Blog Analysis: The Square Blog Offers Advice To Small Businesses
Square is an exciting company that has been popping up on your TV and probably in your local shops and restaurants. The little white square that plugs into smartphones and tablets has been showing up all over and it’s become a little brand symbol for making payments easy for both consumers and businesses.
The first time I saw Square was on one of their TV commercials. I can’t remember if that was on TV or if it was on YouTube or maybe on their site. But I’ve been hearing about it for a while now. And I’ve been seeing it live in person too. I’ve seen it at coffee shops, food trucks and in a few retail stores (mostly small, independent stores).
It’s cool. Instead of needing to have those awkward credit card machines next to your register (you don’t even need a register) the retailer or restaurant or whatever just runs the transaction right on their phone or iPad or whatever. They swipe your card in the little white scanner and send you an email receipt.
Quick and easy for everybody.
Because the device is popular with small businesses, Square has been providing some content on their blog that appeals to small business owners that need to make transactions in person. The company is providing useful information that target clients can turn into value for their businesses. That earns trust and new business.
I think Square is doing a great job.
Here is an analysis of the Square Blog.
1. Simple Design
Square has a subdomain for their blog, which is one of the two most common and preferred ways to setup your blog (blog.yourdomain.com and yourdomain.com/blog/).
Usually it’s good to incorporate your regular website design into the design of your blog. Square does that, but they make things on their blog really simple and I think that it’s great.
Here is a snapshot of the blog homepage:
There is no confusion on that page. You have the heading at the top letting you know where you are. And then you immediately get into the post. Other than the Subscribe button there are zero distractions on the page. It’s all about the content, which is what it should be about with your business blog.
When it comes to your blog, many of the readers will be first time readers or readers that are very early in your sales process. They’re not ready yet to buy your product or service. Let them read your content and get to know you before you ask them those things.
Simple design with the right call to action (Subscribe). Great stuff from Square.
2. Answering Common Questions
One of the best strategies we see in business blogging is answering questions that the target readers have.
And I’m not talking about answering questions your customers have about your business. It’s good to answer those, but for blog readers those questions and answers are going to be way too specific.
For blog readers, it’s better to focus on the industry level questions your target customers have. Square has done this with a couple recent posts on chip cards. The second is actually a video, but in both posts the reader gets a clear background on what chip cards are and how they’re going to affect the payment industry next year in the US.
This isn’t about Square specifically, but they’re in the payment industry and are therefore seen as an expert. They can earn trust by being a valuable resource for commentary on questions like this by providing good answers. Square does this all the time and it’s great.
3. Square Data
One of the coolest (and smartest) features on the Square Blog is Square Data. They dig into the data they have from their clients and use it to share actionable insight. Square clients can read these posts and figure out ways to improve their businesses.
In this post we learn about how people in different cities take their coffee. In this one we learn about breakfast modifications. It’s really interesting and to businesses in these areas or fields it’s great information. A coffee shop in one of the cities could use the information to tweak their offering or their marketing. And the restaurants in the other cities could do the same with their offerings.
If your business has access to data like this it makes for an excellent blog post. You’re not sharing information about specific clients. You’re simply taking a collection of all the info and putting it together in an actionable insight for your potential customers.
4. Talking About Other Brands And About Clients
One of the best ways to get more traffic to your business blog is to talk about other brands and about clients. You give them a reason for your blog post to do well. They usually share it with their established audiences whether that’s on social media, email or even in person.
Square did this by mentioning how their app interacts with email using IFTTT. There are actually a few recipes Square users can use to make their life easier. It’s pretty cool and useful, which is what a blog post should be, but by mentioning IFTTT, Square is aligning itself with a strong brand.
Square also does this in a similar way with posts like this one on a client. They mention King Of Pops. These features are similar to case studies, which people do like reading. It’s a great way to tell a story to help potential customers understand how current customers are using your service or product. You get to tell your story without being pushy because you’re talking about someone else while promoting yourself at the same time.
And usually when you talk about brands and clients or anyone else, they have an incentive for the post to do well so ask them to share it on social media to send more traffic (and potential customers) to your blog.
Square collects articles they find interesting each week and puts up the roundup on their blog. Here’s an example. These posts have been around a long time on a lot of different blogs. The reason bloggers still use this form of curation is because 1) readers find value in them and 2) you get to pay it forward.
Anytime you share someone else’s post you’re doing something good for them. When you put enough good will in your bank it will eventually come back to you. You won’t get every person to share your content when you share their content, but it will happen occasionally and that’s always a good thing for your blog.
I’m really impressed with the Square blog. I can see how it would be a must follow blog for Square users. Small business owners can learn about the latest articles that will provide them with helpful tips. Square Data provides interesting and actionable insight. And there are how-to articles on the questions small business owners care about. It’s a great example of how business blogging should be done.