Thursday, November 12, 2009

Should You Blog?

Blogs have been around since the early 1990’s, but should you have one?

According to Wikipedia, a blog is a type of website that is usually maintained by an individual or individuals with regular entries of commentary, event descriptions, graphics, or video. Entries are often displayed in reverse-chronological order, and unlike corporate websites, visitors can post their comments in an interactive format. The community of blogs is referred to as the “blogosphere,” and as of December 2007, the blog search engine Technorati tracked more than 112 million blogs.

There are three types of blogs:
• Corporate blogs – created by companies for marketing or brand-building purposes
• Personal blogs – created by individuals as a forum for expression
• Genre blogs – created for any topic (examples include travel blogs, education blogs, music blogs, book club blogs, animal blogs, etc.)

Over the years, Blogs have become more mainstream:
• By 2004, politicians, news outlets, and political consultants used blogs to express opinions and increase outreach (for example, Howard Dean and Wesley Clark)
• In 2004, blog posts were instrumental in the Dan Rather “Rathergate” scandal that led to his resignation as anchor of the CBS Evening News
• In 2008, Israel established an official government blog, and questions and answers from a world-wide press conference were posted on the blog

What could a Blog do for your business?
• Build a two-way relationship with customers
• Build brand awareness
• Promote your company’s products or services
• Provide a forum for customers to provide feedback about products or services and/or make recommendations for improvement
• Keep a pulse on your industry in real-time – if your company needs to act, it can do so quickly
• Increase traffic to corporate website – improve search engine optimization campaigns
• Showcase your company’s expertise to a large audience

Once you set up a Blog, find your voice. If you are an individual, write as you speak. If a company, determine your company’s voice and make sure that the senior management team approves. Second, develop a timeline for updating your Blog. Daily may be too much work – weekly or monthly may be better options. Third, create a strategy for content. Decide on key themes or topics. Future topics will be derived from visitor feedback, and research industry-specific venues for additional ideas. Now, start blogging!

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