My last column had a small mention of Weblogs, which captured many readers’ interest. Some asked for helped understanding the phenomenon, while others admitted to being active bloggers and wondered if blogs (short for Weblogs) have a place in marketing. Let’s explore this new frontier and see what potential blogs might have in Internet marketing and the corporate world.
It’s been said Trent Lott got blogged. A bunch of politically savvy people started discussing, in their personal blogs, Lott’s remarks that initially seemed to go unnoticed by the media. As reported by a Boston Globe writer on Boston.com, “Mixing vocal opinion with historical fact and context, they [the group of bloggers] helped keep the Lott saga on simmer until a critical mass of people started paying attention.”
So what’s a blog? The definition might change. Back in 1999, Jorn Barger, sometimes credited for coining the term, defined a Weblog as “a webpage where a weblogger (sometimes called a blogger, or a pre-surfer) ‘logs’ all the other webpages she finds interesting.” Today’s definition is “a Web page that serves as a publicly-accessible personal journal for an individual. Typically updated daily, blogs often reflect the personality of the author.”
What started as a log of interesting Web sites soon became a forum for self-expression. I bet you can find someone from nearly every walk of life with a Weblog — authors, politicians, moms, dads, doctors, teachers. Even friends of a guy name Fred created one to discuss Fred.
Blogging is here to stay. Today, it’s estimated millions of dedicated bloggers are conversing on over half a million blogs, with over 1,000 new ones cropping up daily. Though it might look as if bloggers are merely venting personal, sometimes highly opinionated, voices on cyberspace’s new talk radio channel, there’s more to blogs than mere ranting and raving.
My Own Definition: The B-Blogs Are Coming
Here’s what I see happening, folks. A few savvy businesses have caught on to the fact blogs essentially present an opportunity to build communities where like-minded people gather to establish interactive dialogues on issues of their choice. And in the business world, large communities gather. “Business-blogs,” or “b-blogs” (a term I coined here and now), are perfect for the corporate world.
B-blogs can offer organizations a platform where information, data, and opinion can be shared and traded among employees, customers, partners, and prospects in a way previously impossible: a two-way, open exchange. Companies can (and should) encourage self-publishing from all corners of the organization. Employees who want to post information should no longer have to go through the corporate site’s marketing gatekeepers to post. Suddenly, the best thinkers in a company will have a digital voice they can manage and control themselves.
Enormous Marketing Potential
B-blogs are highly strategic, here-to-stay desktop tools that can strengthen relationships, share knowledge, increase collaboration, and improve branding. Think of the potential for your e-newsletter strategies:
- Articles within newsletters can be linked to a blog, extending life and creating a massive conversation.
- You can offer a bidirectional forum to customers to get true, personal opinions on your products and services.
- Company experts can start a blog and become industry experts, helping your company edge out competition and, through this interactive forum, draw customers into another exchange of information and thoughts.
- The beauty of this interplay is you can layer your blog with editorial controls!
Weblogs in Action
To provide an idea of how blogs work and might benefit your organization, here are some examples to peruse. Look them over, learn, have a few laughs, and start thinking about how to create your own:
- News: The Drudge Report
- “Where technology meets business”: Doc Searle
- Corporate learning: elearningpost
- Company experts: Jupiter Research Analyst Weblogs (owned by ClickZ’s corporate parent).
- An author: Seth Godin, author of the bestsellers “Permission Marketing” and “Unleashing the Ideavirus“
- More blogs than you’ll ever want: 1,338, in fact, on Weblogs.com.
More questions on blogs? Contact me at email@example.com.
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