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David Trewern

SmartCompany /

I hope you are not sick of blogs yet. They are a force to be reckoned with.

To blog or not to blog?

For a few years now, there has been much hype around the use of blogs as a marketing tool. So are blogs a good idea for businesses? And what are you getting yourself into when you become a blogger?

Given that this is my first proper blog, I have been asking myself these very questions.

Blog is short for “web log”. A blog is typically a reverse chronological list of short articles. It’s part news and opinion, part diary.

Putting the internet to one side, blogs are nothing new. Regular columns in newspapers are no different to blogs. Perhaps we could call these plogs (“print logs”)?

Plogs are usually written by professional journalists, media identities, and self-proclaimed “experts” from various fields. Most would agree that a regular newspaper column is a fantastic way for an expert to provide ideas to a broad audience, while contributing to their own “expertness” to promote themselves or their business.

Thanks to the internet, anyone can now not only have an opinion, but broadcast this to the world. There are a number of online services (such as those offered by blogger.com) that allow individuals to start preaching to the masses right away. Successful bloggers develop a following by publishing meaningful (and sometimes controversial) content. The most successful bloggers make a buck out of their rants. You too can be your very own internet-based Alan Jones.

So back to marketing. If your own businesses’ competitive advantage involves having an “expert opinion”, then a blog could be a very powerful tool.

Businesses also use blogs to communicate with employees and to their target audience. Blogs can be about a news story, a product launch or even an interesting industry, and can create a voice for your company.

But be warned. When you blog, you make a commitment to regularly meet your readers’ expectations (both in terms of expert content and entertainment) and you also make it easy for doubters to throw mud. Like any piece of media, the most important factor is that your audience must come first. What’s in it for them?

Blogs also need to be posted regularly – once a day to once a week, so it is fresh and newsy. Don’t restrict yourself just to words. Podcast and video images can be included and are not hard to do at all. And make sure your blog has a distinctive personality.

So can a blog really contribute to your brand and bottom line? It depends what you have to say, and how valuable this is for your audience. Ask me in a few months time!

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