Startup life can be hectic. Between interacting with customers and developing your product, there is little time to develop an effective blog strategy, let alone write fresh and engaging blog posts. You can’t afford to write and maintain a blog just for the blog’s sake—it’s a waste of a startup’s most precious commodity: time.
If done effectively and with a clear strategy, however, a blog can be an essential tool to generate new leads and turn current customers into loyal evangelists.
Here are three startups who discovered smart ways to make their blogs work for them organized by early (SeatGeek), middle (WePay), and late (Bazaarvoice) growth stages.
SeatGeek uses ticket data to showcase interesting trends
SeatGeek analyzes millions of ticket transactions and can predict ticket prices for upcoming events. With this large data set, SeatGeek’s blog posts analyze trends in ticket prices similar to how Nate Silver analyzes political polling data over at FiveThirtyEight.
SeatGeek includes shareable charts and detailed descriptions on how the data is collected on topics that appeal to their users. They have earned huge distribution successes with these posts, especially in analyzing MLB ticket data. Buster Olney, a top tier ESPN baseball analyst, recently included SeatGeek’s analysis of where Alex Rodriguez’s 600th home run will land on his exclusive weekly column.
SeatGeek Co-Founder, Russ D’Souza, commented “Our blogs are an outlet for us to look at our ticketing data in exciting ways and to offer unique insights into the top stories in sports and music. In addition to our blogs, we are continuing to open up and share our data through new pages that offer daily ticketing updates. For example, if you are from Boston you can now discover detailed data on Red Sox ticket prices without having to wait for us to publish a post.”
How to use SeatGeek’s strategy
Use data from your product to create unique infographics and charts. Brand them with your company logo and encourage readers to share these posts with others.
WePay gives honest startup advice drawn from personal experience
“Paul Graham says that good startup founders can be described in two words: relentlessly resourceful. I agree, but I would add two words of my own: arrogant and naive. Arrogant enough to get in the ring, and naive enough that you still think you will win after you feel the first punch.”
– Rich Aberman from “5 things I ‘knew’ (or should have known) before starting a company, but didn’t fully understand until now”
WePay helps people collect money online; right now, they focus on helping groups like roommates, fraternities, clubs, sports teams, reunions, etc. collect and manage money. WePay’s blog highlights the usual product updates and use case examples, but the founders also write posts about what they have learned while starting a company after college.
When a startup that has raised a significant round offers detailed, personal advice and admits the mistakes they’ve made along the way, other startups listen. WePay’s articles consistently reach the front page of Hacker News and generate a non-trivial amount of signups for the young startup.
“People want to read about startups, so that’s what I write about” says Rich Aberman, co-founder of WePay. “I know that if I write a good post about starting a company, a lot of people will read it. But the article before it and after it are usually product-specific, and there’s always a sign up button in view. I’m not saying that’s why I write about startup stuff, but it certainly doesn’t hurt”.
How to use WePay’s strategy
Write honest and personal posts about your startup journey. Don’t leave anything out; admit mistakes you have made along the way to spur discussion within the startup community.
Bazaarvoice promotes products by focusing on related topics
Bazaarvoice has provided tools for businesses to integrate customer product reviews to their websites since 2005. As an established startup, Bazaarvoice is consistently introducing new products and updating existing solutions.
The social media and blogging team for Bazaarvoice has developed a unique method of announcing product updates. Instead of forcefully announcing new features, they craft blog posts on related topics in the space and demonstrate their product’s contributions to that space, focusing on word of mouth marketing. For example, in a recent post on Facebook’s like button, Gerardo Dada breaks down the value of a Facebook fan and shows how Bazaarvoice’s SocialConnect product amplifies the reach of a business’ Facebook fans.
Ian Greenleigh, Bazaarvoice social media manager, states “blogs don’t have to be ‘salesy’ to be promotional. The pieces that get the most traction and positive word of mouth across all social media channels are the ones that lend unique insight, offer the eye of an expert, or address common problems. Mention your brand’s offerings where it makes sense within this context, but don’t make them the sole focus of the posts you’re writing.”
How to use Bazaarvoice’s strategy
When promoting a new feature or product, don’t write like a list of release notes. Instead, write a post on a tangential topic that demonstrates the power of your new feature. Remember, your blog can’t be all about you!
Have you seen other startups promote themselves in unique or interesting ways? Please add examples in the comments section below.