What is Business Blogging?
First of all it makes sense to provide a loose definition of what a blog actually is:
A blog is a simple to manage website, or portion of a website, where the entries are displayed in reverse chronological order. The entries are generally in the form of diarised comments.
A blog can also be considered as an online journal where the latest content is at the top. The content can take many forms: it is predominantly text but may also include photos, video and audio. One of the key elements is the ease of use of the blog software. With minimal training, it enables anyone to express an opinion, share knowledge or demonstrate expertise. Another key element of blogging is that it is a two way conversation. Readers of the blog can post comments on blog articles if they feel moved to do so. Moving people to comment is ideal, it means that they are interested. Comments that are left can be moderated, so there is still some control. The blog software can be set so that any comments have to be explicitly approved by the blog author prior to them being published. This rules out the risk of defamatory or abusive posts being left on a business blog.
So why should a business blog?
There are many reasons. It’s a very dynamic way of speaking to an audience regularly. And not only speaking to them, getting very relevant feedback from them on a regular basis. It turns business communications from a one way diatribe into a conversation. And if your clients and other interested parties are reading what you say, the chances are that they are telling other people about you as well. This also opens up the floor to other interested parties, they may not be customers or suppliers but they have some interest in what you have to say and very possibly something valuable to add to the conversation. Consider the general website: It is very static and is rarely updated. After the initial visit, there is little reason to visit it again unless some particular fact or figure is required., however due to the dynamic nature of a blog, it means that there is often a good reason to revisit, or in fact have the content from that blog sent straight to you, which I shall discuss later.
As an example, a company blogs about their marvellous product “Wonderthing”. They blog about a new service variant they are considering called “Wonderthing Lite”. Because they have been diligent bloggers making regular posts that are relevant and engaging, they have an interested audience. So one of the audience comments on the blog “Hey, we’ve been thinking that something like that for quite a while but we had it in our minds that “Wonderthing Lite with bits on” would work really well in our sector. A need has been identified very simply. ” Someone else from the audience elaborates, and so on; delivering very focussed market research whilst stimulating demand.
Blogging about issues affecting your industry is a great strategy. If your point of view generates sympathy or even controversy, then over time, the blog can become established as a point of reference. Consequently it becomes apparent that blogging has direct relevance to market research and public relations.
The very nature of the blogging process develops an element of personality. It shows something about the way that the company and the people within in it operate. It is just about as close as you can get on the web to generating the ‘feeling’ that is the root of so much business. Business is not always a price decision. It is often based on the thought “Do I want to do business with these people?” and the personality expressed via blog can go a long way to establishing a company as the people to do business with.
RSS and News Feeds
One of the most powerful but harder to understand aspects of blogging is “RSS” or News feeds. RSS is colloquially known as Really Simple Syndication. It is a means by which people who are interested in your blog can have the latest updates from it delivered straight to their desktop. People who consume RSS feeds use a tool known as an aggregator. This basically pulls the headlines from the blogs that it is subscribed to making up what is in effect a highly customised newspaper. It is an enormously powerful concept; a consumer inviting you to put your thoughts directly in front of them on a daily basis. Two examples of easy to use RSS readers are:
The BBC are great advocates of RSS and have some excellent information on the subject
When running a business blog, it is important to consider the policy of how that blog should be run, what sort of voice it should have. We strongly believe that the following criteria act as a sound basis for developing a blogging strategy. The blog should be:
It’s important that anybody who blogs from within the company should be aware of the companies blogging policy which should be based on the above criteria. Too often the roll of blogger is seen as being one person within the company, one who is perceived as being “qualified” for the roll: a figurehead. However, all too often there are passionate and eloquent advocates of the company who make excellent blogger given guidance. We would perhaps suggest the following policy guidelines:
• A bloggers comments don’t necessarily represent those of the company.
• Confidentiality should be respected
• No flaming
• Moderation and not censorship should be applied.
Who Should Be Involved In The Business Blog?
The question of using various people from around the company is often a sticky one. We often find that the figurehead does insist that they take on the spokes person roll but very quickly finds out that they do not have the time to deliver on the commitment. Whereas an involved and enthusiastic employee often has the time, enthusiasm and knowledge to generate excellent content for the blog.
Above and beyond the interpersonal reaction with real people online, blogging also works superbly well with search. Search engines absolutely love the fresh and thematically coherent content that blogs so often produce. It goes towards the core theme of search which is relevance.
Business blogging is possibly the most important activity that a company could undertake online right now yet fraught with unnecessary fear. With a little training and the right setup, a company can be gaining online competitive advantage very quickly.