Blogs and Your Business

There are 600+ corporate bloggers at Microsoft. They use blogging as one of their greatest marketing assets, generating an astonishing amount of online and offline word of mouth interaction. Microsoft takes blogging seriously and these blogs are all linked to the corporate site. They help put a human face on the corporation by injecting individual’s passion for the company. What they are really involved in is building relationships on behalf of Microsoft.

A blogs or ‘weblog’ is a regularly updated internet journal of organized personal thoughts made usually by an individual. In the business world this may be either as an official corporate blog or in an unofficial capacity. Business blogs usually incorporate news, issues, and ideas and speak to customers, vendors and employees. What makes blogs unique is that they link with other blogs and websites and solicit comments making them the ideal platform for an ongoing dialogue. Blogs are inexpensive, easy to set up and use, and require no technical skills such as HTML. The collective term for blogs is the blogosphere.

The blogosphere continues to grow. Technorati the leading web search engine is currently tracking 19.6 million blogs. About 70,000 new blogs are tracked every day. The total number of blogs continues to double every 5 months or so. There are between 700,000 and 1.3 million blog posts made every day. Both Google and Yahoo are introducing blogs search engines. Yahoo is currently showing a beta version of blog search results alongside their news results.

News travels fast through the blogosphere. In times of disaster such as Hurricane Katrina or the London terrorist attacks, blogs were instrumental in getting news, photos and opinions out at a remarkably fast rate. They often beat journalists for the scoop on news or scandals. In fact you can be sure that these days’ journalists keep a close eye on blogs and use them as a source for stories.

What does this growth in blogging mean for your business? It means that you should give serious consideration to adding a blog to your business. However you should also consider whether a blog would fit in with your business objectives. Because of the different tactics that blogs can be used for you may want to weigh up the options as to what benefits it can offer you and your business.

Increase your Web Presence

If you have an established online business you can add another vehicle to communicate your message and pass information on to your clients. Because blogs continually have new content they are indexed regularly by the search engines. It is another way to get your name and your products out into the search engine space. You can also use your blog to target additional keyword phrases.

Interactions with Customers

Your blog can be used to build stronger ties with your customer base. The opportunity to exchange information and expertise is one of the main reasons that explain why corporate blogs have grown in popularity in recent years. Corporations have recognized their customers are using blogs to self publish their opinions about products and services. This has led to customers getting actively involved in business situations such as product development.

Branding Tool

Use your blog as a branding tool for your business. It’s an effective way to get your brand message out there. Your brand represents an exchange of ideas between you and your audience. It is a relationship. Brands exist in the mind of your customer therefore brands that aren’t in touch with their customers miss out on innovation opportunities.

Corporate Communications

You can use your blog to speak directly with the media. There has been an ongoing debate as to whether blogs should replace the press release as the main corporate communications vehicle. As far as I am concerned both will do a good job and each has their own unique value.

Business Marketing

Blogs are being utilized more and more as a business marketing tool. And this is creeping into more and more business areas. Word of mouth advertising and independent testimonials are two major benefits of running a marketing focused blog. This is a great alternative to advertising. Blogs can also attract and develop a regular audience for your message and foster an atmosphere of trust.

CEO Blogs

A CEO blog is a way to speak directly to customers and vendors. And it can be used to advance industry issues. There are pitfalls of course. Saying something controversial may be picked up and reproduced in many locations. However some controversy is good as it gets people engaged.

A blog does require a commitment from you. Remember that writing and maintaining a blog take time. You should really have an interest in writing and communicating with your readers. A blog also requires an injection of personality.

Blogs are a increasingly common way to communicate about your business. As Businessweek magazine said in their article on business blogs – ‘catch up…or catch you later’

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