Mythbusting Blog Content is More Than OK



“There may be more stories about the origin of ‘OK’ than there are uses for it,” a Mental Floss magazine article points out. Writers have attributed it to:

  • the Haitian port Aux Cayes
  • a Puerto Rican rum labeled “Aux Quais”
  • the German alles korrekt
  • shipbuilders marking wood for “outer keel”
  • Civil War soldiers carrying signs for “zero killed”

The truth, as Allan Metcalf explains in OK: The Improbable Story of America’s Greatest Word, is that the expression “OK” was born as a lame joke by the editor of the Boston Morning Post in 1839, meant to poke fun at poor spelling habits.

Today, Mental Floss points out, “OK” has become an all-purpose expression in dozens of languages, used as:

  1. an enthusiastic cheer
  2. an unenthusiastic rating of a movie or a meal
  3. a way to draw attention to a topic shift in conversation

What Metcalf has achieved is a myth debunk, and myth-debunking is one great use for business blogs. Many misunderstandings about a product or service present themselves in the natural order of business, in the form of questions and comments from readers and customers. Shining the light of day on that misinformation shines light on your own expertise.  If your blog post is well written, perhaps with a bit of tongue in cheek, it can offer enlightenment in a way that engages searchers and keeps them coming back.

In the process of debunking a myth, I tell business blog content writers, you can:

  • Offer little-known, interesting information related to your industry
  • Season that information with your own unique slant
  • Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise as a business owner or  practitioner

An important caution is in order when it comes to myth busting in blogs, however. As a blog writer, you want to use myth busting in your corporate blog to showcase your knowledge (as opposed to “showing up” your readers’ lack of it).

So long as you keep that important caveat in mind, mythbusting blog content is more than OK!


Case Study Business Blogging

Case study
“To explore uncertainty reduction theory, I ask students to analyze a case study in groups of four to six people for about 15 to 20 minutes,” says Elizabeth Natalle in Teaching Interpersonal Communication. The case study, she adds, is a good teaching technique because students can participate actively and demonstrates choice making.

Stories of all kinds – customer testimonials, famous incidents from the news, Hollywood doings, folklore – you name it – help personalize a business blog. Even if a professional  writer is composing the content, true-story material increases engagement by readers with the business or practice. Case studies are particularly effective in creating interest, because they are relatable and “real”.

I think that’s why, back in Journalism 101 class, we were taught to “put a face on the issue” by beginning the article with a human example  A story about rising food prices, for example, might begin with “Susie Hellenbecker’s putting things back on the shelf. With the price of cereal and fruit so high, she’s decided there’s no longer room in the budget for those, or for her favorite salad dressing.”

A case study takes that personalization even further, chronicling a customer or client who had a problem or need, and taking readers through the various stages of using the product or service to solve that problem. What were some of the issues that arose along the way? What new insights were gained through that experience, on the part of both the business and the customer?

“Case studies are a great way to tell the world how valuable your products or services are. They go beyond simple testimonials by showing real-life examples of how you were able to satisfy your customer’s needs and help them accomplish their goals,” teaches. “With great case studies, you will be able to highlight your successes in a way that will make your ideal potential customer become your customer.”



The First Blog Post is Like the First Day of Class

Young teacher near chalkboard in school classroom

“What impression would you like to make on the first day?” asks Elizabeth Natalle, author of Teaching Interpersonal Communication. In fact, the first day of class gets a lot of attention from pedagogues, Natalle explains to teachers, because “what happens that first day demonstrates to students what to expect from your instruction.” Some teachers even forget to introduce themselves before launching into the lecture, she notes.

Like Natalle, Harsh Agrawal of Shout ME Loud stresses the importance of demonstrating to your audience what to expect, except that Agrawal’s referring to bloggers, not classroom teachers. “Get it wrong,” he warns, “and you’re doomed to fail.  But, if you get it right, you’ll lay the proper foundation for success,” he tells those just beginning to post blogs. “People want to connect with you on a deep level, Agrawal says, advising new bloggers to tell readers what their experiences have been in life, revealing who they are as a person, as a professional, and as a blogger. Include pictures of yourself to show authenticity and to help readers connect with you, he advises, cautioning them to “make it clear why you’ve decided to offer a blog”.I couldn’t agree more with Agrawal’s advice.  In fact, the first post for every new Say It For You client is a why-blog-about———– (pet care/ bankruptcy/ tutoring, etc., etc.).

The art of writing a good blog post has dramatically evolved in recent years, as points out in “How to Write Your First Company Blog Post”. “Readers expect far more in return for their time than an ill-conceived or badly-written blog post, Twago warns. “If you aren’t able to talk authoritatively and in-depth on a subject in your chosen field then you can wave conversions goodbye.”

