Sometimes when you have been doing something for a while, it becomes difficult to describe that thing to someone else. I was asked today what a blog was and I was taken aback a little, because , well, I had to know the answer didn’t I, after all, I do blog. It suddenly dawned on me that there should be many more people out their blogging and sharing their ideas and thoughts and expertise especially because their are a lot of people with great ideas, people who are well educated, highly experienced and experts on so many different subjects and that if we had more of these people sharing their thoughts , we may be able solve many of society’s problems in these networked times. And certainly, there should be more companies using blogs as an on-line value adding and marketing channel for their customers and prospective clients.
In order to get my definition right , I looked through some academic articles, I found the following definition of a blog ‘a frequently modified webpage in which dated entries are listed in reverse chronological order.’ In computer nerd language, a blog is a piece of software which allows you to write an online diary on a website. Your last entry, called a post, is displayed on the front page, or home page, of the blog or site.
Emerging importance of blogs for organisational marketing
Many organisation are now realising the importance of blogs and of blogging and have successfully integrated blogs into their on-line marketing strategies. Research statistics show that blogging is becoming a way of adding value to customers for many organisations since it enables them to talk about issues that customers and clients care about without directly carrying out a sales pitch or throwing products in their faces.
- 40% of US companies use blogs
- Companies that blog have 55% more website visits.
- Business to Customer companies that blog get 88% more leads per month that those that do not.
- Business to Business companies that blog get 67% more leads per month than those that do not.
Characteristics of blogs
Blogs are associated with dialogue and sharing of information. It is the conversational nature of blogs that makes them more appealing for companies and people to exchange views and opinions of mutual interest. Blogs promote a sense of community because they encourage people sharing similar interests to read, follow , comment on each others’ blogs and to do likewise on blogs belonging to companies that are blogging about subjects that interest them.
The other significant characteristics of blogs are:
- a blog has some form of navigation, usually menus
- a blog’s layout contains a header, footer and content. Usually there is at least one sidebar running beside the content.
- a blog has categories of posts so that the reader can see what else the blogger is writing about
- archives of previous posts that a reader can access
- that a post can contain text and images, inforgraphs, audio, video etc
- posts can contain links to other posts, both within blog and to the entire web
- should contain a contact page and form
- should contain an about page
In today’s world a blog may contain many other elements, such as a display of recent posts, a plugin that automatically sends a new post details to LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, image galleries and the ability to turn the post into an easy to print document.
Who should be blogging?
- All organisations that have a product or service to market.
- SMEs that want prospective customers to know about their products and services.
- People and organisations that want to express their thoughts and opinions.
- Companies that want to show their expertise at what they do.
- Businesses that want to add value to their other marketing initiatives.
- Companies that have websites and want to create interactive content.
- Organisations that want to help people solve their problems.
- Professionals that want to establish themselves as experts in their field.
- Organisations that want to make a difference.
- People who want to stay connected to friends and family.
And here is what I know, there are many people, who , if they can only try, would create our next Mashable.coms and Havard Business Reviews and so on. If you can put a great business plan together, convince a Board that you need to spend that next $10 million and if you can leave a presentation room audience spellbound, motivate staff to work harder for less because you made them believe in you, you can put pen to paper and write great posts that will inspire others to follow in your footsteps.
Characteristics of a great blog
I loved the following 18 Characteristics of good blog content written by Steven Streight, of BlogCore Values at http://blogcorevalues.blogspot.com/2005/04/18-characteristics-of-good-blog.html
(1) Radiant: Immediate visual impression of credibility, authority, and propriety via colour, design, typography, logo, and upfront corporate or personal identification.
(2) Relevant: Having an obvious pertinence, appropriateness, application, or affinity with the topic at hand. Not trying to be all things to all readers. Not wandering off into multiple tangents or side issues.
(3) Rare: Unique, idiosyncratic, not redundant, not commonly found, in this form, or with this degree of completeness, in other information resources.
(4) Rich: Loads of good stuff for users to enjoy, absorb, and ponder, rather than meagre, mediocre, same-o same-o offerings that aren’t worth waiting for the site to download into the browser.
(5) Radical: Beyond platitudes, pleasantries and proverbs–provide your blog readers with fresh thinking that challenges pre-conceived, outmoded, or erroneous (but popular) notions.
Dare to be Different. Question both authority and anarchy. Challenge your own beliefs. Read contrary opinions, that contradict your point of view, to determine if there just might be some value in them.
(6) Rapacious: Investigating, exploring, accumulating, and stockpiling all the information that is known to be available on a topic.
Then differentiating what is useful and desired by the target audience, and providing summaries, paraphrases, quotations (with permission from the sources, where required), links, or other means of dissemination.
(7) Recrudescent (“breaking out afresh, renewed action”): Providing your blog readers with facts that are emerging in various locations and scenarios, but have largely gone unnoticed by other bloggers.
(8) Rectilinear (“characterized by straight lines”): Driving right to the heart of the matter, no lengthy digressions, irrelevant filler, or off-topic meandering.
Pointing your audience directly (via links, URLs) to the most authoritative, credible, or interesting material…rather to more secondary sources.
(9) Resolute: Firm in purpose, exhibiting confident clarity, and presented aggressively or creatively to be more memorable and persuasive.
(10) Recondite (“beyond ordinary perception, profound, dealing with complex or obscure subjects”): Sublime, extraordinary, “Eureka!” type insights that contain the solution for obstinate or pervasive problems.
(11) Repositorial: Your blog is considered to be a dependable repository, reservoir, or collection of all necessary facts…
…or contains references to the major resources dealing with the subject, obviating the need for your readers to bounce all over the web, hunting down the relevant data.
(12) Realistic: Rational, pragmatic, capable of immediate application to actual situations, not overly theoretical, hypothetical, utopian, fanciful, or abstract.
(13) Reverberant (“to re-echo”): Your blog’s content reflects your blogging goals and the needs of your audience. Be sure your goals and your audience’s needs are clearly and comprehensively understood and defined.
(14) Refluent (“flowing back, as an ebbing tide”): Has links back to source or substantiating material.
If you mention other blogs, be sure to provide direct links to them. And if you refer to a specific post in another blog, or information at a web site, provide a “deep link” that takes the reader directly to that specific item.
“Shallow linking” that merely takes the reader to the main page of the other blog or website can be very frustrating. Sometimes it is difficult to locate the information, especially if the other site has less than ideal information architecture, no site search, or poorly categorized archives.
(15) Refrangible (“can be refracted, bent, as light rays entering a glass”): The information in the blog is capable of being “tilted” toward differing conditions, flexible in implementation, not rigidly relevant to a severely limited range of applications.
For example, this list of aspects of good blog content can be relevant to personal blogs, CEO blogs, business blogs, academic blogs, military blogs, marketing blogs, just about any type of blog, wiki, or web site.
(16) Remonstrative (“pleading in protest or rational complaint, maintaining a reasonable opposition toward something”): As demanded by the situation, is not shy or timid about protesting what you consider, in good conscience, to be wrong, insincere, unethical, morally corrupt, unprofessional, or factually incorrect.
(17) Retrievable: Easily searchable via main body content heads and subdivisions, “site search” text entry box, and clearly and logically categorized archives.
(18) Responsive: Your blog, filled as it is with such great content that fulfils the above 17 criteria, is nonetheless still open to user-generated, client-mandated, or corporate-dictated corrections, elucidations, critiques, revisions, amplifications, alterations, and questions.
There are many people who are expertise in their fields, who have problems to solve, ideas to share who should be opening their laptops and putting their thoughts onto the World Wide Web for all to share.
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