Few months back owner of a travel portal approached me saying he wishes to set up a blog section on his website. His portal was few years old while he and his team of 4-5 staff were doing pretty satisfactory in terms of business. During one of my visits to Bangalore I agreed to meet him as a goodwill gesture, for no financial gain. He was curious to know more about blogging, particularly how and how soon he can use the blog to help generate revenue for him. In brief I explained him that generating revenue from blogs will take some time and involves following process:
1 setting up a blog,
2 continuously publishing high quality original content and
3 promoting the blog through SEO and other means.
Only after we achieve these 3 a blog can generate some revenue in the form of
a. ads displayed directly on the blog,
b. leads and enquiries about travel services which could be converted into business
c. general branding and goodwill.
We set up a blog (histravelwebsite.com/blog, exact URL not revealed to protect privacy) and next major challenge was to generate content for this new blog. Just because you’ve set up a blog, no one will do charity and contribute good posts-either your brand name has to be strong (so that people consider it a honor to see their article at your blog) or there has to be some incentives.
I suggested following measures to mobilize content:
1. Check with your existing customers if they wish to share their travel experiences on your blog 2 contact other travelers/bloggers and check if they can contribute articles in exchange of some incentives
3 Write some good articles yourself (and your staff) sharing challenges in the business, recent offers, special attractions or anything related
The blog went live, but hardly saw any new content. He couldn’t mobilize posts either himself or through his customers. When I said some people may come forward to contribute if there’re some incentives, he offered “10% discount” to such writers when they book any of his travel packages. This obviously was not tempting enough and no one came forward to contribute. (A Rs 100 CCD coupon or anything of that sort would have been much more effective). I contributed one article, but with no financial gains and without any enthusiasm and participation from the blog owner I too had no motive to write too much for that blog-I had to tender to my office work as well.
Couple of days later he expressed his dissatisfaction over “not much things happening at the blog”. He also asked “Do you do SEO? I want to fully SEO my blog”. I couldn’t provide a Boolean YES or NO to that question. If there’s a good volume of high quality content, half of SEO is automatically taken care of. SEO is not something that can be bought and installed or set up overnight. No point worrying about SEO when the blog is dry. While I could help with most of SEO aspects, I’ve no intention to make false promises about rankings or other results. But before I could explain he was offline. [Read: SEO Fundamentals]
I now have a feeling as if he expected me to set up a blog, add lots of content, do SEO and once everything is ready hand it over to him on a platter so that he can start monetizing it. I’m sorry-I don’t do that.
This is what I feel (w.r.t. using social media to increase business revenue)
Results of Social media activities are best seen when the owner involves in it with full passion and dedicates some time and efforts to understand and promote it (unless you’ve enough budget to hire a qualified team for this purpose). While you may outsource the initial technical work (setup, design etc), managing the blog, twitter account and other SM instruments are best done by self. Expecting others to take your blog to popularity won’t work, because everyone will have their priorities. ROI is not predictable and a blog may take reasonably long time before it can make its presence felt. There’re lots of examples of successful corporate blogs and most of them were not set up with a primary intent of revenue generation.
Disclaimer: Not written with an intention to criticize anyone, but just to explain what won't work.
Related: My talk at MIC on Corporate Blogging * Spot blogging contest and workshop at MSRIT * Club Mahindra's Binsar trip for travel bloggers *