“Everyone is too scared to use the Internet to buy things”. Remember when they said that? It’s not that long ago.
Look at us now. People can and do buy anything and everything from the web. The fear, really a fear of change has gone. They said TV would destroy the cinema. That didn’t happen. The movies are a completely different form to TV but we didn’t realise at the time. TV and cinema both survived and now both feed off each other. In hindsight we all see what was perfectly obvious. Now they’re saying that Blogs, or weblogs are taking over the Internet. A blog is effectively an online journal where you, or a group, can record their innermost thoughts and make comments about a topic. Anyone has access to read your journal entry (known as a post) and can comment on it.
For much more detailed information about blogging look at the entry in wikipedia for “Blogging.” You get over 474 million search results if you enter “blog” into Google. Part of the reason for the blogs attraction is its ease of use. It takes only a few minutes to begin “blogging”. First you sign up with a blog server, like Google’s Blogger, SixApart’s TypePadblog or use WordPress. You choose a page template you like. There are a number of very good ones available completely free. Then post your first entry. The final step is to let a blog directory know each time you create a new post (this is called pinging). Services such as Pingoat and Pingomatic are sites that can ping a number of other directories on your behalf.
People search these directories using blog search engines and browse the blogs in a similar way to web sites. Do Companies Really Use Blogs? Company executives use blogs. For example Bob Lutz, Vice President of General Motors has his own blog. Other people from GM contribute to it as well. IBM Vice President Bob Sutor and Vice President of Marketing for Boeing Randy Baseler write their own blogs too. Employees from corporates like Microsoft, Google and Hewlett Packard blog. When blogging is used in a positive way it shows your customers and prospects your corporate personality and helps build rapport. What Are The Blog Downsides? The company CEO shouldn’t blog. That’s because there may be pressure to flag future events.
Or worse, if they drop a clanger it can be spread world-wide very quickly. A further potential blogging downside is that you’ve no influence over what others put in their own blogs about what you’ve written. You only need to look at some of the comments that General Motors got on Bob Lutz’s blog when they started a discussion on seatbelts to see how heated things can get. Companies may be concerned that employees will spend too much time blogging or reading blogs. That means a blogging policy should be in place to prevent such abuse. What Is The Advantage Of A Blog? A blog can position someone, or a company, as an expert. But people can easily pass other people’s work off as their own. So it really is a case of “buyer beware” when reading blogs. So are blogs going to be a knock-out for attracting and retaining customers? The short answer is it depends, and the reasons are:
1) It’s just another marketing communication channel – it can be used well or not. Rather like PR is used.
2) For some companies it’s just too public
3) It’s completely without editorial control
4) It requires commitment to update regularly and to check and respond to comments It’s been said that consultancies and other organisations that deal in knowledge and intellectual property benefit most from blogging.
That’s because they can demonstrate their ability and expertise to their market in a different way from other marketing tactics. But really why should it stop there? General Motor’s blog is useful for communicating new model launches and answering customer feedback. In fact there really is no practical limit to the who can use blogging to communicate with customers and prospects. But in the end is blogging a dead-end? The business blog is definitely an important communication tool that every company should seriously consider as part of their marketing arsenal. But it must be looked at as another business tool whose ultimate measurement is: “does it get more sales or reduce company costs?” If it can’t deliver at least one of those measures business blogging deserves to fail.
I’ve been blogging for over a year now and I’ve found that I’ve had thousands of hits. Intentionally I don’t get any sales from it. But that’s because I’m writing mini articles and will eventually use them as a basis for my next book. So in the final analysis blogs are another communication channel so companies have the ability to take theirs and make it do the PR, word of mouth, viral and Internet marketing for them. Internet advertising has grown into big business. Expect blogging to do the same.