Just as instructors make clear to students what the syllabus is for the semester and what tasks they are expected to complete before the next session, it’s crucial for us blog content writers to tell the readers what actions we would like them to take when they have reached the end of the blog post.  “Readers actively seek this out; they want to know what comes next,” explains Twago.

Remember – the first blog post is like the first day of class!




Basically, We Bought Their Car For Them

Buying a new car


At a recent study session for financial planners, Waypoint Residential’s Todd Patterson made it really easy for us in the audience to understand exactly how excellent a return Waypoint had managed to generate for its investors over the last two years. After comparing dollars invested and dollars realized, Patterson summed up the situation in these simple terms:  “Basically, we bought their car for them.”

Let’s face it – most business blog posts make claims, either outright or implied.  The claims may be understated, exaggerated, or exactly on the money, but still – a claim is a claim is a claim. And when you make a claim, the problem is, blog visitors probably don’t know how to “digest” those claims you’ve “served up”.  They simply don’t have any basis for comparison, not being as expert as you are in your field. What I’m getting at is that every claim needs to be put into context, so that it not only is true, but so that it feels true to your online visitors. That’s precisely what Todd Patterson did so well in talking to us financial planners.

One core function of blogs for business is explaining yourself, your business philosophy, your products, and your processes.  An effective blog clarifies what sales trainers like to call your “unique value proposition” in terms readers can understand. And one excellent way to do just that is by making comparisons with things with which readers are already comfortable and familiar! Even those financial planner “numbers people” assiduously taking notes on their laptops, intending to share those stats with investors, needed something more.  That “more” was the “sound bite” about investors making enough money in two years to fund a car.

There are tens of millions of blog posts out there making claims of one sort or another, even as you’re reading this Say It For You post. Based on my own experience as an online reader, I’d venture to say fewer than 10% of them attempt to put their claims in context; and only the very top few manage to convey to their blog visitors what those claims can mean for them!

Basically, blog content writers, ask yourself what benefit your product or service “buys” for your customers and clients!




The 8 Worst Mistakes in Blogging for Business

Multiethnic businesspeople sleeping during a seminar in conference room

Reading Paul Sloane’s list of “The Eight Worst Mistakes Made By Keynote Speakers”, I couldn’t help thinking these are probably the same mistakes made all too often by business blog content writers. Just as Sloane warns speakers “Be sure not to make these mistakes”, I’d like to use this Say It For You blog post to issue the same caution to blog writers.

A weak start.
“The first impression that you make on the stage is very important.  It should be positive and animated.”
Once the online visitor has actually landed on your blog, it takes a “pow opening line” to fan that flicker of interest into a flame. That line might consist of a bold assertion or an anomaly (a statement that, at first glance, doesn’t appear to fit).

Over-use of PowerPoint.
“Many speakers load up their presentation with too many slides containing too many words.”
Web surfers have a painfully short attention span, so it’s important to exercise portion control in the length of paragraphs, titles, and entire blog posts. Single visuals can add interest and evoke emotion.

No clear message.
Often speakers try to cover too much ground…There are many different messages but there is no clear theme.”
Business blogging is ideal for using the Power of One. Focus readers’ attention on one theme in each blog post, with one clear Call to Action.

No human interest.
“Many talks are crammed full of facts, data, charts, and statistics…People relate to stories about people.”
The stories content writers in Indianapolis tell in their SEO marketing blog have the power to forge that emotional connection between company and potential customer.

Lack of enthusiasm.
“Your job is to inform and entertain….Try to include some humour or something interesting and unusual, but keep it relevant to the topic.”
Two of the four P’s of business blogging are Passion and Personality.  Blog posts are ideal for communicating the unique personality and core beliefs of the business owner. No doubt about it – enthusiasm sells. And, when it comes to blogging for business, enthusiasm spreads – to searchers, search engines, and right back home to YOU!

Too much Me and not enough You.
“A big mistake is to make the talk about you, your company, your issues, and your achievements….You have to make the talk about them.”
That same concept applies to blogging for business, I’m convinced.  Each claim a content writer puts into a corporate blog needs to be put into context for the reader, so that the claim not only is true, but feels true to online visitors.

No rehearsal.
“Check all the equipment on stage and be familiar with all the logistics.”
Above all, I teach bloggers – don’t confuse the online readers. Don’t overwhelm them with technical jargon. Then, don’t make navigating your blog site a mystery.  Have clear Calls to Action and links that lead directly to where they should.

Overrunning on time.
“Event organizers and audiences do not appreciate a speaker who overruns his allotted time.”
Longer content, if focused and well-organized and engaging, is still appropriate.  Instead of shortening, tighten your writing and make each sentence and phrase count.

Blog content writers – Be sure to steer clear of the 8 mistakes!