A Closer Look at Blogs

There are millions of blogs. AOL recently launched AOL Journals to capitalize on the current popularity of blogs. What exactly are blogs and how can you use them as a marketing tool for your business? That is the focus of this newsletter.

Blog is short for weblog. A blog is an online journal that is typically subjective and opinionated – not polished and edited like most business communications. A blog contains commentary as well as links to related content and other blogs on the Web.

There are standalone blogs and hosted blogs, with the latter being more community oriented. A standalone blog is a software application that is installed and operated in your own environment. Movable Type is an example of a standalone blog application. The hosted blog exists on a Web site where the hosting and configuration details are handled for you. There is much less involved with getting a hosted blog operational. Blog*Spot and LiveJournal.com are two popular blog sources. According to the NITLE Weblog Census standalone blogs tend to be the highest in terms of popularity.

An active blog is usually updated daily and it is this sense of immediacy along with the informal presentation that generally construes blogs as being honest sources of information. Bloggers, or the individual who maintains a blog, can be powerful in influencing the decisions of the reader.

Tips & Techniques

On their own blogs will not serve as the foundation to an entire marketing campaign, but they can make valuable contributions to and extend the life of your marketing efforts. As blogs mature and new, quality products are introduced into the marketplace so to will the marketing opportunities increase.
  • Search engines favour regularly updated content, which make blogs very attractive. Blogs that link to your Web site and get indexed by the major search engines can effectively increase your link popularity. Google in particular likes links and blogs are full of links!

    Keep in mind that an active blog can be a source of targeted traffic to your Web site in itself. It is important to note that a typical blogger wants to share information with the reader base and as such will provide links to other blogs and Web site resources if they offer value to the reader.

  • Blogs spawn viral marketing. If you are operating a blog that is of interest then people will share it with others or even launch their own blog to offer their own commentary. As can be expected, not everyone is going to share your point of view. People will not always have good things to say about your commentary or your business, but that is a part of blogging that goes along with the territory.

  • Blogs used in the business environment open a channel of communication with your employees, existing customers, and potential customers. This creates a new interactive touch point with your target market that can be used to harvest honest feedback from customers and help you with product improvements and future marketing campaigns. This is an excellent opportunity for companies with products or services that are particularly specialized in nature or in an industry where this is little media coverage.

  • Blogs can be used to lengthen the life of your newsletter or electronic publication. You can create a link directly from your publication to a blog where a conversation with your target market can be sparked.

  • Blogs represent an immediate means of publishing information. You may issue a newsletter once a month, but should you wish to communicate with your target market on a whim a blog provides you with the perfect launch pad to do so.

  • Perhaps you regularly field questions on a popular or controversial topic. Rather than read and respond individually to hundreds of emails that come in, the creation of a blog will save you time and increase your reach with your target market. In this example a blog can be a significant traffic draw for your Web site. Not to mention, it adds substantial value!

  • Including a Blog on your Web site can help position your company as a topic expert in its field. This boosts the credibility of your company, plus it gives employees a chance to shine.

    Again, this is a good opportunity for companies offering complex products or services. It is a value-add that can be executed to obtain a competitive advantage online, which in turn could lead to your next sale! On January 13, 2003 Jupitermedia Corporation announced the launch of Jupiter Research Analysis Weblogs. This is a great example of a blogging in use in the professional environment.

  • Many bloggers sell advertising sponsorships. If you are considering placing an ad on a blog then first consider its reach, frequency, and targeting capabilities. I am not convinced that there many worthwhile blogs offering advertising opportunities, but it is a marketing opportunity to investigate.

  • In summary, I do not see blog marketing as a sole source of targeted traffic in itself; I see it as a value add opportunity that can support your ongoing marketing initiatives. Blogging is a means of communicating with your target market and if it fits with your business objectives then you should certainly consider it. Many members of the media publish blogs as a means of providing online commentary.


Tools & Resources 

Check out the following Web sites that feature blogging solutions and resourceful information.

Blog Software and Hosted Communities:

Blog Resources and Statistics

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