Much has been made of the explosion in personal communication on the web via blogging. With over 70 million blogs in place and tens of thousands more added daily, blogging has moved far beyond a techie trend- it is now a mainstream communications medium.
From a business perspective blogs offer a unique set of attributes, which represent both opportunity and challenge. They include:
- Blogging is a personal medium. The reader of a blog is there to make a personal connection with the blogger to learn their point of view. The opportunity is one-on-one communication with your market, the challenge is projecting an honest and real persona. Manufactured blogs ghostwritten by voices without personalities are inevitably failures.
- Blogging is real-time. When you post to a blog and publish your post it appears live on the web and in your readers’ RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds, instantly. If you choose, readers can comment publicly on your post, creating an instant dialogue with multiple participants. The opportunity is to build a community around an intelligent, relevant dialogue, the challenge is to control that dialogue without breaking the unique bond of trust a blog can create.
- Blogging is an effective replacement for print and email newsletters. Email newsletters are often unwelcome in a crowded inbox and may be blocked by spam filters. Print newsletters are very likely to be circular-filed as junk mail. Blogs, with feeds, let you publish your views and news in the context of current events. Your readers can access that content via the web or have it pushed to them via a reader.
- Blogs are inherently search-friendly with their large amount of text-based, relevant content. They can help drive traffic to your other online initiatives.
Examples37 Signals is a software company that offers productivity and collaboration tools online. Their blog, Signal vs. Noise, is their primary means of communicating with their customers, yet it does not focus exclusively on their products. Instead it encompasses all kinds of subjects related to productivity and communication. How valuable is a corporate or business blog like theirs? They have millions of visitors monthly.
In some cases we are seeing businesses replace their web sites with blogs because they offer a more dynamic medium for communication. An example is the venture capital firm Union Square Ventures. While we don’t recommend this approach in most cases, it works for them because their principals actively participate in blogging. In fact they started out with a standard web site, added a blog and then decided to use the blog as their principal site.
Of course, you’re reading our business blog. Let’s look at how business blogs work…