching goal of every post is to get the thing read!

Here is my take on it, more or less in order …

1. Great headline (Rating: 5.0) — You are fighting through a lot of noise, a ton of competing content and SEO tricksters trying to push you to the bottom of the reading list. Sometimes the only thing that will save a blog post is a great headline. Bloggers agonize over headlines and still rarely get them right. They have to be accurate, descriptive, attention-grabbing, and short enough to tweet.  Many people will never get to your content unless you grab them by the throat with your headline.

2. Insanely great content (5.0) — You want people to return to your blog over and over. Fight to never disappoint them. Being original, consistent, and compelling is hard work. An acronym I use with students is RITE — Your blog posts should be Relevant, Interesting, Timely and Entertaining.

3. Social sharing (4.0) — I know this will surprise a lot of people, but hear me out! After the headline, the next thing that usually grabs attention is the number of times it has been tweeted. So of course having a sharing option is important if you want your post to be read widely, but the social validation of having a few tweets at the top is also a crucial psychological reinforcement that says: “this is a post that should be read!”

4. Introductory Paragraph (3.5) — I am a big believer in stating what you have to say and get on with it. Don’t waste people’s time or make them work to find the value in the article. Overall, keep your articles short.

5. RSS feed (3.0) — I learned a painful lesson last year. Most people don’t even know what an RSS feed is!  I was confounded why my subscriptions weren’t increasing at a faster rate. Once I changed the prompt to “email subscription,” instead of RSS feed, it took off like a rocket.

6. Image (3.0) — There are plenty of great blogs that don’t have images. There are plenty of great blogs that also diminish their appeal through a poor use of over-used stock photos. I use illustrations as a way to capture attention and entertain but I don’t think it trumps content.

7. Call to Action (1.0) — This low rating may also surprise some folks. Here is my logic. Your readers are absolutely sick of being sold to and marketed to. Certainly it is OK to discuss new products and services in a helpful way but if readers feel they are being pushed into something every time they come by, they’ll stop coming. Give them content that is useful and helpful and the business relationships will take care of themselves.

Now here’s the FUN part!  What do the {grow} readers think?  What would YOUR scorecard look like?

Brent Pohlman oversees the blogging duties at http://blogmidwestlabs.com and submitted this question through the recent B2B blogging webinar I provided through MLT Creative.

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