If you want to learn about blogging, you have to start from the beginning. In its most basic form, a blog is a type of online journal. In its original form, it contained the writer’s personal thoughts, observations and comments. Some blogs were general in nature, while other ones focused on a particular theme.
A blog, or weblog, is a way for an individual to take a piece of cyberspace and make it their own. A person can sign up for one of the numerous blogging platforms available online and get started very easily. Bloggers can even choose a theme for their blog and customize the look to reflect the subject matter or their personality. It’s holding court on any subject you want in the virtual world.
Blogs, like other web pages, get crawled by search engines and their content gets indexed. Performing an online search using a set of keywords will bring up blog posts, along with web pages from commercial and non-commercial sites. What you need to remember about this material is that it is much more personal than what you will find on a web site.
Types of Post Content
The blogger is free to post whatever he or she wishes in the blog post. The content can range from an account of the poster’s daily activities to random musings, or the blogger’s opinion about the news of the day. The blog is a forum that the blogger can personalize and make his or her own.
Content on a blog is not limited to text only. Photographs and video can be uploaded to add to the blog’s content. In fact, free video is a very popular feature for readers.
Tone of a Blog Post is Important
A blog post is very different from web copy. On a standard web site, the goal of putting up content may be to educate or inform the reader or share information about a product or a service. A commercial site owner is interested in getting site visitors to sign up for his or her mailing list and ultimately to convert Web surfers into paying customers, whether they generate revenue from clicking on ads, placing an order online, or visiting a brick and mortar location to make their purchase.
A blog post is a different proposition altogether. If you are going to write a blog post, your tone needs to be more conversational than factual. Here’s one way to get into the right mindset for a blog post: Picture sitting in a comfortable chair in a cozy room. (You can add the beverage of your choice if you like.) Your readers are also in the virtual room, and they are waiting to hear what you have to say.
A blog post is written in a similar fashion to the way you speak. It is conversational in tone. Rather than talk over the readers’ heads, a blog gives you the opportunity to engage your readers by talking to them.
Who Reads Blogs?
Right about now, you may be wondering who would take time out of their day to read a blog. The short answer that is lots of people would. There are literally millions of blogs in cyberspace, with more being added every minute of every day. Back in July of 2004, Technorati estimated that there were 3 million blogs in existence. That figure represented a huge jump from June of the previous year, when an estimated 500,000 blogs were online.
Since that point, the blogosphere has continued to grow, with some bloggers even becoming household names – at least to their niche market. For all of the blogs that have ever been launched, the majority are not updated regularly or even kept active. “Dead” blogs, which are started and then abandoned, litter the cyber landscape.
When a blog strikes a chord with its readers, they will follow that particular blog (and the blogger) by visiting on a regular basis. They can post comments and interact with other blog visitors as well. Ideally, a blog creates a sense of community among readers, where they can ask questions and share concerns. While visitors to a standard web site can contact the site owner by e-mail or online chat to ask questions or make comments, it’s very much a one-on-one proposition. When a blog takes off and visitors start leaving comments and talking to each other, it’s a different situation entirely.
The Growing Blogosphere
Blogs are no longer the domain of the lone Internet user shouting out into the wilderness of cyberspace. Organizations of all kinds are using blogs to their advantage. From non-profits to large corporate entities, blogs are sprouting up everywhere online.
Why? The answer is really quite simple: Blogs are a great marketing tool. Not only do they put a human face on the company, but they are a way to keep a finger on the pulse of consumer needs and demands.
Through an organization’s blog posts, the company can keep its customers (and potential customers) apprised of what the company is doing and when it is getting ready to launch new products or add new services to its offerings. Blog posts can include tips and “how to’s” that consumers find interesting.
Visitors to a company’s blog can leave comments or ask questions in response to posts. This is a great way to find out what kinds of issues they are facing that the organization can address. Most people who have a problem when dealing with a company don’t bother to take the time to register a complaint. Instead, they just leave.
Worse yet, the dissatisfied customer tells others about their negative experience. The company doesn’t get the chance to deal with the issue and make changes to improve its customer service policies.
When the company has a blog, either on its web site or as a separate online entity, it keeps the lines of communication open between the corporation and its customers. Keep in mind that people are much more likely to buy from an entity that they have developed a relationship with, even if it is a virtual one.
By reading the blog posts, the Internet user gets an idea of the organization’s “personality,” if you will. During challenging economic times, consumers are even more cautious than usual about whether and when to spend money. Investing in a blog with quality, timely posts is a very savvy marketing move, since it keeps the organization in the public eye. Before someone makes the decision to buy a product or a service, they are likely to research the organization by checking them out online, and that includes whether there is a company blog or not.
To sum up, a blog is a way to discuss any topic that the poster wants to discuss online. It’s the online equivalent of stepping up onto a soapbox to share a message with the masses. They are relatively easy to set up and use, and if your message strikes a chord with readers, they will start to follow the blog and eagerly await each new post. Corporations and other organizations are starting to realize that this form of communication can be used to their advantage in making a connection with the public, so you can be sure that you will be seeing more corporate blogs in the future.