Invasion of the Blogs: Is a blog right for your business
Invasion of the Blogs: Is a blog right for your business
Lemmings are cute, but dumb. If you tell them to jump off a cliff, they will. Just like the people who start blogsbecause everyone is doing it. Guess what happens after a little while? The blogs die.
In managing a list of many Web sites, most of which areblogs, I deleted countless sites from the list because thesites and blogs no longer existed. The people ran out of steam or had no reason to start them in the first place.
How do you know when a blog is right for your business? Learn why people start blogs, how they find their nicheand how blogging tools can be used for more than blogs.
Some people like to read blogs, others like to read newsletters, still others like to rely on feeds and some read a few or all of them. No matter the method the information is distributed, each medium has one thing incommon: content. Having a blog connects your newsletter and your business with all of these readers and delivers important content in a particular style.
Ive been blogging since June 2000. If you review my early blog entries in meryls notes, youll notice theyre more personal. When blogs first hit the scene in the late 90s, they were personal diaries and journals. Like the blog business, my blog has transformed from personal to business speak, although I still add personal notes here and there.
A few bloggers tend to talk about their work, their products and their little world. That might work for celebrities where fans want to know everything aboutthem, but it doesnt work for the average business person. Other business people want information on how to succeed and when a blog spends time hawking products offering information of no value, few people will return. The people whose products sell well are the ones whoprovide valuable information. Readers already know what kind of information theyre getting, so they trust thatwhen they buy something, it will be of the same or better quality. This value must be reflected in their blog. Its much like people who only sign up for a newsletter after first seeing an example.
Who should venture where one has not blogged before?
No one wants to be a lemming (I would hope). How doyou decide whether or not to set up a blog? The answer isnt black or white (what did you expect?). Ask these questions:
Can you regularly update it -- at least five times a week?
Do you have something to say other than just linking to others?
How many unique visitors do you get on an average day, week or month?
The big decider is whether or not you can write in the blogalmost daily. The people behind the high traffic blogs postmultiple times a day. Though resourceful, merely linking to other sites doesnt give visitors much reason to make the effort to come to yours. Reading other blogs or feeds is a great way to learn how to carry a discussion. Find otherblogs covering topics similar to yours and check them out. Disagree with their opinions? Write about it and explain your reasons. Cross-blog discussions are common, and thats where trackback comes in handy.
Trackback is a blog feature. If you decide to comment on another blog posting in your blog instead of in that blogscomments page, then you link to the conversation through the trackback link. Trackback is similar to the permalink, the permanent URL for the blog entry, but it has a different URL for copying and pasting in your blogs trackback box.
Aside from the technical aspects of operating a blog on a daily basis, subscriber list size and Web site traffic are good indicators of what kind of reaction youll get when opening a blog. Starting from scratch with little trafficmeans you have a long road ahead and lots of work to do.There is no magic formula anyone can sell you for $97 to make your blog an overnight success. But with some perseverance and ingenuity, your blog can engage many prospects and clients.
Considering there are numerous blogs out there, pick a niche topic when starting a blog for a better shot at attracting and keeping an audience. meryls notes focuses on three areas: webby, geeky and wordy. In reality, this istoo much. What I need to do for my readers is create three separate blog entry points, so those interested in writing, newsletters and Internet marketing get nothing but the wordy entries. Those interested in Web design get the webby stuff and the technophiles receive the geeky content.
I also manage a personal blog separate from meryls notes. Its about cochlear implants and deafness. This could fall under the geeky category, but its a personal blog and doesnt belong in meryls notes. This blog is written for a different audience.
The blogging tools for both of my blogs come with syndication capabilities so those using feed readers or aggregators can read the content through the software. For an explanation of syndication and feed readers, referto What Is This RSS, XML, RDF, and Atom Business? Whensending a new issue of a newsletter, comment on it or link to it in the blog, that way the blog and feed readers will get the goods, so all three bases are covered.
Blogging tools arent just for, well, blogging. Such tools are an excellent way to help you update your Web site moreoften than you otherwise would. I use it to manage the listof tableless Web sites. Using blogging tools is much easierthan the way I managed it before, updating the HTML files by hand. Though using a blog tool, it isnt a blog. In this case, the blog tool has become a content management system (CMS).
Small business owners dont have a need for the fancy andpricey CMSes out there. They find it easier to use blogging software to manage their sites or hire someone to adapt the tool for their site.
Blogs have found a place in businesses and people arefinding creative ways to use them. Some companies have a blog on the intranet for communicating project status, jeopardies and metrics. Theyre used for knowledge management. With information pouring in, blog tools provide a way to share, organize and process the information.
Being a follower can be good or bad. No one wants towalk off a cliff with the lemmings, but everyone wants to succeed. Best practices wont help, since the decision to blog is based on the organizations mission, needs and goals along with its target markets desires and needs. A blog about lemmings? There is one, sort of. Or maybeyoud like to start your own and talk about dumb business moves.
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